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Salesians bunker down, deny allegations, but more revelations

The widely-published photo from the Dallas Morning News showing Fr Klep handing candy to Samoan children
The Salesians issued a media statement from their Rome Headquarters which came to our attention shortly after we published our bulletin yesterday morning. Their statement rejects the allegations in the Dallas Morning News investigation and argues "the Salesian Congregation is in fact fighting in the defence of minors, against abuse of all kinds (sexual violence, child labour, military enslavement)".

Other media reports indicate that local Salesian authorities are not being allowed to comment on the issue to the media.

The secular media is continuing with stories on the revelations. The Dallas Morning News is continuing to publish articles focusing on other examples to illustrate the overall focus of their investigation into the transfer of offenders across national borders.

In Australia the focus is still on the situation of Fr Klep and the Salesians' response. The Melbourne Herald Sun carries a story alleging "a second Catholic priest exiled in Samoa was named in a $45,000 payout to a man who claimed he was sexually abused over two years."

The ABC PM Program carried a story last night saying that the pressure is also on State authorities as well as the Church for the manner in which the matter has been handled.

The program's reporter said: "And today, the legal and moral responsibility for how he came to evade justice, and do God's work in Samoa, was being passed around faster than the collection plate at Sunday Mass. The man in charge of the Salesian Catholic Order, Father Ian Murdoch, has again declined to be interviewed about his priest, who'd been convicted of child sex offences in 1994 before being charged again in 1998. Alone amongst senior Catholics one man was prepared to speak.

Br Julian McDonald, Executive Officer of the Catholic Church's National Committee for Professional Standards, was then interviewed and said: "The way I look at it is that abusive behaviour has consequences. To abuse a child automatically disqualifies a minister from ministering."

The Australian reports that the Archbishop of Apia, Alapati Mataeliga, "has called Klep to his office in the Samoan capital this morning and is expected to make a statement after the meeting about Klep's future". The paper has previously reported the Archbishop's spokesperson as saying that Klep is to be returned to Australia. If he is returned to Victoria he faces almost certain arrest from indications given by the Victoria Police. The newspaper also publishes further revelations from former students of Fr Klep who claim to have been abused in the 1970s in Melbourne.

Salesian International Website – The Salesian Congregation rejects the accusations in "The Dallas Morning News": we condemn every kind of child abuse
Dallas Morning News – Salesians dispute report that they moved suspects in abuse
ABC – Church and State under pressure over Father Klep
Herald Sun – Second priest in secret payout – Samoa to demand sex abuse priest go

The Australian – Samoa's pedophile anger
The Age – Editorial: Church compounds the sins of the fathers – $100,000 sex abuse payout
Dallas Morning News – Convicted sexual abuser and fugitive works with kids under his religious order's wing
Dallas Morning News – Multi-media interactive presentation
The Age – Pedophile priest stays out of reach
ABC Radio PM – Priest with paedophilia conviction relocated to Samoa
ABC Radio PM – Alleged sex abuse victim speaks out
LA Times – Vatican Aware of Abuse for Centuries, Study Says
Salesian Australian website

24 Jun 2004