Indigenous Catholic mission hit by child sex claims

The remote West Australian Catholic mission of Kalumburu is in turmoil after police flew three 12-year-old girls out of the town after discovering an alleged pedophile ring involving a community leader working at a local school.

The Australian reports that the tiny Catholic mission of Kalumburu, on the banks of the King Edward River, 900km northeast of Broome and 700km from the closest sealed road, remains on a knife-edge after the deputy chairman of the local Aboriginal corporation and another man were charged with dozens of sex offences against children, including sexual penetration, supplying prohibited drugs and showing children pornographic material.

Detectives have also charged a 15-year-old boy with indecently dealing with a three-year-old. They hinted that more members of the 400-strong community could face charges.

The charges reinforce claims last year by Alice Springs Crown prosecutor Nanette Rogers and others that the sexual abuse of Aboriginal children is rife in central and remote Australia.

News of the men's arrest sparked fistfights and rock-throwing between warring families on Friday and over the weekend. Police removed the girls from the settlement on Saturday for their own safety.

"It seems the alleged victims, not the alleged offenders, were the ones who were facing any serious prospect of retribution," said Detective Sergeant Tom Doyle, of Kununurra Police.

Catholic Fr Anscar McPhee, of the Kalumburu Parish, told The Australian that the community had settled down during the past 24 hours but there was still an undercurrent of anger.

"There is a lot of sadness around at the moment and these latest issues are weighing heavily on people," Fr Anscar said.

"There are two sides to every story. One side is convinced that the men are to blame, the other believes the girls are to blame.

"This has sparked lots of rock-throwing, which I think is a product of young people watching television and seeing what's happening in other countries.

"People don't know how to express their sadness. They are always looking for someone to blame."

Aboriginal 'child sex ring' exposed (The Australian, 17/4/07)

LINKS (not necessarily endorsed by Church Resources)
Kalumburu (Walkabout)
Broome diocese

End of era as Pallottines quit Kimberley (CathNews, 7/7/06)

17 Apr 2007

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