Sex abuse royal commission: People intimidated by priest who pointed a gun at student
By Parthena Stavropoulos
From the Link: Sex abuse royal commission: People intimidated by priest who pointed a gun at student
A former director of Catholic Education at the Archdiocese of Melbourne has been questioned over why he did not take action against a parish priest who pointed a gun at students.
The Royal Commission into Institutional Response to Child Sexual Abuse heard more evidence about Father Peter Searson, when he was parish priest at a Doveton school in the 1980’s.
On Tuesday, a former principal of Holy Family Primary School told the hearing Father Searson once terrified year 12 students when he pointed a gun at them.
The students, from the local secondary school, were working as cleaners at the Doveton school.
Monsignor Thomas Doyle, the former director of Catholic Education at the Archdiocese of Melbourne, admitted to being alarmed about the accusations, but did little about them.
The hearing was told that a letter of complaint was sent to the then-archbishop, Frank Little, about the incident.
The letter said people would not come forward because they were intimidated by Father Searson and were worried it could happen again.
Monsignor Doyle said he would have gone to the archbishop but there was no response to the letter of complaint.
Justice Peter McClellan questioned him closely over the incident.
“You’ve got reports of extraordinary behaviour, an archbishop who’s not responding and you didn’t go to the regional bishop?” Justice McClellan asked.
“I would have thought it no use to go to the regional bishop,” Monsignor Doyle said.
“If I couldn’t convince the archbishop then I don’t think the regional bishop could’ve either.”
“So you didn’t even try?” Justice McClellan said.
“Not that I remember,” Monsignor Doyle said.
He said he was aware police carried out a search warrant to find the gun after a number of complaints.
Father Searson eventually handed it to police several years later during a gun amnesty.
The former school principal, Graeme Sleeman, told the commission on Tuesday that he had confronted Father Searson about the incident.
Father Searson replied he was licensed to carry a gun and Mr Sleeman was told not to question him.
He said Father Searson told him “you can’t be too careful”.