By a Broken Rites researcher (article updated 29 November 2015)
This Broken Rites article is the most comprehensive account available about how the Melbourne Catholic archdiocese harboured a paedophile priest, Father Ronald Pickering, for many years while he committed sexual crimes against children. When Pickering realised that his crimes were becoming public, he fled to England. The Melbourne archdiocese began paying retirement benefits to Pickering. When George Pell became the archbishop, he continued making the payments.
When Broken Rites established its Australia-wide telephone hotline in late 1993, one of the first calls received was about Father Pickering. Broken Rites advised this caller (and also some subsequent callers) about strategies to obtain justice regarding Pickering’s abuse.
Some victims consulted the Sexual Offences and Child Abuse Investigation Team (SOCIT) of the Victoria Police about Pickering.
Meanwhile, at least one other victim contacted the church authorities, instead of the police. Church sources then alerted Pickering about this. Therefore, in late 1993, Pickering suddenly vanished from his parish and fled to England, out of reach of the Australian police.
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