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Intimate perceptions: Exploring justice from the perspective of Australian survivors of Clergy Sexual Violence Dr Jodi Death QUT School of Justice Crime.

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Presentation on theme: "Intimate perceptions: Exploring justice from the perspective of Australian survivors of Clergy Sexual Violence Dr Jodi Death QUT School of Justice Crime."— Presentation transcript:

1 Intimate perceptions: Exploring justice from the perspective of Australian survivors of Clergy Sexual Violence Dr Jodi Death QUT School of Justice Crime and Justice Research Centre American Society of Criminology Conference 2013

2 Child sexual abuse (CSA) by clergy is a recognised international phenomena A number of State based Inquiries have occurred including in: – Ireland – United Kingdom – The Netherlands – Belgium Other notable studies include – John Jay studies – Chung and Olsen’s Anglican Brisbane Diocese study – Parkinson’s Anglican Church Study (Australia)

3 Australia had 3 notable State inquiries: – The Victorian Parliamentary Inquiry into the Handling of Child Abuse by Religious and other Organisations (the Victorian Inquiry) – Special Commission of Inquiry Concerning the Investigation of Certain Child Sexual Abuse Allegations in the Hunter Region (the Hunter Inquiry) – the Royal Commission into Institutional Responses to Child Sexual Abuse (the Royal Commission)

4 Key research questions? 1.How do survivors construct ‘justice’ in relation to state inquiries? 2.How do relationships with the state and Christian institutions interact with survivors concepts of self?

5 Data for analysis: – 16 semi-structured interviews with survivors of CSA by personnel in Christian Institutions (PICI’s) – Victorian Inquiry 36 individual submissions to the 16 submissions from survivor’s support groups 18 submissions from religious bodies/representatives Plus submissions from community groups, legal representatives and NGO’s Transcripts from 39 sessions of the Inquiry Report of the Inquiry (released November 2013)

6 Justice constructed in multiple ways: – Justice as accountability – Justice as a relentless pursuit – Justice as hearing stories – Justice as enacted by the state

7 Justice as accountability – Evident in all inquiries internationally – Recognised in Report from Victorian Inquiry – Directed primarily at Christian Institutions “Victims of criminal child abuse by personnel in trusted organisations pursued justice for what they often perceived to be the loss of their innocence as a child. They wanted to see consequences for perpetrators – to see the removed from their position, reported to the police and potentially punished through the criminal justice system” (Victorian Inquiry Report, vol 1, p88)

8 “Today I find that the Towards Healing process was more about the church being seen to be doing something and that it had minimal healing for me… My wish list is: for the church to acknowledge that the abuse by the members was unacceptable and they will now care for those who have been abused by them and their system.” (Mr Whelan, Victorian Inquiry, Transcript)

9 Justice as a relentless pursuit: This is not about a new car”, I said, “I’ve got a car, thank you very much”, I said, “My brother leant me money to buy a car, for $2300”. I said, “We’re not a family that would spend $40,000 on a car, I said, “What’re gonna do with this man? I want him excommunicated”. He said, “Oh no, once a priest always a priest”… [I] Said, “He’s not a priest, he’s a paedophile and he’s active, right up till now…” and he said, “Well I went to see him twice and his conscience is eating him to death, and when he dies, he’ll have to come face to face with the Lord, Almighty, his maker”…when he died, and had his burial in the cathedral, as a priest. And then they wrote that, in the Catholic Weekly (showing the Catholic Weekly) about this man, and that’s when I lost it, that’s when I started fightin’ an’….and I did, I fought ‘em, and I fought them and I fought them, and I got what I wanted (getting papers to show). (Marlene, interview participant, Catholic)

10 “Oh, I would’ve, I would’ve not been put off in the first instance, and that’s me talking now and not talking as the state I was in then. I certainly wouldn’t have waited around for their response; I would’ve forced it, forced it, forced it, and, I would have insisted when it, when we finally got down to it that it was a public relations issue, it wasn’t a legal issue, and, forced ‘em’”. (Mark, interview participant, Anglican)

11 Justice as enacted by the state – Survivors exhausted their own attempts to achieve justice through institutional measures – Survivors present a desire for the socio-legal power of the state to bring accountability to institutions – State v’s the Church “Many victims have been denied justice. This inquiry represents the closest they have come to something approximating justice” Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests Australia (SNAP), Submission Victorian Inquiry

12 “This is where the government is essential for victims. The government is the only body powerful enough to bring the Catholic Church to heel with civil law, if only for the purpose of protecting future children from clergy rape and the protection of those children who were raped. The adult victims we see now are being further mistreated by the richest and most powerful organisation in the world. You must act and protect your most vulnerable citizens’ human rights.” (Chrissie Forster, Victorian Inquiry Hearing)

13 Justice as hearing stories “I want the church to endorse my true story, my, my story as my truth, not necessarily what they find to be true, but if they you know they say that because I mean in the [psychological] report, it’s pretty much an appraisal of my, my own characteristic and my own confidence and intelligence, you know, what they say is that um, the complainant is a compelling, intelligent, believable witness.” (Jeremiah, interview participant)

14 “I cannot change the past or what has happened; however, I want to share my experience in the hope that this type of thing can never, ever happen again. I would also like to see justice served to those perpetrators of crimes against children that are still living today and, most importantly, a scheme set up for us, such as support for housing, medical and dental, as many of the illnesses that have arisen have stemmed from the physical, emotional, sexual and mental abuse inflicted upon many of us children. I will end with a quote I came across: “If we do not understand the transgressions of the past, then we are absolutely going to commit them again.” (Gabrielle Short, transcript, Victorian Inquiry)

15 What is interesting about this? – These are not new ways of constructing justice – These themes are evident in Restorative Justice theory and practice, feminist theory and practice and criminal justice policy – Relationships and dialogue between the state, Christian Institution, and survivors both individual and collective become sites where justice is enacted and internalised in survivors concepts of self – The hope of justice is captured in the recognition of individual validity and agency

16 Thank you Dr Jodi Death


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