This is an excerpt from Father Kevin Lee’s book ‘Unholy Silence.’ p170-174
Read more at unholysilence.com
The media’s interest in the Father F case simmered for a number of days until the Catholic Dioceses of Armidale and Parramatta announced a joint “internal inquiry” into the handling of the Father F affair which would be chaired by The Honorable Antony Whitlam QC, the retired judge and son of former Australian Prime Minister Gough Whitlam.
I was unimpressed at how this notion of feigned benevolence towards victims immediately placated the media and others who had speculated over the benefits of a Royal Commission into the corrupt practices of the Catholic Church.
It should have been apparent to all that it was an impotent gesture on behalf of the Church – offering to investigate itself.
Nevertheless despite some muffled speculations concerning the bias of the outcome, the reputable Queen’s Counsel entrusted with the duty of overseeing the process, was so universally lauded that everyone seemed confident of the guaranteed integrity of the process. Even I was ready to accept that justice could possibly result. That was, until I was invited to participate.
I was phoned by the Diocesan lawyer Paul Davis on the Monday morning of the October Labor Day public holiday 2012 at around 8:30am.
Around that time I was in communication with the Diocese, attempting to get access to my Superannuation fund. Prior to departing the country with the intention of settling with my wife in her homeland of the Philippines, I had hoped to utilise some of the unreserved Super.
Naturally I presumed this unusually timed phone call coincided with an urgent attempt by the Diocese to expedite that intention.
“Kevin I apologise for calling at this early hour on a public holiday” Mr Davis began in his nasally familiar voice, “It’s Paul Davis here”.
Admittedly I was asleep at the time but I pretended I had been awake for some time.
“Yes I recognised your voice Paul. That’s no problem”, I said confident that I was probably on his speed dial.
“As you would be aware the Dioceses of Parramatta and Armidale have initiated an independent inquiry…” he began to explain.
“Yes I know all about it Paul. How can I help?”
“We would like to offer you the opportunity to participate. As such I would like to ask your availability to meet with the convener Mr Antony Whitlam QC on Tuesday next week?”
As I fought back my inclination to express my disgust at the lack of impartiality of the inquiry I conceded to attend without really thinking about the implications of my cooperation.
Davis then gave me some spiel about how they had enlisted the assistance of another solicitor to provide appropriate legal advice for willing participants. He suggested I take advantage of the services of Mr Keith Chapple SC who would be available to let me know my rights prior to the interview.
“OK I will do that Paul,” I said with no real intention of taking up his offer.
I knew the process was not a juridical one and therefore I was not compelled to cooperate. I resisted the temptation to tell Davis what I really thought of their process. I meekly accepted the appointed meeting schedule, duly keying it into my phone’s calendar and went back to sleep.
I did little thinking about the subject in the intervening period and even ignored the letter sent by Davis on Intergroe Partners legal letterhead reminding me to arrive 10 minutes prior to the appointment time in order to avail of Mr Chapple’s complimentary legal advice.
When my phone beeped insistently on the following Tuesday morning, reminding me of the appointment with the esteemed Queen’s Counsel, my initial reaction was to ignore the appointment. I mused that to refuse to cooperate in the farcical ‘enquiry’ could protest my lack of faith in the process. But as the morning progressed and my appointment time drew near I decided that it might be beneficial to see if my insights were welcomed or challenged by the former Federal Court judge. “If I listen to Antony Whitlam, I might get a better understanding of the legitimacy of the process ……” I reasoned.
I arrived about 10 minutes late for the 11am appointment and then proceeded to search for parking in the crowded Diocesan Offices car park. Even the venue of the interview – in the boardroom of the Diocese of Parramatta – reeked of a cover-up.
Paul Davis met me in the foyer and ushered me into a small meeting room courteously offering me a cup of coffee. I accepted willingly ready to get anything for free from the Diocese that had refused to offer me any further financial support after my twenty years of service.
As I prepared to enter the room for our “interview” Mr Davis gave me a copy of an “in confidence” letter which had been written by Detective Inspector Paul Jacob, Commander of the Sex Crimes Task Force Glenroe. This special Task Force had been specifically set up to investigate allegations of a cover-up by the Catholic Church surrounding the alleged offences of the former priest Father F.
To my total astonishment, in the letter addressed to ‘Mr Rob Watt, Solicitor Assistant to the Honourable A Whitlam QC’, Paul Jacob was discretely informing the Diocese that the Task Force would suspend its operation whilst the Church carried out its own internal investigations!
The actual words that Mr Jacob used were as follows:
I would like to take this opportunity to formally establish contact with the Honourable A. Whitlam QC Inquiry on behalf of the New South Wales Police Force, Strike Force Glenroe.
The strike force has been formed to investigate alleged criminal behaviour in two areas;
1. To investigate
2. To investigate
I have received a copy of His Honour’s Terms of Reference and I can advise that the strike force will suspend investigations into the second phase of our criminal investigation, in order that we do not conflict or impede His Honour’s enquiry.
(end of quote from letter dated and faxed 31 July 2012)”
As you can predict my confidence in the process only got more jaded after that.
After the formal introductions, I then sat down to an hour and a half conversation which was recorded and transcribed by two of Mr Whitlam’s team. I quickly concluded that by the amount of manpower and the enormity of the reputation of this famous Queen’s Counsel, this process must be costing the Australian Catholic Church in general, and our Diocese in particular, a pretty high price.
My part in the procedure was fairly minimal for, as Mr Whitlam was quick to point out, I was quoting from conversations with people who are now deceased and the veracity of my claims would hold no greater weight than “hearsay”.
I knew this to be the case but I did not underestimate the value of my presence in this room and my ability to gain further insights into how the Police’s case against Father F was manipulated by people within the Church.
As I stated in a later letter to Commander Paul Jacob, the process could not be described in any other word than a farce. It was a charade for the public to pretend that justice was going to be delivered.
When I called Commander Ray King later in the afternoon to express my astonishment that the police would be ceasing their investigations pending the ‘internal enquiry’ by the alleged defendants in the proposed prosecution of the Church, he suggested the only possible reason the police would do so is because “they don’t have sufficient evidence to prosecute Father F or those who covered up his crimes”.
He told me in a lengthy phone conversation, “It looks like the cops are going to wait for the inquiry to produce some evidence that they can use later on to convict Father F and the others”.
In my hot tempered anger at how long the case was likely to drag out and how reluctant I was to concede that the Police were going to arrest Father F in the short term, I emailed a quick and pointed letter to the head of the Sex Crimes Task Force, Paul Jacob.
From: Kevin Lee <xxxxxxxxxxxx>
Date: 11/10/2012 18:44
Subject: Investigating Father _______ & the Catholic Church’s coverups
It’s been a while since I have heard from you.
Last Tuesday I participated in the farce which is being called an “independent inquiry” of the Catholic Church’s treatment of complaints of allegations of cover up of the abuses known to have occurred at the hands of the notorious “Father F”aka _______.
I say it is a farce because it is being conducted by a prominent Catholic and legal adviser to the Bishop of Armidale, the honorable Antony Whitlam QC.
How can it seriously be considered that the Church will honestly conduct and pay for an investigation which will uncover proof that it in fact acted without integrity in protecting the self-confessed pedophile and also concealed its knowledge of his actions.
I also spoke with one of the mothers of one of the victims of Father F who has since killed himself out of frustration at the lack of justice & she expresses the same despair at how late this attempt at appearing concerned is. She also shares my cynicism at this unveiled attempt to further cover up the cover-ups.
I was indeed stunned when the Church’s own lawyer Paul Davis showed me a letter from you advising that you have suspended police investigations of disclosures made by Father F to the three priests present at meeting at St Marys Cathedral on 3rd September 1992 where he admitted his guilt to them, “in order that we do not conflict or impede His Honour’s enquiry”.
What concerns me and most level-minded people is the fact that the police have suspended the operation of Sex Crimes Task Force Glencoe pending the outcome of the Church’s own “investigations”.
I have never before heard of the police abandoning their duties to investigate a crime while they wait for the criminal to investigate himself!
What possible advantage can be gained by delaying your own investigation of Father F & the hierarchy’s cover-ups while awaiting the outcome of the Catholic Church’s own enquiry when you do not know when those investigations are likely to be concluded?
How long will this enquiry take? Is it not in the interests of the Catholic Church to now prolong this enquiry ad finitum?
Of course I am also upset at the length of time it has taken the Task Force to charge the pedophiles who assaulted [victim’s name] when he was a boy. Those investigations should have allowed arrests to be made and taken these pedophiles off the streets and potential protecting further victims.
If the Police take this long to bring to justice the perpetrator of a crime against one of its own, what chance has Joe Average got of getting justice?
Naturally the response from Mr Jacob was not couched in flowery tones or kindly worded sentiments. Paul Jacob saw red. He wrote me a hostile missive in which he angrily demanded that I butt out of the police investigations and refrain from telling him what to do!
He was angry but that was what I wanted.
Here is the emailed response from the Commander of the Sex Crimes Squad:
Monday, 15 October 2012 11:14 AM
I was not aware that I had any obligation to contact you.
I find your lack of knowledge and the critical assertions of the police in your email concerning Strike Force Glenroe highly offensive. You have no idea what work is being undertaken by Strike Force Glenroe nor for that matter has Lawyer Paul Davis.
In the absence of having anything positive to provide, in the form of actual evidence, such that may assist police in investigating historical sexual assaults, please refrain from contacting me. I will not be seeking to justify the position of the police investigation with you.
In relation to [victim’s name], the officer in charge of that investigation Detective Sergeant Murphy has had regular contact with him on that matter and it is not something I propose to discuss with you.
Despite the fact that he began his reply by calling me ‘Dear Kevin’ I was quite offended by the tone Paul Jacob employed, particularly as I was assisting police by directing victims to them.
The main concern I had about his response was that it indicated his frustration. I sensed that Paul Jacob and his team were under-resourced to deal with the enormous volume of complaints that must pertain to sexual crimes committed by Catholic priests and brothers. I was beginning to doubt that they were able to achieve the desired result of arresting all those involved in paedophile activities in the Diocese of Parramatta, let alone the whole State of New South Wales.
However the very next day the news media reported that police acting under directions from the Sex Crimes Task Force Glenroe had Father F in custody. He was being charged with further cases of sexual abuse against small girls as young as 12.
So it would appear that although the wheels of justice turn incredibly slowly, at last the notorious paedophile priest whose heinous crimes against the innocent which had led to at least two young men taking their own lives, would finally see the inside of a gaol cell and his future abusive aims would at least be temporarily impeded.