Police to allege senior catholic priests concealed sexual assaults

The Canberra Times

July 31, 2012

Joanne McCarthy, Linton Besser

NSW Police will give prosecutors evidence that three of the most senior members of the Catholic Church allegedly concealed the sexual assault of young girls in the Hunter Valley, in a landmark case that could expose the church to a new wave of criminal prosecution.

One of three people of interest in Strike Force Lantle is the general secretary of the Australian Catholic Bishops Conference, Father Brian Lucas, who is alleged to have been aware of the actions of the paedophile priest Denis McAlinden as far back as 1993 but failed to report him to police. The others are Archbishop Philip Wilson of Adelaide, who wrote to police yesterday to formally decline to be interviewed, and the retired Bishop of Maitland-Newcastle Michael Malone. From 1993 to 1995 the three had roles in internal moves against the priest, including an attempted ”speedy”, secret defrocking in October 1995 because of the evidence against him.

The church failed to report the matter to authorities until 2003, after victims notified the police and were paid compensation.

Instead, in 1995, McAlinden was assured by the then Maitland-Newcastle bishop, Leo Clarke: ”Your good name will be protected by the confidential nature of this process”, despite ”your admission to Father Brian Lucas and other evidence”.

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