Wednesday, June 26, 2013

When The Uncircumsized Act Like The Circumsized! (OUCH)

The Catholic Church is still impeding police pursuit and conviction of clergy sex offenders, according to a former head of Victoria Police's sexual crimes squad.

Former Detective Inspector Glenn Davies, who now works with victims of clergy sex abuse, says his experience of working with the church is that it is "protectionist, elitist and dismissive of suggestions for change".

Mr Davies, who resigned from Victoria Police last year after he admitted briefing journalists about then-current investigations, made a submission to the Victorian inquiry into how the churches handled clergy sexual abuse. This was posted on the inquiry website late on Tuesday.

Ten submissions were posted on the website, including a defence of Towards Healing by one of its investigators, former police superintendent Paul Murnane, plus a second "right of reply" by Melbourne Archbishop Denis Hart.

Similar to the Victoria Police evidence, Mr Davies says both the Melbourne Response and the Towards Healing process that covers the rest of Australia "are operating in a manner that is detrimental to the administration of justice and impeding the detecting, apprehending, prosecuting or convicting" of abusers.

He attacks the role and practices of the Melbourne church's investigator, independent commissioner Peter O'Callaghan QC, saying that – far from operating like a royal commission, as Mr O'Callaghan suggests – he is really just "a reputational risk manager" who makes recommendations about compensation.

Mr Davies says Mr O'Callaghan was aware of serious sexual offending by clergy but "refused to report offenders for investigation ... or make recommendations that would have protected children and vulnerable adults from further victimisation".

He says many cases of suspected sexual abuse were reported to church authorities but not acted on, clergy were not removed, investigations were not carried out, and appropriate protections were not planned or embedded into parishes.

He agrees that Mr O'Callaghan tells victims they can go to the police at any time, but says such "options talk" is heavily weighted in favour of the Melbourne Archdiocese quickly providing relief, counselling and compensation in place of a police investigation.

He lists 10 problems, suggesting the church processes "actively and systematically dissuaded victims of sexual crime from reporting their victimisation to the police", hindered police investigations, quickly provided suspects with details of the allegations which allowed the possible destruction of evidence, failed to protect the community, but provided protection and sanctuary to offenders.

Archbishop Hart's right of reply, written on June 5, follows an earlier one written last October defending the church and Mr O'Callaghan from scathing criticisms in the Victoria Police submission. Tabling 39 pieces of correspondence between church and police from 1996 to last year, he says the police have provided no evidence for their allegations.

Far from an alleged lack of engagement with police, the church co-operated extensively, did not dissuade victims from reporting, did not hinder police investigations, did not alert suspects about allegations, and did not move offenders to evade investigation after 1996, he says. He repeats Mr O'Callaghan's assertion that to suggest the independent commissioner has a conflict of interest is highly defamatory and wrong. (Somebody Is Lying Here!!!)

Archbishop Hart says the church takes precisely the same attitude about reporting to police as victim support groups, that both accept it is up to the victim, if now an adult. But the church would be happy to report all suspected offenders to police, if victims who wanted their identity kept secret could be protected. (Got a real bad case of the giggles)

Former Detective Superintendent Murnane was police liaison officer with the church for some years before he retired in 2007, and has since acted as a complaints assessor for the Towards Healing process . His submission says that though he does not conduct criminal investigations he does have the required skills, that he has helped several victims to report abuse to police, and that it is wrong to call him a church employee, as it suggests an allegiance to the church.