Victoria police seek victims of sexual assault at St Patrick's cathedral

By Calla Wahlquist
December 22, 2015

Inside St Patrick’s cathedral in Melbourne. Sano taskforce is investigating allegations of sexual assault there.
Photo by Tracey Nearmy

Victoria police are investigating allegations of sexual assault at Melbourne’s St Patrick’s cathedral during Cardinal George Pell’s tenure as archbishop of Melbourne.

The victims were reportedly 14-year-old boys.

In a statement on Wednesday, Sgt Sharon Darcy said detectives from the Sano taskforce wanted to speak to anyone who was a victim of sexual assault at the cathedral, or who knew of sexual assaults at the cathedral, between 1996 and 2001.

“Victoria police is committed to investigating and bringing to justice those people who prey on children, no matter how many years have passed,” Darcey said.

Pell was appointed archbishop of Melbourne in 1996 and remained in the role until being appointed archbishop of Sydney in 2001.

He was scheduled to appear at a hearing of the royal commission into institutional responses to child sex abuse last week, but his lawyers said he was too ill to make the flight from Rome where he is the head of the Vatican’s economic secretariat.

Pell was called to give evidence about claims of child sexual abuse in Ballarat.

The chairman of the commission, Justice Peter McClellan, declined an application by Pell’s lawyers for him to appear via video link and ordered he appear in person at the third set of hearings about Ballarat, set down for February.

The Melbourne archdiocese declined to comment on the investigation, except to back calls for people to contact police.

“We have no information other than urging people to contact Sano taskforce should they have any information relating to the alleged sexual assaults being investigated,” its media officer, Shane Healy, told Guardian Australia.

The Sano taskforce was formed alongside the royal commission to investigate new and historic allegations of sex abuse at religious and other non-government organisations.

The commission, which began hearings in 2013, was originally due to complete its hearings by the end of this year but has been granted a two-year extension. It is now working to a reporting date of 15 December 2017.

Anyone with information about the alleged sexual abuse is asked to contact Crimestoppers online or on 1800 333 000. Information can be left anonymously.


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