The Royal Commission into child sexual abuse was told on Friday that nothing has been done to remove a Marist brother from the Catholic order, despite the fact he is behind bars, reports the ABC.
The Marist Brothers have been at the centre of a public inquiry as part of the Royal Commission into Institutional Responses to Child Sexual Abuse. Marist Brother Ross Murrin is in a Sydney jail after pleading guilty to child sex offences in 2008 and 2010.
A man known only as DK has said to the inquiry that he was abused by Murrin in 1981 at a college at Cairns in Far North Queensland. The Commission has heard that two other boys at the school also came forward with allegations at the time. The boys said Br Murrin had touched them on the chest and stomach in their dormitories at night.
The leader of the Marist Brothers in Australia, Jeffrey Crowe, has now revealed to the inquiry that Murrin remains in the order. He says no formal steps have been taken to dismiss the man.
'We have put to Br Murrin that we think this is the time for a serious conversation on his future,' Br Crowe told the Commission.
'For a brother to be dismissed is a process, which would involve quite a bit of paperwork.'
To date 16 brothers have been convicted for crimes against children and seven remain in the order, but Br Crowe has assured the commission the problem is a thing of the past.
TRUTH JUSTICE AND HEALING COUNCIL
The Royal Commission into Institutional Responses to Child Sexual Abuse continued hearing public evidence today from Br Jeffrey Crowe, current Provincial of the Australian Province of the Marist Brothers, as part of Case Study No 4: Towards Healing.
Br Crowe provided a broad profile of the 1046 Marist Brothers who have joined the order in Australia since 1948.
He also provided evidence regarding the historic number of abuse cases, including the number of claims for redress, the number of active investigations, the average age of perpetrators and how perpetrators are dealt with by the order. Br Crowe also provided details of current abuse claims.
In response to questions from Commissioner McClellan, Br Crowe discussed his thinking as to why the abuse could have occurred, including inappropriate screening and preparation of young brothers. Br Crowe also said that, prior to 1970, there was a culture of restriction of contact with family and developing friendships. He also talked about the rigid discipline in religious houses prior to the 1960s.
Details of today’s hearing also went to the details of the brothers’ understanding in the past of what constituted a criminal act, and whether or not that attitude has now changed.
Br Crowe took the opportunity to provide a public apology to DK on behalf of the Marist Brothers and committed to meeting with him soon.
Michael Salmon, Director of the Professional Standards Office NSW ACT, returned to the witness box to provide further details of the Towards Healing facilitation process for DK who was abused by Br Ross Murrin at St Augustine’s College in Cairns in 1981.
The hearing for Case Study 4: Towards Healing concluded today.
The next hearing involving the Catholic Church, Case Study 6, is due to commence in Brisbane on 17 February.
For more information on the Truth Justice and Healing Council go to: www.tjhcouncil.org.au
For information on the Royal Commission go to: http://www.childabuseroyalcommission.gov.au/
Church official amends commission evidence (The Sydney Morning Herald)