Gag order in Catholic Church sex abuse case to protect victims, not defendants: AGC

SINGAPORE (The Straits Times/Asia News Network): The gag order in a case involving a member of a Catholic order who sexually abused two boys was not meant to protect the abuser or the Catholic order in question.

The Attorney General’s office said in a statement Monday, June 6, that it requested the gag order in order to protect the identity of the victims.

“It was in no way sought to protect the interests of the accused, or of the Catholic order concerned.

“The gag order covered the identity of the accused because, based on the facts and circumstances of the case, the identification of the accused was likely to lead to the identification of the victims,” said the AGC.

The Roman Catholic Archdiocese of Singapore said on Sunday evening (June 5) that it had requested the AGC to partially lift the gag order, so that the offender’s identity, religious order and treatment details and subsequent assignments of the offender can be rendered. known.

The AGC said in its Monday statement that it carefully considers each request to lift a gag order because the interests of the victims are paramount, and in this case it could not grant the request.

The man is in his 60s and was part of a Catholic religious order that founded a school in Singapore. The Straits Times understands that he is not a priest.

He was arrested in January this year and was jailed for five years last month (May) after pleading guilty to a charge of having carnal relations and another charge under the Children and young people.

He performed the sexual act on the first victim in 2005 and the second victim in 2007, according to court documents. The boys were aged 14 to 15 at the time.

Details about the man and his victims cannot be released due to the gag order, which also covers the naming and naming of the man and the location of the incidents.

The religious order the man was involved with said on Sunday that its local leader learned of the incidents in 2009, when one of the victims confided in him. Both victims had already left school by then.

The order, which is a community not governed by the Roman Catholic Archdiocese of Singapore, said the victims were repeatedly questioned, counseled and also told they could make a police report, but refused.

“(The victims) insisted on wanting to keep the matter private. Out of respect for the declared wishes and the privacy requested by the victims, the superior did not make a police report,” the order reads. . He added that he was not aware of any other victims and that the man had confirmed it.

The superior sent the man for treatment under an intensive six-month program in the United States paid for by the order.

He was then posted overseas, following recommendations from the treatment center, such as ensuring he was not working with minors.

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

His offenses were later brought to the attention of the school board and the matter was reported to the police on May 10 last year.

In relation to the case, police said last month (May) they issued a written notice to a 64-year-old man who failed to report to them that a boy had been sexually abused in 2007.

The Catholic Church said that Catholic schools and their governing boards, school management committees adhere to the protocols and laws of the Singapore Ministry of Education on reporting incidents involving sexual abuse of minors.

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