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Adelaide archdiocese again under fire in abuse case

Catholic World News - September 27, 2011

The Archdiocese of Adelaide, Australia has rejected charges that officials there tried to cover up sexual abuse at a local school for disabled children.

The Australian ABC television network, in an investigation aired on the Four Corners program, revealed that archdiocesan officials had not taken prompt action against the late Brian Perkins, a bus driver who was charged with molesting children at St. Ann’s Special School in the 1980s.

Archbishop Philip Wilson of Adelaide conceded that an internal investigation had shown problems in the handling of the Perkins case. "People made wrong decisions, they did not see or respect the urgency and seriousness of the matter and failed to carry out proper processes to protect the children and the needs of the families involved,” he said. But he denied that a deliberate cover-up had been organized.

The Four Corners program claimed, however, the lawyers had advised archdiocesan officials not to put anything about the case in writing, in order to avoid legal liability.

A spokesman for the archdiocese said that the case has no immediate bearing on current affairs, since the Church has adopted new standards for reporting and investigating charges of sexual abuse.

The Adelaide archdiocese has already been on the defensive because of revelations that in 2008 the Anglican Archbishop John Hepworth had reported being abused while he was a Catholic seminary student. The archdiocese did not take action on Hepworth’s complaints until this year, explaining that the Anglican leader had not authorized such action. The Melbourne archdiocese, however, had investigated the claims, issued an apology, and offered compensation.

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