Perth bishop denies abuse cover up: The Church of England Newspaper, June 10, 2012 p 6. June 12, 2012Posted by geoconger in Abuse, Anglican Church of Australia, Church of England Newspaper.
Tags: Diocese of Perth, Michael Challen, Roger Herft, Roy Wenlock
A retired Australian bishop has denied claims made to a government commission investigating child abuse in Western Australia that he took no action for almost a year after learning that the head of a church-affiliated youth hostel was a child molester.
The former warden of St. Christopher’s Hostel in Northam, Western Australia was alleged to have indecently assaulted boys during his 14 years as head of the home. On 23 May 2012 a former principal of a local high school gave evidence to the commission stating that he had learned of abuse being committed by the warden, Mr. Roy Wenlock, and reported the abuse to the chairman of the hostel’s board, the Assistant Bishop of Perth, the Rt. Rev. Michael Challen.
In his statement Mr. Claude Riordan said he approached Bishop Challen in 1976, but no action was taken against Mr. Wenlock until 1977 when he was forced to step down. Mr. Wenlock, who was in charge of the boys home from 1963 to 1977, was never charged with abuse and died in 2007.
A spokesman for the Archbishop of Perth, the Most Rev. Roger Herft told The Church of England Newspaper the archbishop was travelling and not able to respond to the allegations, but noted Bishop Challen was scheduled to address the commission last week.
In his testimony, Bishop Challen said that he had not waited for over a year to dismiss Mr. Wenlock but acted immediately upon hearing of the reports of abuse. Bishop Challen, who was chairman of the hostel board from 1976-1979, said he first heard about the allegations of indecent behaviour from Westeran Australia MP Ken McIver and immediately held a meeting with the parents of the abused boy.
“As far as I was concerned, to invite boys into your lounge…often in pairs and ask them to strip down to their underpants and for him to just be in a pair of black shorts only and to wrestle…I thought that was quite inappropriate and action had to occur,” Bishop Challen told the committee.
“I just simply asked him ‘have you been behaving like this, boys in your room wrestling with your shorts on and asking them to wear their underpants’…and he said yes.”
“I said here’s a piece of paper you can write your resignation. I think I gave him 24 or 48 hours to get out,” the bishop said.
The inquiry continues.
First printed in The Church of England Newspaper.