Church could have named predator, royal commission told

SENIOR members of the Lismore Catholic Diocese had the chance to publicly shame a predator priest and strip him of his title, more than a decade before he died, the royal commission has heard.

In her final submission to the inquiry into the Church's response to Lismore victim Jennifer Ingham, Senior Counsel Gail Furness said it was open to the panel to find the Diocese could have called on the Holy See to dismiss alcoholic child abuser Rex Brown.

She said the application should have been made from the time Brown, who died in 2005, was convicted of child porn offences in 1996.

She also asked the commission to reject the evidence of former Lismore parish priest Father Frank Mulcahy, who denied he was told of Ms Ingham's abuse as far back as 1990 and did not know her at the time.

Ms Ingham had previously told the commission she had been abused by Father Brown, a former Lismore and Tweed Heads priest, from the time she was 16 until early adulthood.

She said that in 1990, she reported the abuse to Father Mulcahy - a family friend who went to boarding school with her father - and he had "sobbed" and told her he was aware she was being abused and gave the names of two other girls he knew had been abused by Father Brown.

Father Mulcahy told the commission he had no recollection of the meeting and did not recognise a photo of Ms Ingham, which was taken when she was 21, the age she would have been when the meeting occurred.

Aside from Father Mulcahy having gone to school with Ms Ingham's father, there was evidence that during the time Father Mulcahy was parish priest at Alstonville (until late 2012), local priests and bishops regularly attended her parents' home for gatherings.

There was also evidence Father Mulcahy regularly dined at the restaurant Paupiette's, where Ms Ingham had worked as a waitress.

Ms Furness said it was open to the commission to find Father Mulcahy knew Ms Ingham and was made aware of the abuse at a meeting with her in 1990. The commission is due to release its findings later this year.

Topics:  catholic church royal commission

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