A number of religious organisations are currently being investigated in Australia for multiple cases of sexual assault that occurred between their employees/members and people they were meant to be looking after.
Because many of these incidents happened over a period of years – and some took place decades ago – a number of these investigations are still ongoing. The Royal Commission into Institutional Responses to Child Sexual Abuse (the Institution) is responsible for these investigations, and is currently reviewing cases across a range of organisations.
The Catholic Church
People having been making allegations of sexual assault involving the Catholic Church for decades. The cases often involves priests, with victims frequently being altar boys and other children. On top of this, evidence surfaced in 2005 which suggested that the Catholic Church not only already knew about some of these crimes, but was actively taking measures to cover them up and protect their clergymen.
Since 2013, The Royal Commission into Child Sex Abuse has been holding private interviews with victims to fully understand the extent of the crimes.
The Uniting Church in Australia
Other Christian religious organisations are also involved in investigations by the Institution, so it's important for victims to be aware of these ongoing cases, especially if they can provide further evidence of what occurred. The Uniting Church in Australia is the banner under which the Presbyterian, Methodist and Congregational churches operate.
Hearings will take place in March in Sydney to investigate both the organisation's policies and how these impacted the victims and their recovery.
Jehovah's Witnesses and Watchtower Bible and Tract Society of Australia Ltd
The Institution will begin hearings into sexual abuse cases within this organisation's facilities towards the end of March. So far, the public hearings regarding the events have taken place.
As with the other religious organisations under investigation, the hearings won't just focus on specific cases, but on the policies that govern the organisation's responses to both offenders and victims.
The Anglican Church of Australia
Like the Catholic Church, the Anglican Church operated homes that intended to look after children. Now, the organisation is acknowledging that a number of people were abused while under its care, and is assisting with organisations to bring justice for its victims.
This is not a complete list of all religious organisations involved in sexual assault cases, but an introduction to some of the higher profile examples. If you have a case to discuss, get in touch with the specialist lawyers at Gerard Malouf and Partners.