Rev. Ian Shevill
The latest revelation of the Anglican Church of Australia's sexual wrong doing comes from sitting Bishop Greg Thompson (XIII Newcastle). When the current Newcastle bishop was a teenager, during the mid-1970's, and showing interest in the Anglican priesthood, he was himself sexually molested by two Anglican clergy, one being his own bishop -- the Rt. Rev. Ian Shevill, then the IX Bishop of Newcastle (circa 1973-1977). Bishop Thompson is not very forth coming right now with details ... it's too personal ... too haunting. He said he will reveal all to the Royal Commission when asked for particulars.
Fed up with the dark secrets, deceptions and cover up by high ranking Anglican officials, Bishop Thompson became one of several whistleblowers to knock the lid off of a culture steeped in deceit, which has kept sexual misconduct secrets and fostered an atmosphere where several well-organized pedophile rings could be developed, grow and flourish. The various clandestine, interconnected pedophile networks reportedly included Catholic and Anglican priests -- including bishops -- politicians, physicians, attorneys, businessmen, community leaders and children's homes management, who interlaced with each other and remained silent to provide harrowing houses of horror spreading terror in the region including Wallsend and Hunter Valley. Before St. Alban's finally closed in 1986, it had operated in at least four locations in the Hunter Valley region of New South Wales (NSW).
In Australia, it is "7.30", a hard-hitting current affairs program on the Australian Broadcasting Company, which is now shining the spotlight on the Diocese of Newcastle-based Anglican pedophile ring and bringing it to the light of day. Last week in an exclusive report "7.30" interviewed Bishop Thompson and his two fellow whistle blowers: John Cleary, the Diocese of Newcastle business manager & the CEO of Newcastle Anglican Schools Corporation; and Michael Elliott, the director of Professional Standards for the diocese.
All three men are drawing fire for their public openness, their stance and their determination to root out evil, as well as revealing decades of lies and deceptions which allowed such a scandal to continue.
"My leadership is being criticized because I'm opening the cupboards and we're finding the skeletons," the bishop explained to "7.30" reporter Anne Connolly.
The skeletons which tumbled out of the closet include wide ranging sexual abuse at the hands of trusted priests at St. Alban's Boys' Home, an orphanage and abandoned boys' home in New South Wales, within the confines of the Anglican Diocese of Newcastle with links to St. John's Theological College and the Church of England Boys' Society.
St. Alban's was supposed to provide ''a caring environment for boys who had no place to live,'' instead it became a house of horrors for the boys in its care.
A Royal Commission is commissioned
Now the Royal Commission into Institutional Responses to Child Sexual Abuse has the Diocese of Newcastle on its radar scope into the allegations of massive sexual misconduct.
The Royal Commission is like an American Grand Jury. It is a governmental body that can and does investigate crime. The Royal Commission into Child Sex Abuse was established in 2013 to investigate sexual child abuse. It is not only zeroing in on the Anglican Diocese of Newcastle, it is also looking into reported abuse in the Salvation Army, Scouts Australia, the Jehovah's Witnesses, the Newcastle YMCA, the Catholic Church, the Uniting Church of Australia, heath care facilities, sporting clubs, child care centers, youth training centers, Jewish schools or anywhere child abuse can happen in an institutional setting. Other Anglican institutions coming under scrutiny include: North Coast Children's Home (Diocese of Grafton); Hutchins School (Diocese of Tasmania); and Church of England Boys' Society (in the dioceses of Tasmania, Adelaide, Sydney and Brisbane).
The Royal Commission has opened 44 case studies since 2012, including the case involving the Anglican Diocese of Newcastle, which is Case 42. The six-person Commission has the Parliamentary power to hold hearings, summon witnesses, and demand documents. Failure to comply with the Royal Commission's wishes can result in a $1,000 fine or six months in prison for breaking the Criminal Code.
In the Newcastle case, the Commission is zeroing in on several clerics and laymen including: now defrocked Anglican priests Andrew Duncan, Bruce Hoare, and Graeme Lawrence; inhibited Anglican priest Graeme Sturt; deceased Anglican priest, Peter Rushton; former Anglican seminarian Ian Barrick, disgraced former music teacher, Gregory Goyette, jailed lay youth worker, James Michael Brown, and another unnamed Anglican priest. The main focus of the Commission's probe is reportedly the late Peter Rushton, who was the Archdeacon of Maitland and a known predatory pedophile priest, who sexually offended children for more than four decades going back to the 1960's.
In 2010, three years after his death, Fr. Ruston was identified as the linchpin in the pedophile ring. He is the one who arranged for boys to be passed around and sexually abused by others; he coordinated activities, he destroyed evidence of inappropriate sexual activity, and he protected the abusers. However, he was well liked by his parishioners, who knew nothing about his pedophilia life, so he never was caught or convicted; although rumors swirled during his lifetime, nothing concrete surfaced.
The Newcastle Herald explains: "The [upcoming] public hearing comes after a tumultuous six years in which the Diocese named former Bishop Ian Shevill and the late senior priests, Peter Rushton and Michael Cooper, as sexual abusers, and the Royal Commission, in 2013, exposed the diocese's failure to protect children from child sex offender priests Allan Kitchingman and Campbell Brown."
If Fr. Ruston was never caught nor convicted, James Michael Brown was. Veteran Newcastle Police Officer Greg Harding worked long and hard to get Brown convicted. He eventually succeeded. In 2012, Brown was sentenced to 10 years for 103 child offense sex crimes with 20 boys aged 11 to 17. He would have been eligible for parole in 2017. However, in attempting to appeal his sentence, the court chose instead to double it. Now he is serving 20 years and is not eligible for parole until 2023.
Through the years there are other Newcastle priests who have seen the inside of a jail cell, including: Eric William Griffith, Neil Barrick, Allan Kitchingman and Robert Ellmore. Stephen Hatley Gray was given a good behavior bond -- the New South Wales version of probation -- for his sexual abuse of a juvenile.
Anglicans worse than Catholics
James Michael Brown
The Diocesan Director of Standard Michael Elliot told "7.30" that he felt that Anglican abusers were worse than the Catholics abusers because the Anglicans cooperated with each other to perpetuate continued abuse.
"My experience in the Anglican Diocese is that the abusers tended to be better organized, more cooperative ... it was a larger scale of child abuse and they cooperated together," he explained. "If you want to call it a 'pedophile ring' ... certainly there were groups of child sex abusers that were working together to facilitate their abuse of children, without a doubt."
One of Fr. Rushton's early victims was his own godson, Paul Gray, who at the time was a 10-year-old acolyte and living with his family. Young Gray was neither an orphan nor an abandoned child and did not reside at St. Alban's.
Now an adult, Gray remembers Fr. Rushton bringing him to St. Alban's and leaving him there to be abused by others.
"The worst part with all the abuse that Father Peter (Rushton) did with me was he actually took me to the boys' home (St. Alban's) in Aberdare, which was only a little way from where I lived, and he left me there with three men," Gray recalled. "And I remember calling out to him to not leave me there, and he did. And I was taken there many, many times."
Gray wasn't the only boy molested at the Anglican boy's home. Ruston and his reportedly gay lover, James Michael Brown, also preyed on boys at Church of England Boys' Society campouts.
"The [Boys' Society] camps were infiltrated by a pedophile network in Newcastle, and at the heart of it, Anglican priest Fr. Peter Rushton, "Anne Connolly reports for "7.30" as she uncovered the shocking details of the story.
Gray also remembers being stalked by five men at one Boys' Society camping trip.
"[You] run to try and get away," Gray explained. "[there's] people abusing you, that haunts your mind for the rest of your life ..."
The Commission is interested in determining the degree of cooperation between the various groups and how the institutional culture at St. John's Theological College at Morpeth played into the perpetration of child sexual abuse at St. Alban's and other organizations catering to children in the Diocese of Newcastle.
Pedophile breeding ground
St. John's in Morpeth in New South Wales has been considered the breeding ground for predatory pedophiles. The exclusive "7.30" research shows that at least one-quarter of convicted Australian Anglican pedophile priests graduated from St. John's Theological College. The Anglican seminary was originally founded in 1898, in the Anglican Diocese of Armidale. It moved to Diocese of Newcastle twenty years later when it was relocated on diocesan property in Morpeth, adjacent to what would become St. Alban's Boy's Home. In 1920, following the close of the Great War (WWI), the Bishop of Newcastle's residence was remodeled and turned into St. Alban's. Through the years, the theological college developed "a sinister reputation for sexual abuse", particularly with the boy's home next door.
Father Rushton, who died in 2007, was part of a broader paedophile ring involving other Anglican clergy.
Father Rushton completed his training at St John’s Theological College in Morpeth and worked at Cessnock, Wyong, Weston, Wallsend, Lake Macquarie and Maitland.
Bishop Farran apologised publicly to Father Rushton’s victims and confirmed the late priest’s ‘‘involvement in the sexual abuse of minors’’.
Bishop Farran said some of Father Rushton’s victims were now known to the church. He did not know how many others there might be and urged them to come forward.
The diocese started working with police after ‘‘significant allegations and information of concern’’ were raised following Father Rushton’s death.
Allegations include that he molested young boys who worked as servers during church services, or ‘‘arranged for it to happen’’, Bishop Farran said.
During the Wallsend service Bishop Farran performed church rededication rites to recognise the crimes committed against children within the church building.
‘‘Most of the children were young servers who would have served the eucharist before experiencing these devastating events,’’ he said.
‘‘The memories for these people are so powerful. I was trying to break the strong negative associations between the building and what happened to them within it.’’
Bishop Farran said he was in tears at an event last week where victims of child sex abuse broke down while recounting the crimes committed against them.
‘‘It is extraordinary, the devastation that’s caused,’’ he said.
Hunter priest's evil child sex secrets JOANNE McCARTHY 19 Oct 2010