Historic sex abuse cases investigated

03:36, Apr 11 2010

An investigation into allegations of sexual abuse by Catholic clergy in New Zealand is in the best interests of the church, not the victims, an abuse support group says.

Former police commissioner John Jamieson today said he was investigating five allegations of historic sex abuse against members of the Catholic church.

Mr Jamieson, who is not Catholic, said the complaints were lodged last year, and allegedly happened between 20 and 75 years ago.

The inquiries comes as the church worldwide is rocked by allegations of child sexual abuse.

Accusations have been directed at the highest level, with the Vatican denying Pope Benedict XVI was involved in covering up some of the crimes.

New Zealand was no different and the investigation would do more harm than good for the "huge" number of victims, Male Survivors of Sexual Abuse Trust national manager Ken Clearwater said.

"I've been involved in quite a few of the investigations, I find them very traumatising for the victims," he said.

"I think the processes and procedures that are set up are there to suit the church, not the victims.

"Most of the time the victims feel as though they're actually the perpetrator, the way that the process goes."

Mr Clearwater said there were lessons to be learned from the investigation by the church in Ireland and only a Government inquiry would reveal the extent of the abuse.

"What they failed to do in Ireland is they didn't hold anyone accountable. They had an inquiry but the inquiry was about what happened, not accountability," he said.

"At the end of the day, it (an inquiry) needs to be set up for the victims and not for the church."

Mr Clearwater said he had been pushing for an inquiry since 2004 but the government had repeatedly refused.

"I think it's absolutely appalling ... one day something's gotta happen."

Apologies from the church, including one from the Archbishop of Wellington, John Dew this Easter weekend, were not sincere, he said.

"I believe the apologies coming out at the moment are because they've been caught. It's about the protection of the name of the church, they're certainly not victim focused."

Archbishop Dew said he had apologised to church members for the "humiliation, embarrassment and disappointment" resulting from the continuing reports of child abuse by priests in several countries.

"I think as more revelations come to light and people hear of that, it has put the church in a crisis," he said.

The situation had been made even worse as church members heard that the cases may have been mishandled, the archbishop said.

"That's why I wanted to say something to the people."

Meanwhile two religious brothers in the Order of St John of God jailed for sexual abuse of boys in their care at Christchurch's Marylands School in the 1970s are both out of prison, having served less than half their sentences, the New Zealand Herald website reported.

Rodger William Moloney was back in the Catholic order and would be given a home in Australia once his parole period was up, the website said.

Moloney was head of the school for boys with learning difficulties, where more than 100 victims were systematically abused in the 1970s.

The church paid out about $5 million in compensation after the cases became public in 2002.

A second brother Bernard Kevin McGrath was found guilty of 22 charges against nine victims aged 7 to 15 and was jailed for five years in 2006.

McGrath was released on parole in February 2008, less than two years into his five-year term and reportedly had cut his ties with the order.

Moloney was jailed for two years nine months in 2008 and was paroled last September.