Police ‘queried bishop on sex ring’

The Australian

August 31, 2016

Crime reporterSydney

The Anglican Archbishop of Perth was interviewed by police investigating a pedophile ring while he was bishop of the Newcastle diocese in NSW, a royal commission has heard.

The revelation, in documents released by the Royal Commission into Institutional Responses to Child ­Sexual Abuse, comes after Archbishop Roger Herft gave evidence this week that he was told priests were abusing children but did not report this to police.

Archbishop Herft said yesterday that he was given a “sacred trust” by the people of Newcastle during his time there as bishop between 1993 and 2005, and “I have let them down and let them down badly”. “I want to thank the commission for holding me personally accountable, for holding the church personally accountable,” he said.

Under questioning this week, he accepted that evidence shows he was warned on three occasions in the late 1990s that senior priest Graeme Lawrence was a sexual abuser, including of children. The archbishop also was warned repeatedly about sexual crimes by the late pedophile priest Peter Rushton, but did not report either man to police, the commission has heard.

A record of a meeting in January between Archbishop Herft and current Newcastle Bishop Greg Thompson states: “Roger then spoke of police visiting him when bishop of Newcastle and interviewing in relation to a pedophile ring. He said he could report that he had no evidence of such.

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