Priest accused of child abuse ‘sent to Australia’
- Charles Miranda in London
- From: News Limited Network
- March 04, 2013 12:00AM
TWO priests are under investigation by church authorities both in Australia and the UK amid allegations they sexually abused at least two boys in the 1960s and 1980s.
News Limited can reveal one of the priests, Father Gordon Bennett, died in 2011 but not before the church had been told the priest, who was sent to Australia in September 1985, was being accused of child sex offences.
The victim, who asked not to be named, had been writing to the church in the UK and later Australia with his claims for more than five years prior to Fr Bennett dying at the age of 90.
The victim, now aged in his 60s, last month retained legal counsel and is to pursue a claim of damages against the Catholic Church in Australia or in London where last Friday the UK’s highest court ruled clerics were akin to being “employees” of the church and thus diocese are liable.
In a second unrelated case, a Queensland man now aged in his 40s is also seeking legal redress after being allegedly abused by Jesuit priest Father James Chaning-Pearce who in 1997 pleaded guilty and was jailed in England for three years for abusing another three boys aged 12, 13 and 15.
The Australian man was allegedly abused in the mid-1980s in Zimbabwe – where his parents had been posted – and he met the priest who was working at a school.
He approached authorities including the police in the UK after he realised the man who had allegedly abused him was back working at a prestigious Catholic boys’ college in the UK.
It was his information that then sparked the police probe which led to Chaning-Pearce’s prosecution for the UK abuse.It is understood the priest, having served his time, is now at a monastery in Wales. No charges have been brought against him in relation to these latest allegations.
Legal sources close to both investigations said material gathered so far including letters written to the church authorities would be made available to the landmark royal commission announced by Prime Minister Julia Gillard last November.
The commission, with its wide-ranging powers, was created after NSW police claimed the Catholic Church covered up evidence of pedophile priests.
Since then the church has created the Truth, Justice and Healing Council to work with the commission on claims.
Truth, Justice and Healing Council CEO Francis Sullivan said yesterday his group would look at the latest claims and was committed in supplying whatever evidence to get the truth out.
“The suffering of victims and those damaged from the abuse scandals remains the number one issue to be addressed and that our church, like other institutions, must keep up with best practice process to protect children and prevent any sexual or other abuse,” he said.
Jail for a grave sin of omission
5:12 PM, Jul 30, 2012
From the link: http://www.app.com/article/20120731/NJOPINION01/307310012/Jail-grave-sin-omission?odyssey=mod|newswell|text|Opinion|p&nclick_check=1
Msgr. William Lynn did not rape a child. He did not molest a child.
But he will go to prison for at least three years because those awful things happened to children. And it is justice — long, long overdue justice — that sends an important message across the United States and, hopefully, around the world.
A few Catholic priests who for years molested and assaulted children have been sent to prison in this country. They are, unfortunately, only a handful among the guilty, most of whom will never face deserved time behind bars because they’ve died or statutes of limitation have run out or because there isn’t enough evidence left to ensure a conviction.
Lynn, though, is the first Catholic official convicted in the United States solely for the crime of covering up sex abuse claims. The former secretary of clergy for the Archdiocese of Philadelphia was found guilty last month by a jury in Philadelphia of felony child endangerment.
Lynn learned in 1992 that now-defrocked priest Edward Avery abused a boy years earlier. Lynn sent Avery for treatment at a church-run facility that diagnosed him with an alcohol problem, not a sexual disorder.
Avery was subsequently returned to the ministry in Philadelphia and sexually assaulted an altar boy in 1999. Avery is serving a 2½- to five-year sentence for that crime.
Of course, it was more than just that episode. As Judge M. Teresa Sarmina noted in sentencing Lynn, she was convinced that he stayed in his job and kept quiet when the then-head of the Archdiocese of Philadelphia, the late Cardinal Anthony Bevilacqua, had a list of priests accused of sex abuse destroyed.
There is nothing — no boss, no institution, no tradition — that serves as any valid excuse for not taking action to stop a pedophile.
That lesson is being learned now, too late, at Penn State. Top officials there who didn’t call police right away to stop Jerry Sandusky from continuing to assault boys rightly face criminal charges for allegedly lying to a grand jury about their role in a cover-up.
The old maxim, “All that is necessary for the triumph of evil is that good men do nothing,” applies here. But doing nothing in the face of the sexual exploitation of children is not the act of good men and compounds the evil.
If doing nothing to stop sexual assaults is criminal, it must be punished. The Catholic Church for years has largely demonstrated an unwillingness to see that punishment is doled out.
So we applaud Philadelphia District Attorney Seth Williams for pursuing this case and getting a conviction against Lynn.
We only hope that it’s the first domino to fall and that other church officials around the world who hid pedophile priests, allowing the abuse of children to continue, get the punishment that’s due them.