THE Royal Commission into child sexual abuse has found former Newcastle Anglican Bishop Roger Herft knew about a priest’s convictions but did nothing to discipline him.
The damning third case study by the Royal Commission into Institutional Responses to Child Sexual Abuse was tabled Monday in Federal Parliament, with findings including that both Grafton and Newcastle dioceses could have taken action against convicted child abuser and former clergyman Allan Kitchingman.
The report found Archbishop Herft, then Bishop of Newcastle, became aware that Kitchingman had been convicted of five counts of indecent assault of a child at an Anglican home in the Diocese of Grafton. But between August 2002 and February 2004, Herft did not start disciplinary proceedings against the reverend.
Between those years the dioceses of Newcastle and Grafton had only an informal agreement about who would take responsibility for action, the report found, and Archbishop Herft said he did not take action to discipline Kitchingman because he believed he did not have the power to and that Grafton would do it.
The royal commission also found Philip Gerber, of the professional standards unit for both Newcastle and Grafton dioceses, was also aware of the child abuse convictions and did nothing.
Newcastle Bishop Greg Thompson released a statement on Monday in relation to the findings. He said safety arrangements were currently in place in relation to Kitchingman.
‘‘First and foremost I want to reiterate my deep concern that people who looked to the church for care and support were treated so badly,’’ Bishop Thompson said the statement.
‘‘Secondly, I want to assure the community of my commitment to ensure the safety of all people involved with activities associated with the Anglican Church in the Diocese of Newcastle. I have been asked specifically about the finding relating to recommendations relating to parish safety and I can confirm that safety arrangements monitored in accordance with the diocesan policies are in place in relation to Allan Kitchingman.’’