Child abuse commission turns focus to Newcastle

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The Royal Commission into Institutional Responses to Child Sexual Abuse has turned its attention to the Catholic diocese of Maitland-Newcastle in a move welcomed by abuse victims.
 
The royal commission is also investigating child sexual abuse in the Hunter Valley’s Anglican diocese.
 
In an interview with ABC, abuse victim Peter Fogarty welcomed the development saying he and the people in the Hunter see the commission’s attention as an important win.
 
“The Hunter region and people around Newcastle fought so hard for there to be a royal commission,” Fogarty, who was abused by Catholic priest James Fletcher, told the ABC.
 
“It's no news to people that, a bit like Ballarat in Victoria, the Hunter Valley has been some sort of epicentre for this kind of abuse within the Catholic Church in particular,” he added.
 
According to the news organisation, the royal commission will look into the case of paedophile priest Vincent Ryan and abuse within the Marist Brothers Catholic order.
 
I think the fact that they’re talking about the Marist Brothers, it will be interesting to see whether there is new information come to light,” Fogarty said.
 
On Monday, the commission heard from Roger Herft, the Anglican Archbishop of Perth, that he “let down” abuse victims.
 
“I've become aware that the sacred trust that the people of this region placed upon me, I have let them down,” Herft, one of Australia’s most senior Anglicans, told the commission.
 
“I let them down badly. Let down the survivors in a way that remorse itself is a very poor emotion to express,” the archbishop, who served Newcastle for more than a decade from 1993, added.
 
According to the ABC, whistleblower Peter Fox’s Lateline interview shone the spotlight on abuse in the Hunter in 2012.
 
“There's something very wrong when you have so many paedophile priests operating in such a small area for such an extended period of time with immunity,” Fox said then.
 
“I submitted report after report suggesting that we needed to do a lot more about investigating this.”
 

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