Monday, November 15, 2010

Australian victims

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Aust abuse victims urged to fight harder for justice
Published: November 15, 2010A prominent anti-clerical abuse advocate says Australia is decades behind the United States when it comes to dealing with the victims of sexual abuse, the ABC reports.

Reverend Tom Doyle, a Catholic priest who is also a vocal critic of the Church, says Australian abuse victims should become more militant in taking on the Church through the courts and in the media.

Reverend Doyle is in Sydney to attend Australia's first convention for the survivors of clergy abuse, which began on Friday.

He warned the Catholic Church about the looming sexual abuse problem more than two decades ago, and has since become an advocate for many of the victims. "Appealing to the Church, saying 'please help us, this is bad stuff, please make it right' is a waste of time," he said.

"The tradition has always been simply to transfer the perpetrators from one place to another."

Nikki Wells, the forum organiser and the founder of Survivors Australia the event is intended to "raise awareness of the plight" of victims.

The report adds, however, that Paul Collins, a religious commentator and a highly regarded expert on Catholicism, says the Church does realise the problem. "They know they have to do something about it," he said.

"They know they have to come to the party with regard to helping victims, with regard to offering money to victims, offering to help them in every way they possibly can.

"But the difficulty is that because the legal pressure is not there that is there in the United States, there is a tendency to take the easy way out - to offer $50,000, $75,000 and hope they'll get away with that."

Meanwhile, The Cairns Post reports that a former altar boy is suing the Catholic Church for more than $1 million in new documents filed in the Supreme Court, saying years of alleged abuse by a Far Northern priest suffered in silence has led to a life of sadness, a sense of loss and grief, social isolation and severe psychiatric symptoms.

The man, now 38, is seeking $800,000 for future economic loss, $150,000 in general damages, plus interest on earnings, damages and superannuation, legal costs and an amount yet to be determined for past economic loss.

The Church is not yet required to lodge a defence until certain pre-court procedures have been completed, such as securing expert medical opinion, said the report.

In a prepared statement, a spokesperson for Cairns' Bishop James Foley - who was told of the abuse in a meeting with the victim in November last year - declined to comment on the case. "Matters of a legal nature should be dealt with in a court of law and not through trial by media," the spokesperson said.

"He will not be drawn into discussion of specific cases and this is especially so where there has been disposition by the Court. To do otherwise, is an intrusion on the court's determination and in the case of a complainant outside the court process, an intrusion on the complainant's expectation of privacy and confidentiality."

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