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day_of_truth_dawns_for_pell_and_accuser [2018/04/21 03:30] (current)
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 +====== Day of truth dawns for Pell and accuser ======
  
 +September 30 2002
 +By Martin Daly
 +
 +It is early morning in Melbourne and a man in his early 50s is sipping coffee, contemplating the upheaval he has caused the Roman Catholic Church.
 +
 +He looks down the road and recalls that someone said they once saw "​George"​ walking there. He wonders what would have happened had they met that day. "I guess I would have had the chance to do what I wanted to do all along: sort it out between the two of us," he says.
 +
 +He is talking about Archbishop George Pell, 61, head of the Catholic Church in Sydney.
 +
 +The Melbourne man is the complainant in the case involving Archbishop Pell that opens in secret in Melbourne today before former Supreme Court judge Alec Southwell. Mr Southwell will try to unravel what happened 41 years ago when the complainant was an altar boy aged 11 and Dr Pell was a popular student priest aged about 20.
 +
 +The hearing into allegations that Dr Pell fondled the boy and his friend will be an adversarial process. Barristers will have the right to cross-examine Dr Pell and the complainant vigorously, and an estimated six witness who may give evidence.
 +
 +The commission of inquiry - to be attended by Dr Pell and the complainant - has no legal standing and cannot subpoena witnesses. The two protagonists have given the commission statements. Dr Pell says in his statement he remembers the two alleged abuse victims, as he remembers other boys from the camps in 1961, 1962 and 1963. He vigorously defends his innocence and talks of his abhorrence of sexual abuse, and of the hurt the allegations have caused him and his family, the church and the Catholic faith.
 +
 +Although the commission'​s task will be difficult, Mr Southwell is expected to produce a finding swiftly. The complainant,​ in a two-page statement, stands by his allegations. On the face of it, it is one man's word against another'​s.
 +
 +There is little hard evidence.
 +
 +But another scenario may be tested before the commission. Perhaps, this scenario might run, the complainant was sexually assaulted that day on Phillip Island by a seminarian who was later ordained a priest and is now believed to have abused young boys.
 +
 +That man was not Dr Pell.
 +
 +Father Anthony Salvatore Bongiorno, now dead, who was on the camp with Dr Pell in 1961, faced child sex abuse charges in 1996. He was acquitted, but the victims'​ support group, Broken Rites, says the Melbourne archdiocese refused Bongiorno further positions after the case and the Crimes Compensation Tribunal awarded one of his victims $20,000 in 1997.
 +
 +The complainant,​ however, stands by his claims.
 +
 +Both parties in the Pell case have searched hard for potential witnesses. Former altar boys from parishes throughout the archdioceses,​ their families, priests and church workers from the camps were questioned. The Pell team turned up at their homes and workplaces, even, it is said, at their local pubs. The team is said to have found much dislike for Dr Pell but no cases of abuse or even suspected abuse involving the archbishop.
 +
 +Within the church people are divided about the way the case has been handled. Some say the allegations should have been investigated under the church'​s confidential "​Towards Healing"​ process, rather than by making the issue public, as Dr Pell did when he called a press conference to maintain his innocence and announce an inquiry.
 +
 +But Dr Pell had little choice once details of the allegations appeared on the Internet. The Pell camp argues that the archbishop had no choice but to step aside publicly.
 +
 +Dr Pell said at the time: "I have taken a leading role in condemning and exposing sexual abuse within the Catholic Church. To allege that I am now personally implicated in this evil is a smear of the most vindictive kind."
 +
 +There is also a view that the leaking to the media, allegedly by church sources, of the complainant'​s personal history and criminal convictions,​ did not help Dr Pell or the church.
 +
 +The complainant is furious about the breach of his right to confidentiality. He says he was the victim of a dirty tricks campaign, and wonders why those church sources never mentioned his charity work.
 +
 +It is widely believed that, no matter what the commission finds, Dr Pell has been injured.
 +
 +But the leaking of information prejudicial to the complainant has stuck, too, even though he has not been named publicly. Church spokespeople have been silent to questions about who leaked the material and whether this was an attempt to malign the complainant. Co-chairman of the church'​s National Committee for Professional Standards, Brother Michael Hill, described the leaks as "quite regrettable"​.
 +
 +The complainant felt so damaged by the leaks he thought about pulling out. A friend said at the time: "It is not what we expected. This all flies in the face of the spirit of Towards Healing. This is Goliath talking down to David."​
 +
 +Within days of the issue becoming public, reporting of allegations widened to include claims of sex abuse of altar boys at the same camp at Smiths Beach, and at Melbourne parishes by priests - not Dr Pell - by religious and church workers.
 +
 +One case showed how priests and some in the archdiocese had protected paedophile Robert Charles Blunden. He was living at the Fawkner North presbytery at the time of the 1994 murder and apparent sexual abuse of local schoolboy Dominic Ganino. Blunden also allegedly abused a boy at the Smiths Beach altar boys' camp in about 1964. But police learned about Blunden'​s abuse only when a victim came forward in 1996.
 +
 +Blunden was later jailed on 27 child abuse charges. The church knew about Blunden abusing boys in Fawkner North in 1968 but said nothing to police.
 +
 +None of this has anything to do with the Pell case. But the Pell allegations fuelled more abuse claims, some of which appear to have more to do with a dislike of Dr Pell than with the truth.
 +
 +The avalanche of sexual abuse claims against the Catholic Church appeared to coincide with the allegations against Dr Pell. But according to former priest Phil O'​Donnell,​ who has been a victim advocate for 25 years, the new claims started after Dr Pell appeared on 60 Minutes in June. He was asked whether the church had forced victims to sign confidentiality agreements in return for compensation.
 +
 +Mr O' Donnell said that before the program he had heard nothing new and substantial about priestly abuse since he left the priesthood in 1999. He said a few people spread outrageous allegations against priests.
 +
 +====== Church accused of hindering murder case ======
 +
 +By Wayne Miller, Martin Daly
 +August 27 2002
 +
 +A notorious Melbourne paedophile potentially implicated in the murder of a 12-year-old boy escaped investigation because the Catholic Church failed to report his behaviour, it has been alleged.
 +
 +Police say the paedophile, a church worker who preyed on boys at a northern suburbs parish in the 1960s, would have been investigated for murder if priests and church officials had not withheld what they knew about him.
 +
 +The abuser, Robert Charles Blunden, known as Bert Blunden, has been identified as a possible suspect in the unsolved 1964 murder of Catholic schoolboy Dominic Ganino, of Fawkner.
 +
 +Blunden was living at the Fawkner North presbytery at the time of the murder and is known to have been abusing children and young men. Dominic Ganino attended the local church, St Matthew'​s.
 +
 +Dominic disappeared on October 11, 1964, after leaving his Sydney Road home to take his dog for a walk. His body was found 15 days later in swampy land near the Broadmeadows Ford factory.
 +
 +Police determined he had been asphyxiated and assaulted. They believed it had the hallmarks of a homosexual killing.
 +
 +Although Blunden was interviewed by detectives during the initial murder investigation,​ police had no information at the time about his sex crimes. They confirmed yesterday that they only learnt about his sex abuse when a victim came forward in 1996.
 +
 +A former Fawkner parish priest, Father Arthur Kevin Ryan, gave a statement to police in 1996 admitting he had learnt in 1968 of Blunden'​s abuse of children. Father Ryan said the only action he took at the time was to banish Blunden from the parish and to notify the then archbishop, James Knox, who apparently did not tell police.
 +
 +A detective connected with the case has told The Age: "The church knew about the death of the little boy and if we knew (as the church did) Blunden was a paedophile, and offended against young boys, it would have reignited the homicide investigation in 1968, not 1996.
 +
 +"Back then (the police) would have loved to have known all about what Blunden had been up to," the officer said.
 +
 +"But in those days, the church did not report this to the police. They just moved people around to hide them."
 +
 +By the time police were told about Blunden, he was 79 and in poor health. In 1997 he was jailed for four years, with a non-parole period of 12 months, after pleading guilty in the Melbourne County Court to 27 charges of indecent assault and buggery on males between 1964 and 1970.
 +
 +According to court documents, Blunden continued to molest children for at least two years after the mother of two boys at Fawkner told her priest she suspected Blunden had been abusing her sons.
 +
 +Blunden'​s modus operandi was to offer to teach boys to drive his car, and then abuse them sexually.
 +
 +He often fondled the boys and masturbated them in his vehicle at secluded spots around the Fawkner parish. He also had sex with boys at drive-in theatres in the Melbourne area and abused them at the Fawkner North school.
 +
 +Blunden was a volunteer who often helped in church fund-raising activities and helped take altar boys to and from their annual camp at Smith'​s Beach, Phillip Island - the same camp connected with sex abuse allegations against Sydney Archbishop George Pell.
 +
 +Dominic Ganino was known to have a fascination for cars. Police investigating his murder believe Dominic may have got into a car with someone he knew.
 +
 +In 1964 one of Dominic'​s classmates from the Fawkner Technical School told police that Dominic had been in a car with a man "three or four" times.
 +
 +In 1996, when Blunden finally faced investigation,​ he was interrogated by homicide squad detectives about the Ganino murder.
 +
 +Blunden readily admitted his sex crimes, even naming some victims who had not come forward, but denied murdering Dominic Ganino.
 +
 +The death of Dominic shattered his family. "I would give my life and my house to know who killed my son," Dominic'​s father, Pasquale Ganino, 84, told The Age. Mr Ganino recalls that on the Sunday before his son disappeared,​ Dominic, an enthusiastic church-goer,​ refused to go to mass. He said he never found out the reason.
 +
 +Sex abuse victims of Blunden told The Age they were bitter at the church'​s lack of response to their suffering. They also ask why the church did not try to find out from the wider parish community, when it learnt of the abuse by Blunden in 1968, if there were any other victims.
 +
 +Blunden died in 1998, aged 81.
 +
 +Former police officer Bill Copeland, who has lived in the Fawkner parish since 1959, remembers the murder of Dominic Ganino but says nobody knew there had been a paedophile working for the church. "You would have thought they (the church) would have warned us" when they found out about him, he said.
 +
 +Maria Stefano who has lived across the road from the church since 1960, is equally mystified. "I never heard anything about child abuse,"​ she said.
 +
 +The vicar-general of the Melbourne archdiocese,​ Monsignor Christopher Prowse, said these latest claims were "​disturbing and new to me as vicar-general"​.
 +
 +He said he would be happy to investigate any claims involving the church.
day_of_truth_dawns_for_pell_and_accuser.txt ยท Last modified: 2018/04/21 03:30 (external edit)