Australia

Australia's Anglican church gets 1,115 child abuse complaints

A generic image of a bible in a church Image copyright Getty Images
Image caption The complaints cover a period from 1980 to 2015

More than 1,100 complaints of child sexual abuse have been made against the Anglican Church of Australia, a royal commission inquiry has heard.

The allegations, dating from 1980 to 2015, have been made against 569 church figures, including 247 ordained clergy.

The Anglican Church has admitted trying to keep victims quiet to protect its reputation.

Archbishop of Melbourne Philip Freier said he was "deeply ashamed" of the church's response.

"I wish to express my personal sense of shame and sorrow at the way survivors' voices were often silenced and the apparent interests of the church put first," he said.

The Royal Commission into Institutional Responses to Child Sex Abuse is also investigating allegations against other religious and non-religious institutions.

Last month, more than 4,400 people claimed to have been abused by Australian Catholic church figures during the same 35-year period.

'Suffering'

Findings of the investigation into the Anglican Church of Australia included:

  • In total 1,115 complaints were made by 1,082 people
  • The average age of the victims was 11, and 75% of them were boys
  • On average it took 29 years for each incident to be reported
  • Complaints were made against 569 named and 133 unnamed alleged perpetrators. Some of those unnamed may overlap
  • Of 84 alleged offenders referred to police, four have been prosecuted while 23 remain under investigation
  • All but one of Australia's 23 Anglican diocese received at least one complaint

"We have witnessed first hand the suffering of those who have shared their stories," said Anne Hywood, general secretary of the church's general synod.

"We have seen in their faces and heard in their voices not only the pain of the abuse they suffered as a child, but the further damage we inflicted when they came forward as adults, seeking justice and comfort, and we pushed them aside."

Newcastle bishop Greg Thompson, an abuse survivor, told the commission last year he had been pressured to stop talking about the issue.

He quit as bishop on Thursday, saying the pressure had taken a toll on his health.

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