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Victim hits church silence on sex attack

The Catholic Church in Tasmania was under fire yesterday after it was revealed authorities failed to disclose the fact of a priest's sexual assault to his parishioners because "the community was unaware of the event and had therefore not been harmed".

The Mercury reports that the woman who was assaulted said she was horrified by the decision. The woman, who does not want to be identified, was indecently assaulted by the priest in 1983. The priest has since died.

In 2002, the woman told the church of her experiences and an independent assessor was appointed to examine the evidence. As a result of the assessor's finding, Hobart's Archbishop Adrian Doyle wrote to the woman apologising for the abuse.

He told her: "Behaviour of this kind is totally unacceptable at any time and more so on the part of a priest.

The woman, who received counselling from the church, then asked for a review, saying the correct processes had not been followed and asked that the church advise the congregation of the finding and the priest's name.

A subsequent letter of Archbishop Doyle argues that non-disclosure of the facts of the case is justified: "To make a public accusation when the matter was not in the public domain would harm a community which is totally unaware of the event and therefore has not been hurt."

The Mercury

Bacon move over abuse: Tough stand tipped on torrent of claims (The Mercury)
New church abuse claim (11/8/03)
Archdiocese of Hobart

13 Aug 2003