Roman Catholic Archdiocese of Singapore
June 5, 2022
Catholic Archdiocese emphasises importance of adhering to protocols to protect young
The Roman Catholic Archdiocese of Singapore has asked the Religious Order (which though Catholic, is separately governed), for more information on the case involving the abuse of minors around 2005-2007 by a member of that Order. The offender was recently convicted and sentenced in court.
Concurrently, for greater accountability and transparency in the matter, the Roman Catholic Archdiocese of Singapore requested the Attorney General’s Chambers (“AGC”) to partially lift the Gag Order on the case, in relation to the identity of the offender, the name of the order, and details of the offender’s subsequent treatment and postings. The AGC informed that they had carefully considered our request but were unable to accede to it.
In the interests of providing as much information as possible, within the boundaries of the Gag Order, we enclose a statement from the Religious Order.
The Church takes very seriously the provision of a safe environment, especially where children and young persons are present. Through the Professional Standards Office (“PSO”) it regularly reviews the protocols for the protection of our young. The Church will be sharing more about the work of the PSO in the Catholic News.
Our Catholic schools and their Governing Boards / School Management Committees already adhere to MOE protocols and Singapore laws on reporting incidents involving sexual abuse of minors. The Religious Orders and all religious sponsoring authorities for Catholic Schools have also been reminded of their obligation to report immediately to the police once they become aware of incidents involving alleged offences against minors or vulnerable persons. They are also to keep the Archbishop of the Catholic Church informed.
The Church will not tolerate behaviour by clergy or religious that will put others at risk.
Archbishop’s Communications Office, Roman Catholic Archdiocese of Singapore
5 June 2022
Statement from the Religious Order
The incidents took place in 2005 and 2007 and involved two victims. The local leader of the Religious Order first learnt of the incidents when one of the victims confided in him in 2009, after both had already left the school. An investigation was immediately initiated by the superior of the Order for Singapore. The local leader and the superior were the only two persons in the Religious Order that were involved in the investigations.
The victims were interviewed, and provided with counselling support. They were repeatedly told that they could make a police report and would be accompanied to the police station to do so. Both victims refused to do so and were insistent in wanting to keep the matter private.
Out of respect for the stated wishes and requested privacy of the victims, the superior did not make a police report then.
The superior then focused on what to do with the offender, who was remorseful and expressed willingness to accept all consequences. The superior immediately removed the offender from his position and prevented him from returning to the school premises so as to ensure that there would be no further contact with the victims or minors. He sent the offender for treatment, therapy and rehabilitation beginning with an intensive six-month programme in the United States, paid for by the Religious Order.
Following the treatment, the Religious Order abided by the recommendations of the treatment centre, one of which was that the offender not be placed in any setting that involves working with minors. Hence, the offender had to be posted to a different country, where he could undertake work that did not involve minors. The local religious superiors there were informed of his background and of the key restrictions of his recovery programme. The superior of the Order for Singapore also continued to monitor the offender in his subsequent posting, checking on the offender’s adherence to the restrictions imposed by his recovery programme and his commitment to continued therapy and recovery.
To our knowledge, there are no other victims and the offender confirmed this.
The offender returned to Singapore in 2020 to renew his visa but could not leave again due to the COVID-19 travel restrictions. Sometime in late 2020, the offender’s actions were brought to the attention of the school board. The Religious Order informed the Archbishop thereafter in October 2020, whereupon the Archbishop gave instructions that the matter be reported to the police. Following an internal inquiry, the board and the Religious Order decided that a police report had to be made, and the Chairman of the Board lodged a police report on 10 May 2021. The Religious Order has fully cooperated with the authorities in their investigation.
The Religious Order is deeply dismayed, ashamed and sorry for the incidents, and remains committed to supporting the victims. The Religious Order is committed to a zero tolerance for such behaviour. It has a safeguarding protocol with guidelines to prevent similar incidents. The protocol is reviewed regularly to ensure awareness and adherence. The protocol also states that all such incidents must be immediately reported to the civil authorities and the Archbishop of Singapore.