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Archbishop vows Church will learn from mistakes

Archbishop Philip Wilson of Adelaide said he hoped recognition of "serious mistakes", such as the failure to conduct a background check when employing a bus driver at St Ann's Special School, would help victims and their families.

The revelation of the omission of the check is contained in a report commissioned by the Church into the activities of serial pedophile Brian Perkins at St Ann's Special School.

The Advertiser reports that the former principal of the school at which 36 students were sexually abused lied to police about conducting a background check on the convicted pedophile responsible.

Conducted by Adelaide QC Brian Hayes, the report found the church and its agencies failed to properly exercise their duties in several crucial areas that resulted in bus driver Brian Perkins sexually abusing the intellectually disabled students.

Archbishop Wilson said he was satisfied there was no deliberate cover-up of the abuse, as many in the community had feared and suspected.

"It shows clearly that we made terrible errors of judgment and we need to make sure they can never happen again," he told The Advertiser.

"People made wrong decisions, they did not see or respect the urgency and seriousness of the matter and failed to carry out proper processes to protect the children and the needs of the families involved," he said.

On 12 September last year, Perkins was sentenced to 10 years and six months' jail with a six-year non-parole period after pleading guilty to five offences involving unlawful sexual conduct with three students from the school. Perkins was hired as a bus driver at St Ann's in 1986 and worked there until 1991, when he fled South Australia after police discovered evidence of his offending.

Archbishop Wilson announced the inquiry in August last year, with its main focus being how Perkins gained employment, whether there was any knowledge of his background and how the matter was handled when the allegations were raised in 1991.

Lies, lies, lies (The Advertiser 3/6/04)

Pedophile bus driver unchecked (The Advertiser 3/6/04)
Victims undecided over suing Catholic Church (ABC 2/6/04)
Adelaide archbishop welcomes paedophile's "appropriate" jail sentence (CathNews 13/9/03)
Church faces class action by parents for damages (5/8/03)
Parents threaten Catholic Church in South Australia (30/4/02)
Adelaide archbishop leads Rome abuse meeting (CathNews 31/5/04)
Archbishop leads war on sex abuse (Catholic Weekly 6/6/04)
Archdiocese of Adelaide
Towards Healing

3 Jun 2004