Ann-Marie Shelley was raped twice by a Catholic priest in the 1970s and 1980s.
A Catholic Church rape survivor has slammed church
policy of not informing police when the church gets a
complaint of sexual abuse.
Ann-Marie Shelley, 60, was raped by former Catholic priest Peter Hercock in the 1970s. Hercock was jailed for six years and seven months in May 2016. She was paid $25,000 by the church.
Shelley was horrified that a 59-year-old woman used fake documents to support her claim that she was raped by a priest to gain access to the church's wealth, receiving $188,190.17, before the church became aware of the fraud.
"What this woman did is despicable," she said. "She makes it difficult for other survivors to come forward because they will fear they won't be believed."
But while she condemned the fraud, she equally believes the church should have reported the abuse allegation to police.
Shelley said the case highlights issues with the church not informing police and said it is time New Zealand conducted a Royal Commission of Inquiry into sex abuse by clergy.
"If Australia can do it, why can't the New Zealand Government do it?" Shelley said.
"Every time a case becomes public or another historic case reaches the media, we are still going to say, why aren't we having a Royal Commission of Inquiry in New Zealand? We need to have one."
The church declined to comment until after the fraud case concludes. Sentencing is set for June 24.
In a 2015 interview with Stuff, Bill Kilgallon, the Catholic Church official handling sex abuse complaints, confirmed that details of known abusers were not passed on to police unless victims lodged a complaint.
Neither had the church made any attempt to investigate whether accused priests had abused others who had yet to come forward.
"It's for them to go to police, not for us. If they give us information and don't want it to go to the police, we can't ignore that," he said.
"It does grate for me that people don't face a criminal consequence for their actions, but we have what we have."
Shelley said the fraud case has brought to light a flaw in the church's systems.
"It highlights one of the problems, which is the church is under no obligation to report anything to the police and this case actually highlights the negative consequence of the church not being compelled to pass on things to the police," Shelley said.
"Obviously, with this woman using fake documents, she couldn't have gone to police about it because the police would have immediately questioned the documents. The church's policy of not passing information on to police has essentially backfired on them."
Shelley made her own complaint to church officials in 2002. She said the church protocol committee made her feel at ease when giving her statement.
However she feels the church and police should work together on clergy sexual abuse cases.
"You can't do both things at the same time. The church won't investigate your complaint if the police are involved."
"I actually had to fill out a form that said, have the police been notified? Are you likely to notify police? I think I wrote on the form, 'I will consider my options later after the church has finished their investigation.' "
Shelley believes the church hides behind policies put in place by the Vatican.
"The church is hiding behind that so they deal with it all in-house. But here is a classic example of how this has blown up in the church's face.
"I'm gobsmacked. There are those of us whose entire lives have been destroyed by a priest and we were just given these inconsequential amounts and basically told to shut up and go away."
A police spokesman said that, in general, police do not comment on the policies of other organisations or groups.
"However, police urge anyone who may be aware of any criminal activity to report this to police by calling or visiting their local police station."
Catholic rape survivor: I want a Royal Commission into clergy sexual abuse FLORENCE KERR June 12 2016Tweet