Another day, another crop of clerical sex abuse reports

A FERVENT wish of mine is to wake up of a morning, turn on my iMac, and not have reports leap out at me about clerical sex abuse. But, so long as we have priests, kids and the Internet, I guess it’s just not gonna happen.

Today, for example, I learned that a former Brother at a Syney Catholic school, Patrician College, has become the latest member of the Catholic Church in Australia to be charged with child molestation, and the Right Reverend Peter Ball, a former bishop of Lewes and Gloucester, is being held on suspicion of abusing eight boys and men in the late 1980s and early 1990s.

An early photo of former bishop Ball

Brother Martin Harmata, of  Patrician Brothers College in Blacktown, did not appear in Wyong Court this morning after being arrested on the NSW Central Coast yesterday.

The 59-year-old allegedly molested two boys aged 12 and 13 in his care during the late 1980s.
Both children were in Harmata’s care at the time and police will allege that all incidents occurred on school grounds.

Harmata did not appear in court after being refused bail on five counts of indecent assault on a child under 16 and one count of committing an indecent act on a child under 16.

A spokeswoman for the Catholic Education Diocese of Parramatta said they were not able to provide detail because it was subject to an ongoing police investigation.

Ball, and a retired priest, Vickery House, were arrested today on suspicion of sex abuse. Ball, 80, was arrested at his home near Langport, Somerset and retired Church of England priest House, 67, was arrested at his home near Haywards Heath, West Sussex.

A spokesman for Sussex Police said the allegations against the two men were being dealt with separately.

The arrests follow a police investigation which started when the Church of England passed on two reports on the safeguarding of young people in the Chichester Diocese during the 1980s and early 1990s. The diocese includes Lewes.

The former bishop, who resigned in 1993, was arrested over allegations of sexual abuse at properties in East Sussex and elsewhere.

House was arrested on suspicion of two sexual offences involving two teenage boys in East Sussex, between 1981 and 1983.

Meanwhile, the Archbishop of Sydney, George Pell, has accused the press of a “persistent campaign” against the Catholic Church in the wake of Julia Gillard’s decision to call a nationwide inquiry into institutionalised child abuse.

Is there no end to Pell’s huffing and puffing and playing the victim card? And is that an official Roman Catholic instruction manual he’s brandishing?

He said looked forward to statistics showing what percentage of abuse cases the Church was responsible for, saying it was not:

The principal culprit, What is important for the press and the public to realise is that because there is a persistent press campaign against the Catholic Church’s adequacies and inadequacies in this area, that does not necessarily represent the percentage of the problem that we offer.

In other words, that because there is a press campaign focused largely on us, it does not mean that we are largely the principal culprits. We are not interested in denying the extent of misdoing in the Catholic Church. We object to [the extent of misdoing] being exaggerated, we object to being described as the only cab on the rank.

Hat Tip: Agent Cormac, BarrieJohn (Blacktown report) and Bill Murray (Pell report)




Agent Cormac and BarrieJohn and Bill Murray