Sex Inquiry to Meet for Further Talks

By Melissa Cunningham
The Courier
April 22, 2016

The Royal Commission into Institutional Responses to Child Sexual Abuse will hold a directions hearing next week to make further orders regarding the response of Catholic Church clergy to complaints of child sexual abuse in Ballarat.

The hearing to be held in Sydney on Wednesday and comes after former Ballarat Bishop Ronald Mulkearns died at the age of 85 earlier this month following a long battle with colon cancer.

Bishop Mulkearns headed the Ballarat diocese between 1971 and 1997, when Catholic clergy, including teachers, abused hundreds of children.

Many clergy sex abuse survivors believe he could have stopped much of the horrific abuse that occurred in the region. He was bishop of the Ballarat diocese for almost 30 years.

The inquiry has previously heard the bishop moved priests, including notorious paedophile Gerald Ridsdale around the diocese despite being told they had abused children, and also destroyed documents in Ridsdale's file.

The inquiry announced on Friday no participants of the commission raised any submissions in relation to his part-heard evidence which will now be taken into account by the commission as it stands.

The commission also dealt with issues relating to the evidence of former priest and physiologist Dan Torpy.

Mr Torpy had a private hearing with the commission earlier in the year and was also scheduled to give evidence in person in February but he was excused due to medical reasons.

The inquiry said he continued to be ill and the commission has ordered counsel for one of the survivors ask any questions he has of Mr Torpy in writing and the questions be responded to by April 29.

The main issues surrounding Mr Torpy stem from a private hearing to the commission in which he spoke about a conversation he had with another priest in Rome in 1981 dealing with Ridsdale and why he was asked to leave the Parish of Edenhope.

The commission also lifted a suppression order in relation to the remarks made by a Victorian court when sentencing a former abuse victim of a Christian Brother.

The inquiry said it was satisfied that the redactions made to the document sufficiently protected the identity of the victim and others.

The commission has also set a time table for submissions relating to the Ballarat case study which will see Counsel Assisting the Commission Gail Furness providing her submission by June 10 and representatives of other parties providing submissions in reply by July 15.

Last week, the commission held a round-table hearing in Sydney on sex offender treatment programs and failures to report child sex abuse in Australia.

The hearing also discussed criminal justice issues relating to reporting child sexual abuse - including blind reporting, where the alleged victim's name is not given to police.

There was also discussion about adult sex offender treatment programs in Australia and overseas, as well as their effectiveness and how they could be improved to protect children into the future.








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