HISTORICAL Newcastle Anglican diocese files alleging ‘‘falsification of records’’, including those of child sex offender priest Allan Kitchingman, were found this year and referred to police, an explosive statement to the royal commission into child abuse has said.
Diocese professional standards director Michael Elliott has told the commission about an anonymous 2002 letter which said the ‘‘disappearance’’ of Kitchingman from a clergy list in 1968 and his subsequent move to the Grafton diocese ‘‘could today be construed as a type of cover-up’’.
‘‘This ‘disappearance’ was deliberate,’’ the letter said.
In 1968 Kitchingman was convicted of an indecent assault on a male, although the commission heard on Monday ‘‘such an act is no longer a criminal offence’’.
He became chaplain to the North Coast Children’s Home at Lismore where he sexually abused a boy, 13, in 1975. He was convicted and jailed in 2002. Despite the jail sentence his name remained on the Newcastle diocese clergy list from 2002 to 2007.
The anonymous 2002 letter accused the diocese of matters that were ‘‘reported to superiors, then dealt with quietly’’, including the case of Kitchingman.
Mr Elliott is expected to give evidence to the Royal Commission into Institutional Responses to Child Sex Abuse next week. The commission is considering the response of the Grafton diocese to allegations about the North Coast Children’s Home.
It is also considering the Newcastle diocese’s dealings with Kitchingman after he was convicted in 2002.
In his statement Mr Elliott said he had doubts about the Grafton diocese’s commitment to clergy professional standards from ‘‘early on in my role’’.
‘‘I formed the view the diocese was deliberately not formalising my working arrangements in a meaningful way, so that it could say it had a professional standards director without remunerating me or giving me ultimate control over what matters I was involved in,’’ he said.
He first had contact with former children’s home resident Tommy Campion in December 2009. Mr Campion had campaigned for justice for children sexually abused at the home, and for the Church to acknowledge it owned the home.
Despite repeated attempts to intervene on Mr Campion’s behalf with the diocese and others in the Anglican Church, he was told in May 2010 that Mr Campion was a ‘‘constant agitator’’ and ‘‘difficult to deal with’’.
Mr Elliott has told the commission the then Grafton bishop Keith Slater eventually told him to end contact with Mr Campion.