40 clergy abuse victims 'took own lives'

Sky News, Australia/April 13, 2012

Confidential police reports have detailed the suicides of at least 40 people sexually abused by Catholic clergy in Victoria, Fairfax Media says.

The reports say the church appears to have known about a shockingly high rate of suicides and premature deaths but has chosen to remain silent, according to The Age newspaper.

The reports, written by Detective Sergeant Kevin Carson, urge a new inquiry into these and many other deaths suspected to be linked to abuse in the church.

Investigators discovered an inordinate number of suicides which appear to be a result of sexual offending while inquiring into paedophile clergy.

They linked at least 40 suicides to the sexual abuse perpetrated by a small number of paedophile clergy, including Gerard Ridsdale, Bryan Coffey, Paul Ryan, Robert Best and Edward Dowlan.

Most of the victims were abused between the 1960s and late 1980s.

One of the reports says it would appear an investigation would uncover many more deaths as a consequence of clergy sexual abuse.

Det-Sgt Kevin Carson wrote that at the end of last year, the sheer number of young men who were abused or suspected to be the victims or abuse, and who had met a premature death, continued to grow.

A spokesman for the Melbourne Catholic Archdiocese told the newspaper the only information it has about such suicides is what has appeared in the media.

'We don't have access to any information that links suicides with sexual abuse,' the spokesman said.

The police reports argue for a wide-ranging coronial inquiry to examine the deaths.

The church spokesman also said the coroner should be given evidence of suicide by victims of abuse.

Victims and their relatives have called on Premier Ted Baillieu and Attorney-General Robert Clark to create an inquiry with royal commission powers to examine sexual abuse involving religious organisations.

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