Institutional abuse is rampant in Australia.
Countless victims have come forward in recent years with stories of child sexual abuse from paedophile priests, bishops, and youth workers.
These victims have suffered enough physical and emotional damage to last a lifetime.
There is a heartbreaking footnote attached to so many of these seemingly countless stories of child sexual abuse
The trauma could have been avoided.
A small number of officials within these religious and government organisations were afforded the chance to save more children from sexual abuse.
There were authority figures who were told, who knew and could have helped.
Instead, these people chose to protect the paedophiles involved.
The Royal Commission has given these individuals a second chance to come forward and validate the horrible experiences of child sexual abuse victims.
Once more, these individuals have chosen to play dumb.
Bishop Alfred Holland is one of them.
Holland was in charge of the Newcastle Anglican Diocese from 1973 to 1992.
Serial paedophile, Father Peter Rushton, worked in churches under Alfred Holland’s leadership from 1963 through to his retirement in 2001.
Holland’s alleged knowledge of Rushton’s crimes began when the paedophile sexually assaulted another priest’s son.
The boy was found curled into a ball on his bed after Rushton’s assault. He was around four or five-years-old.
The Royal Commission heard evidence from churchgoer, Suzan Aslin, who claimed she heard what happened and told Alfred Holland about the abuse.
A former Sunday school teacher, Pamela Wilson, also heard about the assault and decided to write to Bishop Holland.
Rushton’s response foreshadowed his continual cover-ups and denials. Instead of escalating the allegations and investigating the potential abuse, Rushton decided on the opposite course of action.
He called Ms Wilson and threatened her with legal action.
Ms Wilson told The Commission the boy’s family confronted Alfred Holland about Rushton’s evil, paedophilic behaviour only to be brushed off by the bishop.
Unsurprisingly, Holland launched into a desperate denial.
“I couldn’t possibly have let something like that go by. It didn’t happen,” Alfred Holland told the Commission.
“I absolutely deny any disclosure was made to me. If it had been made, I’d be almost bound to have the responsibility of acting on it.”
Throughout the Commission’s investigation, Holland has either denied the allegations, given vague answers or failed to remember any important details.
When the Commission questioned Holland about predator youth worker, James Michael Brown, he admitted he “might have” signed the paperwork to license Brown without doing a background check.
This is as close to an admission of guilt as Alfred Holland has ever given.
Blurring details and conveniently forgetting allegations and instances of abuse are textbook examples of enabling child sexual abuse to continue unabated.
Holland was in charge of the Newcastle Anglican Diocese for almost 20 years, responsible for leading an organisation with multiple instances of priests sexually abusing children in their care.
Alfred Holland’s continued denials reflect his refusal to investigate a culture of normalising abuse and cover-ups festering within his organisation.
Men like Holland are protecting criminals, paedophiles and rapists.
It’s time for this to stop.
We cannot let paedophile enablers avoid justice.
Get the justice you deserve with Kelso Lawyers. We want to hear your story. Call (02) 4907 4200 or complete the online form before you accept payment from the National Redress Scheme.
Image source: ABC