Priest sex claims to face scrutiny
5th July 2012
5th July 2012
THE Catholic Church will launch an independent investigation into an alleged pedophile priest, as NSW police say they are reviewing whether three senior clergy failed to report his admission that he sexually abused altar boys in his care.
Evidence of the admission is contained in a letter written by Wayne Peters, the vicar general of Armidale in northern NSW, and featured in the ABC's Four Corners program this week.
The letter, dated September 1992, alleges the former priest, known as Father F for legal reasons, admitted to groping two boys and "to quote, 'sucked off their dicks' . . . on about a monthly basis over a period of 12 months".
The letter is supported by evidence given in court by Father F in 2004, in which he said he had told the three that he had engaged in oral sex with young boys.
This admission has since been disputed by the two other senior clergy who interviewed Father F along with Father Peters, Brian Lucas, the secretary-general of the Australian Catholic Bishops Conference, and John Usher, chancellor of the Archdiocese of Sydney.
The Archbishop of Sydney, Cardinal George Pell, has also insisted that Father F made no such admission to the priests.
NSW Police is reviewing the program's revelations, and has urged any victims of sexual abuse to come forward.
The Bishop of Armidale last night announced an independent investigation into the alleged abuse committed by Father F.
"I intend to arrange for a full investigation into certain matters raised in the report," Bishop Michael Kennedy said. "I am in the process of appointing an independent expert to review all available records and to report back to me," he said, but declined to answer questions.
Separately, the Archdiocese of Sydney said it "does not accept allegations that its priests have failed to disclose the existence of crimes committed" by Father F.
It is an offence in NSW punishable by two years' jail for any "person who knows or believes that (an) offence has been committed" not to report that to police.
Father F was banned from conducting mass in 1992, and later moved to the diocese of Parramatta, in western Sydney, where he allegedly kept abusing altar boys. He was defrocked in 2005.
Three years before this, in 2002, another alleged victim of Father F wrote to Cardinal Pell, outlining the abuse he claimed to have suffered at the priest's hands.
The former altar boy -- who is now in his 30s and lives with his family in Queensland -- said the abuse began when he was eight years old.
The archbishop said he replied: " I don't have authority in this case, but I will send your letter . . . to the bishop concerned," and encouraged the man to contact police.