The operator of this website is the highly motivated community-minded Martin Mitchell from Australia (himself an instititionalised and abused minor in church institutions in the former West Germany)

( 02.06.2004 )

Child abuse offenders of yesteryear and today will have nowhere to run. Mandatory reporting of child sexual abuse perpetrated by members of the clergy by their peers an urgent necessity.

THE
[Adelaide] ADVERTISER, 2 June 2004 @
www.theadvertiser.com.au

POLICE ACT ON ABUSE
By NIGEL HUNT and GREG KELTON

2jun04

POLICE are conducting a major investigation into allegations of sexual abuse involving former St Peter’s College chaplain Reverend John Mountford [who fled to the UK].

The police investigation was revealed yesterday as [South Australian] Premier Mike Rann demanded the disgraced chaplain be extradited to face criminal charges.

Sources have told
The Advertiser detectives from the Paedophile Task Force have launched inquiries into two cases of abuse at the exclusive boys school that occurred over a 12-month period in 1991 and 1992.

They said police had already subpoenaed records from the school relating to the cases and were now interviewing witnesses.

The police inquiry also will examine the role played in one case by Anglican Archbishop Ian George, the then headmaster Richard Burchnall, then deputy headmaster Ray Stanley and an unnamed Anglican priest.

They are likely to be questioned over any involvement in Mountford’s decision to flee Australia before police were notified and could question him.

[South Australian] Police Commissioner Mal Hyde yesterday declined to comment on the Mountford case, but said the entire Anglican Church Board of Inquiry report was being examined to determine if any other child-abuse cases warranted investigation.

"We will also be looking to see if any criminal offences have been committed by members of the Anglican Church in the way they have handled those complaints." he said. "There is no person in the community who is beyond the criminal law."

[State Premier] Mr Rann told Parliament yesterday he had been "appalled" by the disclosure in the Board of Inquiry report of the "totally inappropriate handling" of an incident at St Peter’s College.

"That incident, in my view, warrants further investigation." he said.

"The failure of persons in authority to inform the police and their allowing him [St Peter’s College chaplain Reverend John Mountford] to flee the jurisdiction has hampered investigations.

"What does it say about the values of the church and of St Peter’s College at that time that they actually encouraged the perpetrator of a sexual assault to get on a plane or they would report it to the police?"

On Monday, Mr. Rann tabled the Board of Inquiry report - prepared by retired Supreme Court judge Trevor Olsson and University of South Australia senior lecturer Dr Donna Chung - into the Anglican Church’s handling of sexual abuse allegations.

The damning report found the Anglican Church had an uncaring attitude towards victims, and was more concerned with its image and legal and insurance issues.

The report detailed one abuse incident at St Peter’s College involving Mountford in which he admitted abusing a student.

It also stated a witness told the inquiry Mountford had told him after a meeting with [Adelaide Archbishop] Dr [Ian] George "the Archbishop had said to him that, unless he departed Australia within 24 hours, the matter would be reported to police." Dr George on Monday denied he said this to Mountford.

[State Premier] Mr Rann said Mountford should be extradited to face charges. "It is clear from the report that he has admitted his criminal conduct." he said.

Mr Rann said he had written to Dr George and had telephoned him, asking him to ensure all files and transcripts from the inquiry be referred to the Police Commissioner "for his consideration and to ensure their safekeeping and integrity".

[Police Commissioner] Mr [Mal] Hyde said there should be a review of mandatory reporting laws to cover all areas of church activities, including confessionals.

"Currently the churches aren’t expressly included as being required to report these matters," [ie., compulsorily report allegations of child sexual abuse, as per legislative requirement]," he said.

"When you go back to the churches you raise the whole issue of the sanctity of the confessional in terms of mandatory reporting and that is a serious issue for the churches. It is not an issue to be addressed lightly.

"We need to create a new environment where the reporting of these cases becomes the first consideration, not the last consideration."

© Advertiser Newspaper Pty Limited

[ Date of first publication on this Website: 2 June 2004 ]

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