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Catholic schools, religious orders reminded to report any abuse case to archbishop

Catholic schools, religious orders reminded to report any abuse case to archbishop

Source: Straits Times
Article Date: 12 May 2022
Author: Samuel Devaraj

Following the sentencing of a man who was part of a Catholic religious order for sexually abusing two teens, religious orders and those overseeing Catholic schools have been reminded they must report such cases to the archbishop.

Following the sentencing of a man who was part of a Catholic religious order for sexually abusing two teens, religious orders and those overseeing Catholic schools have been reminded they must report such cases to the archbishop.

In a statement on its website yesterday, the Roman Catholic Archdiocese of Singapore said it is working with the man's religious order to investigate the offences. It added that it was taking steps to see how more information about the case could be publicly released in the light of the existing gag order.

The statement said: "At the same time, the religious orders and boards of Catholic schools have also been reminded of their obligation to report to the archbishop immediately once they become aware of incidents involving alleged offences against minors or vulnerable persons. All our Catholic schools are also required to follow MOE (Ministry of Education) protocols and Singapore laws on reporting of incidents involving sexual abuse of minors."

The man committed the sex act on the first victim in 2005 and the second victim between April and December 2007. The boys were between 14 and 15 then.

The court heard last week that one of the victims had confided in the sector leader of the order in 2009 about the sexual abuse.

In the Catholic Church, a religious order is a community in which its members profess solemn vows and the orders include friars, nuns and lay persons.

The victim was asked if he wanted to lodge a police report and he had said no.

The perpetrator was then questioned by his religious superior about the allegations, and he admitted them. He was suspended and sent for a six-month therapy programme in the United States in June 2009.

In a statement last week, the police said that after its investigations into the case, it had issued a 64-year-old man a written advisory to remind him of his legal obligations under the law.

In late 2020, the sex offender's history was brought to the attention of the school board.

The chairman of the board lodged a police report on May 10 last year, following an internal inquiry. The police arrested the man on Jan 18.

Last week, a spokesman for the archdiocese had said that Archbishop William Goh was informed of the case only in October 2020.

In that statement, the archdiocese said it acknowledges the concerns of the Catholic community about the recent media reports and online comments about the case.

Yesterday, the archdiocese added: "As the Church carries out its work to ensure greater transparency and strengthen measures to prevent future incidents, we humbly seek the understanding of our Catholic community and members of the public; to give us the time and opportunity to make the necessary investigations and reviews so that we are able to provide the truth that all are seeking and ensure greater accountability and the better protection of our young."

Source: Straits Times © SPH Media Limited. Permission required for reproduction.

 

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