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Widespread and systematic sexual violence from Ireland to Australia

September 28, 2011

In the introduction to the criminal complaint filed with the International Criminal Court by the Center for Constitutional Rights (CCR) on behalf of the Survivors Network of Those Abused by Priests (SNAP) the following statement is made:

“In recent years ongoing revelations of pervasive and serious sexual violence against children and vulnerable adults by priests and others associated with the Catholic Church in different parts of the world have demonstrated that the problem is not one of isolated, random sexual assaults by errant priests, but is occurring on a widespread and systematic basis throughout the Church.  In the wake of scandals in Canada, Ireland, the United States and elsewhere, experts and investigators who have carefully studied the issue and the evidence have identified policies and practices that allowed the sexual violence to occur and continue and that furthered the harm to the direct victims.  One after another, the investigators have found intentional cover-ups and affirmative steps taken that serve to perpetuate the violence and exacerbate the harm.  The same or similar practices and policies have been found virtually everywhere that cases of sexual violence have been brought to light- in Australia, Austria, Belgium, France, Germany, Italy, the Netherlands, and Mexico among others”.

There are two stories this week that serve to validate and confirm the assessment made by the Center for Constitutional Rights.

The first is the publication yesterday of “In Plain Sight” by Amnesty International Ireland which seeks to explain how the rape and torture of children could have been allowed to continue in Ireland for so many years.  The Executive Director of Amnesty International Ireland, Colm O’Gormon confirmed that what happened to the children of Ireland met the legal definition of torture.  He stated “Children were tortured.  They were brutalized, beaten, starved and abused”.  In particular O’Gorman concludes that “Much of the abuse described in the Ryan Report meets the legal definition of torture under international human rights law”.

The Center for Constitutional Rights issued a statement following the release of Amnesty International Ireland’s “In Plain Sight” stating that the findings in the report marked an important step towards holding the Vatican accountable “for the systematic and widespread concealing of rape and child sex crimes throughout the world”.

The second story that has emerged this week concerns events that took place at a Catholic school for the disabled almost 10,000 miles from shores of Ireland.

The Australian Broadcasting Company aired a television special called “St. Ann’s Secret”.  The documentary told the story of the sexual violence that had been perpetrated against disabled children at St. Ann’s Special School in Adelaide, Australia.  From 1986 to 1991 St. Ann’s School utilized the services of a volunteer bus driver named Brian Bertram Morris Perkins.  According to reports Perkins not only assaulted the disabled students in his care but he introduced them to a pedophile ring.

When reports about Perkins first surfaced in 1991 law enforcement officials conducted a search of his home.  There they found pornographic pictures Perkins had taken of disabled students at St. Ann’s.

Police made a visit to St. Ann’s School with the pornographic pictures in hand.  Shortly after the appearance of law enforcement officials the Catholic Education Office contacted their attorneys.  Recently released documents show that attorneys advised the church to “quarantine” the archbishop at the time, Leonard Faulkner, from knowledge of the reports.

When asked what the school should do about the child rapist who was transporting the school’s children the attorneys advised that Perkins dismissal letter should be “neutral”.  They explained that  “In the event that the letter were for some reason to fall into media hands at some future time, it allows the Archbishop (Faulkner) to deal with the matter without being compromised by any previous correspondence,” the advice says.

Perkins did receive a dismissal letter from St. Ann’s which stated that “his contribution as a volunteer bus driver for disabled students has been appreciated”.

St. Ann’s School was aware that a child rapist had access to the children of their school.  They were aware that he took pornographic pictures of some of their students.  Despite this they did not inform all the parents of the school about the danger that their children had been exposed to.  They only notified those parents whose children they could confirm had been photographed.

The rest of the parents were kept in the dark.  Their children, if they had been assaulted by Perkins, were unable to articulate to them the experience that they had endured.  When their children began exhibiting behavioural problems parents were left searching for answers.

The abuse endured by the students of St. Ann’s did not come to light until 2001 when parents from the school discovered it.  They now state that if they had known about the abuse occurring they could have ensured that their children received proper treatment at the time.

The bus driver, Brian Perkins, is now deceased.  He had served ten years in prison after pleading guilty to five offenses against three students.  The total number of students that Perkins is known to have assaulted is at least 36.

Parents are now seeking an independent investigation into the cover-up of sexual assaults that took place at St. Ann’s School.  Archbishop Wilson says such an inquiry is simply unnecessary.  He said “I really understand the terrible pain that these people have experienced, because of what has happened, and I really have done all I could to help them in that”.  He added that “I don’t think there is any need for an independent inquiry…since 2001 we have dealt adequately and properly with all these matters”.

The parents of St. Ann’s School whose children were assaulted want answers.  They want to know who knew of the crimes being committed, and what did they do about it.  They are the same answers that all survivors and their families want whether they are in Ireland, Australia, or the United States.

As Ireland’s Children’s Minister Francis Fitzgerald stated at the launch of the report “In Plain Sight”, “Children Matter.  Families matter.  People’s health, hopes, and happiness matter.  Everything else is subservient to those things”.

 

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3 Comments
  1. JuneAnnette permalink

    One has to wonder WHY THE DELAY IN RELEASING the RAPHOE REPORT?

    I am sure the the Center for Constitutional Rights (CCR) would welcome the additional incriminating evidence undoubtedly contained in these much awaited documents!

    Perhaps someone within the SNAP organization can make some inquiries.

    *******
    Source: Independent.ie
    Link: http://www.independent.ie/national-news/hundreds-of-children-abused-by-20-priests-2845362.html

    Hundreds of children abused by 20 priests
    Shocking new report to reveal cover-up scandal in diocesePhilip Boyce: Bishop of Raphoe will publish report / By Greg Harkin / Thursday August 11 2011

    EXCERPTS from article:

    A shocking new report will reveal how up to 20 paedophile priests abused hundreds of children in one diocese over a 40-year period — sparking a new cover-up scandal for the Catholic Church.
    Clergy are severely criticised for the way victims and their families were treated in the diocese of Raphoe, Co Donegal.
    The report is due out later this month.

    The contents of the report are said to be “horrific” and outline a catalogue of allegations against priests who abused young children and senior colleagues who failed their victims.
    “There were hundreds and hundreds of victims,” one source told the Irish Independent, “and they were abused again and again while the church actively prevented investigations by the civil authorities.

    The audit of the diocese was led by Ian Elliott chief executive of the National Board for Safeguarding Children in the Catholic Church. The board was founded in 2006 and has compiled audits on six of Ireland’s 26 dioceses.
    A spokesman for Mr Elliott said his board ‘s report examined “the full extent of all complaints or allegations, knowledge, suspicions or concerns of child sexual abuse, made to the Raphoe diocese by individuals or by the civil authorities in the period 1 January 1975 to the present day, against Catholic clergy.”
    The clergy included all members of religious congregations affiliated with Raphoe.
    Raphoe diocese press officer, Fr Paddy Dunne, told the Irish Independent he believed the audit would be published within weeks. “No exact date has been set for its publication but I believe it will be before the end of August,” he said.

  2. JuneAnnette permalink

    By way of a postscript regarding the yet to be released Raphoe Diocese Report . . .

    As you probably are already aware, the Center for Constitutional Rights (CCR) has stated:

    “In the coming months, CCR will continue to gather information and evidence of additional crimes of rape and sexual violence and associated cover ups by the Catholic Church. We continue to urge all members of the clergy, church officials, and anyone else with information about sexual violence against children to come forward.

    The 22,000 pages of evidence presented in the ICC filing is only a small fraction of the evidence already available. Far more must exist given the nature and magnitude of these crimes and the reach of the church. Hundreds of current and former Vatican employees have information about sexual assaults against children. Silence is complicity. It’s time for church employees at every level to search their consciences and share their knowledge of these crimes and cover ups.”

    ***********
    I’m sure in view of the statements made by the Raphoe Diocese press officer below, you can be assured of the church’s full cooperation!
    ***********
    MORE from the Independent.ie ARTICLE:
    ‘Hundreds of children abused by 20 priests’

    “Raphoe diocese press officer, Fr Paddy Dunne, told the Irish Independent he believed the audit would be published within weeks. “No exact date has been set for its publication but I believe it will be before the end of August,” he said.
    “It is very important that we are open and honest about what is in it and that we deal with all the issues which are raised.”
    The Raphoe diocese set up a child protection committee in June 2006. Bishop Boyce said last month that all abuse allegations are now reported to gardai.”

  3. JuneAnnette permalink

    Postscript to my comment above . .

    Perhaps this may go a long way in explaining the delay in the release of the Raphoe Diocese Report

    RELATED . . Source: Sydney Morning Herald / Link: http://www.smh.com.au/world/ireland-on-edge-as-church-sex-abuse-report-nears-20110830-1jk1v.html

    Article: Ireland on edge as church sex abuse report nears / Dublin / August 31, 2011
    EXCERPT from article:
    Throughout the decades of denial, the young men who were preyed on by paedophiles had one champion – a retired police detective, Martin Ridge.

    Mr Ridge moved to the county at the end of his career, and became so disturbed by official indifference that he wrote a book, Breaking the Silence.

    He predicted that the Raphoe report would be ”damning” and would expose the same culture of ”local denial and cover-up” that was found in other Catholic dioceses across Ireland. Mr Ridge admitted the police force he served in all his working life would not be spared withering criticism in the report.

    Two years ago the Murphy report into widespread clerical abuse of children in Dublin, Ireland’s largest Catholic diocese, found that senior Garda officers colluded with four archbishops and top clerics in covering up the sex crimes of priests on a massive scale in the city.

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