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Church accused of hindering murder case

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 11 October, 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, Fr Arthur Kevin Ryan, gave a statement to police in 1996 admitting he had learnt in 1968 of Blunden's abuse of children. Fr 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.

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.

Archdiocese of Melbourne
Church rejects cover-up claim (The Age 23/8/02)

The Age

27 Aug 2002