Man who claims to have 'nearly killed a priest' to stop a sexual assault calls for state abuse inquiry to be widened [with video]

By Katarina Williams
February 27, 2018

[with video]

A man who claims to have "nearly killed a priest" with his bare hands to stop an attempted ​sexual assault is calling on the Government to widen the scope of its historic state abuse inquiry.

If faith-based institutions were to be incorporated into the inquiry, the Catholic Church said it would "cooperate whole-heartedly".

Chris Travers, husband of former Green Party chief of staff Deborah Morris-Travers, has revealed in a Facebook post that he "choked" his alleged abuser to ward off the priest.

"That, and only that, is what stopped him," Travers posted.In a Facebook post, Travers said he had "settled a case" with the Catholic Church over the alleged abuse.

He had previously been bound by a confidentiality agreement, but because the Church had recently acknowledged those agreements were "another form of re-victimisation" he felt free to speak his "truth".

"I call on the New Zealand Government to include the Church in its inquiry into sexual abuse in state care," he posted on Facebook.

"The Church received state funding to assist its provision of my secondary education - so then falls straight in the ball park of the terms of reference of the inquiry."

Travers went on to criticise the Church for its "hopeless and misguided attempt to 'manage' a sexual predator and paedophile".

When approached for comment, Travers' wife, Deborah Morris-Travers, said her husband was unwilling to speak to media on the contents of his post.

Morris-Travers' current occupation meant she was also unable to talk publicly about the matter.

A New Zealand Catholic Bishops' Conference spokeswoman said she was unable to comment on the specific details of Travers' case.

However, she said the Church would "cooperate wholeheartedly" should the Government move to include faith-based institutions in its inquiry.

"We recognise that there have been some atrocities in the past ... and the Church will respect any decision the Government will make on this," a spokeswoman said.

Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern and Children's Minister Tracey Martin announced there would be a Royal Commission of Inquiry into historic state care abuse earlier this month.

Martin said the inquiry would take "a broad view of abuse and consider physical, sexual and emotional abuse and neglect".

Former Governor-General Sir Anand Satyanand will lead the investigation, which will cover abuse committed in state care in the 50 years to 1999.

In late January, Ardern rebuffed calls for religious organisations to be included in the inquiry, adding that it was aimed solely at state institutions.

She went on to say that some parts of the Church would be involved in the inquiry because some abused children were sent to it by the state.

Travers' post also made reference to the #MeToo movement, which shone a light on sexual abuse and harassment.

"I am incredibly fortunate to then have been not only 'believed' by my wife ... to have her formidable support to face and confront the Church for its complicitous part in allowing me (and my parents) to believe I was safe to visit the priest on Church property where the assault occurred."


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