Priest Wants Xenophon to Apologise

And so he should!

An Adelaide priest who says he was wrongly named by Nick Xenophon in federal parliament as a perpetrator of sexual abuse wants Senate President John Hogg to discipline his fellow senator and is calling for parliamentary privilege to be reviewed.

Senator Xenophon used parliamentary privilege in September 2011 to name Monsignor Ian Dempsey as one of three priests who allegedly abused former head of the Traditional Anglican Communion, John Hepworth, in a Catholic seminary in the 1960s.

The South Australian Director of Public Prosecutions recommended earlier this month that no abuse charges be laid against Monsignor Dempsey, after a 19-month investigation found there was insufficient evidence for a jury to have a reasonable chance of convicting.

Monsignor Dempsey has written a letter to Senator Hogg, expected to arrive today, asking him to address the use of parliamentary privilege to name a person without accountability.Advertisement

“As well as reasonably expecting a public apology from Senator Xenophon, it may be time for the Senate to address the unique privilege of naming any Australian citizen without any accountability — and, as in my case, getting it terribly wrong,” Monsignor Dempsey wrote.

“I request that the Senate take steps to ensure other innocent people like myself will not be used for political purposes with no accountability for the accuser for destroying a person’s life.”

Monsignor Dempsey, who was suspended from his Adelaide parish of Brighton for 12 months, said in the letter that the “unjust act shamed my life forever”.

Monsignor Dempsey asked that the letter be circulated to all senators, and that Senator Xenophon apologise for his “cruel and false public condemnation”.

Senator Xenophon yesterday said he welcomed any scrutiny by the Senate. “I remain deeply dismayed with the appalling way the Adelaide Archdiocese of the Catholic Church failed to appropriately address in a timely manner Archbishop Hepworth’s allegations — in stark contrast to the Melbourne Archdiocese.”



5 thoughts on “Priest Wants Xenophon to Apologise

  1. Parliamentary privilege must be protected, even if at times it is abused. By the way is Xenephon a Greek Orthodox? I find real prejudice amongst Greeks to Catholicism.

    1. The matter was referred to the privileges committee, which whitewashed it. I think a further referral is in order. Parliamentary privilege is a fine thing, but when it is used by a publicity-seeking independent member or senator to make a very serious accusation against a citizen for the openly admitted purpose of getting at someone else (in this case ‘the Archdiocese’), it looks like a disgraceful abuse to me. ‘Give Hepworth what he wants NOW or I’ll name Dempsey in Parliament’–hmmm, I think there’s a word for that sort of behaviour. Part of the protection of privilege involves setting up restraints against abuse. Xenophon should have grown some cojones and repeated his accusation outside parliament.

  2. would a letter writing campaign to the Australian media, demanding that Mr X either repeat what he said outside parliament to allow Mgr D the opportunity for redress or issue a public apology, be of any use?

  3. Fr O, as Sandra wrote, I doubt it will be of any use until such a time that Sen X grows a pair to utter his tosh outside of parliament. But of course he won’t.

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