In the eventual revelations (pun?), that the Baptist Church has pre-emptively joined Australia’s NRS, now appears ideal timing to release examples of…False Profits …
After Australia’s July 2020 weekend of ‘Black Lives Matter’, ABC’s Afternoon Briefing had Patricia Karvelas interviewing US Prof. Goff (sp.?). For many Survivours of Child Sexual Abuse, much of these debates have carried the same passion as what we’ve felt throughout our lives. Ignorance & turning attention away from are even spoken against in the bible. School lessons. Child care. Sports practice. School camps. A pattern forming…?
News of Jeffery Epstein also forms ‘front page news’, including parts of the British Royal Family, upper levels of US & International society. At the targeted end of this game are low income, low SES (socio economic status) population & young adults/teenagers. Suitably, Australia’s Judicial System has begun to publicly deal with more allegations following 2013-17 CARC. Highest of these has been George Pell. Sound familiar…?
From the topics presented since 2013, this RoyalCommBBC.blog has aimed to republish noteworthy journalism, factually-based info & ‘the other side of the coin’ POV. We don’t claim to be a Journalistic Reference to prove legal data; it isn’t to be used as an excuse or a bet; links can be arranged with suitable portals, where need be; as are related channels, following earlier BBC involvement of later ‘guilty’ Nudgee College staff. A later post will be arranged re: queries of Overlack. Seems too surreal…?
The former financial controller of the Vatican and most senior Catholic Church official to be found guilty of child sexual assault, Cardinal George Pell, will be released from prison and have his conviction overturned. He has served more than 400 days in isolation behind bars.
In December 2018, a Melbourne jury unanimously convicted Pell of five charges relating to child sexual abuse dating back to a Sunday service at St Patrick’s Cathedral in 1996.
However, on the 7th of April 2020, the High Court said there was “a significant possibility that an innocent person has been convicted because the evidence did not establish guilt to the requisite standard of proof”.
The bench also said the jury should have entertained a doubt around Pell’s guilt with respect to each of the individual offences. Because there was reasonable doubt, the High Court quashed all of Pell’s convictions and ordered verdicts of acquittal be entered in its place.
It was not enough that the jurors found the complainant and witnesses to be believable, credible and honest.
Pell’s legal team, led by Bret Walker SC (Senior Counsel), argued it was “literally impossible” for the complainant to have been abused on the day in question and claimed a “formidable list” of factors and events providing Pell with an alibi.
Pell’s first appeal was shot down on a majority of two to one. This ‘botched decision’ by Victoria’s highest court left Pell in prison for an additional seven months for crimes he never committed.
Walker SC argued on behalf of Pell before a full bench of seven High Court judges in Canberra. Walker SC claimed that just because the complainant was believable, it shouldn’t discount other evidence placing Pell’s conviction in doubt.
The High Court decision does not deny the validity of the complainant, a former choir boy who testified he and a friend were sexually assaulted by Pell. Walker SC and Victoria’s Director of Public Prosecutions, Kerri Judd QC, agreed the choirboy was a credible, believable witness.
However, all seven High Court judges, Australia’s finest legal minds, decided in Pell’s favour.
Pell learned of his success from inside his isolated cell at Barwon Prison, home to some of Australia’s most dangerous criminals.
Get the justice you deserve with Kelso Lawyers. We want to hear your story. Call (02) 4907 4200 or complete the online form before you accept payment from the National Redress Scheme.
Image: Al Jazeera
Having been a BBC Old Boy, who actually went onto experience some of a Teacher’s experiences, during both Revelation (ABC) + after speaking with a Counsellor, I was able to remember a trait/habit of Butch (Buchanan). As part of his strategies (to test, +/or encourage his young boys’ memories), he’d often include some of his ‘suggestions’/strategies/techniques of memory manipulation. Although, I’m unsure if this was a way that he tried to get inside his targets’ minds before trying to get inside other items … , I will be adding this to my Counsellor’s upcoming appt. They indeed seemed pleased, that I was using a agenda-planning habit (alike my regular Psychiatrist APPT).
If any of the viewers of this Blog have any of their suggestions, please send through yours. Slowly, the (hidden) culture of Child Abuse is becoming revealed.
Sorry, if this post is shorter than the 1st! Tue nite’s 2nd Revelation hit home a lot harder for me + my weekly Counselling call starts in a few hrs. While I tried to take some notes, of how Catholic patterns were carried on in both school classes + individual attacks-instances. Even while noting these out, my mind feels like it’s returning to a spinning-whirlwind feeling. Predators knew this + took advantage of it.
PAUSE Take a break, from what you’re doing. These moments can be very complex and anyone involved, may be drawn into the trappings. Put your phone, or computer down and clear your mind. You can always return later.Advice on STRESS-tension
While I was returning, to continue typing (after my break), an advert of the 3/3 Episode of Revelation was playing on TV. Whilst I had been making comments, when I 1st saw it on Tue nite actually watching it directly had a ‘freezing’ effect. Not temperature, but in my movements. I hadn’t felt like that, since after another church incident in 1990. 🧊
ABC’s iView has available online viewings of these Revelation Episodes, which also allow you to watch what you can, pause + replay whenever you’re ready!
As of the middle of March2020, our ‘Royal Comm BBC Blog’ has reached 1,000 Subscribers! From something that began to support + share (from a CSA Victim/Survivor’s POV) more of the secrets, (hidden) truths, impacts, strategies + particularly to offer collected HELP, from multiple ‘Old Boys’-families-communities: ‘we’ve now achieved more than a tonne’. As parts of society now accept the facts… In the midst of the ABC’s ‘Revelation’ Documentary, many similarities/reminders/parallels are both answering some unanswered questions and asking many more.
An awaited audience had made breathtaking comments, jaw dropping feedback and startling responses. Those who had endured previous CSA watched on in understanding, proud that more of these (hidden) secrets were becoming shared with our wider public. Through ‘lifting the lid’ on this immoral human nature of both male + female Predators, is not stopping it from occurring, yet shares further the reality of what should + should not be allowed. Our children always deserve to lead their developing lives into adulthood, as unaffected as possible. Child Sexual Abuse is wrong.
Following are some of the responses made, from the 1st Ep:
@abctv: Award-winning reporter @FergusonNews presents #RevelationABC, a ground-breaking three-part documentary series on the criminal priests and brothers of the Catholic Church, their crimes laid bare for the first time in their own words. Starts now.
@MikeCarlton01 Looking forward to this tonight. I’m told it’s brilliant…jaw dropping
@treacl: Confession was seen as a #GetOutOfJail card … #RevelationABC
Exclusive by Josh Robertson
Updated about 9 hours ago (10 March 2020)
Anglican Church officials wrongly told a woman who was sexually abused more than 60 years ago they had to hold off resolving her complaint, then offered a payout and an apology if she agreed to a gag clause.
The church’s Brisbane diocese has admitted to again failing Beth Heinrich over her 1995 complaint, which culminated in then-governor-general Peter Hollingworth publicly blaming her for a priest sexually exploiting her as a 15-year-old.
Its apology for causing her “additional trauma and distress” through “unacceptable delays” came a day after the ABC questioned its latest missteps in the case, which led to Dr Hollingworth’s public downfall but still fuels calls for him to be stripped of millions of dollars of public benefits.
The diocese in January belatedly offered Ms Heinrich up to $30,000 for its mishandling of her complaint, which Dr Hollingworth dismissed repeatedly when he was archbishop of Brisbane.
- Beth Heinrich pressed the Anglican Church in Brisbane for redress after former archbishop Peter Hollingworth stood by the priest who sexually abused her
- The diocese said it could not resolve her complaint because it would “prejudice” another church investigation of Dr Hollingworth
- Church investigators denied this and the diocese then offered Ms Heinrich a payout and an apology if she kept it confidential
The offer was a fraction of the $200,000 she sought — a figure she said was increased after independent legal advice and church officials in Melbourne advising that her original request for $50,000 was too little.
The Brisbane diocese also told her in January it was “happy to provide an apology” but this should be kept “confidential” until its Melbourne counterpart ended a separate investigation into whether Dr Hollingworth should be stripped of his Holy Orders.
Its request for secrecy contrasted with Dr Hollingworth’s widely publicised 2002 comments on ABC TV’s Australian Story program that it was “not sex abuse” by priest, and later bishop, Donald Shearman, but “rather the other way round”.
“It was devastating for me at the time [and] I’m still really angry about it because there’s been no ending to it,” Ms Heinrich told the ABC.
“[Dr Hollingworth] knew the true story but he chose to lie about me and victim blame.”
A church spokesman said: “The Brisbane diocese acknowledges there have been unacceptable delays in finalising a redress claim of Ms Beth Heinrich”.
“The diocese apologises that this has caused her additional trauma and distress,” the spokesman said.
‘Most extraordinary case’
Child protection expert and University of South Australia adjunct professor Chris Goddard said Ms Heinrich’s was “the most extraordinary case of so-called secondary abuse I have ever seen”.
He helped Ms Heinrich prepare her testimony to the royal commission into child sexual abuse, with a 300-page presentation involving about 70 documents.
“To my knowledge [Dr Hollingworth] has never publicly apologised for the public humiliation of Beth,” Professor Goddard said.
In 2005, the Bathurst Anglican diocese paid Ms Heinrich $100,000 over Mr Shearman’s abuse of her while running the church hostel where she was a school boarder in the 1950s.
Ms Heinrich said she decided to press a complaint over Brisbane diocese’s mishandling of the matter, after it advertised in a newspaper for survivors to come forward in the wake of the royal commission into child sex abuse in institutions.
In October 2017, the diocese told her it had “little option but to wait for the findings of the Melbourne investigation before [we] can advance and conclude the consideration of your complaints and claim”.
‘Happy to consider an apology’
It said any examination of her complaint “could not be safely concluded until the findings of the Melbourne committee are known, and may risk prejudicing the Melbourne investigation”.
However, the diocese changed its tune in August 2018 after Ms Heinrich questioned the delay.
It told her that it “might be possible to deal with your claim on a private and confidential basis without waiting for the outcome” from Melbourne.
It said the diocese was “happy to consider an apology” but it would be “better delivered” after Melbourne’s findings.
Any settlement would need to be “private and confidential” so as “not to prejudice” the other investigation, it said.
But Melbourne church officials contradicted this last November.
“I can confirm that any compensation or redress paid to you will not impact the investigation,” Kooyoora Ltd executive director Fiona Boyle said in a letter.
If you or anyone you know needs help:
- Lifeline on 13 11 14
- Kids Helpline on 1800 551 800
- Women’s Crisis Line 1800 811 811
- MensLine Australia on 1300 789 978
- Suicide Call Back Service on 1300 659 467
- Beyond Blue on 1300 22 46 36
- Headspace on 1800 650 890
- 1800 Respect national helpline 1800 737 732
- Relationships Australia 1300 364 277
- ReachOut at au.reachout.com
The Brisbane diocese then offered Ms Heinrich “$25,000 in full and final resolution of your current complaint, plus $5,000 towards counselling”.
It told her it still had no “established redress policy” to deal with mishandling of complaints.
The church spokesman said Ms Heinrich “did not respond” to the 2018 offer but “it was remiss of the diocese not to have followed up with further contact and support”.
He confirmed it had again “reached out to Ms Heinrich to seek to reach a satisfactory settlement”.
‘Privacy, power and secrecy’
Professor Goddard said churches used “privacy, power and secrecy” to intimidate victims.
“As a last resort, they pretend not to have any procedures at all to deal with the complaint,” he said.
Ms Heinrich said the church’s continual “fobbing off” of her complaint was at odds with its pledges to do right by victims after the royal commission.
“I just think they’re sorry that people have got the fortitude to stand up and keep saying they’re not happy with the way they’ve been treated,” she said.
“They want you to run away and hide and take your problems with you — the reason I’m speaking up now is because I feel I’m the last one … I’m standing on my own.”
Ms Heinrich said she first approached the Brisbane diocese thinking “the church is a Christian community”.
“It was just a corporation and all they wanted to do was cover up for their masters and protect them.”
Then-archbishop Hollingworth oversaw the failed 1995 mediation, in which Mr Shearman admitted to grooming Ms Heinrich from the age of 14 and sexually abusing her from 15.
Mr Shearman had continued an extra-marital relationship with Ms Heinrich in adulthood.
Dr Hollingworth did not suspend Mr Shearman, move to defrock him or offer redress to Ms Heinrich.
He wrote to Ms Heinrich that there was “a very wide discrepancy” in her and Mr Shearman’s versions of the abuse and he was a “much-valued” minister.
Ms Heinrich reported the abuse to police but a statute of limitations meant Mr Shearman could not be prosecuted.
She said the church had never acknowledged that Mr Shearman’s conduct was criminal.
“That’s what I’d like,” Ms Heinrich said.
‘Inappropriate and unfair’
In 2001, Ms Heinrich saw Mr Shearman conducting Easter Mass on TV and asked Dr Hollingworth to strip Mr Shearman of his permission to officiate.
Dr Hollingworth refused, telling her Mr Shearman was “now well into his 70s [and] has sought to resolve the matter with you and exercised contrition in a Christian spirit”.
“I am sorry that you cannot accept the efforts that he and we have made which does allow for a new start with a penitent heart,” Dr Hollingworth said.
Ms Heinrich said after the failed mediation, Dr Hollingworth breached diocese protocol by refusing to give her a hearing before its sex abuse complaints committee.
She said a staffer for Dr Hollingworth gave repeated excuses for not providing a copy of the protocol, including that Brisbane weather made people “lethargic”.
A 2003 Anglican board of inquiry was split on Dr Hollingworth’s support of Mr Shearman.
The chairman found it “reasonable” and another member said he failed to show “proper moral leadership”.
But the inquiry found it was “inappropriate and unfair” of Dr Hollingworth to repeatedly suggest Ms Heinrich was “acting unreasonably in not treating the matter at an end”.
The inquiry condemned Dr Hollingworth for allowing another confessed child sex predator to remain a priest and he quit as governor-general.
In 2004, Mr Shearman was defrocked.
‘We know how traumatic these matters can be’
Ms Heinrich unsuccessfully complained to the Queensland Law Society after a lawyer acting for the Brisbane diocese removed parts of her affidavit for the proceedings.
A federal senator last November introduced a private member’s bill that could strip Dr Hollingworth of millions of dollars in public benefits over his mishandling of sex abuse complaints in the church.
“I feel if he’d had any integrity, he would have said I won’t be accepting the governor-general’s pension,” Ms Heinrich said.
“I think people would have admired him for that, but they certainly don’t now.”
Ms Boyle told the ABC she could not comment on any matter under investigation but that “we know how traumatic these matters can be”.
“The process is often time-consuming and we aim to support people throughout,” Ms Boyle said.
“We offer case management, psychological care and other practical assistance.”
Topics: religion-and-beliefs, community-and-society, law-crime-and-justice, anglicans, human-interest, people, sexual-offences,sexual-misconduct, activism-and-lobbying, government-and-politics, brisbane-4000, vic, qld, australia
By Debbie Cuthbertson, Simone Fox Koob, Farrah Tomazin and Chris Vedelago
February 16, 2020 — 12.00am
“Jesus is coming to get you.”
That was the warning Lionel (not his real name) alleges Christian Brother Rex Francis Elmer gave in an attempt to silence him after he sexually assaulted him at a Melbourne orphanage in the 1970s.
The words rang in the boy’s ears long after.
Elmer “kissed me on the forehead and said well done” after molesting him, Lionel said.
“He then told me not to tell anyone. He said to me, if you tell anyone, Jesus would come down from heaven and take me away and you will not see your family or friends ever again,” he told police.
“I was scared and really believed what he had said, that Jesus would take me away if I said anything. I was an altar boy and I believed this.
“The word ‘Jesus’ was ringing in my ears.”
The assaults continued, as did the warnings, for more than a year, Lionel said. It was a vicious circle.
“This sort of incident happened at least two to three times a week,” Lionel said in his witness statement to police. “The same sort of thing. I would piss the bed scared at night that [Elmer] would come to me. I was petrified of him. I couldn’t tell anyone because I was scared of getting a flogging and being taken away by Jesus.”
Another boy who had complained about being abused by Elmer was flogged with a cane by another brother then removed from the St Vincent de Paul Boys’ Home, Lionel said.
“He dobbed Elmer in for doing something sexual to him. It was two days later that this guy who got hit and dobbed got taken from the home.”
He said he told another boy at the home about the abuse. That boy replied that Elmer had also sexually assaulted him. “We were both scared that Jesus would come to take us,” Lionel said. “This is what we thought happened to [the boy who left].”
Lionel said he also confided in a nun from a nearby convent. “I told her what Elmer had been doing to me. She said ‘Darling, please do not say a word to anyone, I will fix this for you’.”
Soon after he confessed to her, Lionel alleges, Elmer and two other brothers brutally beat him, including with a cane, in an assault that left him bleeding from his behind and bedridden for more than a week.
While he was still recovering, Lionel said, Elmer abused him again. He punched the boy repeatedly, giving him a black eye and bloody nose after the boy vomited on the brother during the assault.
When I spewed, he punched me in the face with a clenched fist … three or four times. I couldn’t see out of my left eye for a few days until the swelling went down. He said to me ‘Jesus is coming to get you’. This is the last time that I ever saw Elmer.”
In mid-1976, Elmer suddenly left St Vincent’s. “I don’t know what happened to Elmer, but he was gone from the home,” Lionel told police.
Lionel, now aged 59, said of the ongoing effect of his abuse: “I get teary talking about this but I have learnt to deal with it. It is always in my mind and it always hurts me.”
On Monday, Elmer pleaded guilty in the County Court to the indecent assault of two other complainants, also from St Vincent’s, in the 1970s, after which prosecutors did not proceed with charges related to Lionel’s accusations. That meant that Lionel’s witness statement was never tendered and Elmer never faced his allegations.
Court documents show the 75-year-old was charged in 2018 with 19 counts of indecent assault and one of false imprisonment in relation to three victims during the 1970s.
The first complainant, who had been in state care since infancy, told police Elmer repeatedly abused him between the ages of 11 and 13, usually while he was sleeping in a dormitory.
He said the first assault occurred when Elmer threw off his bed covers, demanded he do as he was told, and put his hand down the boy’s pyjama pants. The assault, however, was interrupted. “Someone has approached the bed as he was being assaulted by the accused, who then fled,” according to the police brief of evidence.
“The complainant was summoned to the office of the now deceased Brother in charge, Brother Carey … Shortly thereafter the complainant recalls being sexually abused by the accused on many occasions.”
The second complainant, who came to the orphanage aged seven after his parents died, was sexually abused by Elmer repeatedly between the ages of nine and 11.
On one occasion Elmer led the boy, who had been playing in the grounds of the home after school, upstairs into his private bedroom at the end of a dormitory.
Elmer produced a large book with pictures of human anatomy and made the boy sit on his knee while the brother asked him to name various body parts, including male genitalia, and masturbated against the boy’s back during the 20-minute assault.
As dormitory master at St Vincent’s, Elmer was responsible for up to 40 children at a time, aged between seven and 14.
The most senior Christian Brothers officials in Victoria knew in mid-1976, when they removed Elmer from the orphanage, that he had abused boys there.
Later that year they made Elmer principal of St Joseph’s, a Catholic boys primary school in Warrnambool.
Elmer was in charge of the school from 1976-81. He worked in the town alongside several other notorious paedophile clerics including priests Paul David Ryan and Robert Claffey, and fellow Christian Brother Edward Dowlan (all since jailed for child sexual assault).
Elmer left Warrnambool after more complaints about his behaviour at St Vincent’s reached his superiors. In 1988 he reappeared, in an article from a small Tasmanian newspaper called Western Tiers, published in his home town of Deloraine.
“Brother Rex Elmer will be spending Christmas at home with his mother … and family before leaving to go to Africa to set up a Mission School at Arushia [sic] in Tanzania with two other Christian Brothers,” the newspaper reported proudly on page 3.
“Rex was a pupil at Our Lady of Mercy College and St Patrick’s [College] and has been teaching at various schools, including Warrnambool in Victoria. He is hoping to see old school friends while at home and we all wish him well in the future.”
The school Elmer helped found in northern Tanzania is now run by the Congregation of Christian Brothers East Africa District and has more than 1300 students.
Elmer left the school in 1993 after more complaints surfaced, and was sent by his order to the United States for counselling at the St Luke Institute for paedophile Catholic clergy in Maryland.
He was charged In 1997 with 69 counts. He was convicted the next year of 12 counts: one charge of indecent assault against each of the 12 boys. The judge sentenced him to five years in prison with a minimum of three years and four months.
At his sentencing, Judge Thomas Neesham described Elmer, then 53, as a man of God who had indulged in “depraved self-gratification”, The Age reported at the time.
“Each of your victims was a small boy in your care. Each was an inmate,” he said. The boys, many of them orphans or wards of the state, were aged between eight and 12.
“They were helpless,” Judge Neesham said. “Who could they tell, who would believe them?
“All your victims wear deep emotional scars to this day as is brought out by their victim impact statements,” he said. “As a teacher and a man of God, how could you not have had an inkling of the devastation to your victims’ faith … by your act of misbehaviour.
“Your victims will have to live in the misery that you inflicted upon them … You will have to live with the disgrace that you brought on yourself and your family.”
Elmer had been living in a Christian Brothers home in Brunswick at the time of his first conviction and was still working for the order in an administrative role. In 2002, after his release from prison, he was placed him on “restricted ministry”.
He now resides in a property owned by the order in the same suburb. His bail was extended following his guilty plea this week until his sentencing in July.
“The accused is currently retired and resides within the Christian Brothers Community,” a police brief from his current case states.
The order has received 22 claims for redress from people who allege Elmer sexually abused them as children, according to documents it provided to Austalia’s Royal Commission into Institutional Responses to Child Sex Abuse, which reported its findings in 2017.
Those claims all related to accusations of multiple assaults alleged to have occurred between 1969 and 1985 – from when Elmer was a novitiate (a Christian Brother in training) to the years when he worked in South Melbourne and Warrnambool, mainly during his time at St Vincent’s.
The documents also show the order knew that a number of victims had alleged that other clergy had participated in the abuse by Elmer.
Catholic Church Insurance (CCI) refused to cover the Christian Brothers in relation to any claims of abuse by Elmer after 1976, ruling the order – including its most senior cleric, then provincial Brother Patrick Naughtin – had “prior knowledge” of his crimes.
“Whilst the Visitation was in progress [13/06/1976], a Child Welfare Office reported to Brother [redacted] Acting Superior that Rex had been interfering with little boys; this was true and it had been attended to by the Provincial,” said a CCI document submitted to the royal commission.
In a letter dated June 20, 1976, Naughtin wrote to the acting superior of the orphanage: “Thank you very much for the report on the situation which developed … in connection with Br Elmer. It is indeed a serious and most unfortunate state of affairs and I am grateful for your bringing it to my attention so promptly.”
In his letter, Naughtin (who died in 2010) expressed concern for Elmer’s reputation, not for the welfare of the children he had abused. He also referenced the illegality of Elmer’s actions but did not report him to authorities.
“I have interviewed Br Elmer and discussed this position with him. He is clearly aware of the serious nature of his actions and I took pains to point out his legal and moral obligations in the matter.
“It seems to me extremely unlikely that there will be any recurrence of what had happened … It would seem to me best at this stage not to transfer Brother … immediately, though I would propose to announce his change next August – the usual time for releasing details of staffing for the following year.
“In coming to this decision I have been guided by the Brother’s assurance for the future, by his excellent record to date and by consideration for his reputation which would undoubtedly be harmed by a sudden transfer at this time.”
When Elmer left St Vincent’s he was replaced by Edward ‘Ted’ Dowlan, now one of the most notorious paedophile clerics in Victoria. They later worked together at St Joseph’s in Warrnambool.
A 1996 letter from an unnamed Christian Brother was submitted to the Victorian parliamentary inquiry in 2013 into the handling of child abuse by institutions, including religious orders. It sheds light on how widespread the abuse was at St Vincent’s, and how determined the church was to dismiss it.
“I accepted with good faith the sudden departure of Brother Elmer from the school and the appointment of Brother Dowlan to fill his position,” the letter reads. “Indeed, I spent many extra hours, which I could ill afford, assisting Brother Dowlan to understand the nature and behaviours of the boys and the teachers.
“As you are probably aware, many of St Vincent’s residents had been sexually abused, and often displayed overt and outrageous sexualised behaviour. Furthermore, they expected or requested that this behaviour be reciprocated by the adults in their lives. A major part of our endeavours at St Vincent’s was getting these boys to a point where they would expect not to be abused. Now I find that all of this work could have been compromised by the presence of a man like Brother Dowlan …
“I take note of your congregation’s position that the brothers were unaware of Brother Dowlan’s tendencies and activities. I cannot accept this as a reasonable position. I cannot believe that the number of allegations against this man could have been kept from his various communities’ and the congregation’s superiors. I find that expecting the public to believe this is preposterous. I do not believe this plea of ignorance.”
St Vincent’s orphanage closed in 1997. It was home to more than 6000 boys over 140 years.
Information provided by the Catholic Church to the royal commission showed it had received 114 claims of sexual abuse at the home, the highest number of any Catholic institution in Victoria.
The Christian Brothers declined to answer The Age’s questions about Elmer, citing “ongoing legal proceedings”.
If you or anyone you know needs support, you can contact the National Sexual Assault, Domestic and Family Violence Counselling Service on 1800RESPECT (1800 737 732), Lifeline 131 114, or beyondblue 1300 224 636.
June 13, 2014
It is precisely our lack of knowledge and understanding that gives predators their edge. – Anna Salter, Psychologist
If child molesters depend upon our ignorance in order to hurt little ones, what steps can the faith community take to eliminate the edge and make sure that they don’t succeed? Learning how offenders think and act is the first step in making our faith communities safe from those who pose a risk to our little ones. This post will examine 5 common behavioral characteristics of child sexual offenders that we must understood if we are committed to eliminating their edge:
- Offenders have many victims: We need to understand that most child offenders have multiple victims. One study indicates that child molesters who sexually victimize females outside of the home averaged approximately 20 different victims. That same study found that child molesters who sexually victimize males outside of the home averaged approximately 150 different victims! The importance of knowing this gravely disturbing information is to understand that those who sexually victimize children will continue to do so as long as they have access to children. It is not just the “known” offenders that must keep us vigilant. The fact that most offenders have multiple victims means that most offenders in our midst have never been caught. Our faith communities eliminate the edge from offenders when we create environments that minimize the opportunities of any adult to access any child without strict supervision and ongoing accountability. We also eliminate the edge when we don’t get fooled by offenders who get “caught” and beg for “grace”, claiming that this was the only child they have ever victimized. Based upon objective statistics, the offender is likely lying, which means they are continuing to deceive in order to reestablish trust and access of our children.
- Offenders can be the most unsuspected people: Unfortunately, many Christians still believe that they can spot a child molester simply by appearance. We are most often on the lookout for the “creepy looking” guy who hangs out at the park or outside of the school. First, all adults should be concerned and take action to protect children when they see such a person. However, do not allow that limited stereotype to identify those in our community who may be a danger to our children. I heard a child protection expert once say, it’s not the guy sitting alone at the party that we should be most concerned about, it’s the one hosting the party. When I was a prosecutor, I illustrated this point by asking prospective jurors, Can you tell me what a burglar looks like? This question often helped jurors understand that child molesters cannot be identified by appearance or social status. In my years as a child sexual abuse prosecutor, I prosecuted physicians, computer programmers, financial advisors, teachers, and even a child sexual abuse investigator! Our faith communities eliminate the edge from offenders when we focus on behavior, not looks or economic status.
- Offenders are not strangers: Another unfortunate stereotype is that most offenders are strangers to the child. We must be vigilant in protecting our children from interacting with strangers. However, it is common knowledge that most children are not sexually victimized by strangers. In fact, one study found that only 10 percent of child molesters molest children that they don’t know. We must come to terms with the heartbreaking reality that those who pose the greatest risk to our children are within our families, churches, and circle of friends. Our faith communities eliminate the edge from offenders when we are always on alert, even when our children are around those that they know and trust.
- Offenders often prey upon trusting and vulnerable young people: In order to sexually victimize a child, an offender will first have to gain access to the child. As a result, offenders spend much time planning and executing what is commonly known as the “grooming” process. This is the process which the offender gains access to the child in order to develop a trusting and/or authoritative relationship. Once such a relationship has been created, the perpetrator is often free to abuse. Offenders often access children by, 1) exploiting the already existing position the offender has with the child or the child’s family (this can include family members, teachers, friends, coaches, youth pastors, etc.), or 2) intentionally placing themselves in a position where the offender is able to target a child and begin to lavish that child with attention, gifts, and “love”. This can include targeting a “troubled” child, a child lacking a positive adult role model, or even a child who has similar interests. Both categories of access allow offenders to openly target the vulnerabilities of children in gaining their trust and silence. Our faith communities eliminate the edge from offenders when we understand these dangerous dynamics and keep our antennas up to make sure that our children are carefully watched and protected. We must be vigilant in protecting ALL children.
- Offenders minimize their criminal actions: Just this past week, I recently read a very disturbing article by a former youth pastor and convicted child sexual offender. Not once did this person acknowledge that his grooming and subsequent sexual contact with a child in his youth group was criminal and reprehensible. In fact, he repeatedly referred to the sexual victimization of this minor as a “relationship” and compared his actions with the adultery of King David. It wasn’t until the end of the article that I even realized this person had sexually abused a child! This offender was so focused on himself that he seemed completely oblivious to how his crime will forever impact the victim in all aspect of her life. Perhaps he doesn’t really care. He ends the piece by writing, Sooner or later, all things come into the light (ie. Be careful because at some point you will get caught!). This article was a sobering reminder of another very disturbing statement from another offender that was recently published by a church. Our faith communities eliminate the edge from offenders when we don’t allow them to minimize their crimes and don’t publish their self-deceptive and hurtful words for the world to read.
Since the posting of this blog, the above article has been removed by the Leadership Journal with an apology. It is encouraging that a Christian publication listened and decided to help eliminate the edge!
These general characteristics are just a starting point as we seek greater knowledge and understanding on how best to eliminate the edge from the predators who have tragically infiltrated all aspects of our faith culture. Ultimately, our objective is not merely to eliminate the edge, but to make it impossible for child sexual offenders to continue hiding and offending in the communities that should be the safest for all God’s children.
This necessary objective will be achieved only If the Church is willing to listen and learn. Are we?