Salesian priests accused of 40-year cover-up

The Herald Sun, Australia/September 5, 2011

Victims of the men at the centre of the Rupertswood sex abuse scandal have accused the Salesian priests of a 40-year cover-up.

For the first time, the Herald Sun can reveal the full extent of the scandal, which some say is among the worst such cases in the world.

Eight former teachers have now been publicly accused of serious sexual offences against students at the school during four decades, from the 1960s.

Hundreds of thousands of dollars in payments have been made by the Salesians to alleged victims.

Of the eight, five have served, or are serving, jail time for their sordid child sex crimes.

The three remaining men have all been banned from working with children by their superiors, but remain working for the Salesians as priests in various fields.

Former students say there could be dozens more - clergy that have either died or escaped the spotlight.

In 2004, the Australian chapter was engulfed in global scandal after it was alleged local superiors had moved priests accused of sexual assaults across international and state borders to evade authorities.

Salesian head Fr Frank Moloney has categorically denied any member was moved to evade authorities.

But one former high-ranking Salesian told the Herald Sun he was concerned about the way members were constantly moved around during his time with the order.

Each of the eight men from Rupertswood was moved from the college about the time allegations were first made.

Fr Jack Ayers now lives in a nursing home.

Fr Julian Fox lives at the Salesian headquarters in Rome, near the Vatican, and heads the order's communications division.

Michael Aulsebrook, who was jailed last week, became principal at a Salesian college in South Australia after allegations were first levelled against him.

Peter Paul Van Ruth was moved to a Salesian school interstate after just 12 months at Rupertswood when students complained he had fondled them.

Fr Frank Klep was already a convicted child molester and wanted on more charges in Australia when, in 1998, the Salesians assigned him to a college in Samoa, where he was photographed dispensing lollies to children after Mass.

Renowned Catholic clergy abuse crisis expert Patrick Wall said the Salesians moved their members around the world as soon as any sexual misconduct allegations were levelled.

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