25 Jul 2015

Catholic Church abuse complaints on the rise

3:40 pm on 25 July 2015

New figures show an increasing number of sexual abuse complaints are being made to the Catholic Church in New Zealand.

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Photo: 123RF

In the four years to the end of last year, 58 complaints were laid, with 25 lodged in 2014 alone.

The church only began keeping a centralised record of complaints in 2010.

Of those made since then, 26 have been proven and 24 are still under investigation.

The man in charge of handling the complaints for the church, Bill Kilgallon, said the alleged perpetrators included 21 priests, monks, nuns or teachers.

The abuse covers the period 1946 to 1990.

Of the eight alleged abusers that are still alive, four have not been charged.

Mr Kilgallon said victims were often reluctant to go to the police.

"This could be because they don't feel strong enough to go through the whole process of a trial and are fearful of any publicity that might bring.

"Occasionally we've had people who have had a not very good experience with the police."

He said all of the alleged perpetrators were elderly and in care and do not pose a threat to the public.

He said the church no longer paid compensation to victims in return for their silence and regretted this had happened in the past.

Mr Kilgallon said the government should consider a royal commission, similar to the one in Australia, into sexual abuse.

He said the inquiry in Australia had done a good job of looking at the role all institutions have played in allowing abuse to continue.

"They're looking backwards to see what has gone wrong and they're looking forwards to say, what can we put in place to ensure this doesn't happen in the same way."

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