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Archdiocese finds ‘no substance’ to rape allegation; Anglican traditionalist denounces inquiry

November 28, 2011

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An investigation conducted by an attorney under the auspices of the Archdiocese of Adelaide has found that Msgr. Ian Dempsey, a former chief chaplain of the Australian Royal Navy and archdiocesan vicar general, did not sexually assault Archbishop John Hepworth, the onetime Catholic priest who is now primate of the Traditional Anglican Communion.

Attorney Michael Abbott “personally interviewed 29 witnesses, many of whom were present at the time that the events were alleged to have occurred,” said Archbishop Philip Wilson. “Archbishop Hepworth’s claims against Msgr. Dempsey, which were analyzed and examined in details, were comprehensively rejected by Mr. Abbott.”

Archbishop Hepworth denounced the Adelaide inquiry, noting that a similar investigation in the Melbourne archdiocese had vindicated his claims and resulted in in an apology and a $75,000 settlement. The Anglican cleric lamented:

Given that so many perpetrators of abuse were moved from diocese to diocese, this process leaves the way open for findings in favour of victims in one diocese to be reconsidered by another diocese and overturned.

Senator Nick Xenophon, who invoked parliamentary privilege in accusing Dempsey by name in September, also said that the investigation was a sham.

In a related development, Archbishop Hepworth has been told that he would be welcomed as a member of the new Anglican ordinariate within the Catholic Church in Australia, but only as a layman, not as a priest. The Anglican prelate--who was in the forefront of efforts by conservative Anglicans to gain corporate entry in the Catholic Church--indicated that he is now weighing his options.

Under the terms of Anglicanorum Coetibus, the apostolic constitution that established the Anglican ordinariates, Anglican priests may be considered for ordination into the Catholic clergy on a case-by-case basis. The case of Archbishop Hepworth presents a special problem for the Vatican, because he was ordained as a Catholic priest before leaving the Catholic Church to become an Anglican. He has also been married, divorced, and remarried, and is therefore ineligible for consideration to become a Catholic bishop.


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Show 2 Comments? (Hidden)Hide Comments
  • Posted by: - May. 22, 2012 8:35 PM ET USA

    "(S)pecial problem", indeed. More like a mare's nest.

  • Posted by: - Nov. 28, 2011 5:34 AM ET USA

    As a member of the Traditional Anglican Communion with sights set on the Ordinariate when one's erected in Australia, all I can say to this wonderful news is Alleluia. And can someone please shove a sock in Senator Megaphone . . .