Melbourne Priest Abused Girl for 6 Months During Confession

According to AAP, a Melbourne priest made a 10-year-old girl sit on his knee and asked her if she loved him while indecently assaulting her during confession, a royal commission will hear.

Father Peter Searson pulled the girl onto his lap and she could feel his erection, counsel assisting the child abuse royal commission Gail Furness SC said.

The priest told the girl “the Lord forgives you” as he indecently assaulted her during confession.

The girl made a statement to police in 1990 about the 1985 incident at the Holy Family Primary School in Doveton, saying she tried to sit on the very end of Searson’s knee, but he pulled her closer to him.

“All of this time he kept saying to me ‘do you love me’ and ‘tell me you love me’ as well as asking me to give him a kiss on the cheek,” the girl said in the police statement, tendered to the royal commission.

“I knew something was wrong because priests don’t normally act this way and I became very scared.”

The woman will give evidence to the commission’s inquiry into abuse in the Melbourne archdiocese on Wednesday.

Ms. Stewart was contacted by police in 1990, when she was 15, as a possible victim of Searson.

The inquiry heard when she told the detective she had also been abused by someone else as a child, he said: “Oh my God, what were you wearing, a neon sign above your head saying ‘come and get me’?

“When he said that I shut down and I felt I could not tell him all the details of what happened. I felt that he was blaming me, which was hard because I blamed myself,” Ms. Stewart said.

The detective later told her “unfortunately there’s not enough here for me to go by”, Ms. Stewart told the inquiry.

Ms. Stewart said she spoke to the independent commissioner for the Melbourne Response, the Melbourne archdiocese’s process for handling complaints, and received $25,000 from the church in 1988.

“I felt that the whole process retraumatized me,” Ms. Stewart told the commission on Wednesday.

“I still cry for the little girl I once was.

“The little girl that never got to be a normal little girl … nothing can ever give that back to me. It is a life sentence.”

Searson, now dead, was never convicted of a sex offense. The Catholic Church received four abuse claims against Searson, who was never convicted of a sex offense.

The royal commission on Tuesday revealed 454 people had made child abuse claims against 188 offenders in the Melbourne archdiocese, 335 of which were against 84 priests.

To Top