The Church Response Team that handles cases of sexual abuse of children by priests looks into every allegation it becomes aware of, whether reported to it or not, according to its head, Judge Victor Caruana Colombo.
In an article appearing on The Times today (see back page), Judge Caruana Colombo notes that some allegations of sexual abuse were only in the media.
He refers to four cases saying he wrote to the media where such allegations were made asking them for information that could help the Response Team investigate. However, no such information was forthcoming, Judge Caruana Colombo says.
“For lack of information, the Response Team obviously could not investigate. As far as I know, not one of the above allegations made in the media was reported to the police.
“Hopefully, they were unfounded as, otherwise, it would have been tragic to let the perpetrators go unpunished and to allow them to carry on with their foul doings,” he writes in the article.
Judge Caruana Colombo breaks his silence on the work done by the Response Team as Archbishop Paul Cremona yesterday discussed compensation with the legal representative of the 11 victims of clerical sex abuse.
Judge Caruana Colombo specifies that the Response Team is not tasked to determine whether one is guilty or not but to compile information that can be used to determine whether it was a case of child sexual abuse.
In some case, even before concluding an investigation and without implying guilt or innocence, the Response Team may advise the Church “to remove the accused from a position of access to minors”, he says, adding that such advice was given in a number of cases.
Judge Caruana Colombo refers to “three or four cases” in which a person claiming abuse said he knew of others who had also been abused by the same person.
The witness refused to say who the others were and the Response Team asked him to try to persuade them to come forward. Nobody appeared and the Response Team submitted its report to the Church.
Once this happened, Judge Caruana Colombo says in the article, the other alleged victims complained they had not been called to testify and the Response Team reviewed the cases, hearing the evidence of the newcomers and made a second report.