|Father John Fleming Sex Claim Report Next Year
By Nigel Hunt
November 7, 2008
AN internal investigation into the handling of sexual misconduct allegations against a senior priest by the Adelaide diocese of the Catholic Church will not be completed until next year.
The inquiry, being conducted by prominent lawyer Michael Abbott, QC, was launched in August, after the Sunday Mail revealed that the diocese was aware of the allegations surrounding Father John Fleming, but that it had not taken any action.
The allegations, one of which is the subject of a Pedophile Task Force investigation, involve activity which occurred when Father Fleming was an Anglican priest. They include allegations he was sexually involved with two girls – one underage – and that he had a homosexual affair before he was ordained as a Catholic priest.
The Sunday Mail revealed that church authorities – including, in one instance Sydney Cardinal George Pell – were also aware that Father Fleming was the subject of allegations of sexual misconduct before he was appointed to head Campion College, a Catholic arts facility in Sydney, in 2005.
The diocese was also aware of Father Fleming's homosexual relationship prior to ordaining him in 1995, but proceeded.
When he announced the inquiry on August 29, Archbishop Philip Wilson said the diocese would "place no limits on the extent" of Mr Abbott's investigations.
Mr Abbott said the inquiry was "progressing well" with all necessary documentation now obtained from the diocese.
"It will be a thorough and wide-ranging inquiry and I am now in the process of interviewing the relevant witnesses," he said.
"Some have been approached and others are being notified regarding their interview."
Mr Abbott said the scope of the inquiry would result in it being concluded early next year.
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