In Australia, an investigation has discovered that Catholic institutions are funding the legal defenses of priest who have already been convicted of child molestation and who are being tried on further molestation charges. Defending priests the first time may be reasonable, depending on what the circumstances are, but once you get to the fourth time...
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What does it mean that the Catholic church is going so far to defend convicted child molesters? Well, for one thing Catholics who are donating to their church are paying for this and they may not even know it. Many probably wouldn't be happy if they did.
For another thing, the vigorous defense mounted by the Catholic church means that the trials last much longer and end up costing everyone a lot more. This is added to the years of abuse and silence forced upon the victims by the Catholic church's policies of covering up these crimes.
The head of professional standards at one of Australia's largest Catholic orders, Christian Brothers, confirmed that the order had continued to fund the defence of two of its members - Brother Robert Charles Best and Brother Edward Vernon Dowlan - after they had been convicted of sexually abusing children at Catholic schools in Victoria.
Best has had at least five court battles funded by the Christian Brothers dating back to 1996, including multiple trials on multiple counts of indecent assault and buggery.
In August 2011 Best was jailed for a maximum of 14 years and nine months, but is currently appealing his conviction again in the Victorian Supreme Court.
According to the victim support group Broken Rites, by the late 1990s the Christian Brothers had already spent about $400,000 in defending Dowlan and Best.
Costs reportedly included ''56 full days in court, two Queen's counsel barristers, a team of solicitors, legal office staff, private investigators, psychiatrists, psychologists and other paid experts who gave character evidence on behalf of the offenders''.
The order's executive officer for professional standards, Brother Brian Brandon, confirmed that the order had funded Best and Dowlan's defences, and said that the order had a broad policy of funding the defences of brothers charged in relation to child sex abuse.
When it was put to him that it was not appropriate for the order to continue funding its members' legal defences after they had been convicted, he said: ''Well, that's one perspective.''
Source: The Age
I wonder if Brother Brian Brandon would offer a similar response if it were put to him that it was not appropriate for the Catholic church to be hiding, protecting, and covering up for priests engaged in serial child molestation and child rape?
As noted above, it would be wrong for Catholic organizations to never defend any member who has been charged with a crime, even child molestation. Being accused and charged isn't the same as being guilty and everyone deserves a vigorous defense.
The key difference here isn't merely the existence of multiple trials, but the fact that the person is still treated as a "member in good standing" who deserves the full support and resources of the organization even after having been convicted. I suppose they might want to have an internal/independent review just to be sure that the conviction wasn't some horrible travesty (that is possible), but beyond that they should cut ties with convicted child molesters and invest their resources into preventing the same from happening again.
They shouldn't be investing their resources into preventing child molesters from seeing justice.