Royal Commission report slams Diocese over Children's Home
NORTH Coast Children's Home has been subjected to its most damning report yet with the findings the local Anglican Diocese tried to evade responsibility, was insensitive and failed to follow its own policies.
The Royal Commission into Institutional Responses to Child Sexual Abuse has this morning released 28 findings and two recommendations on the North Coast Children's Home at Lismore and the Grafton Anglican Diocese's handling of complaints of child abuse there.
Among its findings, the report says:
- The Anglican Diocese of Grafton denied responsibility for sexual abuse that took place at the North Coast Children's Home.
- The Diocese denied financial compensation for some victims abused at the home.
- The Diocese failed to comply with its own policies and procedures as set out in the Professional Standards Ordinance and Protocol for Dealing with Complaints of Sexual Abuse and in its Pastoral Care and Assistance Scheme.
- The Diocese dealt with victims insensitively
- Despite its knowledge of the potential claims by 2005, the Diocese of Grafton did not make provision for settling child abuse claims in its annual budgets for 2006 and 2008 and 2012.
- By denying legal liability on the basis that it did not control the North Coast Children's Home and not providing a pastoral response, the Diocese of Grafton's response had a detrimental effect on abused former residents.
The report also slams the Diocese over the way it dealt with offenders, including convicted paedophile and the home's former curate and assistant priest Allan Kitchingman.
The report finds:
- Key figures in the Grafton Diocese, including Former Bishop Keith Slater, former Registrar Rev Patrick Comben, and former Professional Standards Director Philip Gerber failed to start disciplinary actions against Kitchingman despite being aware Kitchingman had been convicted of sexual offences against a child, and that he had the authority to discipline him.
- Diocesan registrar Rev Patrick Comben also failed to start disciplinary proceedings against Kitchingman, despite also being of his having been convicted for child sexual offences.
- The Diocese failed to take action against two other clerics, Campbell Brown and Winston Morgan. Rev Morgan has since passed away, but the Royal Commission's report recommends the Diocese now look at whether to start disciplinary proceedings against Rev Brown.
- That Bishop Slater failed to pass on allegations made against Rev Brown to police.
The report recommends the Diocese of Grafton regularly review the operation of its professional standards processes to ensure the professional standards director and professional standards committee are appraised of all outstanding claims of sexual abuse.