Clerical sex abuse: three cases involving children investigated by police

All three cases of sexual abuse on minors involved a diocesan priest, a religious priest and a lay person and are being investigated by the police

Head of Safeguarding Commission, Andrew Azzopardi (second from left)
Head of Safeguarding Commission, Andrew Azzopardi (second from left)

Three substantiated cases of child abuse were registered by the Curia's Safeguarding Commission, according to the commission head Andrew Azzopardi. 

Addressing a press conference on the commission's annual report for 2017, Azzopardi said that the cases had been perpetrated by a diocesan priest, a religous priest, and a layperson, all of whom are being investigated by the police. Restrictions on their pastoral activities were also imposed, Azzopardi said. 

By the end of 2017, the commission concluded risk assessments on another 16 complaints brought to its attention. Ten of these, Azzopardi said, were unsubstantiated. A further three were found to be unfounded while three were not related to abuse but were still referred to other entities for appropriate action.

The commission was founded in 2015 and is responsible for the protection of minors and vulnerable adults. In May 2016 it had pushed for there to be a committee specifically in charge of investigating cases of abuse on minors and vulnerable individuals. Azzopardi revealed today that the government is currently working to put this proposal into effect.

Another issue that has been challenged over the years by the commission, Azzopardi said, is time-barred offences in relation to minors.

"Prescription on matters of child abuse should be done away with," he said. "Most of the time, people realise that they were abused when they were children when they reach adulthood. And it takes longer for these people to gather the courage to speak out."

At present, the commission is carrying out risk assessment on a further 12 complaints. Azzopardi said that the work carried out by the Safeguarding Commission also includes specialised training to around 2,000 Church personnel in an effort to foster awareness.

By the end of 2017, the commission also concluded a pilot project with six Church entities to evaluate the measures in place and to consider new practices in the field of prevention of abuse.

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