Police critical of Catholic Church over its handling of child sex abuse cases
19th October 2012
Updated 19th October 2012
POLICE claim the Catholic Church has not reported a single case of child sex abuse in at least half a century, despite hundreds of victims coming forward or being identified by investigations.
As Victoria's parliamentary inquiry into the handling of child sex abuse by religious organisations begins, Deputy Commissioner Graham Ashton has delivered a damning account of obstruction and pay-offs in the church to prevent victims coming forward.
Police have called for mandatory reporting and an erosion of Catholic Church culture they believe protects offenders and works actively against investigations.
“If the Catholic Church is serious about changing its culture, it should be referring (cases) to the state, not waiting for victims to come forward,” Deputy Commissioner Ashton said.
An analysis by police reveals 2110 offences by staff in religious organisations were recorded between 1956 and 2012.
They were committed against 519 separate victims, 370 of which were involved with the Catholic Church.
Mr Ashton said the review of child sex cases included a victim who was abused shortly after attending a funeral of a loved one and an alleged offender who was tipped off by other clergy that he was being investigated.
Police believe there is an average lag of 23.6 years between the abuse and the time it is reported to authorities.
Mr Ashton said offending is likely to still be going on in the church.
“There would likely be abuse today that we won’t hear about for 20 years,” he said.
The first session of the inquiry, which also heard from Department of Justice heads this morning, continues this afternoon.