Abuse Victims Must Continue to Come Forward: Anglican Archbishop

ABC [Australia]
November 12, 2006

The head of the Anglican Church in Australia says he is concerned media coverage of the latest abuse case involving a former clergyman may make other victims reluctant to come forward.

Former priest Robert Francis Sharwood, 62, was jailed last week for abusing a teenager in Brisbane's west in the 1970s.

The victim has reportedly accused Brisbane Archbishop Phillip Aspinall of failing him, saying the Anglican Primate did not tell police about a letter he had involving Sharwood.

But the Archbishop Aspinall says he followed police instructions and acted in good faith.

"The police require us to report any complaint of abuse as soon as it's received, which we did," he said.

"Then they require us to keep any information or documents related to the complaint in a secure file and to make that available to them as soon as they request it, which we did."

He says there was never any intention to withhold information and the case should not deter other abuse victims from approaching the church or the police.

"Things have changed radically and dramatically since the old days," he said.

"And I want victims to have confidence that any allegations that they have to make of sexual abuse will be treated thoroughly and properly and expeditiously as we can.

"My concern is for the victims who might get the impression that nothing has changed from the bad old days and might not come forward as a result of that and nothing could be further from the truth."


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