Sex abuse victim had priest attacker oversee her marriage

A NEW report has been critical of how the Catholic Church treated a former Lismore sexual abuse victim who said she was so petrified her secret would be revealed she got her attacker to oversee her first marriage during the 80s.

She said it was just easier at the time to keep up a facade she was simply friends with the Lismore Diocese priest.

Jennifer Ingham, 53, gave evidence to the Royal Commission into Institutional Responses to Child Sexual Abuse in 2013 that Father Paul Rex Brown had sexually abused her between 1978 and 1982.

The report, released on Wednesday, examined how the Catholic Church's Towards Healing process responded to four people, including Mrs Ingham, who suffered sexual abuse from priests and have experienced adverse impacts.

The report was highly critical of how the church treated Mrs Ingham's journey as an insurance matter instead of providing pastoral care, which was one of the main functions of the process.

The Towards Healing process was established to oversee the development of policies, principles and procedures in responding to church-related abuse complaints.

Mrs Ingham had described the abuse she suffered to the commission as a horrendous black secret she held for far too many years.

She testified she had told the church in 1990 and twice in 1993 that she had been abused, and on the last occasion was told to stop blaming the church and go away.

Mrs Ingham built up the resolve in 2012 to confront the Catholic Church through the Towards Healing process which was established to oversee the development of policies, principles and procedures in responding to church-related abuse complaints.

Based on Mrs Ingham's experience, the report made several recommendations largely surrounding how those involved in the process could better communicate with victims.

These case studies highlight a number of issues that will be examined as part of the Royal Commission's work on redress, including the role an institution should play in assessing conduct complaints, transparency and review processes, reparation and the role of pastoral care.

Father Brown, who died in 2005, administered in the Lismore Diocese for nearly three decades, taking up posts at Lismore and Tweed Heads between 1960 and 1986 before he was eventually stood down.

Mrs Ingham, who was awarded $265,000 compensation during the process, said she was 16 when the abuse started and it continued into her early adult years, including sometimes paying for her to fly from Sydney to stay at his then residence at St Joseph's Parish Church in Tweed Heads.

- APN NEWSDESK



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