NEVER TOO OLD
It's a busy time in the sexual-abuse industry in Victoria, with a state parliamentary inquiry into the way various organisations have dealt with child-abuse accusations now in full swing. The star turn, as usual, is the Roman Catholic Church, though the impression, much fostered by the ABC and the Melbourne Age, that RC clergy are always and everywhere the only abusers, is somewhat modified by the inquiry's brief to examine what employees of of other "non-government organisations" have been up to. (And government organisations? State schoolteachers and PE instructors?)
The parliamentary inquiry is the first of its kind in Australia and shows that in child abuse, as in so many important fields, from liveability to football, the Garden State leads the way. And now there's another first to add to Victoria's laurels. Argus has learned that a Victorian centenarian has become the world's oldest person to lodge a sex-abuse claim against a member of the Roman Catholic hierarchy.
Mr Arthur Dribble, 106, now of Shady Glades Nursing Home in the Ballarat outer suburb of Fiddlerstown, claims that as a child he was abused by Melbourne's famous Archbishop Daniel Mannix. He says the offence took place in Studley Park Road, which runs between the suburbs of Kew and Collingwood.
"I sees 'im coming long in 'is top hat and he gives me two bob," Mr Dribble told Argus. "I don't remember anythink much after that but I'm sure he abused me."
"The money was obviously intended to buy sexual favours," explains Mr Dribble's great-granddaughter, Ms Denise McCarthy-Plibersek, a sex-abuse counsellor and memory-recovery expert who has been helping Mr Dribble "remember" the horrific event. "While at this distance we cannot actually prove that the intention to abuse was fully translated into action, there is no doubt that the waylaying of an impressionable young man provoked a lifelong sense of trauma in the victim."
Prompted by Ms McCarthy-Plibersek, Mr Dribble said that the trauma had manifested itself in his current physical and mental decline and in the fact that he was now unable to get a job. He proposes to sue the Roman Catholic Church for what his great-granddaughter describes as "punitive and exempalry damages".
Ms McCarthy-Plibersek dismissed as "lies" a Church statement pointing out that in spite of the political and other enmity occasioned by some of Dr Mannix's statements and actions there had never been "the faintest hint" of an accusation against him of the type Mr Dribble was making, and that, further, it was "strange" that Mr Dribble had waited so long to make his complaint. "Was it the fact that so many other complaints have recently been made against Catholic clergy that gave him the idea?" the statement asked.
"They shouldn't be allowed to get away with saying this sort of thing," said Ms McCarthy-Plibersek. "The last bit is an outrageous slur on great-grandad's integrity and the whole so-called statement is the kind of smokescreen the abusers have been putting up for too long. Too many damaged lives like great-granddad's have been swept under the carpet without redress. I demand justice, I mean you do, don't you, darling?" she declared, shaking her elderly relative awake.
Police have confirmed that Dr Mannix was in the habit of walking along Studley Park Road each day from his home in Kew to St Patrick's Cathedral. "There's plenty of oral history to say he used to carry a pocketful of two-shilling pieces to give away, ostensibly to the needy," a police spokesman said. "After this latest allegation we shall have to look at that behaviour in a new light."
27 September 2012
Posted by ACJ Akehurst