Perth Archbishop Roger Herft Should Face Charges: Abuse Victims
By Nick Butterly
December 7, 2017
|Anglican Archbishop Roger Herft.Picture: The West Australian|
Victims of abuse by priests say former Perth Anglican Archbishop Roger Herft should face criminal charges for failing to report suspected criminal clergy to police.
Abuse survivors are also calling for Archbishop Herft to be defrocked and to hand back his Order of Australia, saying the saga has caused immeasurable pain to victims.
A report from the Royal Commission into Institutional Responses to Child Sexual Abuse which investigated the Anglican Church’s diocese of Newcastle detailed how systemic issues inside the Church allowed a group of perpetrators to operate for at least 30 years.
The report noted seven clergy and others associated with the Newcastle diocese had been convicted of child-sex offences. Father Peter Rushton, who has since died, is accepted by the church to have been a notorious abuser, but he was never charged.
The royal commission heard horrific testimony from victims of how they were taken on camps as children by Father Rushton, then chased through the bush and raped.
It was told Archbishop Herft was made aware of allegations Father Rushton had sexually abused boys in 2002 and again in 2003, but no action was taken.
Perth-based victims group Survivors and Friends, which deals mostly with cases in the Anglican Church, said the Anglican diocese of Perth needed to review any abuse cases that fell under the time Archbishop Herft led the Church.
“We are aware of a number of cases that have been mishandled in the past by the diocese of Perth,” a group spokesman said. “Concealing child abuse by priests is a crime in NSW and Victoria.”
Archbishop Herft stood down as head of the Perth Anglican Church last year after appearing at the royal commission hearings.
He is to be replaced early next year by Kaye Goldsworthy, who will become Australia’s first female archbishop.
The diocese of Perth said in a statement it had done every-thing possible to support the commission during its inquiries and would continue to prioritise the protection and safeguarding of children and vulnerable people.
“The diocese of Perth acknowledges with deep regret and repentance the past failings of the Church and apologises unreservedly to those who have been harmed by sexual abuse perpetrated by people holding positions of power and trust,” it said.