Role of exorcism in Catholic Church highlighted after complaint against Wollongong priest

Role of exorcism in Catholic Church highlighted after complaint against Wollongong priest

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  1. Investigations cleared psychologist of child sex abuse claims: Bishop

    Oct. 20, 2015

    THE Illawarra’s most senior Catholic clergyman has come to the defence of a Wollongong child psychologist accused of historic child sex offences, saying the man was cleared by independent and police investigations.

    Dr Gerard Stoyles’ name had a surprise airing in Albion Park Local Court Friday, during legal proceedings against a former teacher at Holy Spirit College, Father Patrick Kervin.

    A former student claims he was molested by Kervin in the 1980s.

    But the man told the court he suffered “worse” abuse as a student at St Francis Xavier Catholic Primary School several years earlier. He named Dr Stoyles – then an employee of the primary school – as his abuser.

    Wollongong Bishop Peter Ingham has challenged the man’s account and provided details of internal and independent investigations which he says failed to implicate Dr Stoyles.

    “I investigated the matter, together with the Diocesan Chancellor, a person very experienced in dealing with professional standards matters,” Bishop Ingham said. “I also encouraged the gentleman who made the complaint to take the matter to the police.”

    “We came to the view that, whilst there may have been abuse, always a matter of great concern, the offender could not have been Dr Stoyles and no offender could be reliably identified.

    “Nevertheless, in the interests of transparency, and concern for the man who raised the matter with me, an independent investigation was conducted by a person experienced in criminal investigation.”

    The Mercury understands the independent investigation occurred in 2011, led by former NSW Police detective sergeant Kylie Starling.

    “During that inquiry the gentleman was afforded the opportunity to review the complaint on three occasions to clarify errors and inconsistencies in the history,” Bishop Ingham said.

    “In a detailed report the investigator concluded that the allegation against Dr Stoyles ‘is not substantiated’.”

    The church has refused to give the Mercury access to the report, referring further questions to police.

    Wollongong police crime manager Detective Inspector Tim Beattie would not comment on the matter or confirm a police investigation took place.

    According to Bishop Ingham’s office, the man contacted police in 2014 or 2015, prompting “a rigorous investigation”.

    “The result of that inquiry was that Dr Stoyles was ‘not a person of interest’ in this matter,” Bishop Ingham said.

    Gerard Stoyles began working in religious education as a Catholic priest, in 1977.

    He went on to study clinical psychology at the University of Wollongong and is now a senior lecturer specialising in children and teens.

    “The impact of the continuing allegations on Dr Stoyles personally, and in his priestly and academic work should not be underestimated,” Bishop Ingham said.

    “At all times Dr Stoyles assisted me and kept me informed about progress.

    “I am also aware that Dr Stoyles voluntarily informed the University of Wollongong of the investigations and agreed to limit the scope of his work until the enquiries ended.”

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