Full details of the Catholic Church’s response to child sexual abuse in Ballarat will remain hidden until at least after Cardinal George Pell’s appeal hearing against his own conviction, the Attorney-General’s office said yesterday.
The office, which looks after the publication process for Royal Commission reports, confirmed it had been considering existing redactions from the Royal Commission into Institutional Responses to Child Sexual Abuse.
The report described an “extraordinary failure” of the Church authorities to respond to abuse allegations.
Lengthy passages from Case Study 28, which focused on Catholic Church authorities in Ballarat, were redacted when the final version was released to the public in December 2017.
The commission’s terms of reference said the work should “not prejudice current or future criminal or civil proceedings” and a redacted version was subsequently published.
The terms also state: “It is expected that an unredacted version of the report will be tabled and published at a later date.”
The names of two priests convicted for child sexual abuse or the subject of allegations were redacted, as well as all material concerning their alleged offences.
Redactions relating to Pell are thought to relate to his role on the Consultors Committee, which advised bishops on administrative matters including priest appointments, as well as the way he handled direct complaints of child abuse.
Un-redacted reports of the Royal Commission cannot be released until the relevant state or territory authorities have confirmed that all relevant legal matters have been finalised, including relevant appealsSpokesperson, office for the Attorney-General
Following the lifting of a suppression order around the reporting Cardinal George Pell’s conviction for child sexual abuse last month, The Courier contacted the Attorney-General’s office to find out if this meant the redactions were still necessary.
An Attorney-General office spokesperson said they were liaising with the Office of Public Prosecutions in Victoria to confirm whether the full report would prejudice any ongoing investigations.
“Un-redacted reports of the Royal Commission cannot be released until the relevant state or territory authorities have confirmed that all relevant legal matters have been finalised, including relevant appeals,” they said in a emailed statement.
“The Attorney-General's Department is administratively responsible for the publication process. The process and timing of the release of the un-redacted reports is a decision for Government.”
A spokesperson for the Victorian Office of Public Prosecutions would not comment further when asked about the redactions by The Courier.
Pell, whose sentencing will be announced today, has an appeal hearing currently scheduled for June 5 and 6 this year.
READ THE REPORT BELOW
Case Study 28, which ran to 536 pages, detailed abuse in several institutions run by Catholic Church authorities in Ballarat, including St Joseph's Home, St Alipius Primary School, St Alipius Parish, St Patrick's College and St Patrick’s Christian Brothers Boys Primary School.
It also dealt with the impact of experiences of child sexual abuse on survivors, the wider effects on the community, as well as the response of Catholic Church authorities, and heard from Catholic clergy convicted of offences within the Catholic Diocese of Ballarat.
The report described "an extraordinary failure within the Diocese to respond adequately" to allegations about sexual abuse of children over at least 30 years.
It also highlighted "a desire to prevent or minimise the risk of scandal and to protect the reputation of the Catholic Church."
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