Read Jenny's Story

By Nigel Hunt
Adelaide Now

August 30, 2008,22606,24268725-5006301,00.html

JENNY had just one sexual encounter with Father John Fleming, but it has had a profound effect on her life.

When she was aged 17, she went to Father Fleming's Anglican Church-supplied house at North Adelaide seeking counselling after a family argument.

A rebellious teenager who often clashed with her mother, she had on many occasions sought his advice, counsel and reassurance after meeting him at an Anglican youth group in the early 1970s.

But on that day in 1974, what started out as a questionable shoulder massage at Father Fleming's request, ended in a sexual experience.

The act, which is detailed in her police statement, left her feeling stunned. In later years this would turn to anger as the effects of the encounter continued to impact on her life.

Deep concern: Cardinal Pell's letter to Jenny

Although Jenny has given a statement to the Pedophile Task Force, she realises no action can be taken because she was not underage.

"I understand that, I understand their predicament, but I am furious that this guy is going to get away with it," she said.

"You want to move on from it, but you can't move on because nothing ever gets settled. There is always this feeling of doubt."

Jenny said she first alerted the Catholic Church to the incident in late 1994 or early 1995, speaking to a senior Catholic priest, who then failed to pass the information to then Archbishop Leonard Faulkner.

In 1995 after Father Fleming had been ordained following his defection from the Anglican Church, she sought out Archbishop Faulkner at his West Tce residence "about four or five times", left detailed messages and asked for someone to call her.

Jenny had already contacted the Anglican Church and was involved in discussions with its hierarchy over the incident, but she felt the Catholic Church needed to be aware of what had occurred.

After finally receiving a response, Jenny ended up having discussions with David Cappo, then an adviser on professional standards to the archbishop. (It is not suggested that Monsignor Cappo was aware of these allegations prior to Father Fleming's ordination as a Catholic priest.)

A meeting was subsequently arranged between her, Father Fleming and other church officials at the Archbishop's House on West Tce.

"Fleming walked in and the first thing he did was come up to me where I was sitting in a chair and try and shake my hand," she said.

"I felt totally intimidated. It was beyond belief, I don't know how to describe it.

"He didn't admit it or anything like that. He just sort of wiped it off. It was like I was the problem, it was all my fault.

"I just left this meeting feeling so totally dissatisfied. I just felt I wasn't believed, it felt like the abuse all over again."

Jenny said when she heard in 2004 that Father Fleming was to be appointed to head Campion College, she was outraged and wrote to Cardinal George Pell to express her feelings.

She believes there is "no way" he should have been appointed when the church already knew of the allegations she made.

"I am furious this guy is in a position of power still, where he has power over young people," she said.

"I was so angry, so livid, that this man who had abused his power over me and had such a huge impact on my life, an immediate impact, had been put in a position of power again over young people.

"There should have been bells ringing everywhere. I cannot imagine how a person who has questions about their integrity can be put into a position in a church which has integrity as one of its core foundation beliefs.

"I cannot understand it, it is so hypocritical."

SHE said contacting Cardinal Pell's office was in itself stressful, reigniting thoughts of the incident.

"One gets up the courage hoping that things will change, only nothing does, so one gets traumatised again," she said.

"My motivation is to get someone to show some responsibility for this, to stop hiding behind processes and behind ignorance and stand up and say we are taking responsibility, we are going to take action and not just sit back and let it ride."


Any original material on these pages is copyright © 2004. Reproduce freely with attribution.