Abuser Priest LED Catholic Church Insurance Scheme

By Carly Crawford
April 8, 2013

THE Catholic Church has admitted that a priest who for 20 years oversaw its insurance scheme, which covers claims for sex abuse by clergy, was himself a serial abuser.

The Melbourne archdiocese says it received and upheld three complaints about Monsignor Penn Jones after his death in 1995.

It comes as the federal royal commission into child abuse has taken legal action to retrieve documents from the church and its insurer to assist with its inquiries.

The complaints against Msgr Jones included that he abused at least three young boys at summer camps in the 1960s, touching them in showers and raping at least one.

Msgr Jones was the school chaplain at Cathedral College in the '60s, and had regular contact with choirboys when he was based at St Patrick's Cathedral.

The Herald Sun has confirmed that Msgr Jones served as director, then chairman, of Catholic Church Insurance from 1971 to 1992. The Melbourne archdiocese says it first learned Msgr Jones had been a paedophile in 2004, nine years after he died.

"Had there been knowledge of his abuse at the time of these appointments, they would not have been made," CCI chief executive Peter Rush told the Herald Sun.

CCI collects premiums from the church's individual orders and dioceses and covers them for various claims, including sexual abuse by clergy.

According to those with knowledge of the process, CCI helps decide how much claimants should be paid.

Its representatives have been known to attend settlement discussions, but Mr Rush said Msgr Jones's CCI positions "did not require him" to have contact with sex abuse victims or have any say in the size of their payouts.

"These were decisions for management, applying the terms of insurance policies then in place," Mr Rush explained.

Msgr Jones also held senior positions with the church's property trust and other church entities.

Msgr Jones had been elected to the CCI board because he was seen as a "skilled and experienced" accountant, Mr Rush said.

Msgr Jones remained a priest with the Melbourne archdiocese while holding positions with CCI, Mr Rush said.

The church has faced sustained criticism for its handling of sex abuse claims stretching back decades.



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