Miffed with incidents of child abuse that involve priests and their perceived cover up, a Canberra lawyer has suggested suing churches to end institutionalised child sex abuse.
Lawyer Jason Parkinson, who is the principal at Porters Lawyers, has specialised in cases relating to clergy sexual abuse. He said this has become important as criminal law has ceased to be a deterrent for the abusers, reports The ABC.
Parkinson said he would advocate suing individual church orders so that hushing up of abuse cases would be economically unviable.
“It was always been against the law for priests, brothers, anyone to molest children… Up until 1948 in Victoria you were hanged for doing this to a child, it still didn’t stop them,” he said.
Such a step will make the children of today and tomorrow safer as the victims of 10, 15, 20, 30 years ago are lining up bravely to sue these orders, the lawyer noted.
In this regard, Parkinson mentioned Spotlight, which won the best film at Academy Awards, as a testimony to the legal success in fighting clergy abuse. The film portays Boston Globe’s investigative journalists who exposed an institutional cover up of clergy abuse in 2001. Noting the plotline of Spotlight as inspiring, Parkinson said 700 to 800 writs in supreme courts across Australia have been filed under his initiative.
Meanwhile, Cardinal George Pell, Australia’s senior Catholic in Rome said he was kept in the dark about the activities of a pedophile priest Gerald Ridsdale. Pell was testifying before the Australian Royal Commission which was probing child sex abuse, reports the BBC.
Cardinal Pell, who faced questions via a video link, was asked why Ridsdale was repeatedly transferred between parishes in the 1970s and 80s. The Cardinal blamed Ronald Mulkearns, then bishop of Ballarat and said important information about Ridsdale was withheld from him, even though he was serving as one of the consultors to Mulkearns.