Lifestyle & Belief

Australia to hold major inquiry into alleged cover-ups of child sex abuse


Australian Prime Minister Julia Gillard speaks in Sydney on October 28, 2012.



Australian Prime Minister Julia Gillard has announced a national inquiry into institutional responses to the sexual abuse of children.

Lawmakers in the southern state of Victoria heard that priest sex offenders used bestiality to scare victims into silence by "introducing dogs" into child sex assaults, the Herald Sun reported.

Catholic clergy also hid guns in their presbyteries and carrying knives and pistols around school yards to deter their victims from speaking out.

The move to establish the so-called Royal Commission followed police claims that the Roman Catholic Church in Australia had concealed evidence of pedophile priests.

However, a Royal Commission will move beyond the Catholic church to focus on all religious institutions, NGOs, state care providers, schools and non-profit groups such as scouts and sporting clubs, the Australian Associated Press reported

It also comes after the state of New South Wales also announced an inquiry into allegations by a top police officer, Peter Fox, that the church tried to silence investigations into allegations of abuse.

Chief Inspector Fox, who had investigated several cases of sexual assault over 35 years, had called for a Royal Commission in an open letter.

"I can testify from my own experience that the church covers up, silences victims, hinders police investigations, alerts offenders, destroys evidence and moves priests to protect the good name of the church," he wrote, the BBC reported.

Gillard told reporters in Canberra on Monday that:

"Australians know, from the revelations that they’ve read in recent weeks that too many children have suffered child abuse but have also seen other adults let them down. They’ve not only had their trust betrayed by the abuser but other adults who could have acted to assist them have failed to do so. Australians want to see action taken. They don’t want to see institutions fail again to deal with allegations of abuse. I hope that this royal commission can guide us to that place."

For a royal commission to be established, Gillard must first recommend it to the governor-general, with set terms of reference.

AAP reported her as saying:

"So over the next few weeks we will be consulting with the organizations that represent the survivors of child abuse, with religious organizations, with state and territory government to ensure the terms of reference are right."