Church Men Should Be Charged: Victim's Mum
By Genevieve Gannon
December 7, 2012
A WOMAN whose son killed himself after allegedly being abused by a pedophile priest says powerful men in the Catholic Church should be charged for concealing the crimes of clergy.
Helen Watson has told an inquiry that Catholic leaders, including former Ballarat bishop Ronald Mulkearns, moved Father Paul David Ryan from parish to parish, as well as to America, where he "continually sexually abused innocent young males", to save the reputation of the church.
She also voiced fears that gaps in the law meant her son's alleged tormentor, who spent 12 months in jail on child sex offences after being charged in 2006, will never be tried for the crime because her son is dead.
"Bishop Mulkearns sent a known sex offender to Ararat where he sexually abused my son," Mrs Watson told the Victorian parliamentary inquiry into child abuse inquiry in Ballarat on Friday.
"This abuse ultimately led to his death."
She used her submission to call on the inquiry to recommend the church hierarchy be charged with crimes of concealing sexual abuse if the accused clergy is found guilty, saying it was "important as anything I can imagine in my life".
Mrs Watson said it was well documented that Ryan's sexualised behaviours were a concern to the church, which did not know where to place him, and when she met with Bishop Peter Connors in 2006 after her son's death to report the abuse, his response was "not him again", delivered in a low-monotone.
She said the church failed to act upon allegations in not reporting the sex offender to the police and gave evidence of an allegation of sexual abuse against Ryan the week he was ordained in Ballarat in 1976.
By the time of his alleged offence against her 16-year-old son in 1991, Ryan had been shunted all over regional Victoria and back and forth between Australia and the US numerous times, racking up allegations of sexual misconduct in Australia and abroad, the inquiry heard.
In his address to the inquiry, sex abuse victim Philip Nagle called for the review of every compensation agreement between the Catholic Church and victims, saying he had felt "intimidated and bullied" when he signed his.
"I'm yet to hear a victim of Catholic clergy sexual abuse say they were satisfied with the way they were compensated and treated by the Catholic Church when trying to negotiate a satisfactory outcome," Mr Nagle said.
"It is the one thing the Catholic Church has the power to fix right now."
Mr Nagle was sexually abused by his grade five teacher when he was a student at St Alipius Catholic Primary School in Ballarat in the 1970s.
* Readers seeking support and information about suicide prevention can contact Lifeline on 13 11 14 or Suicide Call Back Service 1300 659 467.