Thursday, November 14, 2013


Paul Anderson News Limited November 12, 2013
County Court Judge Felicity Hampel.
County Court Judge Felicity Hampel. Source: Supplied

HIGH-ranking members of the Catholic Church acted in "scandalous" fashion by ignoring claims of sexual abuse and attempting to protect an accused priest and the church brand, a judge has said.
In a scathing attack on the church, County Court judge Felicity Hampel today slammed it for not helping a young sexually abused altar boy and not referring the matter to police.
Depraved Catholic priest Russell Robert Walker sexually abused two altar boys over a four-year period in the 1970s - despite the Archbishop of Melbourne at the time being warned about him.
Walker had been confronted by the parents of one of the boys, only to reply: "How dare you accuse me of sleeping with your son."
The Catholic Church never took action, the judge said.
"What happened next was scandalous," Judge Hampel said while sentencing Walker to five years' jail with a three-year minimum.
"And no less so because, as is now abundantly clear, this boy was not the only victim of clerical abuse in the Melbourne archdiocese, nor the only victim whose welfare was ignored whist the church took active steps to protect the priest and itself.
"Although not a single step was taken by the church to protect the victim, offer him counselling or support, or report the complaint of sexual abuse by one of its ordained priests of a child in its pastoral care to the police, you were warned a complaint had been made and shortly thereafter transferred to a nearby parish."
After being confronted by the accusatory parents, Walker - a parish priest ordained in 1975 - continued his trail of sexual abuse.
"You challenged (the mother) for having taken the matter to the archbishop and you continued to sexually abuse the boy," Judge Hampel said.
Walker, now 64, pleaded guilty to representative counts of indecent assault relating to multiple offences.
He plied one of his victims with alcohol on one occasion.
The repeated sexual abuse happened in Walker's room in the presbytery, on a secluded beach, at a church-organised camp and at a motel.
Walker was arrested after one of his victims went to police in November 2011, 35 years after the shocking sexual abuse.
In describing Walker's crimes as "predatory", Judge Hampel said he had easy access to his vulnerable young teen victims who trusted him and believed in the sanctity of the church.
"This was a gross abuse of trust," Judge Hampel said.
In his victim impact statement, one of the victims told the court: "I was a child who should have been protected."
Today, Judge Hampel described both victims as being "profoundly damaged" by Walker's crimes.
But she said they were "truly courageous men" for making their complaints and writing victim impact statements.
"Each of them has lost his faith," Judge Hampel told Walker.
Had Walker not pleaded guilty and been convicted by a jury, Judge Hampel would have sentenced him to eight years' jail with a six-year minimum.


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