Catholic Church wanted gag order in sex abuse case partially lifted to identify offender, Latest Singapore News - The New Paper

Catholic Church wanted gag order in sex abuse case partially lifted to identify offender

This article is more than 12 months old

The Catholic Church had requested a partial lifting of the gag order so as to identify the man convicted of committing unlawful sexual acts with two teenage boys.

The man, who The Straits Times understands is not a priest, is in his 60s.

In a statement late on Sunday (June 5), the Roman Catholic Archdiocese of Singapore said it had requested the Attorney-General's Chambers (AGC) partially lift the gag order, so the identity of the offender, the religious order and details of the offender's subsequent treatment and postings can be made known.

"The AGC informed that they had carefully considered our request but were unable to accede to it," said the Catholic Church.

The man, who was arrested in January this year, had pleaded guilty to one charge of voluntarily having carnal intercourse against the order of nature and one charge under the Children and Young Persons Act.

He committed the sex act on the first victim in 2005 and the second victim in 2007, according to court documents. The boys were between 14 and 15 at the time of the offences.

Details about the man and his victims cannot be disclosed due to a gag order, which also covers the man's designation and appointment and the address of the incident location.

In its statement, the Catholic Church said it also requested more details on the case from the religious order involved.

A Catholic religious order is a community in which its members profess solemn vows, and the orders include friars, nuns and lay persons. The order is not governed by the Roman Catholic Archdiocese of Singapore.

The religious order involved released a statement saying its local leader had first learnt of the incidents when one of the victims confided in him in 2009 after both the victims had already left the school.

The order said: "An investigation was immediately initiated by the superior of the order for Singapore. The local leader and the superior were the only two persons in the religious order that were involved in the investigations."

The order said the victims were interviewed and provided with counselling support. It added that they were repeatedly told that they could make a police report and would be accompanied to the police station to do so.


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Posted by Roman Catholic Archdiocese of Singapore on Sunday, June 5, 2022

"Both victims refused to do so and were insistent in wanting to keep the matter private. Out of respect for the stated wishes and requested privacy of the victims, the superior did not make a police report then," said the order.

The offender, who was remorseful and willing to accept any consequence, was removed from his position in the order and prevented from returning to the school in order to cease all further contact with the victims and minors, it added.

The superior sent the offender for treatment, therapy and rehabilitation, beginning with an intensive six-month programme in the United States, paid for by the religious order, which did not elaborate on the type of treatment he received.

Following his treatment, the order posted the man to work overseas and followed the recommendations of the treatment centre, such as to ensure the offender is not placed in any setting that involved working with minors.

The religious leaders there were informed of his background and the restrictions of his recovery programme, said the order. Its leaders continued to monitor the offender to ensure he adhered to the restrictions and was committed to recovery.

The order said: "To our knowledge, there are no other victims and the offender confirmed this."

The man returned to Singapore to renew his missionary visa in March 2020, and was unable to return to his country of ministry owing to the pandemic.

It was during this period that the man's offences were brought to the attention of the school board.

Later in 2020, the religious order informed the Archbishop of the offences, and the matter was reported to the police on May 10 last year after an internal inquiry.

The religious order wrote that it is deeply dismayed and sorry for the incidents and remains committed to supporting the victims.

The Catholic Church said it takes "very seriously the provision of a safe environment, especially where children and young persons are present".

It added that the Catholic schools and their governing boards, school management committees already adhere to the Education Ministry's protocols and laws in Singapore on reporting incidents involving sexual abuse of minors.

"The religious orders and all religious sponsoring authorities for Catholic schools have also been reminded of their obligation to report immediately to the police once they become aware of incidents involving alleged offences against minors or vulnerable persons.

"They are also to keep the Archbishop of the Catholic Church informed," said the Catholic Church.