The Catholic priest accused of raping Archbishop John Hepworth says he’s never had sex of any kind with the breakaway Anglican group leader.
Monsignor Ian Dempsey says it was “totally unfair and unjust” of Independent South Australian Senator Nick Xenophon to name him under parliamentary privilege as a rapist and to raise the spectre of pedophilia.
The senator says he named Monsignor Dempsey because the church had taken too long to address rape claims raised four years ago. However, he made no reference to underage sex.
In a letter to the senator, Monsignor Dempsey said he had irreparably damaged his good name.
He said the rape allegations were false and were only formally raised earlier this year. He also had no influence over the timing of church investigations.
“I have a reputation for honesty and integrity,” Monsignor Dempsey wrote.
“You did not even bother to find out about any matter relevant to this case except from one source, John Hepworth.
“You never contacted me.
“You have shot the wounded – you who proclaim to be an advocate of those who are hurting in society.”
Monsignor Dempsey, who is recovering from a life-threatening illness, said he had never had sex of any kind, consensual or not, with Archbishop Hepworth.
“Certainly not,” he told ABC radio in Adelaide.
Senator Xenophon had been totally unjust, he said.
“In the Senate … I remember Senator Xenophon said that parents and children attending the church should be aware of my activities, or alleged activities.
“That, I thought, was totally unfair and unjust.”
Senator Xenophon said he never suggested Monsignor Dempsey raped Archbishop Hepworth when he was underage.
“What I have said at all times, both in and out of the Senate chamber, relates to allegations between two adults, and I want to make that absolutely clear,” he told ABC radio.
Archbishop Hepworth, 67, recently said he was the victim of violent rapes by three priests that began in 1960, when he was 15.
Archbishop Hepworth, who is now the primate of the splinter group Traditional Anglican Communion in Adelaide, was an adult when allegedly raped by Monsignor Dempsey.
Archbishop Hepworth has said he broke away from the Catholic Church because of the abuse.