Samoa to Deport Priest in Sex Case

The Courier-Mail [Samoa]
June 24, 2004

SAMOA yesterday moved to deport a fugitive Australian Catholic priest because he failed to disclose his conviction in a child molestation case when he entered the country.

Frank Klep could be forced back to Australia, where he is the subject of a nationwide arrest warrant on five indecent assault charges alleging offences against boys dating to 1973.

Samoan officials said they would co-ordinate Klep's return with Australian authorities.

Klep's superiors in the Salesians of Don Bosco religious order also face an immigration inquiry because they failed to make the same disclosures about Klep, said Auseuga Poloma Komiti, the senior adviser to Samoa's Prime Minister and Cabinet.

Authorities on the South Pacific island planned to serve Klep with a deportation order this afternoon, giving him three days to leave voluntarily or seek an appeal, Mr Komiti said in a story posted on The Dallas Morning News's website.

"We can't help but think what was foremost was to have Father Klep evade the law by assigning him overseas," Mr Komiti said.

"They were not thinking or giving two hoots about the children of this country."

Yesterday, however, Australian Justice Minister Chris Ellison said the Commonwealth had made no move to extradite Klep from Samoa because it had received no formal request from Victoria, where he was wanted on charges.

Senator Ellison said it was a matter of concern and the Government would act speedily if such a request was lodged.

Klep was convicted in 1994 of sex offences during the 1970s against a student at the Salesian College, north of Melbourne, where he had been principal. He was sentenced to nine months of community service.

In 1998, Klep was sent to the Samoan mission, despite having been charged in Australian with additional sex offences.

In the same year, the Australian Federal Police informed Samoan authorities of Klep's background, Senator Ellison said.

Yesterday, leaders of the Salesians of Don Bosco denied allegations that they moved priests accused of sexual abuse from country to country to avoid law enforcement.

The Dallas Morning News reported on Sunday that the Salesians of Don Bosco transferred priests accused of abuse, allowing them to start new lives in unsuspecting communities and continue working in church ministries.

In a statement posted on its website yesterday, the order said it "categorically denies such behaviour and condemns every kind of abuse of minors".

The newspaper, which has been investigating the international movement of abusive Roman Catholic priests for more than a year, stood by its reporting.

The newspaper said the Salesians' statement did not address several specific cases described in its report.

The Salesian order works mainly with poor children.


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