– The Catholic Salesians of Don Bosco order misled the Victorian inquiry into child sex abuse about its attempts to suppress an independent report that criticised it, according to the report’s author.
Patrick Parkinson, professor of law at Sydney University, told the inquiry in a right of reply published on Friday that Australians could not have any confidence in promises by the church “if we are unable to believe that the truth will be told even to a parliamentary inquiry”.
Meanwhile, the church has in turn attacked the inquiry for making “incorrect, unfair and misleading” claims, and savaged witnesses in a right of reply published this week.
Peter O’Callaghan, QC, has also submitted a string of rebuttals of witnesses’ testimony, posting eight replies since July 26th.
And a former consultant to Towards Healing, the church’s national abuse protocol, has claimed that the church’s insurance company dominated its policies at the expense of victims, and destroyed 40 boxes of personnel records.
Professor Parkinson, a child protection expert, told the inquiry last year that the Salesians of Don Bosco suppressed his independent report because he criticised them for removing three priests from Australia.
The Salesians, in their evidence on April 29th, said they supported publishing the report providing they could “set the record straight, clarify certain facts and correct certain anomalies”. But Professor Parkinson, in his reply, cites an email by the then Australian head of the Salesians, Father Frank Maloney, to Towards Healing that “there is to be no public exposure of the Salesians”.
The Melbourne archdiocese executive director, Francis Moore, accused the Victorian inquiry of exaggerating the number of victims it had heard from, saying it “must have regard for the facts”. Although chairwoman Georgie Crozier had said the committee had heard from more than 140 dissatisfied victims, in fact it had taken evidence from only 61, Mr Moore said. He accused the committee members of not reading files about complaints made available by the church, though these “must be favoured over vague, anonymous and unsubstantiated assertions”.
A spokeswoman for the inquiry said this claim was incorrect and that the committee had thoroughly investigated source material and used it in its deliberations.
Mr Moore attacked the credibility of witnesses Glenn Davies, a former head of the sexual offences squad, and victims advocate Helen Last, accusing Mr Davies of “blatant untruth” and Ms Last of being “fanciful and misleading”. He also singled out RMIT Professor Desmond Cahill and lawyer Paul Holdway, as well as Victoria Police.
He said Ms Last claimed one barrister, Tim Seccull, had settled 300 victims’ claims with the church outside the protocol, whereas in fact he had done one.
Psychologist Robert Grant told ABC news program Lateline on Thursday night he was an adviser to the committee that set up Towards Healing in 1996. He said Catholic Church insurance had representatives on the committee who dictated policy and objected to any language that might admit culpability.
Peter Rush, CEO of the insurance company, earlier told the Victorian inquiry that it had paid about $30 million to 600 victims of clergy sexual abuse in Victoria. He denied to Lateline that it dictated policy to the church.
The Royal Commission into Institutional Responses to Child Sexual Abuse has released its third issues paper, inviting public submissions on the best ways to create child safe institutions – Barney Zwartz


About Jumpin' Jack Cash
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