Church employed paedophile, then fought his victims Warned: Maitland-Newcastle Bishop Leo Clarke was warned that parents had a “pretty good case” against the diocese after it employed a convicted paedophile teacher.
Committee: The then Monsignor Philip Wilson found serious gaps in the diocese’s handling of child sex allegations in the late 1980s.
Told: Former Maitland-Newcastle Bishop Michael Malone was told Catholic Church Insurance refused to cover the diocese for claims initiated by victims of a paedophile teacher.
TweetFacebookNewcastle Herald, and others released by the royal commission on Monday, show parents raised the alarm about GKI on at least three occasions in the 1980s, including reports to the Catholic Education Office.
The documents include a report to the then Bishop Leo Clarke in 1990 by a church committee headed by the then Monsignor Philip Wilson, and tasked with reporting on the diocese’s handling of the teacher’s case.
The committee found serious gaps in the diocese’s child protection protocols, including a reluctance to include details of alleged sexual misconduct on a teacher’s personnel file.
“It would seem that if a teacher faced with allegations of sexual abuse resigns, there is nothing to guarantee that he/she will not be employed at some time in the future in a Catholic school in another diocese, or indeed in this diocese, given the reluctance to place information regarding the allegations in the personnel file,” Monsignor Wilson’s committee found.
It recommended that “personnel files contain all documents related to allegations, charges, convictions in relation to sexual abuse”.
The committee report noted that GKI had to be ordered by his probation officer to stay away from the church, the school and the children after he harassed children at Mass, followed the school bus and approached them in the street.
“Parishioners were extremely angry when they discovered that one of the teacher’s former parish priests had testified on his behalf at the court case in which the teacher had pleaded guilty,” Bishop Clarke was told.
“It would seem that there has been no attempt by the parish, school or CatholicEducation Officeto ascertain whether the victims have suffered financial hardship because of the events which have occurred since the time of the abuse.”
A note at the bottom of the report warned Bishop Clarke that parents had the right to sue the Catholic Education Office and the diocese for “failing to adequately protect their children”.
“Our legal consultant suggests that the parents in this case would have a pretty good case if they chose to act,”the note said.
But when one of the 10-year-old boys whose complaints led to GKI’s conviction for child sex offences in 1989 tried to sue the diocese for compensation in 2005, hiscase was “fiercely resisted”, his barrister Andrew Morrison, SC, said in a report on the case in 2009.
Mr Morrison on Monday said he was “not at all surprised” to learn the diocese knew GKI’s victims had a “pretty good case” to sue the church, based on its knowledge it had employed a child sex offender to put in charge of young children.
“The Catholic Church doesn’t appear overall to have learnt the lessons from what has occurred and been revealed, although there are significant changes in some areas and it is not the only institution to have been found wanting,” Mr Morrison said.
“It’s got a long, long way to go. There are still some very ugly attitudes among some decision-makers.”