Church fought tooth and nail to prevent child abuser’s extradition to New Zealand

A Catholic order’s leader dropped to his knees and begged a brother to face child sex abuse charges in New Zealand yet still paid to take the extradition battle as far as Australia’s highest court.

Brother Timothy Graham believes his predecessor as provincial of the Hospitaller Order of St John of God should not have funded the three-year extradition fight.

The issue caused great controversy, Brother Graham told the child sex abuse royal commission on Wednesday.

“The provincial at the time virtually got on his knees and begged the individual to go to New Zealand to speak to the police but his independent legal advice was not to do that,” he said.

“It would have been better if the individual had of done as the provincial asked and gone to New Zealand and spoke to the police.”

University of Sydney law professor Patrick Parkinson has criticised the lengths the St John of God order went to resist the extradition of two of its members to face charges in New Zealand, even seeking special leave to appeal to the High Court.

“It is unimaginable that an Australian bank, for example, would fight to resist the extradition of one of its managers to New Zealand on fraud charges,” Professor Parkinson said in a statement to the commission.

“Hiding alleged offenders overseas or fighting extradition proceedings to countries with mature and fair legal systems is not consistent with responsible citizenship.”

The St John of God brother and priest were eventually extradited to New Zealand to face charges they sexually abused boys at a Christchurch special school in the 1970s, after the High Court refused their special leave application in 2006.

The brother was jailed in 2008 for two years and nine months for offences against five boys, while the case against the priest did not proceed due to his and a complainant’s ill health.

And to put that into context

An inquiry examining institutional sex abuse in Australia has heard 7% of the nation’s Catholic priests allegedly abused children between 1950 and 2010. In one religious order (St John of God Brothers), over 40% of church figures were accused of abuse. Over 4,440 people claim to have been victims between 1980 and 2015, the Royal Commission into Institutional Responses to Child Sex Abuse was told.

I still maintain that New Zealand’s Catholics have managed to keep things under wraps.  It goes against logic that New Zealand would be the only country in the world where wide-spread systemic abuse of boys was not taking place.

I pray to God I’m wrong.  But it just doesn’t make any sense.

Soon, most of the offenders will be too old, too frail or too dead to face trial.  And perhaps the support in New Zealand for grown adults to bring up abuses against people at death’s door simply isn’t there.

 

– NZN via Yahoo! News, BBC News

 


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