Royal commission long overdue says brother of sexual abuse victim

THE brother of a man who claimed to have been sexually abused by a Catholic priest says a royal commission, announced on Monday, into child sexual abuse is long overdue. 

Peter Jurd’s brother, Damien, was a young boy when he was allegedly sexually abused by a priest in the late 1980s. 

He took his own life last year at the age of 28. 

Mr Jurd told The Leader yesterday  while the royal commission announcement was welcome it was “justice too late” for his brother.

“Understandably it’s something we have been calling for, for a long time,” he said. 

“We saw what the abuse did to our brother, and that’s why we have pushed for something like this for so long.”

Mr Jurd said announcing such an inquiry would force people to realise that any suggestion child sexual abuse had been handled properly in the past was untrue.

“The commission has the power to investigate this fully and delve into the whole situation. Hopefully that means, as a result, there will be moves made to ensure it can never happen again and other families won’t have to go through what we have,” Mr Jurd said.

Member for New England Tony Windsor also supported the announcement. 

“The royal commission isn’t a witch hunt,” he said. 

“It’s about giving the victims of child sexual abuse access to justice and in so doing give them hope that they can have a future in which they can move on from the past.”

Mr Windsor said while the victims of such abuse had had their lives severely impacted by such horrific experiences, the royal commission would help them deal with their ordeals in the knowledge the perpetrators of such acts against them wouldbe dealt with by the law.

“We as a society can’t shy away from the truth and as much as our institutions do great work in our community, we can’t sweep the actions of the perpetrators of these acts under the mat,” Mr Windsor said.

The Bishop of the Armidale Diocese, Most Reverend Michael Kennedy, was on leave yesterday but the diocese passed on a statement from the president and permanent committee of the Australian Catholic Conference of Australian Bishops on his behalf.

The statement said the bishops supported the announcement too. 

“This is a serious issue not just for the Catholic Church but for the whole community,” it read.

“As Catholic bishops and as individuals we share the feelings of horror and outrage which all decent people feel when they read the reports of sexual abuse and allegations of cover-ups.

“Over the past 20 years, there have been major developments in the way the Church responds to victims, deals with perpetrators and puts in place preventative measures. In addition, there is a much greater general awareness of the issue of paedophilia in the broader community.”

The bishops suggested to assist in determining the appropriate scope of the royal commission, it would be useful for police and child protection authorities to release the information they had about the number of cases they were dealing with.

“In NSW it would also be helpful to highlight when the offences occurred and, in particular, whether they occurred pre or post the Wood Royal Commission in the 1990s, and the rigorous child protection regime put in place after it,” the statement read. 

“We deeply regret the suffering and trauma endured by children who have been in the Church’s care, and the effect on their families. Mistakes were made and we apologise to victims and their families for these failures.

“Much of the public discussion is about how the Church dealt with cases 20 or more years ago. Critics talk as though earlier failures are still prevalent. Major procedural changes in dealing with these matters have been implemented by the Church since then.”

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