Hundreds of Anglican church clergy and laypeople were accused of child sexual abuse over a 35-year period, with new figures showing 1,115 complaints were made.
The Royal Commission into Institutional Responses to Child Sexual Abuse unveiled another tranche of data earlier this month that revealed the alleged involvement of 22 out of 23 Anglican dioceses in Australia.
More than 1,080 survivors spoke out against their attackers, with 569 named and 133 unnamed perpetrators mentioned. Approximately three-quarters of the victims were boys, and the average age was 11.
“We have witnessed first hand the suffering of those who have shared their stories,” said Anne Hywood, general secretary of the church’s general synod.
“We have seen in their faces and heard in their voices not only the pain of the abuse they suffered as a child, but the further damage we inflicted when they came forward as adults seeking justice and comfort, and we pushed them aside.”
She apologised for the Anglican church’s response to reports of abuse, admitting that the institution only acted when the allegations became a threat.
Factions ‘preventing change’
Nevertheless, problems remain in the church, with factionalism preventing a unified approach to preventing and dealing with child sexual abuse. Dioceses are often left to manage allegations themselves, and there are factions within each diocese that decentralise power even further.
According to the Guardian newspaper, Newcastle bishop Greg Thompson resigned earlier in March just ahead of his appearance before the royal commission. He claimed his parishioners ostracised him and he received threats after aggressively speaking out about reforms within the church.
“Conflicts of interest that arise around friendships, where alleged clergy have offended, have been afforded a lot of protection at various levels, either at a committee level or in the local parish. People refuse to accept that their loved priest has been an offender,” he stated.
The Anglican church has reportedly paid $31 million in compensation to child abuse victims, with survivors receiving an average of $67,000 and the highest payout totalling $113,000.
However, the royal commission heard that just 41 per cent of complainants were awarded compensation, of which only one-quarter also received an apology. As for the perpetrators, 84 were referred to the police and four have been prosecuted so far.
Would you like to talk to someone about a child sexual abuse claim? Please contact us at Gerard Malouf & Partners Compensation, Medical Negligence & Will Dispute Lawyers.