Tuesday, September 20, 2016

Catholic Mission director denies covering up child sexual abuse

Father Brian Lucas in 2013A senior Catholic Church figure has disputed claims he covered up child sexual abuse, saying none of the cases he dealt with required reporting.

The national director of Catholic Mission, Father Brian Lucas, said he had been “pilloried” in the media with headlines about a cover-up.

In all the abuse cases he dealt with, he said, either the alleged perpetrator had died or was already known to police or the courts, or the victim did not want the matter reported.

“When you look at the four categories of case that I dealt with, broadly, none of them involved my personal reporting to the police,” Lucas told the royal commission into institutional responses to child sex abuse on Monday.

The commission is looking into the response of Catholic dioceses in Parramatta and Armidale to abuse allegations against the priest John Farrell.

The inquiry has heard that complaints about Farrell abusing altar boys surfaced in 1984, but he remained in the public ministry until 1992.

Lucas was one of two priests responsible for speaking to sex abuse victims and accused clergy in the late 1980s and early 1990s.

Monday’s hearing was told he took a complaint from a girl who alleged Farrell touched her inappropriately on three occasions, including on the breasts and the upper leg. Lucas said he had not referred the complaint to police at her request.

“She was quite adamant she didn’t want any referral to the police,” Lucas said. “I listened to what she said and I respected what she said.”

In May 1992 Lucas discussed with the then-Armidale bishop, Kevin Manning, confronting Farrell and offering him either counselling or an application for dispensation.

Lucas insisted that if he had known at the time the risk Farrell posed to children, counselling would not have been an option.

“If I knew then what I know now, of course, that’s very different,” he said. “I didn’t have any idea in 1992 of the extent of this man’s problem.”

The inquiry continues.

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