Bethel sex scandal: What Would Archbishop Hickey Do?

7 06 2008

Deny responsibility, of course.

Thanks to commenter DNGQ, I have managed to locate a copy of a West Australian article (“Church knew of sex claims,” 26/5/08) detailing the Western Australian Catholic Church hierarchy’s knowledge of and position on sexual and other abuses at the Bethel Covenant Community.

While the Church admits that it has been receiving complaints about former Bethel leader Kevin Horgan’s “style of management and autocratic exercise of authority” for years, it

claims it was not made aware of sexual allegations until last year. Archbishop Barry Hickey yesterday distanced both himself and the Church from Bethel, saying it was an independent group and must solve its own problems.

But in a joint statement with Auxiliary Bishop Donald Sproxton which was released to The West Australian on Friday, he said he had investigated any complaints he had received from Bethel members, all of whom were Catholic. Bethel was rocked by the claims of several members that Mr Horgan, the founder and long-term leader of the ecumenical group, had groped their breasts or encouraged them to have breast enlargements.

Several women complained to police in March and April, but it is understood charges could not be brought because the women consented to Mr Horgan’s touch. In other cases, the allegations were too old or unsubstantiated.

The West Australian has obtained statutory declarations from some of the women about incidents in which Mr Horgan allegedly groped their breasts.

In a media release to The West Australian, Hickey claims that no sexual complaints had been received before 2007, and that during the subsequent investigation “the opportunity was created for
complaints to be raised about sexual misconduct, but none was raised.”

Bullshit, say commenters at Truth Seeker’s Blog where the full text of the article may currently be found. One writes:

I told the Arch in 1994 that KH was inappropriate and obsessed with sex and having a cult like control..he just told me to forgive him and get on with my life- making light of it and not at all concerned that other, more vulnerable members might be preyed upon..

According to another:

I am having flashbacks as to when I was told exactly what you said,” Don’t speak to them, you don’t know what is going on in their life, go to an elder, it’s gossip etc”. I heard this ALL the time.

Pity my life was splashed about for all to see… I had a target on my back! No matter what I did, everyone would know about it, either at headship-(my many groups), small groups couples, YPM’s etc. I bet he was glad when I left.

A third commenter muses upon why the Church is so eager to distance itself from Bethel:

Why isn’t anything being done about this at Archdiocesan level?

Because St Mary’s Cathedral is not finished yet and the archdiocese cannot afford any scandal. Parishoners cannot be alienated as they are being asked to dig deeper and help fund this project.

Plus one of the main benefactors of the church in Perth is closely related to your ex leader.
[Links added.]

Good to see where the Archbishop’s priorites lie.

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9 responses

11 06 2008
DNGQ

AV
Are you aware that at in the last quarter of 2007 having got no significant response from Church authorities to the 20 page reports that had been sent to the Bishop, a number of people referred the stories of Kevin Horgans escapades among the Ladies of Bethel to the Professional Standards Resource Group in Western Australia
(http://www.perthcatholic.org.au/organisations/htmlprsgwa.html)
Peter Messer, the Directior of PSRG received letters from dozens of people about Horgan’s innapropriate behaviour and the complicity of Frank Carr and Peter Dudley (They were both stood down as Elders when Horgan was dismissed). Many people were interviewed but this ‘independant’ body is still to bring down its report or write to the complainants, nine months later.
In thwe light of the Church’s statements in “Towards Healing” (Dec 2000), “Integrety in Ministry” (June 2004) and “Our Church: a safe community” (July 2007), people could be excused for believing that the Church was serious about handling these matters and that the formation of A PSRG in each state was a positive step towards an independant process.
At least Brian Coyne from Catholica appears to be concerened enough to ask the question

11 06 2008
AV

In thwe light of the Church’s statements in “Towards Healing” (Dec 2000), “Integrety in Ministry” (June 2004) and “Our Church: a safe community” (July 2007), people could be excused for believing that the Church was serious about handling these matters and that the formation of A PSRG in each state was a positive step towards an independant process.

Given the heat the Catholic Church has been taking over the past few years over sexual abuse, the indifference of the hierarchy regarding the Bethel complaints bespeaks either incredible arrogance, incredible stupidity, or both.

13 06 2008
An open letter to Perth Atheists « Five Public Opinions

[…] the world, and I can’t be the only one (aside from ex-members, of course) blogging on the Bethel Covenant Community scandal, can […]

14 06 2008
trueblue

.

8 07 2008
DNGQ

The proverbial has hit the fan. There was an article in the West Australian on Sat 5th July Mon 7th Jukly and two more in todays West. Ther must be more to come as it is being ‘dribbled’ out like someone with a prostrate problem. Catholica has its own report page and finally people are gaining courage. Why the police haven’t charged Kevin Horgan, Peter Dudley and Frank Carr boggles the immagination. The new leadership of Bethel is totally complicit and were party to the ‘strip the girls and feel their boobs’ games. How they could leave Frank in the Centre office unsupervised while being payed $80,000 + new Holden Berlina + other perks, is stunning in its cheekiness. When the fact are exposed they surley must be considered negligent.
Breaking news! Archbishop Hickey is to appologise! This I gotta see!!!!

8 07 2008
AV

Thanks for the heads-up. I’ll look into it ASAP.

8 07 2008
World Truth Day for Pell and Hickey « Five Public Opinions

[…] ad baculums against Catholic parliamentarians, told the West Australian newspaper in May that the Church had received no complaints about sexual misconduct at Bethel before 2007, a claim denied by ex-Bethel […]

8 07 2010
Addifuhidesee

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26 09 2011
Sex-Scandal.Us

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