Royal Commission Reveals More Than 80 Church Offenders Preyed on Hunter Children

By Joanne McCarthy
Sydney Morning Herald
December 5, 2016

More than 80 Catholic and Anglican Church priests and other representatives including women - are alleged to have committed child sex crimes against Hunter children over decades, newly released data analysis and evidence to the Royal Commission into Institutional Responses to Child Sexual Abuse has revealed.

The shocking figure includes claims and substantiated complaints against 51 alleged and convicted Hunter Catholic offenders from the 1940s to the 1990s, including 19 priests, 20 Marist Brothers, and 12 teachers, employees and volunteers, a report by the royal commission has found.

A single victim of Vince Ryan received one of the highest known payouts more than a decade ago. Photo: Ron Bell

The data analysis has confirmed, for the first time, the extent of compensation paid to survivors of Catholic abuse in the Hunter after years of confidential settlements enforced by the church. It includes confirmation that nearly $10 million was paid to victims of just one child sex offender priest, John Denham. It also confirms that a single victim of notorious paedophile priest Vince Ryan received one of the highest known church abuse payouts in Australia, of $3 million, more than a decade ago.

The royal commission data analysis has also revealed that abuse survivors in the Hunter have received substantially greater compensation, on average, than survivors in two other Australian child sexual abuse hotspots in Ballarat and Melbourne.

Survivors dealing directly with Maitland-Newcastle have received an average $198,000, while Hunter survivors seeking compensation through the Catholic Church's heavily criticised Towards Healing process have received an average $53,000, the royal commission's data analysis has shown.

It has also revealed that 97 survivors in Ballarat have received an average $51,000, while 93 per cent of survivors in the archdiocese of Melbourne sought compensation through the heavily criticised Melbourne Response process, and received an average payout of $46,000.

The more than 80 alleged or accepted Hunter Catholic and Anglican offenders includes alleged and convicted Anglican offenders identified at a royal commission public hearing in Newcastle in August. The royal commission heard evidence of a confidential Newcastle Anglican diocese system that by 2009 listed 36 "priest misconduct" cases, mainly involving child sexual abuse. It also considered an Anglican report that revealed a "troubling" number of perpetrators from the now closed Morpeth theological college.

The Anglican Church has been criticised for paying just $5 million in compensation to Hunter abuse survivors to date.

Nearly $10 million was paid to victims of just one child sex offender priest, John Denham

Catholic Church data supplied to the royal commission shows allegations of child sexual abuse at 12 Hunter Catholic primary and high schools over decades until the 1990s, with 51 per cent of all complaints to Maitland-Newcastle Catholic diocese from men alleging they were molested at Hunter Catholic schools not including Marist Brothers schools - in the 1970s.

But the data analysis of complaints to the diocese and the Marist Brothers between 1980 and February, 2015, also shows the extent of under-reporting of child sexual abuse and claims for compensation to the church.

Francis Cable, also known as Brother Romuald, was jailed for a maximum of 16 years in 2015. Photo: Jonathan Carroll

Notorious paedophile priest Vince Ryan is convicted of serious crimes against 36 young boys, but only 13 have sought compensation, including one victim who received $3 million.

Only 33 victims of the late notorious paedophile priest Denis McAlinden have made compensation claims and received an average payout of $157,000, despite the diocese acknowledging he most likely had hundreds of primarily female victims, with an average age of nine when abuse occurred.

Only 33 victims of Denis McAlinden have made compensation claims and received an average payout of $157,000, depite the diocese acknowledging he likely had hundreds of victims.

McAlinden died in 2005 without a conviction, and with his "good name" protected by the church. The data analysis report by the royal commission shows McAlinden allegedly committed his first offence two years before he was ordained in Ireland in 1949 and sent to the Hunter region.

Francis Cable, known as Marist Brother Romuald, was jailed for a maximum 16 years in June 2015 for offences against 19 boys at Hamilton and Maitland Catholic schools, but only nine have sought compensation from the Marist Brothers.

The royal commission report, released after a public hearing in Newcastle in September into Catholic abuse allegations in the Hunter, shows the church has paid $26.6 million in compensation to Hunter survivors so far, with more than a third, or nearly $10 million, to 62 victims of convicted priest and teacher John Denham.

The data analysis, which does not include claims following convictions against church offenders after February, 2015, shows claims or substantiated complaints by 158 people against the diocese, and an additional 32 claims against the Marist Brothers.

By February, 2015, the Marist Brothers had paid $1.7 million in compensation to Hunter survivors who attended its schools, with an average payout of $106,000. Survivors who sought compensation through the Towards Healing process received an average $76,000.

The data analysis shows Maitland-Newcastle diocese had received two complaints, and paid compensation of more than $200,000 to one man, after child sex allegations against the late priest Tom Brennan. A third man and former St Pius X, Adamstown student, James Miller, said he was yet to make a claim against the diocese after writing a book, The Priests, about the devastating consequences of alleged sexual abuse by Brennan in the 1970s.

The data analysis shows the diocese received allegations about the late teacher Anthony Bambach from 10 former students at three Hunter Catholic primary schools, who received an average of more than $200,000 compensation. Bambach was employed by the Catholic Education Office in 1974 despite evidence senior Catholic officials knew of his earlier convictions for child sex offences.








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