Adelaide archbishop gives details of $2.1m abuse payment

Catholic News/September 25, 2003

Archbishop Philip Wilson yesterday spelled out the rationale and details of his decision to pay $2.1 million in response to the needs of former St Ann's Special School students.

News of the payment was reported in yesterday's Advertiser newspaper, but the Archbishop had declined to comment before yesterday's announcement.

According to the media release from Catholic Communications Adelaide, Archbishop Wilson said offers of $100,000, $75,000 and $50,000 have been made to a significant number of former students based on the best assessment of the extent to which those students were affected.

Earlier this month, a District Court judge handed a ten year jail sentence to Brian James Perkins, a former bus driver at the school who was found guilty of acts abuse and indecency committed against children who attended the school for intellectually disabled boys.

Archbishop Wilson said: "I have been personally shocked and angered at the abuse of these children who are among the most vulnerable in our society."

"Once again I ask forgiveness from the students and parents involved and I make this offer in the hope that former students receive a tangible form of assistance to help with the terrible burden they have to bear.

"I know that money alone can't overcome the pain and suffering they've had to endure but I hope this gesture will at least help in some way," he said. "I'm not asking for any confidentiality clauses to be signed. I am not asking the former students to forgo any civil legal action they may wish to take against the Church.

Archbishop Wilson added that he did not expect any offer of money "to wash away the deep anger and cynicism felt towards the church by many families."

One of the parents told the ABC that the money is not as important as addressing the psychological needs of the families.

"I feel that we have been offered a cheque when we have been striving for two and half years to come to an understanding of what happened, why it happened, who was responsible and what measures are being put into place which will prevent this from happening again," he said.

Archbishop Wilson said the $2.1 million would be found from realising investments, and not from the weekly contributions of Catholic families in their parishes.

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