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Abuser 'not moved to avoid police'

Former Australian Salesian Provincial Fr John Murphy yesterday denied a priest convicted of child abuse had been moved to Samoa to escape Victoria Police who were pursuing him on further child abuse charges.

The Age today reports that Fr Murphy, who now heads the Order in Samoa, said he had made the decision to send the priest, Frank Klep, to Samoa only when he thought Victorian police were no longer interested in him.

"It was not an attempt to hide him," said Fr Murphy who headed the Salesians in Australia and the Pacific from 1994 to 1998.

He also accepted responsibility for signing, in good faith, a declaration that Klep was of good character and had not been convicted of any criminal charges, even though this was not the case. This enabled Klep to get a visa to live in Samoa.

Fr Murphy confirmed that another alleged abuser, a Salesian priest from Victoria, Jack Ayers, who had had triple bypass heart surgery, was now seriously ill in Samoa. One Salesian source said he was dying.

Samoan authorities are investigating whether to deport Fr Murphy and Father Ayers. But Father Murphy said the illness of Father Ayers might delay that process.

He said he did not expect any action to be taken against him for signing the declaration in favour of Klep.

He said he could not remember reading the document, but certainly signed it. "I am not trying to get out of that," said Fr Murphy.

The Salesians have been widely condemned after reports they were part of a Catholic Church "rat line" to hide priests who abused children, moving them overseas.

The head of the Salesian Order in Australia and the Pacific, Fr Ian Murdoch, has been nominated as the only person to comment, but has failed to respond to telephone calls since Samoa expelled Klep.

Abuser 'not moved to avoid police' (The Age 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)
Bishop 'Frustrated' by Vatican's Pace (The Guardian/Associated Press 30/6/04)
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

31 Jul 2004