Friday, August 27, 2010

Mum calls on Church to end abuse silence

Mum calls on Church to end abuse silence
14:00 AEST Fri Aug 27 20103 hours 39 minutes ago
By Jay Savage,
The mother of two girls whose lives were destroyed by a pedophile priest says she believes the Catholic Church is still in denial about sexual abuse within its ranks.

Chrissie Foster's daughters Emma and Katie never recovered from the abuse they suffered at the hands of Father Kevin O'Donnell next to their Melbourne primary school between 1988 and 1993.

Tormented to the end, Emma died holding the teddy bear she received for her first birthday after overdosing on medication in 2008.

Katie was left with physical and intellectual disabilities after being hit by a drunk driver in 1999 and has since required constant care.

Now Mrs Foster hopes a book she has written, compiled from years of meticulous record-keeping, will help force the Church to admit its culpability in the suffering of her daughters and others.

"It wasn't just the pedophile who was doing this, it became this big cover-up. It was a systematic thing," she said.

"We wanted the church to laicise O’Donnell so that other victims — who hadn't come out — could see that the Church wasn't on the pedophile's side, that it was on the victim's side. But it was impossible."

Mrs Foster and her husband Anthony received an undisclosed settlement from the church, but O'Donnell was never charged.

He died in 1997 after serving 15 months behind bars for indecently assaulting 12 other children.

Mrs Foster hopes her book, Hell On The Way To Heaven, will help other parents detect signs of abuse in their own children.

"Emma was a gorgeous little girl, full of adventure and always had a hug and kiss for her mum — right up until she died," she said.

"We had a really blessed life but this was happening underneath. It's just so insidious."

The book, written with journalist Paul Kennedy, will be released next Wednesday.

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