EXCLUSIVE BY ALEXANDRA BLUCHER, ABC INVESTIGATIONS
AAP: DAN PELED
The former principal of one of Queensland’s most prestigious Anglican schools is understood to be one of the main subjects of a police investigation into the handling of child sex abuse complaints in the 1990s.
- Qld police have ramped up an investigation into the Anglican Diocese’s handling of child abuse complaints in the 1990s
- The ex-headmaster of St Paul’s School in Brisbane and former governor-general Peter Hollingworth are both main subjects in the new investigation
- Dr Hollingworth says police have told him they are not seeking to interview him
New witnesses have spoken to police, with both Brisbane’s St Paul’s School former headmaster Gilbert Case and former governor-general Peter Hollingworth understood to be the main subjects of the investigation.
Dr Hollingworth and Mr Case are being looked at due to their positions of authority in the 1990s, as part of a wider investigation into the Anglican Diocese of Brisbane’s response to child sexual abuse complaints at the time.
The revelation comes as Queensland police swell the ranks of the team tasked with investigating the diocese, growing from one detective to up to six officers since June.
Police are also examining allegations about the handling of complaints that were not heard at the child sexual abuse royal commission.
Child abuse protection advocate Kelvin Johnston said he thought the investigation was being broadened.
“A lot of it has to do with … not reporting it [abuse],” Mr Johnston said.
“They should go straight to the police when they hear about them.
“Not doing that is just protecting a brand and that’s not good enough when you’ve got children’s lives and wellbeing at stake.”
There are no allegations of child sexual abuse being committed by Dr Hollingworth or Mr Case.
Fresh investigation follows royal commission findings
Mr Case was the headmaster of prestigious Anglican Diocese-owned St Paul’s School in Brisbane between 1979 and 2000.
The royal commission found during this time, Mr Case was told two staff members at the school — music teacher Gregory Robert Knight and counsellor Kevin Lynch — were sexually abusing boys.
Mr Case denied to the royal commission that he was told in a meeting with two of Mr Lynch’s victims about the offending.
He did not report the allegations to the police and gave Knight a reference in 1984 for a new teaching job in Darwin.
Knight and Mr Lynch were subsequently charged with child sex offences. Knight was convicted and Lynch killed himself while on bail.
Mr Case was later promoted to the role of executive director of the Anglican Schools Office by a panel on which Dr Hollingworth was a member.
The royal commission found Dr Hollingworth knew of a claim Mr Case “failed to respond” to a child sexual abuse allegation at the time of the promotion, but Dr Hollingworth denied this.
Mr Case’s lawyers have been contacted for comment but did not respond.
Abuse survivors speak to police
Dr Hollingworth was Archbishop during the 1990s and later resigned as governor-general in 2003 over his handling of abuse complaints.
The ABC can reveal at least two child sexual abuse survivors who have raised concerns about Dr Hollingworth’s handling of their complaints have recently spoken to the police.
Beth Heinrich gave her account of a sexual relationship with an Anglican priest from the age of 15.
She says Dr Hollingworth heard her speak of this relationship at a failed mediation session with the clergyman in 1995 where he was an observer.
She told the ABC the detective visited her last month where she lives in Victoria.
“He was interested in what had occurred between Hollingworth and myself and documentation that I had to prove my story,” Ms Heinrich said.
The royal commission also found Dr Hollingworth made a “serious error of judgement” when he was Archbishop, by allowing paedophile priest John Elliot to continue in the ministry after finding out he had earlier abused two young boys from the same family.
One of these survivors also confirmed to the ABC he had recently spoken to police.
Police not seeking interview: Hollingworth
Lawyer for Dr Hollingworth, Bill Doogue said his client was not being investigated, and the royal commission and previous enquiries had never suggested Dr Hollingworth had committed any offences.
“I rang the Queensland Police and they told me that they were not seeking to interview Dr Hollingworth,” Mr Doogue said.
The lawyer said there was no legislation mandating the reporting of child sex abuse in the 1990s in Queensland.
Mr Doogue said his client only found out about the abuse committed by John Elliot when the survivor was in his mid-twenties.
“Dr Hollingworth made the priest go and confess … which he did,” Mr Doogue said.
“At any point after that the family could have gone to the police … which the victim did in fact do a couple of years later.”
Mr Doogue also said when Dr Hollingworth was invited to be part of a mediation between Ms Heinrich and the clergyman she accused of abusing her, the clergyman was at that point denying the allegations.
Calls for state-wide team
Queensland State Opposition Leader Deb Frecklington said the Queensland Government needed to create a specialist statewide taskforce that investigated historical cases of child sexual abuse, like that which exists in NSW.
“We understand that police resources are already stretched and regional child-protection units do not have the allocation of detectives needed to fully investigate some of these historical abuse claims,” Mrs Frecklington said.
“Many stretch back decades and contacting witnesses can be very challenging.”
Mrs Frecklington wrote to Premier Annastacia Palaszczuk in June asking for more resources after advocates raised concerns about police resourcing with her and the Premier.
Mr Johnston said a special taskforce to investigate historical cases was essential.
“That’s what has got to happen, and if it doesn’t then the Queensland Government is negligent,” Mr Johnston said.
The Premier has been contacted for comment.
The child sexual abuse royal commission has made close to 700 referrals relating to all institutions to the Queensland Police Service (QPS) for investigation.
There were 371 complaints of child sexual abuse to the royal commission against the Anglican Diocese of Brisbane alone, the highest of any diocese in Australia.
QPS said all referrals had been “assessed and appropriately managed within current resources”, with all investigations conducted by the Sexual Crimes Unit and regional child-protection units.
“The QPS is continuing to review allegations concerning the handling of complaints of child sexual abuse by the Anglican diocese,” the Queensland Police Service said in a statement.
“The investigation is appropriately resourced.”