Former archbishop probed over how disgraced priest John Mounford fled Adelaide in 1992
By Alice Monfries, August 1, 2017, 9 News
A former Anglican archbishop is at the centre of a police investigation into the handling of sexual abuse at one of Adelaide's most prestigious schools.
Ex-school chaplain John Mountford was sacked from St Peter’s College after admitting he sexually assaulted a Year 10 student in 1992, and the same day fled to Bali.
It would be another 12 years before he was eventually extradited from Thailand to face charges, but the case was dropped on the first day of the trial after the victim was deemed too mentally unwell to give evidence.
Mountford then again fled the country, this time to Libya, where he was later murdered in 2009.
His victim took his own life five years later.
Now, police are investigating who helped facilitate Mountford’s hasty exit from the country in 1992.
Police Commissioner Grant Stevens today confirmed the probe.
“South Australia police have been referred a matter by the Royal Commission concerning any actions by individuals who assisted or encouraged Mr Mountford to leave Australia,” Comm. Stevens said.
Then-Anglican archbishop Ian George, who visited Mountford just hours before he fled to Bali, is among those individuals.
But his lawyer Nick Iles today told 9NEWS Dr George has declined to be interviewed by detectives.
Mr Iles said Dr George’s position hasn’t changed since he was questioned during the Anglican Church’s 2003 Board of Inquiry into the handling of claims of sexual abuse within the church.
“Ian denied the allegations then, and he denies them now,” he said.
The refusal has drawn strong criticism from Senator Nick Xenophon.
“What an extraordinary refusal by Dr George,” he told 9NEWS.
“He may have said everything he needed to say to a commission of inquiry, but if the police want him to assist them in their inquiries, that’s completely different.
“The family of this young man have every right to expect justice, to date they haven’t got it.”
The investigation was sparked after the victim’s mother referred the handling of her son’s abuse to a Royal Commission, seeking justice after his death.
The Anglican Diocese of Adelaide released a statement this afternoon, stressing it “remains committed to ensuring the safety of children and vulnerable people, and has extensive screening and training practices in place”.
It also reaffirmed its previous apology to victims of abuse and their families.
“Any victim who had not made contact with the Diocese previously (is invited) to contact (us) … so that support and assistance can be offered”.
The way the scandal was handled by St Peter’s College at the time, is also being investigated.
In a statement today, the school said it was “assisting police.”
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