Loading...
Top Stories

Paedophile priest investigation turns to regional Western Australia to reveal full extent of child abuse


Updated

June 30, 2018 06:39:39

The horrific crimes of paedophile priest, Denis McAlinden, are being investigated in regional Western Australia by lawyers committed to revealing the full extent of his abuse of young children.

McAlinden died in 2005 before he could be charged over five decades of sexual abuse that spanned Australia, New Zealand, Ireland, the Philippines and Papua New Guinea.

Now, Canberra-based law firm, Ken Cush and Associates, is turning its attention to the Diocese of Geraldton, where McAlinden was sent in the 1980s.

It wants to hear from witnesses and victims from the Diocese of Geraldton, Bunbury and the parish of Wickham and Kojonup.

Senior Associate Nick Kitchin said the firm was currently working on several cases, both in Australia and overseas, involving the former priest.

“We are retracing his steps to gather information on his past actions,” he said.

“As we undertake this work, we are encountering more people who were abused by him.”

While McAlinden’s name is well-known, Mr Kitchin said the extent of the priest’s abuse was not.

“He is known to be one of the worst well-known paedophile priests,” he said.

“The number of victims could be in the tens of people, it could be even more.

“We do not know, despite the various inquiries and the commission that has taken place. People are still coming forward for their own reasons and in their own time.

“The number of victims could only increase.”

Five decades of abuse

McAlinden started abusing young children in 1949, before he was incardinated in the Diocese of Maitland-Newcastle as a parish priest.

In 1976, a letter, revealed the Catholic Church knew of McAlinden’s abuse and suggested he be moved to the Diocese of Geraldton in a bid to cover up his actions.

The letter detailed McAlinden’s “inclination to interfere [touching only] with young girls, perhaps aged seven to 12” and that the church did not believe it was really serious.

Mr Kitchin said this was a key piece of evidence used in inquiries and the Royal Commission into Institutional Responses to Child Sexual Abuse.

“The 1976 letter is really significant because it is in writing,” he said.

“If there was any doubt about what they knew beforehand, there was absolutely no doubt that the diocese that was responsible knew about this.

“From that day forward, there was absolutely nothing stopping them whatsoever from approaching an authority, approaching the police to say this person is abusing children. Nothing whatsoever.”

In 1981, McAlinden arrived in WA’s north-west and in 1982 he abused a young girl, who was 10 years old at the time.

She reported the events to police in 1991 and in 1992 McAlinden went on trial in the District Court of Western Australian.

He was acquitted based on the evidence presented in the trial, but later a warrant for his arrest was issued as more complaints were heard.

McAlinden went into hiding and died in a nursing home without ever being charged.

Shattered faith

The current Geraldton Bishop, Michael Morrissey, said he was a young priest starting his career when he met McAlinden.

Bishop Morrissey said priests within the Diocese were not told of McAlinden’s cruel past, nor were they aware of his actions until the 1990s.

He said when he found out he was shocked and extremely disappointed.

“It makes me feel terrible,” he said.

“I would not want my own personal faith to be shattered. In some way it is tested by what other people have done.

“It really affects me in my own commitment to what I do and how I would like to operate as a priest and now as a bishop.”

He said there would always be support at the church for those who wanted it.

“As we know, a lot of these people do not come forward for 30 years or more,” he said.

“This has been like a cancer within them, affecting their whole life and their wellbeing and all their relationships.

“Often we can have these physical wounds and mental wounds that are there, but I think the wound that is much deeper than that is actually like a spiritual wound, it goes to the core of your being.”

WA’s new legislation helps victims

In April, the WA Government lifted the statute of limitations on reporting child abuse, meaning time restrictions on when victims can launch civil action have been removed.

Mr Kitchin said it had encouraged people to share their stories.

“That was a very positive development. I think that victims of child sexual abuse come forward at different times for different reasons.

“Obviously it is incredibly difficult circumstances for them.”

Topics:

community-and-society,

child-abuse,

family-and-children,

government-and-politics,

religion-and-beliefs,

catholic,

sexual-offences,

law-crime-and-justice,

royal-commissions,

regional,

wa,

geraldton-6530,

bunbury-6230,

wickham-6720,

kojonup-6395,

nsw,

maitland-2320,

papua-new-guinea,

philippines,

ireland,

new-zealand,

australia,

newcastle-2300

First posted

June 30, 2018 06:14:32



Source link

Click to comment

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Most Popular

To Top
%d bloggers like this: