Catholic counselling service accused of doctoring abuse victims’s psychiatric report

INFORMATION given by an Australian abuse victim to a psychiatrist was altered by the co-ordinator of Melbourne Catholic Archdiocese’s counselling service – Carelink – to make it look as if he was a ”drug-induced schizophrenic”, rather than the victim, from the age of nine to 13, of abuse by the late Father Ronald Pickering at St James Parish in Gardenvale.

Fr Pickering

Fr Ronald Pickering

Tesifying at the state government’s inquiry into sexual abuse by priests, Raymond D’Brass said Carelink co-ordinator Susan Sharkey told him on February 22, 2012, that she had edited his psychiatric report “but with the psychiatrist’s approval’.

D’Brass, who said he was regularly abused between 1979 and 1983 by Pickering, claimed the report was tainted and offended him because he had never been diagnosed with schizophrenia.

The information I had provided had been changed from what I had said in the interviews on January 13 and also January 16 to make me fit the diagnosis of a drug-induced schizophrenic. There were long sections of the report involving transcripts of the interview in which a lot of what I had said was noted to be inaudible.

He said Father Pickering groomed him when he was an altar and choir boy aged between nine and 13 by giving him alcohol, cigarettes and money.

I was regularly fondled and petted by Pickering as were the other boys. This occurred within the change rooms of the church and within the presbytery.

He said he began drinking alcohol and smoking cigarettes with Pickering from the age of nine and on many occasions passed out intoxicated, leaving himself vulnerable to abuse.

Most of the alcohol we did drink there was the altar wine, which was highly expensive … delightful to a young boy’s palate. The altar wine was left in our dressing room in the church.

He said one of the other victims committed suicide and another died in 1992 from an overdose of heroin – which had been funded by Pickering.

He said he was terrified of Pickering and repressed his memories of the abuse by drinking alcohol.

I never told my parents or anyone in the church about what was happening. It was a very confusing time for me as I came from a very staunch Catholic household and upbringing where the priest is considered to be the centre of our community.

He said the abuse he suffered made it difficult for him to apply himself at school and at age 16 he attempted suicide and was then referred to a psychiatrist.

In April 2012,  D’Brass said he received correspondence from Melbourne Response’s independent commissioner, Peter O’Callaghan, who said he was satisfied he was a victim of sexual assault by Father Pickering. He received $22,000 in compensation.

D’Brass said that he had lodged a complaint about Carelink with the Australian Health Practitioners Regulation Authority, which said it would not be investigating further.

Other counsellors had dismissed his diagnosis of drug-induced schizophrenia, he said.

Described here as a “notorious paedophile priest”, Pickering escaped justice and lived out his life in Britain because the Victoria Police failed to question him about serious child sex allegations, the force admitted last year.

Pickering, who has been linked to the suicides of up to eight people he allegedly sexually abused as children at various Catholic parishes around Melbourne in the 1960s, 1970s and 1980s, is understood to have received some pension entitlements from the church after its leadership became aware of his crimes.


Deacon William Albaugh

Meanwhile, it is reported here that a Catholic deacon at St Joseph’s Church in Fullerton, Maryland, a suburb of Baltimore, has been arrested for possession of child pornography after Verizon detected images and videos on its cloud backup servers of children performing sexual acts.

William Steven Albaugh, a 67-year old retiree ordained as a Catholic deacon in 1996, was taken into custody by Baltimore County Police officers on March 1. He admitted to collecting child pornography since the 1970s, but he claimed not to have been involved in creating the porn himself.

Police believe none of the images are of children from the church, its school, or the Fullerton community.

Hat tip: John C (Baltimore report)