Exclusive Documents Reveal Church Ignored Abuse Allegations

By Conor Duffy and Tim Palmer
ABC News Lateline

July 7, 2008

[with video]

Lateline reveals documents that show how the Australian Catholic Church's most senior figure, Cardinal George Pell, misled a man who complained of being abused by a Sydney priest.


TONY JONES, PRESENTER: As the Australian Catholic Church prepares to host the Pope for World Youth Day, Lateline can tonight reveal new evidence showing how its most senior figure, Cardinal George Pell, misled a man who complained of being abused by a Sydney priest.

Lateline has documents that show George Pell wrote to the man telling him his sex assault allegation wasn't being upheld because the church had received no other complaints of sexual assault by the priest.

But on the very same day, the Archbishop signed a letter to another man, upholding his claim that the same priest had sexually assaulted him when he was a young altar boy. The new documents also show that Cardinal Pell ignored the recommendations of the church's own investigation.

While many in the church are anticipating that the Pope will shortly apologise for the Australian church's role in sexual abuse, the victim in this case says George Pell destroyed his faith and damaged his life.

Conor Duffy and Tim Palmer produced this report.

CONNOR DUFFY, REPORTER: As a young man, Anthony Jones' life revolved around two things: the surf and his faith. From a family that had already produced a bishop, Anthony Jones too was drawn towards a life with the Church.

ANTHONY JONES, ABUSE VICTIM: I loved Catholicism, I loved the liturgy, I loved the music. I loved the pomp, the ceremony. I loved good liturgy. It spoke to my heart. I experienced God in that.

CONNOR DUFFY: At 28 as a young religious education coordinator, he came to meet Father Terence Goodall, a Sydney Priest. A social meeting in January 1982 ended with the two men coming to this pool for a swim. It was a night he spent a lifetime trying to forget.

ANTHONY JONES: The water wasn't that deep so I crouched down so that the water was up to my shoulders and then the next moment, hands come around from behind me, and a hand goes down in to the speedos that I had been loaned by Father Goodall, and he became to fondle my penis. He had his other arm around me so it was hard to move away.

CONNOR DUFFY: Anthony Jones did break away and swam to get out of the pool. With his clothes back at the presbytery however, Jones had no choice but to drive back there with Father Goodall. He says when they got back, the priest ambushed him while he was getting dressed.

ANTHONY JONES: I thought at the time that he wanted to apologise to me because my actions of moving away from him in the pool indicated to him that I did not consent to what he had done or what he did and that I did not approve of what had happened. So I sat on the bed. A few moments passed and he pushed my shoulder down and lifted my legs on the bed and within a flash he had taken the towel off me, he pulled his own towel off, and he had the full weight of his body upon my body and he was rubbing his erect penis up against mine, and then he placed his penis in between my legs and was rubbing his penis up against my anus and my scrotum. I couldn't believe that this was happening. I was speechless. I was in shock. I was frightened that this was happening to me.

CONNOR DUFFY: Anthony Jones says Father Goodall only let him up after the Priest had ejaculated. I quickly got dressed and he said to me, "Oh, I've been seeking a gay relationship on the quiet." And I said, "I'm not into this whatsoever." And I grabbed my wallet and just walked down the stairs. I felt so angry, and got into my car and I just felt like driving to Cronulla Beach and drowning myself. Then when I got home I stood under the shower for three hours washing my body.

CONNOR DUFFY: Anthony Jones says he complained to the Catholic Church the next day but that his complaint wasn't even raised with Father Goodall. 20 years later, Anthony Jones would finally force the Church to investigate the assault. How the Church responded now raises grave questions about the most senior Roman Catholic Church man in Australia.

Lateline has obtained the Church's own documents relating to the investigation of Father Goodall. It started with this letter from Anthony Jones.

LETTER FROM ANTHONY JONES: I write to you to formally report that I was a victim of sexual assault by Father Terence Goodall.

CONNOR DUFFY: And the Church did look into the matter, appointing a layman Howard Murray to investigate. By early 2003 he produced this detailed report.

While the report says that Father Goodall raised the issue of an element of consent, the investigator recommended that Anthony Jones' allegations be sustained without qualification. The report, as well as a number of other documents, was referred upwards to the desk of Archbishop George Pell. And it was the Archbishop who would eventually respond to Anthony Jones about the outcome.

But the letter George Pell wrote to Anthony Jones differed markedly from the investigation's findings.

The Archbishop wrote: "After examining all of the material, Mr Murray provided me with a report, and he has recommended that the allegations of inappropriate behaviour against you be found to be substantiated. However, as no other complaint of attempted sexual assault has been received against Father Goodall and he categorically denies the accusation, Mr Murray was of the opinion that the complaint of attempted aggravated sexual assault cannot be considered to have been substantiated.

The letter was a shattering blow for Anthony Jones.

ANTHONY JONES: It destroyed my faith. Ripped it to pieces. I now hate Catholicism because of what Cardinal Pell has done to me. More so than what Father Goodall did to me.

CONNOR DUFFY: But if the Church had hoped to close the matter with that letter, it failed. Jones took his allegations to the Criminal and Civil Courts. Those proceedings resulted in a dramatic discovery. The Church, forced to produce a range of documents about Father Goodall, handed over material that now raises questions about the conduct of Cardinal Pell. Lateline has now obtained those documents.

Remember, George Pell had written to Anthony Jones on the 14th of February saying his claim couldn't be substantiated and basing that on his statement that "No other complaint of attempted sexual assault has been received against Father Goodall."

But what the Archbishop wrote was not true. On the same day George Pell signed a letter to another man who had claimed that when he was just 10 or 11 years old he'd been attacked by Father Goodall. In a letter to that victim, which was put into evidence in the District Court in 2006, George Pell accepted his complaint.

LETTER FROM GEORGE PELL TO ABUSE VICTIM: After examining all of the material, Mr Murray provided me with a report in which he recommended that the complaints of inappropriate behaviour with altar boys and of indecent assault of you when a young be found to be substantiated."

ANTHONY JONES: He had to know that there were other complaints because he wrote to the man who as an 11 year old boy was assaulted by Father Goodall on the same day. His signatures are on the letters. So he had to know. Cardinal Pell misrepresented the truth.

CONNOR DUFFY: The complaint involving the young boy that George Pell upheld has striking similarities to what happened to Anthony Jones at the beach. It found that at this church in Campsie in Sydney's Inner West, Goodall approached the boy in the Church's sacristy after Mass and then fondled his penis. In fact, by coincidence, the two complaints were made within months of each other and both were dealt with in the report sent to Archbishop Pell by Church Investigator Howard Murray. In that report, also put into evidence in the District Court in 2006, the investigator told George Pell "That both Tony and [name withheld] be informed in writing that their allegations have been sustained and appropriate follow up action be taken to provide any necessary remedial assistance.

CONNOR DUFFY: The report is stamped as having been received in January 2003, just weeks before George Pell wrote to Anthony Jones and said there were no other complaints about Father Goodall. In 2005 Father Goodall was convicted of indecent assault against Anthony Jones.

Lateline has asked the office of Cardinal George Pell a series of questions, chiefly: How did the Archbishop come to write to Anthony Jones, dismissing his allegations on the grounds that they were the only ones against Father Goodall when he knew of another matter and wrote confirming that assault on the same day. And why in the letter did he contradict the findings of his Church's investigation. One which recommended that Anthony Jones' complaint be upheld.

So far the Church has not responded. Connor Duffy, Lateline.

TONY JONES: We offered Cardinal Pell the chance to join us tonight to put his side of this story in addition to those questions in writing.

And as we go to air we've received no direct answer to any of our questions and the only response has been in the form of a letter from the Church's lawyers suggesting that for legal reasons the ABC should not reveal the documents.


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