In a far-reaching report on child sex abuse in Australia, it was discovered that 4,444 children were sexually abused by Catholic priest over a 35 years period.
The Australian reports that: “More than 15,000 people contacted the commission to share their experiences of abuse, more than 8,000 of them spoke personally with the commissioner about the trauma it caused, and approximately 2,500 cases have now been referred to police.”
The commission said the church failed to properly address allegations and concerns of victims, calling the Church’s response to them “remarkably and disturbingly similar.”
The report also detailed abuse in churches of other denominations and at such institutions as schools and sports clubs. However, it concluded that the greatest number of alleged abuse perpetrators were found in Catholic institutions. The commission has concluded that 7 percent of priests who worked in Australia between 1950 and 2009 had been accused of child sex abuse.
In a short hearing in Sydney, Hon Justice Peter McClellan, who has headed the investigation, said the “nation thanks the survivors” who gave testimony about decades of systematic abuse and cover-ups in religious and state institutions such as churches, youth groups, care homes and schools.
“The sexual abuse of children is not just a problem from the past. Child sexual abuse in institutions continues today,” said McClellan. “In some case studies into schools the alleged abuse was so recent that the children are still attending school.”