Read Jane's Story

By Nigel Hunt
Adelaide Now

August 30, 2008,22606,24268501-5006301,00.html

JANE kept her secret for more than 25 years. A sexual liaison with Father John Fleming irreversibly affected not just her formative adolescent years, but also her adulthood.

When she finally took the step in 2000 to tell the Anglican Church what had happened, she had no idea what lay ahead.

Although she said it affirmed what had occurred was illegal, she was advised to contact the Catholic Church because Father Fleming was no longer employed by them.

Her interview with the Catholic Church was a body blow.

"Wasn't he just being inappropriate?" she was asked by a church official.

"When I got this reaction, I thought: `How could they say that? They heard what happened'," she told the Sunday Mail.

Sorry: Cardinal Pell's letter to Jane

Later, in June 2002, she wrote about her complaint in detail and sent a letter to the Anglican Professional Standards Office, asking for consideration in the way her complaint was handled.

She was told that her complaint needed to be official although what this meant was never explained.

Those initial responses shattered her self-confidence and led her to both question and continue to blame herself for what had occurred a reaction common to many abuse victims.

But believing she was the only victim, she relapsed into silence, until, unexpectedly and devastatingly, John Whitham from the 2003 Anglican Board of Inquiry told her about other possible victims.

This moved her to try again with the Catholic Church, and she wrote to Australia's highest-ranking Catholic, Cardinal George Pell, in March 2003, advising him of an illegal sexual liaison with a Catholic priest.

She knew Cardinal Pell could get access to a statement prepared after the initial interview in 2000 and her unsigned written complaint in 2002.

Again, there were demands made to report her complaint in a particular way by the Adelaide office, when this was impossible for her.

Jane's dismay at the Catholic Church's apparent ambivalence towards her complaints turned to anger and concern when Father Fleming was appointed president of Campion College in Sydney in 2005 18 months after she advised Cardinal Pell of the allegations and over four years after she first advised the Adelaide Diocese of the situation.

"As far as I am aware, they did nothing about following up what I had told them. Presumably that would have been an important thing to do," Jane said.

"I would still be on their books. They have never followed me up. They just don't want to know about it, even though they know there is a very dark cloud over one of their highest profile figures.

"He is in charge of a college where there are vulnerable people. They will not be underage, but they are vulnerable."

Jane said that although she remembers the first occasion vividly, she does not have an accurate memory of exactly how many sexual encounters she had with Father Fleming.

Although dates and locations are detailed in her police statement, Jane has asked the Sunday Mail not to reveal them because she fears this will identify her.

Jane said that once she knew she was not the only person who had made a complaint about Father Fleming, she believed it was her moral responsibility to speak out.

She has completed and signed her formal statement after being interviewed by the Pedophile Task Force several times since last October.

"I don't want revenge here, what I want is for people to be living cleanly and to take responsibility for their actions," she said.

"I don't want to have to hide any more, I don't want to have to protect people any more."


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