SNAP Comments on Salesian religious order thwarting Parkinson Report

Once again we see that Catholic officials cannot be trusted to even conduct so called "independent" investigations of clergy sex crimes and cover ups.

Professor Parkinson has shown the Australian laity that his independent investigation was thwarted by the Salesian religious order that requested the investigation. We admire Professor Parkinson's integrity and support his call for a public inquiry into the Catholic religious order's handling of three complaints of sexual abuse, including possible conspiracy to pervert the course of justice.

(SNAP, the Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests, is the world’s oldest and largest support group for clergy abuse victims. We’ve been around for 23 years and have more than 10,000 members. Despite the word “priest” in our title, we have members who were molested by religious figures of all denominations, including nuns, rabbis, bishops, and Protestant ministers. Our website is        

Salesians 'accused journalist'

Barney Zwartz, Religion Editor

August 31, 2011

MEMBERS of the Salesian religious order, under fire for its handling of sexual abuse complaints, tried to discredit a journalist by falsely claiming he had spent time in jail for child sex offences, according to Sydney University law professor Patrick Parkinson.

Professor Parkinson, an expert on child protection, on Monday called for a public inquiry into the Catholic religious order's handling of three complaints of sexual abuse, including possible conspiracy to pervert the course of justice.

The order's college at Rupertswood in Sunbury may have the worst record in Victoria, with six priests and brothers convicted in court for sexual offences against boys - two this year - and complaints against three more settled.

Professor Parkinson told The Age he contacted US journalist Reese Dunklin, who broke a story about convicted paedophile and Salesian priest Frank Klep in 2004, to ask about the allegation - by the Australian head of the Salesians, Father Frank Moloney - that Dunklin had been in jail.

Dunklin, a Dallas Morning News reporter, told him it was utterly untrue.

Professor Parkinson emailed Father Moloney last year: ''I do feel these rumours about Mr Dunklin need correction. He is rightly aggrieved that someone has spread this false rumour to try to discredit his reporting. I am sure you can see his point that it seems like the church has been shooting the messenger.''

Father Moloney emailed back that he did not want to spread false news and damage someone's reputation: ''To the extent that I, or any Salesians in the Australia-Pacific Province, have been part of this, I sincerely apologise.''

Yesterday Father Moloney told The Age he had not spread the rumour, except in conversation with Professor Parkinson, but that other Salesians might have done so.

He said he was in the US in 2004, when Dunklin's report stirred up a hornet's nest in the US. He heard the allegation as ''chatter at the Catholic University of America in Washington. I took it for granted that it was true. I certainly apologised unconditionally for making that statement, but it was never a statement made in the public forum.''

On Monday Professor Parkinson asked the Victorian government to hold a public inquiry with power to subpoena witnesses to investigate several matters, including possible conspiracy to pervert the course of justice. A spokesman said yesterday the government was seeking advice about a possible inquiry.

The call followed suppression by the Church's national Professional Standards Committee of a report Professor Parkinson wrote on condition it be made public. Father Moloney said he had not lobbied to suppress the report. On the contrary he was ''at loggerheads'' with the committee.

Professor says church suppressed child abuse report

Barney Zwartz

August 30, 2011

A LEADING child protection expert has urged the Victorian government to hold a public inquiry into the handling of child-sex cases by a Catholic religious order after the Catholic Church suppressed a report it asked him to write.

Sydney University law professor Patrick Parkinson wrote yesterday to the Victorian Attorney-General, Robert Clark, and Police Minister, Peter Ryan, seeking an inquiry into the behaviour of the Salesians of Don Bosco.

In his letter, Professor Parkinson says the church's actions have cast doubt on its commitment to protect children before it protects itself.

Professor Parkinson, who chaired a review of child protection laws in NSW and twice helped the church review its system for dealing with abuse complaints, said he wrote the report for the church's professional standards committee on condition it be made public. But more than a year later this had not happened, due to strong lobbying to suppress it by the Australian head of the Salesians, Father Frank Moloney.

Professor Parkinson told the Herald the issue was no longer his report but the protection by the Salesians of three priests - Fathers Frank Klep, Jack Ayers and Julian Fox - which could be resolved only by a public inquiry.

The Salesians moved Father Klep to Samoa in 1998 just before he was to face court on five charges of indecent assault, having served nine months doing community work in 1994. He returned to Australia in 2004 and was jailed in 2006 for five years and 10 months.

In 2000, the order made a settlement with a Melbourne man who said Father Fox - a former Australian head of the order - abused him at the Salesian College in Rupertswood, Sunbury, in 1978-79.

A later Australian head wanted Father Fox, now in Rome and still a Salesian priest, to return to Australia to face questions at the request of Victoria Police, but he was overruled.

The same year, the Salesians paid to settle a complaint from a Melbourne man who said he was abused at Rupertswood in 1967-68. Father Ayers, who has lived for many years in Samoa, is still a Salesian priest.

In his letter, Professor Parkinson said the cases raised questions about the responsibility of religious orders to co-operate with police and about conspiracy to pervert the course of justice.

"What has taken place in seeking to suppress this report since August 2010 has raised further serious concerns in my mind about the commitment of the church to place the protection of children above the protection of itself,'' he said.

The Australian Catholic Bishops Conference said Professor Parkinson was engaged to review its Towards Healing abuse protocol, and inquired into the Salesian cases as part of that on his own initiative.

Professor Parkinson and the Salesians tried to reach an agreed understanding of what happened, but "unfortunately Professor Parkinson insisted on maintaining positions which the Salesians claim were incorrect''.

Showing 3 comments

SNAP Network is a GuideStar Gold Participant