NSW enquiry head, Ms. Cunneen, so far has only considered legal action against Detective Chief Inspector Fox (who triggered the enquiry) for tweeting, and victims who have protested outside the court. Action against Mr. Fox was eventually dropped, while the victims are still under threat from Ms. Cunneen.
Something is very wrong here. From the perspective of the enquiry officials’ little pond, it is clearly no big deal. However, those who live in the much larger pond of Australia and the world, may think concerns have been somewhat skewed.
Yesterday, Ms. Cunneen referred to Maitland-Newcastle deputy, Fr. Burston, as “having given his life to the Catholic Church” and having been subjected to “unacceptable behaviour” by victims. Today, after lunch, she further ruled that Fr. Burston was excused from giving evidence until next Friday, “when the stress of the events of the past few days”- pointedly the peaceful demonstration outside the court on Wednesday (see yesterday’s posting’s picture) – “would hopefully be behind him.”
Lawyer for Fr. Burston, Mr. Gyles (see previous posting), submitted that the “unacceptable behaviour” of the victims may have affected Burton’s ability to give evidence, and he should be excused from the enquiry while he stabilized. Counsel Assisting, Mr. Kell objected. However, Ms. Cunneen agreed to Burston’s lawyer’s request.
Prior to Burston being excused from the enquiry, it had heard that he had told another church official that the priest’s alleged victim “had been demonstrating bizarre behaviour for years.” He allegedly also said the victim’s claim to have been sexually abused by convicted serial child sexual abuser, Fr.Fletcher, “was just another sign of his psychological disturbance.” Burston fell back on his usual poor memory defence, saying he did “not remember” saying that.
When pressed further by Commissioner Cunneen, Father Burston said the behaviour was certainly a sign that there had been “some trauma” but “not necessarily abuse.” Eventually, he conceded that the victim’s behavioural issues were consistent with someone who had been sexually abused.
Today’s hearing had begun, before lunch, with the issue of apparent contradictions in Burston’s evidence yesterday, when he had given one answer to Counsel Assisting and a different answer to the lawyer for one of the victims, in relation to Fr. McAlinden.
It was ever so nice of the Commissioner to give the poor old fella a week to get over the distress and clear his head. Presumably, his lawyer will also help him with his memory problems, both long-term and short-term. It also gives time for Fr. Burston to consult a doctor about his apparent case of Post-Operative Cognitive Decline, and receive appropriate medication and treatment.
Perhaps Ms. Cunneen could take a leaf out of the book used by the Victorian Parliamentary enquiry. There, Cardinal Pell (of Domus Australia fame) was enabled to enter, and leave, the hearing room by the back door, thus avoiding the disrespectful victims demonstrating outside (oh, and the media mob too!).
Priests accused of abusing their positions to protect other priests who sexually abused many victims are now protected from verbal abuse from a few of the victims of those same abusive priests – by the enquiry itself.
Justice rains supreme in a flood of tears.
Read more here:
TOMORROW: The Yeshivah College case
That’s all I can say
Lewis Blayse (né Lewin Blazevich)