Shining the light on church abuse



Joanne McCarthy is the brave journalist who spearheaded the Newcastle Herald’s “Shine the light” campaign which, arguably, brought about the Royal Commission into Institutional Response to Child Abuse, and an earlier NSW special enquiry. She interviewed about 200 victims of sexual abuse, many of them scarred by alcohol, drugs and depression. She uncovered no less than 12 suicides or drug overdoses among former students of a priest called John Denham. McCarthy is the current holder of Australia’s highest journalism award, the
Gold Walkley.

“My first involvement was in June, 2006. A man rang me, out of the blue,” McCarthy tells Eternity. “I had been raised in a Catholic family and my parents still went to church.

“He was a victim of a Catholic priest called John Denham. He contacted me. For a lot of male victims, I was a mother figure, that woman who writes about her sons and the cars breaking down and that sort of stuff.”

The man on the phone asked McCarthy why no media had reported on the fact that John Denham had been convicted five years earlier.

He told her that Denham was working in Sydney for a Catholic organisation, located close to a school.

Note: This is an Abuse Tracker excerpt. Click the title to view the full text of the original article. If the original article is no longer available, see our News Archive.