Second Priest in Secret Payout

By Mark Dunn [Samoa]
June 24, 2004

A SECOND Catholic priest exiled in Samoa was named in a $45,000 payout to a man who claimed he was sexually abused over two years.

The Catholic church moved Father Jack Ayers to Samoa with Father Frank Klep in 1998, when both were the subject of sexual assault complaints by men who as children attended the Salesian order's Rupertswood College in Sunbury during the 1970s.

A document obtained by the Herald Sun shows Father Ian Murdoch, the Salesians' Melbourne leader, in 2000 arranged a $45,000 payout to an alleged victim of Father Ayers on the condition the victim stop public complaints.

The document says the church refuses to accept the allegations were true. The alleged victim yesterday said he was told telling police would be useless because extradition from Samoa was impossible.

Several of Father Klep's victims have also received confidential church payouts of $20,000 or more.

Victoria Police said they could not investigate Father Ayers unless they received a fresh complaint.

Samoan Archbishop Alapati Mataeliga -- who said had been unaware of the full details of accusations -- threatened to evict Father Klep from the island.

Father Klep was convicted of abuse in 1994 and is still wanted in Victoria on five charges of indecent assault.

Victoria Police Assistant Commissioner (crime) Simon Overland said moves were in progress to extradite Father Klep, six years after the most recent charges were laid.

Father Murdoch refused to take calls on the issue yesterday.

Herald Sun


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