Another Church Sex Assault Victim, Letter Emerges

ABC News

July 8, 2008

New evidence has revealed the Catholic Church was aware of yet another victim of sexual assault by a priest who was reported last night to have assaulted a Sydney man.

ABC's Lateline has also obtained another letter sent by Archbishop Cardinal George Pell to sexual assault victim Anthony Jones in May 2003.

Lateline has revealed new documents from the case showing that church investigators - and through them Cardinal Pell - were later told by the same priest, Father Terence Goodall, that he had assaulted a 16-year-old girl.

She has never been identified.

Admitted mistake: Cardinal Pell.

In the second letter obtained by Lateline Cardinal Pell once again contradicts the findings of the church's original investigation by layman Howard Murray into Mr Jones' claims of abuse.

He wrote: "What cannot be determined by me, however, is whether it was a matter of sexual assault as you state, or homosexual behaviour between two consenting adults as maintained by Father Goodall. In the end it is a matter of your word against his."

Documents from the case also show that senior church investigators were aware there were several complaints against Father Goodall.

On Monday night, Lateline reported the case of Mr Jones - a former religious education teacher - and his evidence that Cardinal Pell misrepresented the truth when he responded with a letter to Mr Jones's complaint of sexual assault by Father Goodall.

The Archbishop has admitted his letter to Mr Jones - saying he was the sole complainant against Father Goodall - was a mistake that came about because he did not think another complainant's allegations of sex abuse were the same.

Cardinal Pell went against the advice of church investigators when he wrote to Mr Jones to tell him that his claims of sexual abuse by Father Goodall could not be substantiated.

The Murray investigation into the case had recommended that the complaint by Mr Jones be sustained without qualification.

Mr Murray also recommended that the second allegation, of sexual assault against an 11-year-old boy, be sustained.

Avoiding the law

Lawyer Jason Parkinson says he believes the Catholic Church has been avoiding its legal liabilities.

"It's not for the church to have their own form of justice and if you don't abide by their rules of justice then they make it very difficult for you to go to the courts," he said.

Mr Parkinson will be representing several former students who are among a group of more than 30 involved in abuse claims against a school in Canberra.

Meanwhile, a group representing victims of assaults by clergy says an apology by Cardinal Pell to Mr Jones is not good enough.

The president of Broken Rites, Chris McIsaac, says Cardinal Pell made a very poor judgement call.

"I think Dr Pell should read the definition of the sexual abuse of adults, in their own protocols for their own procedure," he said.

"I don't he's showing an understanding of what sexual abuse is.

"It sends out the message that this isn't a very serious issue."


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