Call For Media and Government Investigation

of Sathya Sai Baba And his worldwide cult, the Sathya Sai Organization

Australian Royal Commission To Probe Institutional Handling Of Child Sexual Abuse

Posted by Barry Pittard on November 14, 2012

The Australian Prime Minister, Julia Guillard, has just announced a long-term Royal Commission of Enquiry into the way Australian institutions respond, and fail to respond, to sexual abuse in Australia. It begins its work in early 2013, and may continue for several years.

As the Royal Commission goes about its work, I, for one – given that the enquiry becomes singularly noted for its wisdom and professionalism – shall be encouraging many Australian survivors and their families as possible to witness to the Commission accounts of the Australian Sathya Sai Organization’s appalling treatment of victims, its suppression of testimony, and intimidation and silencing of many truthful witnesses.

See Ms Guillard making this watershed announcement at:  http://www.abc.net.au/news/2012-11-12/gillard-launches-royal-commission-into/4367700

Decades too late, she says: 

“There have been too many revelations of adults who have averted their eyes from this evil”.

Like our own experience when exposing the Sathya Sai cult via many international media, those wilderness voices crying out against institutional corruption can only view such statements with a mixture of the philosophical, the derisory and the darkly ironical.

Australian Prime Minister Julia Guillard announces an ongoing Royal Commission to investigate institutional response, and lack of response, to child sexual abuse

ABC Report
By Simon Cullen and staff.  Updated Mon Nov 12, 2012 10:28pm AEDT
Quote
Prime Minister Julia Gillard has announced the creation of a national royal commission into institutional responses to instances of child sexual abuse.

The decision was taken at a meeting of federal cabinet this afternoon.

Ms Gillard had been under pressure to act following growing calls for a 

national inquiry into explosive allegations by a senior New South Wales police investigator that the Catholic Church covered up evidence involving paedophile priests.

A number of senior Labor MPs, as well as key independents, had already voiced their support for action …… 

RELATED STORY: Gillard under pressure to set up sex abuse inquiry

RELATED STORY: Pressure grows for abuse royal commission

Call for media and government investigation of Sathya Sai Baba
In a way that obscures the failed accountability and duty of care of a great many other institutions, it has been long been a great mistake to single out the Roman Catholic Church. Appallingly, this overfocus lets many other institutions off the hook. Without oversight or process, the abuse in those institutions continues.
I refer to this Church here because its Australian head, Cardinal Pell of Sydney, has been extremely quick and prominent in response to the Prime Minister’s announcement. And because the unhealthy preoccupation with one offender, while obscuring many others.
In Australia, both many Roman Catholics and the public more widely regard the head of the Catholic Church in this country, Cardinal Pell, as an arch conservative. In my view, Pell is symptomatic of a grave and untreated problem quite other than the issue of any continuing institutional cover up. Too often, reform does not get to the roots of a problem, and becomes a different sort of cover up – that is to say, there is a covering up of, or of a blindness to, those very problematic roots. One of these roots problems is a focus on institutional survival. This greatly thwarts the addressing of justice and healing issues that relate to sexual abuse survivors. One area in which this occurs is an institution’s lawyer-mediated, miserable out-of-court settlements. Mr and Mrs Foster’s case is one of a great many which show the cruelty of such arrangements. (See video footage):

ABC News Breakfast, November 13:

“Two of Antony and Chrissie Foster’s daughters were raped by a Catholic priest. They shared their response to the announcement of a royal commission with ABC News Breakfast”.

Many perceive that Cardinal Pell does not support or conceal abusers, but maintains, in real terms, a heartless, narrowly legalistic approach. One which fails to bring real justice and healing to the many thousands of clerical sexual abuse survivors in the Roman Catholic Church.

The interview with Mr and Mrs Forster is poignant and powerful in making this point. She Says (AUDIO: Expert hopes abuse inquiry will create new jurisdiction (PM)):

“(Cardinal Pell) was saying there was a smear campaign against the church and there’s not a smear campaign at all,” she said.

“People are merely telling the truth and trying to be heard about their experience with the Catholic Church; the abuse in the first instance and then the treatment from the Catholic Church, and the hierarchy and the processes after that.”

Ms Foster was particularly struck by Cardinal Pell’s insistence that the seal of confession is “inviolable”…..

We Need To Prevent Use Of Legal Practises That In Themselves Abuse Victims

Those of us who have internationally exposed Sathya Sai Baba and his worldwide cult know this phenomenon all too well.  Regarding a case one of our members brought in the Orange County Court, California, USA, Robert Priddy and I coordinated our international group’s statement. It succinctly shows how a rich and powerful organization how can hijack a law case via a cunning technical trick. Served were the world head of the Sathya Sai Organization, Dr Michael Goldstein, and the Sathya Sai Society of America. Added to woes of the Applicant (Alaya Rahm) was his lawyer’s grave lack of alertness and homework at  the discovery end of the legal process. Several of my friends with exceptionally high legal profiles looked at the mess, and were appalled!).  See:  

Alaya Rahm’s Lawsuit vs Sathya Sai Society of America. Joint Statement by the International JuST Group and the Rahm family. (Date: July 16, 2006)

See also Robert Priddy’s and Barry Pittard’s detailed four-part article: 

The Sathya Sai Organization’s Deception and Propaganda Exposed (and Part Two Three Four

With the Australian Government’s Royal Commission looming, the corrupted institutions now rush not to hide what, of course, they have hidden for decades and  can no longer hide. Rather, under duress, they pledge coöperation and reform – while, however, still not substantively honoring survivors of sexual abuse and their families.

In Australia, both many Roman Catholics and the public more widely regard the head of the Catholic Church in this country, Cardinal Pell, as an arch conservative. Interviews show Pell in favor of the Commission. In his current interviews, he strikes me as still, after all these years of dealing with sexual abuse in his church, as essentially unreconstructed in his thinking. Rather than speaking to the victims’ plight, and looking at the various support groups’ reports that serious systemic defects continue, he is defensive, and, for example, blames the media. (See the victim witness video footage and newspaper reports).

In Australia, as elsewhere, the Prime Minister’s announcement will I suggest – and very soon – show the way institutions commit this other kind of abuse:  the cold, calculating legalistic response. As I have said, we should not think that the Roman Catholic Church is somehow alone in this species of systemic abuse. Trustfully, the work of a royal commission with teeth will show how institutions rush – not to hide what, of course, the institutions cannot well hide but – under duress – to pledge coöperation and reform – while, however, still not, in a genuine, pragmatic way, honoring survivors of sexual abuse and their families. This is profoundly unjust.

In the nineties, when he accompanied a pedophile priest to court, Pell shocked many in his own church and far beyond. They pointed to a gross insensitivity to victims. He seemed naive, and without grasp of the power of the terrible iconography implicit in his sitting with the perpetrator and not with the perpetrator’s victims!

Call for media and government investigation of Sathya Sai Baba

Further Resources

ABC (Australian Broadcasting Corporation) Key interviews: The road to the royal commission

Topics: law-crime-and-justiceroyal-commissionscommunity-and-societyreligion-and-beliefscatholicchild-abuse

Abuse victims sceptical of Pell’s royal commission response

By Samantha Donovan and staff

VIDEO: Cardinal Pell criticises ‘negative’ media coverage (Lateline)

Some of the victims of sexual abuse by the clergy do not believe the Archbishop of Sydney’s statement that the Catholic Church has learnt the error of its ways.

In the wake of the Prime Minister’s decision to call a royal commission into institutionalised child abuse, Cardinal George Pell said he believed many claims involving the church were exaggerated and historic.

“We are not interested in denying the extent of misdoing in the Catholic Church. We object to it being exaggerated,” he said.

“We object to it being described as the only cab on the rank.

“We acknowledge simply with shame the extent of the problem and I want to assure you that we have been serious in attempting to eradicate it and deal with it.”

The leader of Australia’s most powerful Roman Catholic diocese said he would cooperate with the nationwide inquiry, but told reporters the church had improved its processes in dealing with abuse allegations.

“I have just been attempting to explain [over] the past 16 to 20 years, we have addressed [the issue], these are adequate procedures,” he said.

“Nobody has written to me saying this procedure is inadequate or that procedure is inadequate.

“What we have had is general smears like, with due respect, I suggest you are making that we are generally inefficient, that we’re covering up, we’re moving people around.

“Where that is done it’s against the protocols.”

The Melbourne response

But in Victoria, some are still critical of the so-called Melbourne Response, which Cardinal Pell set up to handle complaints in the late 1990s.

Cardinal Pell confirmed again he had accompanied paedophile priest Gerald Ridsdale to his court hearings several years ago.

But he said he did not realise at the time the impression this would give to victims.

They just still don’t get it because I think they are afraid because so many bishops over the years have been so culpable of so many crimes, particularly cover-ups, that I think they are afraid of what’s going to come out.

Abuse victim Stephen Woods

Ridsdale, from the Wimmera region in western Victoria, was jailed in 1993 after admitting he abused more than 20 children.

In 2006, the priest was sentenced to an extra 13 years in prison after he pleaded guilty to further charges.

Melbourne man Stephen Woods was 14 when he was raped by Ridsdale.

Mr Woods listened to Cardinal Pell’s comments with interest and told ABC radio’s PM program: “He seems to be setting up a narrative that the Catholic Church is now the victim, that they are the ones who are just one of many assaulters in the society.

“Yet I can’t think of any other organisation that has had so many, even though there are many clergy, but they have had so many paedophiles.

“And of course, tens of thousands of victims.”

‘Failed systems’

Cardinal Pell said the Melbourne Response had been “very well regarded” by many.

But that is not Mr Woods’s impression.

“Working for (support group) Broken Rites we’ve had cause to come across a lot of people who have said that the Melbourne Response, as well as the Towards Healing, are both very failed systems,” he said.

“They offer very small amounts of compensation and they are very lawyer-intense and very legalistically concerned.

“So people have very often come out of it just feeling far more assaulted.”

Mr Woods believes the Catholic Church is not responding well to news of the royal commission.

“They still don’t get it. They just still don’t get it because I think they are afraid because so many bishops over the years have been so culpable of so many crimes, particularly cover-ups, that I think they are afraid of what’s going to come out,” he said.

‘No smear campaign’

Chrissie Foster’s two daughters were raped by their parish priest when they were in primary school.

“(Cardinal Pell) was saying there was a smear campaign against the church and there’s not a smear campaign at all,” she said.

“People are merely telling the truth and trying to be heard about their experience with the Catholic Church; the abuse in the first instance and then the treatment from the Catholic Church, and the hierarchy and the processes after that.”

Ms Foster was particularly struck by Cardinal Pell’s insistence that the seal of confession is “inviolable”.

She believes it is one of the big issues for the royal commission to consider.

“I know he was insistent on it not being looked at, but I think there needs to be mandatory reporting within the confessional about child sexual assault,” she said.

“This canon law is the law of a foreign state, the Vatican. How can a foreign state law overrule our civil laws in Australia to protect our Australian children?

“My daughter suicided. My other daughter binge drunk and then got hit by a car.

“She received 24 hours care. And all the care Emma had up until she died; the church didn’t pay for that.”

The Federal Government has released information for those who want to provide information that may be considered by the royal commission, which is likely to begin in early 2013.

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There is a Spanish version available:

PETICIÓN PÚBLICA PARA ”INVESTIGACIONES OFICIALES DE SATHYA SAI BABA Y SU ORGANIZACIÓN A NIVEL MUNDIAL

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