Ugghh. Gotta take a deep breath.
Just coming up for air after reading a couple of hundred pages of the Anglican Church's report on the handling of allegations of sexual abuse (caution to those with slow connections, it's a 1.5MB Acrobat file).
Unlike Peter Beattie on Lateline on Thursday night, I can't really recommend that you read it. It seems to have been a rush at the end to get the report out. The proof reading (if any) was appalling. The formatting is all over the place. Overall the writing is neither elegant, nor particularly clear (at some points, it's hard to work out what year things were happening, and you need to do calculations to work out the ages of some of the victims at the times of the abuses). And it's 471 bloody pages long!
However -- and this is always the case -- whether you accept the principal finding against Hollingworth in relation to the Elliot abuses (pp.380-419) depends on whether you think that Hollingworth or the victim ('FG') had the better recollection. I can't say I'm convinced by the report. It relies heavily on Hollingworth thinking that the case was an 'isolated' incident, whereas it was alleged by others that he was told the events involving FG and his brother were 'repeated'. Believe who you like. The authors of the report seem to have consistently accepted the word of the victims -- in all respects, not just in regard to the original offences committed against them -- as, ahem, gospel.
What amazes me is the consistent pattern of semi-wilful ignorance of people to whom the reports of various abuses were made. Perhaps it's just me, maybe my training as a policeman all those years ago, but if someone reports wrong-doing, I automatically attempt to tease out all the details. Perhaps these Church people were too reticent, or embarrassed, to do that. Silly them. You can't begin to deal with an issue until you have all the facts. Especially in a legal context.
I do not agree with Hollingworth's actions in regard to the Elliot case. But I can understand how he would have taken the decisions he did take. And I suspect that many of his critics may well have taken equivalent -- or worse -- decisions if they were operating in the same environment. Unlike some of the other cases, where school principals and the like were ridiculously dismissive of complaints. But, then, none of them are GG.
One thing was clear: a huge impediment to addressing many of the legitimate concerns of the victims was legal advice, yet I found no mention in the report of criticism of such advice.
Of the three complaints I read in detail, two of the offenders committed suicide. Seems to be catching.