|Charges dropped against former school chaplain |
Thursday, 30th August 2007. 3:05pm
By: George Conger.
SEXUAL ABUSE charges levelled against a former Church of England schoolchaplain, the Rev John Mountford, have been dropped by South Australiaprosecutors following the withdrawal of the complaint by the allegedvictim.
The Mountford affair led to the forced resignation of Adelaide’sArchbishop Ian George on June 11, 2004, following the publication of anindependent report into the diocese’s handling of the clergy sexualabuse complaints.
Mountford fled to Thailand in 1992 after he was confronted withallegations that he molested a 14-year-old student at St Peter’sCollege, Adelaide: a prestigious Anglican boy’s boarding school. He wasarrested by Thai police in 2004 and extradited to Australia a yearlater to stand trial.
Dr George denied accusations that he protected Mountford or ignoredclaims of child abuse. However, letters leaked to the AustralianBroadcasting Corporation showed that in 1993, Dr George had written toMountford saying he was “glad that you were not subjected to the pain,the humiliation and the public spectacle which the media would haverelished in your case.”
It was likely that Mountford would be “charged with an offence” had heremained in Adelaide, Dr George wrote, adding “You will see that I havedone everything I can both to support you, and preserve yourreputation.”Mountford, who served as chaplain at the Blue Coat School in Edgbaston,Birmingham, between 1987 and 1990, moved to Australia and served as achaplain at St Peter’s College from 1991-1992.
In 2003 the diocese created a commission of inquiry chaired by retiredSupreme Court Judge Trevor Olsson and Dr Donna Chung of the Universityof South Australia. The final report was passed to the government andwas tabled in the South Australia parliament on May 31, 2004.
South Australia Premier Mike Rann said the failure to dealappropriately with an incident of sexual abuse by the chaplain deservedboth condemnation and further scrutiny “not just in terms of its valuesbut in terms of the law of this state”. The Olsson-Chung report made“very disturbing reading”, Rann said, and revealed “a failure overdecades on the part of the church as an institution and by someindividuals within the church to put the interests of victims ahead ofthe perceived interests of the Anglican Church”.
The Adelaide Advertiser reported that the alleged victim, now in hislate 20s last week declined to proceed with the case, which was to goto trial next month.Mountford has threatened to sue the South Australia government over hisextradition from Thailand and Premier Mike Rann for slander. Followinghis extradition to Adelaide, Rann told the press Mountford’s actions“sickened me".
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.Pedophilia and sexual abuse of children in Australia