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.
Good to see where the Archbishop’s priorites lie.