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Salesian principal faces abuse claim

A Salesian priest and educator has stood down as principal of a major school after a report against him was lodged with the Church's Committee for Professional Standards, which runs the church's Towards Healing process for abuse victims.

The Age reports that Fr Michael Aulsebrook has left his position at the Salesians' St Mark's College in Port Pirie, South Australia, where he has been principal since September, 1995.

The move was sparked by a so far unspecified incident allegedly involving Fr Aulsebrook that was reported to the Catholic Church's Committee for Professional Standards, which runs the church's Towards Healing process for abuse victims.

The allegation was made on 1 July and was reported by Towards Healing to Salesian Provincial, Fr Ian Murdoch, at the Salesian headquarters in Melbourne that day. No report had been lodged by the complainant, but Fr Aulsebrook agreed with Fr Murdoch that he should stand down.

It is not known where or when the alleged incident took place but Sr Angela Ryan, national executive of the Australian Catholic Bishops Conference's professional standards committee, which runs Towards Healing, said the investigative process has not started because the complainant has not made up his mind whether he wanted Towards Healing or the police to investigate. Sr Ryan said she had made clear to the complainant that he should go to police.

Fr Aulsebrook, in his mid-40s, worked as a priest and teacher at the Salesian's Rupertswood College, Sunbury, outside Melbourne, where allegations of sexual abuse by former students have led to criminal charges against a number of priests, including Frank Klep, who has been charged in relation to further abuse allegations at Rupertswood.

Fr Aulsebrook was boarding master in the early 1990s at Rupertswood. For a time, he took care of boarders in years 7, 8 and 9 and year 10 agricultural students. He became vice-principal at Rupertswood, according to sources, after Salesian priest David Rapson was sentenced in November 1992 to two years' jail for assaulting a 15-year-old student at the college.

The Salesians face criticism for allegedly protecting abuser priests and moving them around to evade law enforcement and victims. The Australian Province is under fire for sending Fr Klep to Samoa in 1998.

Salesian principal faces abuse claim (The Age 15/7/04)

Allegation causes principal to stand aside (ABC North & West SA 14/7/04)
Church reveals abuse figures (ITV 13/7/04)
Abuse claims hit Catholic church (The Guardian/Associated Press 13/7/04)
Austria probes priest sex claims (BBC 12/7/04)
Priests 'In Orgy' at Seminary (The Scotsman 12/7/04)
Child protection office launches annual report (Independent Catholic News 12/7/04)
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)
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

15 Jul 2004