Sunday, June 2, 2002. Posted: 07:16:56 (AEDT)
The Catholic Church has strongly rejected the latest claims sexual abuse victims had to sign non-disclosure agreements before receiving compensation.
A Melbourne victim who does not wish to be identified says he was under the impression his silence was a mandatory condition of receiving his $30,000 compensation.
He was awarded the compensation under a program specifically dealing with Melbourne claims, set up by former Melbourne Archbishop Dr George Pell.
The victim says the forms he signed in the process left him with little doubt the compensation was hush money.
"This is the money, shut up and go away, this is the end of it we don't want to see you again - it gave me the impression I had to keep quiet about the whole process and the money being offered to me," he said.
Another victim, Margaret, who was compensated by the national program, says her compensation was also conditional.
"You're told that you sign this document not to disclose the information so that's basically it, the end of the subject.
"I could still talk about what happened to me but they said you don't disclose the amount you received and that you received compensation," Margaret said.
But the church maintains money paid to individuals was not to keep them silent.
It says the forms signed at the start of a compensation claim stipulate the claim should not discussed, but once the claim is settled there is no confidentiality clause.
Claims not addressed: victim
Another Victorian man, who was sexually assaulted by a Catholic priest, is accusing Dr Pell, who is now the Archbishop of Sydney, of not adequately addressing claims of sexual abuse within the church.
The 41-year-old was raped by a priest at a Ballarat school in the 1970s.
He says he has written to Dr Pell eight times, as recently as four months ago.
He says he wanted to highlight his concerns about assault allegations at the school but is yet to get a response.
The man says he wants to tell Dr Pell it is time for a royal commission into paedophilia claims within the Catholic Church.
"It pains me that there is a royal commission into the building industry, yet why can't we get one happening into the child abuse allegations in Australia," he said.
But a spokesperson for Dr Pell says he does not recall ever receiving a letter from the man in question and would be interested in knowing where they were sent.
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.Pedophilia and sexual abuse of children in Australia