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

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)

11 responses to “Catholic counselling service accused of doctoring abuse victims’s psychiatric report”

  1. jay says:

    There is something else very sinister here. While I am certainly glad this deacon got nailed, WTF was Verizon doing going through his backup files!!! That’s a serious threat to everyone

    This is not the first time I’ve heard of stuff like this. A tech writer recently went to use his stored on line and found that Skydrive had locked his account because it detected the presence of what they thought was an illegal copy of music (it wasn’t)

    If you choose to put your stuff ‘in the cloud’, even (especially) if you’re not a criminal .. encrypt it first.

  2. Daz says:

    Please imagine a cogent, on-topic and constructive comment below:

    … …

    Because right now, all I could actually manage would be a string of profanities.

  3. Lurker111 says:

    Absolutely encrypt it. I do software developement and I’ve got test files from customers that contain names, addresses, account numbers, maybe even some SSN’s (though I did run a program to randomize all the SSN fields that I could find). I wouldn’t dare put that stuff out anywhere where it might become exposed and subject my company to suits for misfeasance or the like.

    And when you’re done with a hard drive, don’t clean it and recycle it–take it out on the back porch and beat the hell out of it with an axe. Then garbage the remains.

  4. JohnMWhite says:

    Verizon, Skydrive and others have algorithms that search your images for ‘inappropriate content’, ostensibly so they can delete regular pornography, which their user agreement forbids the hosting of. I think specifically it is so they can’t ever accidentally get entangled in a situation like this. Usually there isn’t a person looking at your files but the algorithms are less than 100% accurate so you never know if your holiday photos were flagged because you are wearing a peach bikini and somebody at the company gets to flip through them to make sure they’re not porn. Presumably this is what happened to the priest – the system saw what it thought was nakedness and flagged the files for a human to review. The human recognised they were children and contacted the authorities.

    Anyway, yes, encrypt anything you put into the cloud. Your encrypted files cannot be read the same way and just appear as gibberish to the algorithms. Still, for true security it’s best not to part with anything you definitely do not want somebody else to see.

    As for the top story, lying is just another tool wielded by these authoritarians to cause more pain to their victims. I’m not sure they’re even trying to preserve their reputation anymore. Pickering is dead and was notorious for his actions anyway. What is there to protect? It is simply spite aimed at a victim for daring to come forward.

  5. tony e says:

    It’s gotten to the stage, over the last year or so, that it’s an almost daily occurrence that some form of misconduct by the rc church makes the news.

    I’m not just talking about the big lie (god), but everything that they claim is part of the rc church. Whether it be that they are the ‘church of the poor’ (I could not keep a straight face whilst typing that part) whilst living in palaces. That they are the moral guardians of man (yet the sex abuse scandal worldwide is so big that if you go into wikipedia there is even the option to browse this category by country). If we want to go back even a small bit of time there is its involvement, in the 90’s, in Rwanda genocide, the magdalene asylums. The 80’s and the Calvi banking scandals. I could go on and on.

    And still there are people who jump to this vile and evil organisations defence.

    For some reason they simply refuse to see what the rest of us can plainly see. That their church has spent millenniums abusing it’s followers on a global scale, and by their followers insistence that this is ‘just a blip’ will continue to do so.

    You have only yourselves to blame.

  6. JohnMWhite says:

    From the Independent article:

    The judge added: “You’ve lost your calling as a clergyman.”

    It is looking more and more likely that using children as tools for personal gratification is actually part of the calling of the clergy. And I am getting fed up with people acting shocked and disappointed when a cleric turns out to be capable of doing something wrong.

    The Diocese of Bath and Wells previously confirmed that in accordance with the Clergy Discipline Measure, the Bishop of Bath and Wells Rt Revd Peter Price suspended Lee from active ministry as soon as he was arrested.

    I wonder what will happen following conviction? One would think they would be swift to give him the boot, but apparently not swift enough to get it done in time for the newspaper report. Presumably he is still only suspended. If I were accused of such a crime and worked at McDonald’s I doubt my job would still be waiting for me by the time I was released on bail, never mind after a conviction. Again the clergy seems to be a special case.

  7. Marky Mark says:

    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.)
    …our prisons are filled with such people who do similar acts but are not clergy.
    RCC cult leader = They are above the law…absolute power corrupts absolutely

    (And still there are people who jump to this vile and evil organisations defence.)
    …that is because these type of people will not admit they are wrong, and that ego driven personality would rather let this behavior continue than make change. Especially when that change means that the all powerful creator of the Universe does not personally talk to them. That every decision they made throughout their life was not influenced by this magical being.

  8. Robster says:

    How come there isn’t a gaggle of priests quitting the RCC? I know they’ve been having a hard time attracting (young) men into the priesthood which isn’t a surprise given what they’ve got to believe, what they’ve got to sell to their gullible minions, really believing it’s bits of the baby jesus and his blood they’re munching on in church for Sunday brunch and the rest of the absurd nonsense attached to the vocation. But there’s still lots of men in dog-collars playing let’s pretend who are now tainted (correctly) with the brush of infamy. It’s not often I hear people admittimg to being some sort of religious cleric but when they do, they also express embarrassment. It’s taken a while for this to become the norm and the good news is it’s all down hill from here.

  9. Matt Westwood says:

    Never put stuff in the cloud. Nobody’s got so much stuff that they can’t get it all on a couple of standalone backup drives that you hold locally.

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