Priest sex case reviewer will be named this week

THE NAME of the person commissioned to undertake an independent review of the Father F case and the terms of reference of the inquiry will be released this week.

The Catholic Bishop of Armidale, the Most Reverend Michael Kennedy, released a one paragraph statement on Thursday evening in response to inquiries relating to the review he had announced last week.

“It is expected that the name of the independent person and terms of reference should be released by early next week,” the statement said.

Meanwhile, the mother of one of Father F’s victims said the family had not talked to police or a legal representative since the actions of the former priest and the church’s response to the molestation allegations were aired on the Four Corners program on ABC-TV on July 2.

Claire Jurd said she had not sought legal advice about what to do next but was waiting to see the result of the independent inquiry launched by Bishop Kennedy.

Mrs Jurd said the matter was further clouded because charges laid in 1987 against Father F were dismissed by the magistrate.

“I don’t know whether I can (get charges laid) – after you’ve had a committal inquiry, you can’t be charged twice (with the same offence),” she said.

Mrs Jurd said perhaps she could have charges of perjury and lying brought against Father F, because she claims he held back information on boys’ names during a meeting with three senior priests about the alleged sexual abuse of several boys.

“It was laughable that the three priests had not taken the information to police because they claimed they didn’t know who the victims were: they knew at least one of the victim’s names – Damian’s,” Mrs Jurd said.

If the independent Catholic Church’s inquiry failed to come up with a satisfactory conclusion, another independent inquiry should be held, she said.

Father F, who cannot be named for legal reasons, is a defrocked Catholic priest who allegedly sexually abused boys in the early 1980s in Moree and Sydney, Four Corners reported.

Arrested in 1987, Father F was brought before the court but the matter was dismissed by the magistrate because he judged the alleged victim, Damian Jurd, 15, was a witness whose credibility could not match that of the priest.

“Everything Damian said was good evidence but (the magistrate) still believed the word of a priest over Damian,” Mrs Jurd said.

In the early 1980s, Father F had allegedly fondled Damian’s genitals on a car trip from Moree to Narrabri and later raped him.

A medical examination three years after the alleged abuse showed Damian still had anal scarring, Mrs Jurd said.

The doctor who conducted the examination rang Mrs Jurd the day after the Four Corners report and said he still had Damian’s file and would be happy to let the family access it for a court case.

Damian eventaully received a substantial civil settlement from the Catholic Church in 1998, but by then his life had spiralled downward into drug abuse and he died in 2001 at the age of 28.

Since the Four Corners report aired, at least two other men have come forward with further allegations against Father F, and Mrs Jurd’s son Peter, who is studying at the University of New England, heard from a bouncer at a hotel in Armidale that his brother was also allegedly molested by Father F.

Mrs Jurd was happy the media and others were pursuing the story and talking to the church.

“That something is happening now is really, really good,” Mrs Jurd said. “I hope it continues: you think if it’s not in the news it might all peter out.”

A Sydney solicitor, Darren Kane, who knew Damian, wrote to Bishop Kennedy on July 10 saying that he believed Mrs Jurd and her husband Max should be allowed to be present at the independent inquiry.

“He’s given them seven days to reply and, if they don’t reply, he’s going to hand the letter to Four Corners,” Mrs Jurd said.

Katrina Lee, director, Catholic Communications, Catholic Archdiocese of Sydney, said “reports in the media referring to an internal investigation were … incorrect.

“There will be an independent investigation with an external investigator – the details of which will, I understand, be announced in the near future,” Ms Lee said.

– The Northern Daily Leader

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