Catholic Church knew of 20 child sex abuse allegations

James Cook at the BBC reports

The BBC has seen evidence that bishops in the Catholic Church in Scotland knew of 20 allegations of child sex abuse by priests between 1985 and 1995.

The Catholic Church in Scotland insists its child protection procedures have improved dramatically since the 1990s and allegations of abuse now are rare.

The Roman Catholic Church is no stranger to scandal, but until now Scotland has not been engulfed by allegations of abuse.

That may be changing.

Yes, it is changing.  All over the world, victims that have previously remained silent are finding the courage to come forward as public support for church abuse victims has never been as strong.

Supporters of the Church claim that New Zealand is not going to be affected by what appears to be a world-wide problem within the Catholic Church.

But we haven’t been totally immune.


The Herald back in 2002 published a helpful list

Brother Bryan McKay - at large, in Mangere Bridge

Brother Bryan McKay – at large, in Mangere Bridge

The following nine priests and brothers have gone before the courts charged with sex offences since 1990. Others have been investigated by the police and no further action taken, or dealt with internally by the Catholic Church. [my emphasis]

1990: Father Mark Brown, Hamilton. Jailed for 15 months for indecencies on altar boys. He remains a priest but is prohibited from exercising any priestly ministry. The diocese of Hamilton provides him with a living allowance.

1990: Brother Kenneth Camden, Christchurch. Admitted indecencies against two boys and jailed for eight months. Remains a Marist Brother, in an administrative capacity.

1993: Father Robin Paulson, Southland. Admitted six charges of indecent assault of three boys and was sentenced to periodic detention. Returned to England, where he remains a member of the Rosminian order, working as a cook and gardener.

1993: Brother Bernard McGrath, Christchurch. Jailed for three years after admitting 10 charges of indecencies on schoolboys. At the end of his sentence, he also served a two-year jail term in Australia for child sex offences there. After that, he was removed from the St John of God order.

1993: Brother Sione Losalu, Napier. Jailed for 12 months on indecency charges against a girl. Has since left his order, the Society of Mary, and is now married.

1994: Father Peter McCormack, Palmerston North. Sentenced to four years jail for sexual assaults on a teenage girl. Defrocked as a priest.

1994: Brother Charles Afeaki, Auckland. Sentenced to eight years’ imprisonment for 15 sex offences against boys, including sodomy. Afeaki was criticised at sentencing for being “a wretched hypocrite” for maintaining his innocence. He is no longer a Marist Brother.

1996: Brother Bryan McKay, Hamilton. Convicted of seven charges of indecent assault of male pupils at Marist Intermediate School and jailed for 21 months. Remains a Marist Brother, but is confined to administration work.

1999: Father Patrick Thwaites, Christchurch. Found guilty of molesting schoolboy parishioners. Sentenced to 2 1/2 years’ jail. Has been removed from public ministry, but remains a priest and is receiving a living allowance from the diocese of Christchurch.

And here is another useful table from 2002

Catholic orders have made payouts to victims of sexual abuse by priests and brothers. These payments include the following:


(Marist priests and brothers)

$110,000 in total to five people who alleged they had been abused by three priests. The payments were for counselling as well as recognition of suffering. Two of the priests were dead at the time the complaints were made and the other left the order.


$300,000 paid out to five people who made allegations against four brothers, none of whom remain active in the order. One of the brothers, who is retired, strongly denies the allegations against him. Another, Brother Kevin McGrath, served prison sentences in New Zealand and Australia for sexual abuse. The other two have died.


$140,000 to victims of five brothers, including $50,000 to two victims of Brother Bryan McKay, former principal of Marist Intermediate School in Hamilton.

So, as we’ve seen claimed here by the New Zealand Catholic Church’s supporters, that New Zealand simply isn’t representative of the child rape and sexual abuses by priests that is being uncovered overseas, it simply doesn’t appear to be the case.

The New Zealand Catholic Church had, and most certainly still has, a very efficient system in place to try and minimise the damage after abuse cases come to light.

Where the Catholic Church would once simply shift a sex offender to another community, it now sends him to Australia for treatment and removes him from public ministry.

Dr Tony Robinson, a clinical psychologist and chief executive of Encompass, says the programme shows the church recognises that sexual abuse is a serious dysfunction, not just a spiritual failing.

“That was a really regrettable thing and I think that bishops historically would have thought of it that way because that was their training,” says Dr Robinson. “Now they realise this is criminal behaviour.”

It isn’t regrettable.  It is outrageous!

It is remarkable priests would need specific treatment to help them realise sticking their penis in a boy’s bottom isn’t just a spiritual failing, but also criminal behaviour.

The Catholic Bishop of Auckland, Patrick Dunn, says the priesthood is scandalised by what has gone on, but is taking it in its stride. “My impression is that we are all very saddened but the morale seems to be quite high.”  [my emphasis]

The church has made many changes to the way it deals with sexual abuse allegations, Bishop Dunn says.

Last year, it updated protocols for handling complaints so allegations could be dealt with in a uniform and thorough manner.

Complaints are sent to six diocesan committees, which are empowered to investigate allegations and uphold the principle that any attempt to sexualise a pastoral relationship is a betrayal of trust, an abuse of authority and professional misconduct.

Where complaints are upheld, the offender is sent for assessment and removed from public ministry.

That is obviously not a reaction to a non-existent problem.

But I what find really, really curious, is that over the last ten years, unlike other countries, New Zealand hasn’t had any of the abuse cases become public.

It defies belief that is is adequately explained by the mere absence of abuse cases to report.

Why has it gone quiet?  Have the church procedures improved to keep a lid on these things?  Sending priests overseas?  Out of sight, out of mind?

  • Rodger T

    oh Dear,

  • Petal

    Yes. It does seem rather odd that nothing has come to light since the early 2000s while they can’t keep the lid on in most other countries.

    New Zealand clearly has a history. But something tells me the abuse just didn’t just abruptly stop. What has abruptly stopped is any public knowledge of further cases, don’t you think?

    • JC

      The answer is in facts given above.. a majority of the offenders are either dead or retired, ie, the offending happened a long time ago. Research from Australia shows it takes male victims an average of 25 years before they report (18 yrs for girls) and the huge JohnJay survey in the US also shows the offending increased six fold from 1950 levels during the 60s and 70s and then fell back to 50s levels again.

      If NZ follows the same sort of timelines as the US and Aussie then there *should* be a dramatic fall in complaints from 2000 on.


  • sandynobb

    “The mandatory celibate priesthood has become the refuge of sexual
    aberration; a haven for predatory paedophiles. It has turned once humble
    and holy men into shadows of humanity and shells of manhood. Some are
    content to live the lie; others are tormented with such conscience
    struggles that they damage their relationship with God, paralyse their
    ministry, and inflict deep wounds upon the Body of Christ.”

  • Morrissey

    Did you hear that Hollywood is going to remake The Exorcist? It’s about a mother who hires the Devil to get a priest out of her son.

  • Orange

    Good to know the BBC is reporting these things, oh wait…

  • Sponge

    Fuck the motherfuckers..

    • Travis Poulson

      I don’t think fucking mothers is the main issue…

  • Ronnie Chow

    And they still get their fucking jobs back !

    These days even looking at porn gets you sacked and made untouchable .

    How long before you poor , pathetic catholics have had a gutsful of this nonsense ?

    No more upper case c’s for friends of the enablers .