CHAPTER 26 – OPPORTUNITY TO ABUSE
The worst result of Catholicism’s domination of the private schools’ system is its sordid underbelly of paedophilia. Priests are given unbridled access to the schools they control and it seems even the legal system are averse to interfere with them. There is no accountability over what priests do, while every other professional working with children operates under a set of stringent restrictions which limit the possibility of abuses occurring.
Normal expectations that there be at least two adults present in a situation with one child are never adhered to by priests nor enforced by school officials. This anomaly gives opportunity for paedophiles who can infiltrate the church to operate with complete unabated freedom and without any air of suspicion.
That was, until I tell you about this man.
Father John Farrell
As if you did not already have enough evidence of the dereliction of the duty of care in the diocese of Parramatta, I have yet another lugubrious story to recount.
When I arrived at St. Margaret Mary’s Merrylands parish it was scant of facilities and office equipment, owing to the Parish Priest’s frugal ways and reluctance to spend parish money. Most of the funds he had, he would selflessly send to the foreign Missions or to an orphanage in New Guinea.
Being short of office equipment myself, I decided to appropriate a filing cabinet that was left behind by a previous Assistant Priest. It was quite a clean looking unit and I was curious as to why he would have left it. In case the absent priest returned unexpectedly and wanted his files I asked Father Rod Bray when he expected Father John Farrell to come back for it.
“Well” he said in his labouring baritone voice, “I don’t know if he will ever come back. The last communication I had with him was when he requested Mass stipends.”
“Where does he live?” I asked trying not to appear overly interested.
In fact, I had heard rumours that he was ‘on charges’ for something and had been kicked out of the priesthood.
“He lives with some parishioner friends. I don’t like to be a spreader of rumours but he apparently is suspended from his ministry. He is allowed to celebrate Mass privately in the home, so I am sending him offerings so that he can offer Mass for the Holy Souls,” Bray said gravely.
My curiosity was piqued so I searched through the filing cabinet to see what he had left.
I found mostly what I expected to find in a priest’s filing cabinet: past homilies, lecture notes from the seminary, personal financial records, etc., but what caught my eye were a collection of obscene cartoons and humour I considered inappropriate for a priest to have.
I ripped them up in disgust and put all the other personal stuff in boxes and carried them over to the spare house which was doubling as a dumpster for Father Bray. On the way over I bumped into the parish pastoral associate, Sister Kathleen. She used to be the parish pastoral sister but with my arrival she was actually moving to another parish.
As I walked past her carrying the box of files, she asked, “What’s all that?”
“It’s stuff that belonged to Father John Farrell,” I said. “Did you know him?”
“Oh yes, I knew him,” she said with contempt in her voice and with added emphasis on the word “knew”.
“I suspect you didn’t like him” I said.
“I think he is a total impostor!” she stated definitively. “Well, there was really only one incident that blew his cover”.
I put the box down and looked furtively at her.
“Go on,” I encouraged hopeful, but concerned that her nun-like prudence may interrupt her willingness to denigrate the priest.
“I walked in on him one day with an altar server in the back room near the laundry during lunch time. He appeared surprised to see me and ushered the young fellow outside in a hurry. When I confronted him and told him how inappropriate it was that he should be one-on-one with an altar server in his room. He claimed he was getting him ready for ‘Altar boy training’. I told him that altar server ‘training’ should be done in the church and made sure the boy made it back to class. I advised him that people will be concerned when they find out he is having private classes with boys on their own and mentioned that I would speak to Father Bray about it, which I did.”
“What happened?” I asked, folding my arms so as not to appear to be enjoying the information.
“Father Bray wanted to confront him over it and suspected that he was in some sort of trouble, so he went to the Bishop and he has since left the priesthood.”
Later that day I spoke with Father Bray again and told him what Sister Kathleen had confided to me had transpired with Father John Farrell.
He told me with that usual Father Bray solemnity in his deep voice, “Father John was a great disappointment to me”.
“Why was that?” I asked.
He said, “When I told Bishop Heather about the incident with the altar server, I expected he would be shocked, but he didn’t appear at all surprised. He just said in a matter-of-fact sort of way, ‘Yes, I was going to tell you Rod. John Farrell is awaiting a legal trial concerning charges of sexually interfering with a boy in another Diocese. I allowed him to help out in this Diocese until things cleared up for him back home. But I did warn him not to
work with children in the meantime’ the Bishop told me”.
“Did you tell the Bishop that he ought to have informed you about his impending charges?” I asked.
“Yes, and I let the Bishop know I was angry with him. He had left me totally exposed. I had put Father John in charge of the altar servers not knowing about his background and his problem. But Bede Heather tells me we should presume innocence until proved guilty”.
I was amazed at how Father Rod Bray could be so forgiving about the Bishop’s implausible explanation for his lack of care for the young boys of Merrylands. In my mind, I could see how the Bishop actually concealed Farrell’s situation and was therefore allowing future opportunities for him to abuse Merrylands children.
I thank God for Sister Kathleen who probably saved some poor boy or many future other victims from a life of torment by her serendipitous discovery.
Still a mystery to me is Father Bray’s apparent compassion for the paedophile and the fact he was still sending John Farrell money to say Masses.
Background to Father Farrell
There are not many responsibilities that can be entrusted to an Assistant Priest. They are actually just a priest on ‘L plates’. But one of the major roles they have is the preparation of altar servers for Sunday Mass. Father John Farrell took to this responsibility very eagerly and had built up quite a pool of altar boys in his parishes.
On 1 January 2001, one of those altar boys (named Damian Jurd) died in tragic circumstances, aged only 28. On 25 November 2007 another of Father Farrell’s altar boys (but from a different parish) Daniel Powell took his own life. Both were aged 28 at the time of their suicides.
Were their premature deaths a coincidence?
The following will outline what happened to Daniel Powell lvi.
The crimes attributed to Father F. against Daniel and another altar server would never have come to light if Father F. had not himself initiated legal proceedings against his second known victim in 1998.
Father F. had complained to the police in late 1998 that, on several occasions in early 1998, Daniel had tried to “extort” money from him. In court in 2004, Daniel (now aged 25) pleaded not guilty to the 12 charges of demanding property with menace.
In his defence, Daniel denied that he had “demanded by menace”. He said that Father F. had offered to pay compensation for the breach of priestly trust that had allegedly disrupted the boy’s life.
During this case, it became apparent that the reason Daniel was asking money was because of an earlier promise that Father F. had made to him. Father F. admitted during the cross examination by the defence that he had oral sex with young boys in his parishes. He also admitted serving alcohol to boys as young as 12.
The court was told that when he was 18 years old, Daniel confronted Father F. in 1998, angrily complaining that the priest’s sexual abuse had disrupted his adolescence at age 12 in 1991. Daniel claimed that by engaging the boy in secretive sexual behaviour and providing him with alcohol, it culminated in his later drug abuse and alcoholism.
At the time Father F. offered money to the 18-year-old, in 1998, Daniel had not taken
his sex-abuse allegations to the police, the court was told.
The jury found Daniel Powell not guilty on all charges. There were however no repercussions for Father F. as a result of his admission to child sexual abuse.
Three years after his acquittal, Daniel committed suicide.
In the Parramatta court hearing, the judge ruled that the priest could only be referred to (outside the courtroom) “by the pseudonym F”.
This in itself is something difficult for the victims to understand. Their names were publicised, yet the offending paedophile who admitted to the assaults was not allowed to be named.
Father F. told the court that he was no longer in the ministry in 2004. He said the Church had not given him any parish appointments since mid-1992, although technically (he said) he was still a priest —a priest whose rights of ministry had been withdrawnlvii. Father F. told the court that he was ordained in September 1981 to serve as a priest in Armidale Diocese in northern New South Wales.
During cross-examination, he agreed that in February 1988 he appeared before a magistrate in a local court in northern New South Wales, charged with having sexually assaulted a 12-year-old boy named Damian Jurd.
Father F. and Damian were making a weekend visit to an outlying parish when the alleged assaults of Damian occurred. Father F. successfully contested the 1988 court charges, which were dismissed by the northern magistrate on 18 February 1988.
After the 1988 court case, Father F. said, the Diocese withdrew him from parish postings, and he then resided for a while with the bishop in the bishop’s residence.
In 1989, Father F. said he was transferred on loan from northern New South Wales to the diocese of Parramatta (west of Sydney), where he worked first in one parish (to the north of Parramatta) and then, from 1990, in another parish Merrylands (to the south of Parramatta). At the second parish, in late 1991, he met Daniel Powell (then aged 12).
The court was told that Daniel was a disturbed and vulnerable boy because his father had committed suicide (by hanging himself from a tree in the backyard) when Daniel was aged nine. Some pupils at Daniel’s Catholic school taunted the boy about the suicide, the court was told.
Father F. befriended Daniel and his mother and became a father figure for Daniel, the court was told. During questioning by Daniel’s lawyer, Father F. said Daniel would visit him at his presbytery at night. If anybody else was at the presbytery at this time, Daniel would be secretly smuggled in. Father F. agreed that he supplied Daniel with alcohol and cigars at the presbytery. Father F. said he and Daniel also stayed overnight at another presbytery (in south-west Sydney, in the Wollongong diocese), where they shared a bedroom, when Father F. was doing weekend Masses for an absent priest.
Daniel’s lawyer asked Father F. about sexual acts that he had allegedly performed on Daniel (including oral sex, masturbation and, on one occasion, thrusting a finger painfully into Daniel’s anus). Father F. declined to answer on the ground that it might incriminate him.
The trial also raised the awareness of authorities that senior members of the Catholic hierarchy in Sydney were aware of Father F.’s sexual dealings with children and did nothing to prevent him from re-offending. In fact, not only did they do nothing to prevent him from re-offending, they also did nothing to make others in the church aware of his abuses.
In reply to Daniel’s lawyer, Father F. agreed that he attended a meeting, held at the Sydney Cathedral presbytery on 3 September 1991, with Father Brian Lucas, Father Wayne Peters and Father John Usher.
But as revealed in a Four Corners program of July 2, 2012 entitled Unholy Silence these three men concealed the crimes of Father F. from the legitimate authority of the Church that could have and should have done something about them.
The church in-house investigation which was finally ordered after the Farrell crimes came to the attention of the Sydney hierarchy, was a charade. The senior priests called Farrell to a meeting at St. Mary’s Cathedral in Sydney. What happened at the meeting is crucial to understanding the major flaws in the way the Catholic Church deals with allegations of sexual abuse.
The words that Sydney’s Cardinal George Pell used reveal how justice was prevented from being delivered by the deliberate deception. Pell told reporter Geoff Thompson in the Four Corners programme, “The file note of that meeting shows, [he paused briefly, then corrected himself] does not show that he made any admission and that is the recollection of the three priests who were actually at that [meeting]. They were dissatisfied with his credibility; they thought he represented some sort of danger for the future, and although he’d made no admissions to them, they suggested to the Bishop who followed it that he should be stood down.”
But as Four Corners revealed by producing a copy of a letter written by one of the priests present at the meeting, Father Farrell quite clearly admitted he had abused boys. Four Corners told the nation “that the letter addressed to the then Bishop of Armidale and written by Father Wayne Peters who is now Vicar General (that’s second-in-charge) of the Armidale Diocese was a report of the findings of the Church’s own investigations. His report clearly states that Father F did make admissions of criminal sexual assault.
The report says that Father F.:
“… admitted that there had been five boys around the age of 10 and 11 that he had sexually interfered with in varying degrees in the years approximately 1982 to 1984 while he was the Assistant Priest at Moree.”
Regarding two of the boys the report further states that Father Farrell “… admitted that over a period of approximately twelve months he fondled the genitals of each of these boys and “sucked off their dicks”. This was done on about a monthly basis over a period of twelve months.
The report expresses no concern for the victims’ welfare or suggest that police should be informed of what could only be regarded as criminal acts. Instead it says:
“… the possibility always remains that one or some of the boys involved may bring criminal charges against Father Farrell, with subsequent grave harm to the priesthood and the Church.
The acts admitted to by Father F. are serious criminal offences, and in NSW at least since 1990 it has been against the law to conceal such serious offences in some circumstances. In other words – if the admissions were made as reported and not referred to the police – it raises the question of whether the law was broken.
Four Corners asked Father Brian Lucas and Father John Usher directly whether Father Farrell made any admissions they thought should be disclosed to police. Both of them say he didn’t. Father Wayne Peters actually claimed to Four Corners that he did send a report of the meeting to the then Bishop of Armidale. He said Father F. did make
admissions, but described them as only “instances of misconduct” which would not “incriminate him”.
What is most revealing from that letter is that the author was more concerned about how the Catholic priesthood and the reputation of the Church might suffer, in addition to the possibility that the boys might commence legal action at a later date. There appears no remorse for what has happened to the boys, and there was no attempt made to contact them and offer any spiritual or material support.
It was to be another thirteen years after that 1992 meeting before Father Farrell was formally sacked from the priesthood in 2005.
But the court report reveals in further detail what the Catholic Church authorities would quite certainly have studied and obviously chose to ignore:
This is a direct quote of the cross-examination taken from page 176 of the transcript:
Question: I suggest to you that at that meeting you made certain admissions to those priests that you had had oral sex with young boys. What do you say about that?
Question: And that’s the reason why they won’t let you carry out your duties as a priest, isn’t it?
ANSWER: That’s part of it, yes …
Question: That, of course, breaks your promise of chastity, doesn’t it?
ANSWER: Actually what you are talking about is the promise I took of celibacy, which is not getting married, but if you are saying it was wrong and sinful to engage in wrong practices the answer is yes, and I am deeply sorry for what happened.
Father F. said his posting in the parishes to the west of Sydney ended on 1 July 1992 and he was not given any more parish postings anywhere. He then returned to his home town in northern New South Wales, where his parents lived, and took up university studies as a civilian (that is, no longer in the official role of a priest).
Before leaving Parramatta Diocese, Father F. said, he gave his contact details in northern NSW to Daniel, inviting the boy to contact him again some time.
Meanwhile, Daniel was experiencing behavioural difficulties. By age 14, as well as drinking alcohol and smoking cigarettes, he was smoking marijuana and playing truant from school, the court was told. His relationship with his mother deteriorated and he left home, descending into a spiral of alcohol and drug abuse.
Finally, in early 1998, aged 18, Daniel made the first of several phone calls to Mr F. in northern New South Wales.
In these calls, Daniel eventually confronted Mr F. and told him about how the priest’s influence had allegedly disrupted his life. Mr F. offered to pay money to Daniel if Daniel did not report his sex-abuse allegations to the police.
Mr F. said he told Daniel that a court case was to be avoided. Mr F. said that the Damian Jurd court case in northern New South Wales in 1988 “attracted a large amount of media attention and the experience had a devastating impact on me.”
Mr F. also told Daniel that the 1988 court case did not do Damian Jurd any good because the 1988 magistrate dismissed Damian’s allegations.
Mr F. and Daniel Powell discussed a sum of compensation to be paid, and Mr F. began paying some instalments into Daniel’s bank account (drawing money, he said, from the account of Mr F.’s elderly father).
The court was told that, during these payments, Mr F. consulted a friend in the police
force and arranged to make a police statement, alleging that Daniel was trying to extort money from him.
Mr F. and the police arranged a “sting” to trap Daniel one day when Mr F. was meeting Daniel at a McDonalds fast-food outlet to discuss the payments. After being trapped, Daniel was charged in Blacktown Local Court on 20 September 2002, and magistrate Pat O’Shane adjourned the matter to be heard at Parramatta.
[A news item about Daniel’s initial court appearance, with Daniel’s name, but not Father F.’s name, appeared in the Sydney Daily Telegraph, on 21 September 2002, written by court reporter Jaedene Hudson. It is not known who tipped off the media about Daniel’s court charges.]
Daniel Powell’s Story
During the week-long jury trial at Parramatta, Daniel’s defence lawyer repeatedly raised Daniel’s allegations that Father F had sexually abused him in western Sydney.
The jury also learned that in October 2003 Daniel (then aged 24) lodged a 24-page police statement, detailing the alleged sexual abuse that had been perpetrated against him.
This statement was read aloud to the jury, and the statement is therefore preserved in the transcript of Daniel’s trial.
Daniel stated that, while he was in primary school, his parents had a business that folded. He stated: “There had been a great deal of pressure on my parents and they used to frequently argue …”
“On 5 April 1989 I returned home after an outing with my mother and sister to find my father dead, hanging from a tree in the backyard. The visions of his body and memories of this day will remain with me forever. The impact on my family was tremendous and for me, barely ten years old, the confusion, grief and trauma seemed insurmountable ….
My mother strove to keep us in the Catholic education system, hoping that with Christian care we could continue on to achieve well academically and learn wholesome morals with which to face the world.”
Daniel stated that in early 1991 a lay teacher (Mr H******) at his Catholic school befriended him and took him on outings, including camping. Mr H******, who became a father figure for Daniel, began sexually abusing Daniel, including masturbation and oral sex. When he was forced to perform oral sex on this teacher, Daniel “felt sick” and “almost vomited”, he said.
But this was the price Daniel had to pay in order to retain this teacher’s friendship, he stated. This abuse occurred not only on outings but also on school premises, he stated. In 1991, detectives contacted Daniel, asking about Mr H****** (because of complaints from other families), but Daniel denied that the teacher had touched him, because he was embarrassed about being labelled as a “poofter” and because he wanted to protect his mother from distress.
During the police investigation, Mr H****** committed suicide, Daniel stated.
Daniel stated that he had been an altar boy in previous parishes, and in late 1991 he resumed altar-boy duties at Father F.’s parish, Merrylands to the south of Parramatta, which is how he first encountered Father F..
Daniel stated: “[Father F.] was welcomed into our home with open arms without
question of motive, as it was commonplace for us to have contact with members of the church. His visits and the time we spent together would in most cases follow serving Mass with him, at the presbytery where he would also bring me after going to Rookwood Cemetery where he was teaching me to drive his car, a Holden Commodore.”
Father F. was a gun-owner and showed Daniel how to use guns, which the boy found
exciting, Daniel stated.
Daniel’s statement then describes how Father F. began touching him sexually while watching the movie The Untouchables, at the presbytery.
Daniel stated: “When this touching began, I became very confused and shocked by what he had done and I was disappointed that I must once again enjoy discomfort on my part to receive my companionship and outings…”
Daniel’s statement then alleges that, in a series of subsequent meetings, Father F.’s actions developed into a pattern of masturbation and oral sex. On one occasion, Father F. had worn a red condom, Daniel stated.
Once, when Daniel was getting out of the shower at the presbytery after a sex session, Father F. “put his arm around me from behind and pushed one of his fingers into my anus.”
Daniel went on: “I pulled straight away from him towards the bathroom door and said not to do that again, explaining that my anus was now very sore …”
Daniel stated that later that night Father F. offered him a nightcap, Scotch whisky, “which he joked would numb my bum.”
Daniel and Father F. kept their sexual relationship secret. Daniel had to conceal it from his mother. Father F. would arrange to phone Daniel at a particular time to discuss their next meeting, so that Daniel would answer the phone without his family knowing.
Daniel stated that this behaviour involved him in a pattern of deceptiveness, stealth and risk-taking. At the time, aged only 12, Daniel did not realise what this was doing to him psychologically.
Before Father F. left western Sydney in mid-1992, he “wrote down his phone number and address [at his home town in northern New South Wales] and requested that I write to him and call him from time to time,” Daniel stated.
Daniel’s statement then described how his teenage development became disrupted. He stated:
“Towards the end of my relationship [with Father F.], I discontinued my altar-service and distanced myself from the church. My interests and hobbies had also become both reckless and beyond my years.
“In 1993 I was expelled from [a Catholic high school] for constant truancy and poor attitude towards my education … Early in 1994, my attitude towards school worsened as did my risk-taking … I had begun to smoke marijuana with some older boys whom I had become friends with.
“My relationship with my mother had deteriorated … My drug and alcohol use had
become almost habitual by the age of 14 and, although an asthmatic, I was often a regular cigarette smoker. At 15, I was told to leave home after a heated argument about my social circles and bad attitudes towards my mother and lack of respect for her rules and boundaries.”
Daniel’s statement outlined his phone calls to Mr F. in 1998 and how he had expressed his anger at the priest for using Daniel’s emotional vulnerability “to trick me into unwittingly let him treat me as some sort of an under-age prostitute”.
Daniel stated: “He [Mr F.] asked me what I wanted from him and what I intended to do in relation to the police … He then asked me if it was money I wanted … [Later in this conversation] he again posed the question of my accepting money as some sort of compensation.”
Daniel Powell’s Mum
After the Four Corners program was aired, Mary Ann Jolly from the ABC called and gave me the contact details for Renee Thompson, the mother of Daniel Powell, one of his victims.
We arranged to meet, in a café at Liverpool at 4pm on 31st October 2012, after she finished her working day at Centrelink.
As I walked towards the appointed destination and mentally prepared myself for our meeting, it suddenly dawned on me that I did not know what she looked like.
Knowing that not only Daniel had committed suicide, but also his father had committed suicide, I tried to imagine what it would be like losing two family members to suicide. I rehearsed in my mind the line of questioning that would be sensitive to the tremendous loss she must have felt was not truly acknowledged by the Catholic Church that I once represented and how much courage and forgiveness she must have in her heart to grant me this meeting.
Fortunately Renee recognised me and called my name. We introduced ourselves
awkwardly and made our way to a table at the rear of the empty café so we could speak without interruption or recognition. I smelt the odour of a recently smoked cigarette on her breath and saw the pain etched on a brow that looked much older than her 60 years.
Renee actually told me that she is the same age as John Farrell but she laughed, “He looks much older than me”.
Renee told me Daniel killed himself because he gave up on life. He lost all hope that he would ever live to see the Catholic Church, or any civil authority, take action against the paedophile who robbed him of his childhood hope and happiness.
Surprisingly it was me who received comfort from this woman who explained her long and dedicated association with the Catholic Church and her ability to divest herself from the muck that had been thrown at her over her long and painful life attributing the grace of God to her inner strength.
Renee explained how she had trained as a teacher and then a nurse in Catholic
institutions under various priests and religious, some of whom are now coincidentally in gaol. She told me how she did her initial nursing at St. Vincent’s hospital, Darlinghurst with Father Finian Egan who was only in the past months arrested and charged with offences against young girls in his parish youth group.
I was amazed at how Renee maintained an upbeat optimism despite being hit by so
many personal tragedies and disappointed by the Catholic oligarchy’s lack of empathy for her.
His mother has lost her belief in the hierarchy, whom she had hoped would have
vindicated her son. She has not returned to a Catholic Church since. She remains an inspiration to me and a motivation to keep up the struggle for justice for these victims and their families.
As well as hearing Daniel’s police statement about Father F., the jury also heard details about the police “sting” operation against Daniel that resulted in his arrest.
The jury found Daniel not guilty on all charges. lviii
After being acquitted, Daniel Powell tried to repair his life but faced many difficulties.
Finally, on 25 November 2007, aged 28 Daniel committed suicide in the same way that his father did – by hanging himself from a tree.
The earlier complainant, Damien James Jurd of northern New South Wales, who was
born on 7 March 1972, also died in tragic circumstances. Damian, too, had disrupted adolescence, culminating in drug-usage, and by the time he became a young adult, his life was a mess.
By the end of 2000 Damian was particularly depressed and one morning he was found unconscious in bed. Later, life support had to be withdrawn and Damian died on New Year’s Day, 2001, aged 28.
Until recently Mr F was still living freely in a regional city in New South Wales and had a reputable role in the local community even writing submissions to a local newspaper.
The Four Corners program created a rapid furore in Australia as media became
gradually aware of the significance of the program’s explosive content. After the programme aired, I was certain that very few commentators would have seen it, so I tried to bring it to their awareness by sending emailed links to the ABC’s Four Corners website.
I was eager for talkback radio to reignite a conversation about Church sexual abuse and wrote personally to Sydney radio personality Ray Hadley who broadcast my comments on his 2GB programme. He read the email on air while admitting that he had not watched the programme on the ABC the night before, but promised he would watch it later and comment the following day.
He did watch the programme as promised and in a private email to me offered to address the issue in his broadcast.
We happened to meet serendipitously that same day at a police football match at St. Marys in which his son Daniel and my brother Terry (both cops) were playing. Now having viewed the ABC podcast online Hadley discussed with some concern the situation of priestly abuse.
“Is it really being covered up or are the authorities just uninformed?” he asked sincerely.
I explained my knowledge of the Daniel Powell and Damien Jurd cases and the fact that the Church headship chose to ignore the strong evidence of abuse.
“Ray it’s up to you to put some pressure on the Church to force a Royal Commission into the Catholic Church’s cover ups,” I urged the popular radio personality.
“Well I will see what I can do to find out who this Father F. character is”, Hadley said.
“His name is John Farrell” I told him.
Hadley looked surprised, “How do you know that?”
I explained how I had information given me from many sources that proved his abuse was known by Church authorities as well as police, and I passed a lot of that information onto the media.
Hadley rubbed his sizable chin thoughtfully and finally said, “I can’t see why I can’t
name him on air. I am going to find out how I can do that. I will just have to check out the possibility of defamation complaints.”
“It’s all on the Broken Rites website Ray” lix, I told him. “Everybody already knows who he is”.
“Bugger it! I am going to name him on air tomorrow!” Hadley said almost triumphantly and we shook hands. He assured me that he would be using the full force of his voice to rev up the masses into a proactive assault against the lack of action on the part of the government.
“Mate, I’m going to have to get back to my family and watch this game of footy” he said with a big parting smile.
I know now why so many people find this former taxi driver and race caller so endearing each morning that his voice occupies so many Tradie’s vehicles’ airspace.
It was in fact two days later that people rang to inform me that both Ray Hadley and Derryn Hinch (3AW in Melbourne) had named John Joseph Farrell as the notorious Father F. from the Four Corners programme on July 2.
The media’s interest in the Farrell 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 enquiry…” 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 enquiry 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 John Joseph Farrell.
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
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 Farrell 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 Farrell 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 enquiry to produce some evidence that they can use later on to convict Farrell 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 Farrell 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 John Joseph Farrell & 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
enquiry” 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 John Farrell.
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 Farrell 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 Farrell 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 John
Farrell & 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 Mr Farrell 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. lx
Chapter 26 of Unholy Silence by Father Kevin Lee
Posted on September 15, 2016
CHAPTER 26 – OPPORTUNITY TO ABUSE