Salesians 'Knew of Klep Allegations'
By Barney Zwartz
The Age [Australia]
June 29, 2004
Parents of former students allegedly sexually abused at Salesian College in Sunbury are getting together to discuss action as the scandal widened yesterday.
According to one alleged victim, at least 12 parents plan to write to the Salesian order and to other church leaders demanding an explanation and an end to the cover-up.
Their discussions may lead to further complaints to police.
Yesterday, a former Salesian contradicted a statement by the order's Australian head that the Salesians did not know of allegations against convicted child abuser Frank Klep until last week.
Meanwhile, The Age is aware of abuse allegations against four other present and past Salesians.
Alleged victim "Daniel" said yesterday that publicity last week about the order and Friday's arrest of Klep "has resurrected the old wounds and the old anger".
Klep was deported from Samoa and arrested at Melbourne Airport on Friday morning. He was remanded on five charges of indecent assault.
Daniel (not his real name) said the parents "know they have been betrayed and lied to. They are unhappy with what the Salesians are saying - that they didn't know. The parents think it's a cover-up and hypocritical."
He said many of the parents were part of the group that acted to have Klep removed from Rupertswood in 1986 when allegations of systematic abuse first arose. They were parents of boarders from north-eastern Victoria and southern NSW.
"Parents demanded that Klep be removed, but the Salesians refused to comply - until they threatened legal action. Then he was moved very quickly," he said.
Now the parents are talking to each other again. According to Daniel, the first step will be a corporate letter to the Salesians, Towards Healing (the Catholic protocol on sexual abuse complaints) and Melbourne Archbishop Denis Hart.
Parents demanded that Klep be removed, but the Salesians refused to comply.
- Alleged victim 'Daniel'"They'll just throw it in the bin, I reckon," Daniel said of the Salesians.
"But if they won't be honest and sit down and talk, what can you do? All they need to do is follow what the Anglican Church is doing in Adelaide."
The Salesians moved Klep to Samoa in 1998 before he was to appear in court on five charges of indecent assault. When he didn't appear, Victoria Police issued a warrant for his arrest.
The Australian head of the Salesians, Father Ian Murdoch, said in a statement on Friday that the order was not aware of the complaints until last week. He has not taken calls since the scandal broke last Monday.
But a former Salesian said yesterday that members of the order had been told of allegations against Klep in 1998.
"We were told that the allegations weren't true and that the people were only trying to make money out of the Salesians," said the man, who did not want to be named.
"The next thing we knew he was being shipped across to Samoa."
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