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Adelaide archdiocese, Anglican archbishop continue to swap charges

September 20, 2011

A heated dispute continues in Australia about the sexual-abuse charges lodged by Anglican Archbishop John Hepworth.

  • Msgr. Ian Dempsey, who was named by Senator Nick Xenophon as one of Hepworth’s molesters, has written to parishioners insisting that he is innocent and reporting that his health has suffered because of the public charges. Those who know him, he wrote, “know I am incapable of perpetrating the false accusations made against me.” Msgr. Dempsey has written to Xenophon as well, complaining that the lawmaker abused his senatorial privilege to make the accusation.
  • The Adelaide archdiocese says that Archbishop Hepworth declined to authorize an investigation when he first reported the sexual abuse in 2007. The archbishop’s approval only came—and thus the archdiocesan investigation began—early this year, officials claim. Representatives of the Adelaide archdiocese say that they repeatedly asked Hepworth to approve an inquiry. The Melbourne archdiocese had already begun an investigation, found merit in Hepworth’s charges, and offered a formal apology and financial settlement—leaving questions as to why one archdiocese pursued the matter, while the other claimed to lack the necessary authorization to do so.
  • Archbishop Hepworth has announced that if the Adelaide archdiocese does not take action on his charges this week, he will take his complaint to police.
  • The Anglican archbishop has made the stunning revelation that since his charges were made public last week, “Nobody from the Church has been in touch with me…not even through a third party.” The failure of Catholic Church officials to speak directly with Archbishop Hepworth is remarkable, particularly in light of the fact that he has been a prominent leader among the Anglicans seeking to enter the Catholic Church.


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