Victim tells of enduring years of sex abuse by priest

Peter Kearney: 'Work has been done to counter errors'

Peter Kearney: 'Work has been done to counter errors'

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THE victim of alleged sexual abuse by a Catholic priest in Scotland has spoken of his anger over how the Church handled the case.

The young man described repeated abuse from the age of nine or ten until he was into his early teens, in the 1990s.

He reported his experiences to the Church last year and although the priest was suspended, he has yet to receive any response regarding the investigation.

As he spoke out an academic and author of a report into abuse between 1985 and 1995 described priests being “out of control sexually, whether they be homosexual or heterosexual”.

The victim described several years of abuse at an east of Scotland church.

“He would get me to perform sexual acts on him and he would perform sexual acts on me – away from the family home, in the family home, in the church, in their vehicle,” the man, named as “Chris”, told the BBC last night.

“There’s many people out there that have been abused. Personally, it’s a way of being able to admit that it did happen to me and it wasn’t my fault, because that’s something I struggle with every day.

“But also to try and give hope to people that have been abused – don’t be scared, there’s help out there for you.”

His claims were not reported to the Church until last year. When they were, the priest was suspended and the church informed the police.

Detectives in the east of Scotland carried out a full investigation. However, the procurator fiscal did not pursue the case.

In accordance with its guidelines, the Catholic Church in Scotland submitted its own report to the Vatican last July but is yet to receive a response.

A Church spokesman said it shared Chris’ frustrations at the length of time it had taken to investigate.

Chris went on to say it was clear that there are many other victims in his position. He said: “Have the strength to speak to somebody and know that there are other people out there like you who are suffering. You’re not on your own.”

In the mid-1990s, academic Alan Draper was appointed to advise the Church on sexual abuse and how to respond to it. The Dundee-based social work expert wrote to Scotland’s eight bishops to ask how much they knew about abuse.

The responses, according to Mr Draper, described 20 allegations against priests and an inconsistent approach in handling them. Some of the priests had been reported to police and removed from parishes, while others had not.

“I was very concerned about their unwillingness to actually expose individual priests who were leading double lives,” said Mr Draper, adding that he wanted independent experts to investigate further in 1995, which bishops refused to do.

“They were very reluctant to do that, and I felt that was totally inappropriate.

“Certainly, there’s strong evidence to say some of the priests were out of control sexually, whether they be homosexual or heterosexual. The file should be made open to an independent group, preferably chaired by a judge.”

Lawyer Cameron Fyfe, from law firm Drummond Miller, last night said he is acting for six alleged victims – two of whom had come forward in the wake of the Cardinal Keith O’Brien scandal.

Peter Kearney, director of the Scottish Catholic media office, told The Scotsman that the Church was frustrated at the length of time it had taken to handle Chris’ case.

He said: “In July of last year, a report was sent to Rome and we are currently waiting for a final decision to be made. It’s understandable the man concerned feels frustrated at the delay. There are many in the Church who feel frustrated also, but we have to wait until the process is completed.”

On the claims surrounding the Draper report, he added: “For the last 15 years, significant resources have been dedicated to safeguarding policies and 
personnel.

“However, mistakes were made in the past and lessons have been learned. The Church can only renew its apologies to those whose cases weren’t properly dealt with.There has been a lot of work done in past 12 to 14 years to counter errors.”

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