A breakaway Anglican church leader, who claims he was raped by a Catholic priest, has filed a police complaint after an internal church investigation cleared his alleged abuser.
Traditional Anglican Communion (TAC) Archbishop John Hepworth said earlier this year he had been raped by three priests, beginning in 1960 when he was 15.
Senator Nick Xenophon named Adelaide priest Monsignor Ian Dempsey as one of the rapists under federal parliamentary privilege, saying the Catholic church had taken too long to investigate.
Adelaide Catholic Archbishop Philip Wilson said last night an independent inquiry had found there was no substance to the allegations.
The investigation included interviews with 29 witnesses, many who were present at the time the events allegedly occurred, and a large number of documents including those dating back to the relevant period.
Archbishop Hepworth declined to give evidence to the Catholic inquiry and told reporters today that he had now filed a complaint with police after seeking legal advice.
A TAC spokeswoman, Cheryl Woodman, said the Catholic investigation was flawed and had traumatised Archbishop Hepworth.
Witnesses were not allowed indemnity and Archbishop Hepworth had to pay their travel costs, preventing many from speaking out, she said.
“This whole process has been incredibly difficult,” Ms Woodman told AAP.
“I truly believe the Catholic church would be more empathic, more understanding, considering the negative publicity they’ve had and the mishandling of abuse cases.”
Archbishop Hepworth, who is primate in Adelaide of the splinter TAC group, said he was an adult when allegedly raped by Monsignor Dempsey.
He said he broke away from the Catholic Church because of the abuse.
The honourable – and I say again: honourable thing- to do under the circumstances is for the Archbishop to step down as Primate of the Traditional Anglican Communion and to sort out his mess! Whatever seedy things happened some forty-years-ago has absolutely nothing to do with the rest of the TAC. But by doggedly pursuing what is essentially a secret (up until now), personal problem, in this his blundering, squealing, chosen, public way, he is not only damaging his own name, but bringing the credibility of the TAC as a whole into disrepute.
Quite evidently, Archbishop John Hepworth is not consulting with any of his fellow Bishops and a lone voice of support is that of an ever yapping in the background Canoness Woodman.
I implore both of you thus, publicly, to the end that sanity prevail, and that in the Name of the One we profess to serve: Step down, sort out the dreadfulness mess that you have created for yourselves, and then, go as laypeople to the Roman Catholic Church, or simply leave them (the Roman Catholics) alone. For it is that you are becoming ‘stumbling blocks’ to the faith of many, and that cannot be tolerated nor can it be condoned (Rom 14:13).
It is for a good reason that the faithful are increasingly distancing themselves from you, and yours is becoming but a disturbing solitary call.