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Another top Salesian speaks to The Age

Former Salesian Provincial Fr Julian Fox has spoken to The Age newspaper from Rome, denying wrongdoing and saying he could not remember the former students who compained about his alleged actions.

Fr Fox, a linguist now working at the Salesians' headquarters in Rome, has been accused by two Melbourne complainants of sex abuse at the Catholic order's Rupertswood College at Sunbury.

In one case, which was settled in 2000 with an express denial of liability and to avoid litigation, $35,600 was paid to a man who alleged he had been sexually and/or physically assaulted by Fr Fox between 1978 and 1979.

But Fr Fox, who for six years was Provincial of the 115-member Salesian order in Australia and the Pacific, told The Age from Rome: "I have never, ever abused a young person in those sorts of ways."

He also said he could not now recall the names of his accusers and could not remember them when first told of the allegations.

"You teach thousands of kids, sure, some stick in your mind for things they have done . . ."

Fr Ian Murdoch, the Melbourne-based head of the Salesians, said the case was "tragic" because the accuser was not believed at first and went on to a life of drugs and jail.

Fr Murdoch has also revealed a second allegation involving Fr Fox, where the father of an alleged victim wanted to pursue a case but his son did not.

Fr Murdoch flew to Fiji, where Fr Fox was the Salesian rector from 1999 until earlier this year, to confront him with the claims. He said Fr Fox agreed to psychological tests, the results of which were not conclusive but raised serious questions about Fr Fox.

Fr Fox said the tests were to determine if he was of sound body and mind, not to determine truth or the lack of it, as he had not committed an offence.

However, he agreed to go to Rome where he took the test again and was cleared.

Fr Fox accused the media of "inventing" when reporting the allegations against him. "We are in a climate where people can certainly make allegations . . . Being a priest in today's climate, I guess it is always a possibility.

"I have steadfastly maintained that it is not an accurate accusation," Fr Fox said.

Asked why the Salesians paid tens of thousands of dollars to the alleged victim, Fr Fox said: "The process of the church is that the circumstances of the person making allegations are taken into account . . . and the church bends over backwards to give them assistance."

He said he had not taken legal action to clear his name because he did not want to embroil his order or the alleged victim in such an ordeal.

Accused priest likens case to Christ (The Age 21/7/04)

Salesians ponder big picture (The Age 20/7/04)
Salesian provincial speaks on sex-abuse scandal (Catholic World News 19/7/04)
Mission to defrock sex abuser (The Age 19/7/04)
Salesian Provincial breaks silence on sex abuse (CathNews 19/7/04)
Salesian principal faces abuse claim (CathNews 15/7/04)
Allegation causes principal to stand aside (ABC North & West SA 14/7/04)
Salesian priest leaves Samoa (CathNews 9/7/04)
Salesian Works in Samoa: Moamoa Theological College
Convicted priest continues direct contact with children (Samoa News/Tala Nei News)
Shelter for the shamed? (The Australian 6/7/04)
Abuser 'not moved to avoid police' (CathNews 1/7/04)
Priest warned students of perils ahead (The Age 1/7/04)
Probe into sex abuse of wards (Daily Telegraph 1/7/04)
Samoa considers deporting priests (The Age 30/6/04)
Salesians 'knew of Klep allegations' (CathNews 29/6/04)
Salesian arrested at Melbourne Airport (CathNews 28/6/04)
Counting the cost of a priest's bad faith (The Age 26/6/04)
Father Klep refused bail (ABC Radio PM 25/6/04)
Father Klep back in Australia (ABC Radio The World Today 25/6/04)
Priest charged with sex offences (AAP/The Age 25/6/04)
Paedophile priest refused bail (Herald-Sun 25/6/04)
Paedophile priest arrested in Melbourne (ABC Lateline 25/6/04)
Catholic Priest Arrested in Australia (The Guardian/Associated Press 25/6/04)
Accused child sex priest in jail (The Australian 26/6/04)
Customs lets wanted priest pass (The Age 25/6/04)
Catholic Priest Arrested in Australia (Associated Press/Bucks County Courier-Times)
Fr Klep being deported from Samoa (CathNews 25/6/04)
Sex priest to return to Melbourne (The Age 25/6/04)
Priest given 48 hours to flee (The Australian 25/6/04)
Church accused of hiding pedophile priest (Sydney Morning Herald 25/6/04)
The Salesian Congregation rejects the accusations in "The Dallas Morning News": we condemn every kind of child abuse (ANS Salesian News Agency 21/6/04)
Samoa's pedophile anger (The Australian 23/6/04)
Church compounds the sins of the fathers (The Age 23/6/04)
Pedophile priest stays out of reach (The Age 22/6/04)
Australian Salesians

Austrian chancellor incensed by priest sex scandal (Reuters 17/7/04)
Reporting from Peru; Clergy sex abuse reports rock Europe (National Catholic Reporter 16/7/04)
California's Catholic bishops endorse challenge to abuse claims law (Associated Press/Sacramento Bee 17/7/04)
Blessed are the bankrupt (The Tablet 17/7/04)
Bishops back constitutional challenge to California sex abuse law (Catholic News Service 15/7/04)
Austrian bishops await Vatican move on scandal (Catholic World News 16/7/04)

Bishop urges gay ban in clergy (Boston Globe 19/7/04)
Don't Ordain Homosexuals, Says Indiana Bishop (Zenit 19/7/04)
Anti-Homophobia Legislation Could Stifle Free Speech, Warn Bishops (Zenit 19/7/04)

21 Jul 2004