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Archive for March, 2013

To Psychic Researcher Professor Erlendur Haraldsson, Sai Baba Sexual Abuses Are Only “Squibbles” – Part 1

Posted by Barry Pittard on March 26, 2013

Barry Pittard. May 22, 2013

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(Part 1 of a series of articles on Erlendur Haraldsson)

Some key readings so far:

Around the world, many Sathya Sai Baba devotees own a copy of Professor Erlendur Haraldsson’s  book ‘Miracles Are My Visiting Cards: An Investigative Report on the Psychic Phenomena Associated with Sathya Sai Baba’.  Rider Book. Century paperbacks. Century, 1987. ISBN 0712615148, 9780712615143.

However, I think grave questions need asking about Haraldsson’s methodology. I will allude to these in the weeks, but they may best be treated in detail by his professional peers. One investigator associated with Haraldsson is Professor Robert Wiseman, famous for his British television and radio programs, which show many of the human mind’s tricks which lead to beliefs regarded as facts and even Truth. Haraldsson and Wiseman have collaborated in various work, easily discoverable via an internet search, such as when they investigated the claims of (the late) Swami Premananda.

Sathya Sai Baba duped Haraldsson, no less than he duped many of us. However, Haraldsson’s book has widely influenced many in their coming to Sai Baba. My main question is:  Will Haraldsson publicly admit to making a huge mistake in his assessment of Sai Baba? 

A probing and lively Australian blogsite, Subversive Thinking, carries work between Wiseman and Haraldsson (the original of which I have yet to find). See:  Monday May 9, 2011. Erlendur Haraldsson and Richard Wiseman assesment of a videotape on Sathya Sai Baba

It is my layman’s guess that NO professional magician or other competent investigator of alleged miracles could overlook Haraldsson’s paucity of hard knowledge about professional magic. I shall write to Wiseman and see what position he may take. I have touched on related issues here:  Top Magicians Derren Brown, Keith Barry and Others: Exposing How We Get Deceived. Posted by Barry Pittard on November 6, 2012

Miracles Are My Visiting Cards

Ought Authors Write Books and Not Correct Grave Errors Subsequently?

But – more importantly to my three-part series over the next few days – there are serious ethical questions to raise about Haraldsson’s extraordinary inability to deal squarely with a great deal of information that has come to light about Sai Baba in the last two decades. It is significant that via emails (copies of which I have) his old friend Robert Priddy, a retired academic of the University of Oslo and major expert on Sathya Sai Baba and his cult, has made available to Haraldsson many salient facts about Sathya Sai Baba’s faked miracles, the cover up of killings in his Puttaparthi bedroom, the sexual abuse of boys and young men from many countries, large-scale venality, authoritarianism and lack of accountability and duty of care in the Sathya Sai Central Trust, and much else.

Over time, by Skype and email, I discerned how troubled Robert Priddy and his wife have been when, on the one hand, there was the fact of the old Priddy-Haraldsson friendship and yet, on the other, Haraldsson imperviousness to the sheer weight of evidence for Sai Baba’s fraudulence, and an unwillingness to reconsider his (Haraldsson’s) very influential writings on Sai Baba. 

Haraldsson’s Writing Has Long Furthered Devotion To Sathya Sai Baba Worldwide

Many Sai Baba followers have long valued Haraldsson’s book. For the more rationally inclined it – supposedly – satisfies the intellect. Typically, it was a book which devotees handed to others whom they wished to interest in Sai Baba. Through this and other means, ‘Miracles Are My Visiting Cards’ has much advanced Sai Baba’s influence throughout the world. It is a grave responsibility. And yet – we see no response from Haraldsson which faces a terrible fact:  that a great weight of evidence worldwide discredits Sai Baba.

I knew of Robert Priddy’s delay in taking up the Haraldsson matter in public.  It is true that Priddy and I had many other pressing duties in bringing the Sathya Sai cult to international attention, and yet here was an issue Haraldsson needed to face. It seemed as if Robert hoped that – given many people leaving Sathya Sai centers worldwide, and revelations after 2000 across major television and radio networks and print media  – Haraldsson would change his public standpoint. I wondered whether the continued delay might, consciously or unconsciously owe something to the painful anticipation of confronting an old friend in Haraldsson. When I discussed the issue, Robert told me that he wished to invite Haraldsson to stay at his home in Oslo, upon which he and his wife Reidun (also previously a long-term and dedicated Sai Baba devotee) would tell Haraldsson of much compelling evidence of Sai Baba’s fraudulence, and the profound betrayal of so many.

For Erlandur Haraldsson, Anguished Concerns About Sexual Molestation of Minors Are But “Squibbles”

I think that Haraldsson shows a callous disregard about the issue of decades of Sathya Sai Baba’s serial sexual molestation of boys and young men. In his reply to Reidun Priddy’s email to him, this tragedy Haraldsson can dismiss as “squibbles about SB, who is dead anyway”.

Haraldsson is, however, alive anyway, but not, clearly, alive to how he has a moral responsibility to repudiate serious shortcomings in his work, and the way alive – but mistaken and unrepudiated – ideas and information continue to exercise a grip on minds very widely.

Erlendur Haraldsson’s Extraordinary Remark – in an email to Reidun Priddy

Erlendur's Extraordinary Remark - in an email to Reidun Priddy

Erlendur Haraldsson and Robert Priddy, Puttaparthi, 1996
Erlendur Haraldsson and Robert Priddy, Puttaparthi, 1996
The Erlendur Haraldsson-Robert Priddy Friendship, Puttaparthi 1989
The Erlendur Haraldsson-Robert Priddy Friendship, Puttaparthi 1989
Haraldsson Visits Robert Priddy (and wife Reidun), Oslo, 2009

Haraldsson visits Robert Priddy (and wife Reidun), Oslo 2009

Unlike Haraldsson, Robert Priddy and I have worked daily, and year after year, on the Sathya Sai Baba exposé. As our internet writings show, an intensive research has meant following up thousands of on-line references to the Sai Baba issue. The work has involved hundreds of phone calls, a vast number of emails, and much contact with leading investigative media.  Particularly heartrending has been our contact with people (some now even in their sixties, such as the psychotherapist Mark Roche – see:  Health Professional Comes Out On BBC: Sai Baba sexually abused him when young. Posted by Barry Pittard on April 26, 2011), who have submitted details of Sathya Sai Baba abusing them when they were boys or young men, and with families and friends of molestation survivors from around the world. This is but one part of the gut-sickening Sai cult corruption and betrayal – an extaordinary phenomenon that shows profound paucity of spirituality among those who proclaim their guru to be the God of gods, and the Avatar that ushers in the ‘Golden Age’. A phenomenon which has, most prominently, been articulated and exposed by the work of those  such as David and Fay Bailey (UK), Conny Larsson, Britt Marie Andén (Sweden), Glen Meloy (USA)  Alexandra Nagel (Holland), Hari Sampath (India), Robert Priddy (Norway), Sergei Badaev (Russia), Sanjay Dadlani (UK), Brian Steel, and myself (Australia). And most recently, after years of public silence, by Eileen Weed who, as Divya, lived for many years at Sai Baba’s Puttaparthi ashram, and who was very close to Sai Baba’s sister, Venkamma (USA). See:

Hari Sampath, former insider on myths by Sathya Sai authorities

Posted by robertpriddy on October 10, 2011

Alexandra Nagel. A Seminal Writer On Sathya Sai Baba, A Guru Accused

Posted by Barry Pittard on July 3, 2010

Sai Baba school closed because of reported sex abuses

(Britt Marie Andén’s account as former national leader in Sweden, and mother of a young son whom she found Sai Baba had sexually abused)

Posted by robertpriddy on March 19, 2010

Glen Meloy (“Standing up for truth and goodness”) – In Memoriam

Posted by Barry Pittard on November 18, 2009

Video clip testimony of Sai Baba as a sexual predator

Posted by robertpriddy on July 25, 2011

Sathya Sai Baba Critic Serguei Badaev: An Incisive Voice of Conscience From Russia

Posted by Barry Pittard on November 2, 2009

David Bailey and Thomas Wiehe. Transcript Of Phone Link: Sathya Sai Abuses

Posted by Barry Pittard on October 25, 2009

Robert Priddy and Barry Pittard On Dr G. Venkataraman – Sathya Sai Baba Global Propagandist

Posted by Barry Pittard on October 18, 2009

Brian Steel Demythologizes Early Foreign-led Sathya Sai Baba Myths

Posted by Barry Pittard on July 23, 2009

Coming in the next few days:

To Psychic Researcher Professor Erlandur Haraldsson, Sai Baba Sexual Abuses Are Only “Squibbles” Part 2

——————————————–

From Robert Priddy’s website:  Sathya Sai Baba In Word and Action

Discussions on the Sai Baba issue and Erlendur Haraldsson, Professor of Psychology, University of Rekjavik, Iceland

Haraldsson investigates Sai Baba and his movement in the 1970s and later, publishing his results in a book which originally helped his wider reputation and recognition in parapsychology established facts and documented words.

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On The Sathya Sai Baba Cult Exposé – Barry Pittard, An Early Note

Posted by Barry Pittard on March 12, 2013

Barry Pittard. May 22, 2013Subscribe to Call for media and government investigation of Sathya Sai Baba

Here is a brief note which I wrote a few years back. To my more recent crop of readers, including media and scholarly researchers, it gives a glimpse at the origins of our exposé of Sathya Sai Baba and his international cult, an exposure which has intensively lasted, with much success, over two decades. I include below a select list of links, which are far more recondite with other links, too.

I was deeply devoted to Sai Baba – who is arguably the most powerful Indian guru in history – for 25 years. At his behest, and as an unpaid service, I taught all three years of the Humanities degree course at the Sathya Sai College at Whitefield, via Bangalore, South India for most of 1977-1978, and some drama work there before this with the American actor Ron Klein. I spent a number of very happy years in India, a wonderful culture which can thrive in the future if only the endemic, corrupt leaderships stops, and provided she does not succumb to the hollow materialistic dazzle of Westernization.

In October 1999, I read the accounts of Terry Gallagher, first head of Australian Sathya Sai Organization and others. These spoke of Sai Baba having sex with boys and young men, and of many other disturbing anomalies. By email and phone, I directly investigated allegations round the world, and found primary corroboration from families, friends and each molestation survivor. These reports come from many parts of the world, and from primary victims who, in a many cases, did not know each other. Many accounts were harrowing, sickening and heart-rending. Here were people in excellent standing in their professions, trades and wider communities. They were typical of many decent, law-abiding and caring seekers, from various cultures who have sought spiritual guidance from Sai Baba or other teachers. There was, of course, a major social trend of Westerners seeking out Eastern teachers, escalating from the sixties onwards.

Towards the end of 1999, I joined an international network of former Sathya Sai Baba followers, which included a broad cross-section of educational and cultural backgrounds. Among this number were some outstanding mental health professionals familiar with the various cases. Our core collective campaigned strongly. Some, mainly in the USA, had attempted a little before us, to get the allegations out into the open. This sad state of affairs is true the world over. Most victims fear going public. Some said that they would coöperate if there were court or governmental or institutional investigations. Glen Meloy, of southern California, USA, a well-loved follower of Sai Baba for 26 years who died in 2005, and I worked closely on many initiatives, as have, after Glen’s death, Robert Priddy. 

Robert Priddy, with his and my dear friend, the late V.K.Narasimhan, one of India's most courageous and outstanding newspaper editors. Narasimhan privately expressed deep troubles about Sathya Sai Baba's conduct and that of some of his core leaders

Robert Priddy, with his and my dear friend, the late V.K.Narasimhan, one of India’s most courageous and outstanding newspaper editors. Narasimhan, one of the few game enough to stand up to Sathya Sai Baba, privately expressed to the few persons he could trust his deep troubles about Sai Baba’s conduct and that of some of his core leaders

Priddy is the former head and co-founder of the Sathya Sai Organization, Norway, and a retired academic of the University of Oslo. 

It is unfortunate that many of these activities we have to conduct on a need-to-know basis. This is because of the extreme sensitivity of the issues. In India especially, we have done our utmost to make sure that grave harm does not befall survivors, families and friends who contact us, or of whom we come to know via other means. 

Many in the Sathya Sai Organization are decent and good people, and for many years, before some of us became aware of the leaders’ dereliction of duty of care, accountability and transparency, among them were our dearest and closest friends and colleagues. Losing them was not the least of the shocks. However, core leaders in the Sathya Sai Organization engage in extreme cover-up. They are appalling in their dereliction of duty of care, are unaccountable to their own members, the public, and refuse to be open with the most distinguished investigative media and scholars. Hence, for example, title of the BBC’s television documentary (2004) ‘The Secret Swami’. The international Sathya Sai Organization is very wealthy, influential and powerful, with an exchequer rated in billions, and has become ever more of an authoritarian cult over the years. Former devotee activists – including a number of victims of the sexual abuse and other abuses – wish to share their evidence with well-reputed bona fide investigators from media, government, civic and academic institutions, and so on.

Some Select Readings on Our Early Exposure Campaigns 

Glen Meloy (“Standing up for truth and goodness”) – In Memoriam

Posted by Barry Pittard on November 18, 2009

Barry Pittard Replies to Saionline.com writer, 1 July 2002

Sai Baba-A Degenerative Disease?

Posted by Barry Pittard on February 16, 2007

The BBC’s ‘The Secret Swami’ – A Revision

Posted by Barry Pittard on April 4, 2007

(Late) Ron and Peggy Laing: Deeply Alienated From Sathya Sai Organization

Posted by Barry Pittard on November 14, 2009

BBC Caught UNESCO Head Bowing To Indian Government

Posted by Barry Pittard on June 26, 2007

 Ramanathan Threatens Barry Pittard With Law.

Posted Barry Pittard, 14 April 2003.

V.P.B. Nair. B.Premanand. R.Priddy: Sai Baba Bedroom Killings

Posted by Barry Pittard on April 7, 2008

Barry Pittard:  Sathya Sai Baba Expose – An Update. 25 September, 2003

Barry Pittard’s Guide To His Articles On The BBC’s ‘The Secret Swami’ (Exposing Sai Baba)

Posted by Barry Pittard on June 6, 2010

U.S. State Department Named Sathya Sai Baba To BBC’s ‘The Secret Swami’

Posted by Barry Pittard on January 31, 2010

Sathya Sai Organization, Australia, Ex-Head Terry Gallagher’s Testimony Against Sathya Sai Baba

Posted by Barry Pittard on November 20, 2009

On Leaving the Sathya Sai Baba Cult (Parts 1, 2 and 3)

Posted by Barry Pittard on November 20, 2009

Sathya Sai Baba’s Chief Broadcaster Dr G. Venkataraman: Select Critical Articles by Barry Pittard

Posted by Barry Pittard on June 24, 2010

See also:  The Late Leo Boogaard: A Dutch Voice of Conscience On Sathya Sai Baba and Sathya Sai Baba Critic Serguei Badaev: An Incisive Voice of Conscience From Russia ‘BILD’ Story. “Guru Wants Sex” (Sathya Sai Baba) and Why Do Prominent Sathya Sai Baba Sect Critics Persist? and Timothy Conway Ph.D – On ‘The Hislop Letters’ and BBC Transcript ‘The Secret Swami’ (Sathya Sai Baba’s Frauds Exposed)

 

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Making the Sathya Sai Cult Accountable: Australian Victims Can Submit to Trailblazing Child Abuse Royal Commission

Posted by Barry Pittard on March 6, 2013

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This post builds on my post of last Monday:  Australia Leads With Long-term Tough Royal Commission On Institutional Child Sexual Abuse.  Posted by Barry Pittard on March 4, 2013.

The Australian child abuse Royal Commission is now in operation, and may be so for beyond the originally bruited  three years. Organizations like the Sathya Sai Organization of Australia will have much to cause a soul-search. And to writhe – somewhat as the ‘guilty creatures at a play’ in Shakespeare’s ‘Hamlet’.

Royal Commission into Institutional Responses to Child Sexual Abuse

The Commissioners: (left to right) Mr Bob Atkinson AO APM, Professor Helen Milroy, Justice Peter McClellan AM (Chair), Justice Jennifer Coate, Mr Robert Fitzgerald AM and Mr Andrew Murray.

What could not be accomplished by our two decades of relentless exposure of Sathya Sai Baba and his authoritarian, secretive international cult can now, trustfully, and in some measure, be accomplished by an exceptionally distinguished group of commissioners.

Little will please me better than to write a submission to the Royal Commission, and to aid Australian victims of Sathya Sai Baba and his cult in our bringing forth some of our primary witnesses, who will be able to represent their terrible experiences to the commission. It is an historic opportunity, with the potential to turn back some of the great but hidden floods of lifelong grief and suffering that sexual abuse of children brings. The commissioners have professional track records in treating victims  with compassion, sensitivity and confidentiality. Witnesses will have their voices heard in a way – in writing or in person – which, in many countries around the world, the Sathya Sai Organization has utterly and cruelly denied to them.

We who have internationally exposed Sathya Sai Baba and his cult have fought a long, terribly uphill battle. Despite marked successes in leading world fora, such as the UN and some of the world’s quality print, radio and television media, we have lacked the sort of opportunities that a Royal Commission affords. On Monday, I wrote:

Indictingly, all our societies have taken tragic years to grapple meaningfully with child sexual abuse. Trustfully,  the Australian Royal Commission into child abuse – expected to last at least three years – will prove not only a great turning point for Australia but (along with Ireland) inspire the rest of the world in combatting the evil of child sexual abuse. And of course, that other evil – which is for most people to shut up and say nothing about it. See:  Australian Royal Commission To Probe Institutional Handling Of Child Sexual Abuse. Posted by Barry Pittard on November 14, 2012.

The commissioners will see our good credentials in our wider communities, trades and professions. They will see our long and unrelenting track record in standing forth – no matter what the Sathya Sai cult’s dreadful slurs. Notoriously, cults suppress the truth, and viciously attack those who in the least question their guru or their activities. They cry ‘truth’, ‘love’, ‘peace’, and yet they suppress their own humanity, abandon commonsense and decency, and shatter lives. They assume the worst of former members whom once over the years they knew as persons of integrity, dedication and unselfish serviceableness. How can the deeply complicit leaders of the international Sathya Sai Organization reasonably say that theirs is a spiritual organization?

I know that, in all my many writings in this blog and elsewhere, and in communicating with former Sathya Sai Baba devotees and other critics, and in representations to a great many institutions worldwide, not a syllable have I uttered that is knowingly untrue. I invite my reader to click on ANY page and defy them to find other than temperate and reasonable commentary – in marked contrast to those in the Sathya Sai Organization who have pilloried many former Sathya Sai Baba followers. Paramount has been exhaustive, careful, often first-hand documentation of our evidence. Those who are intelligent and unbiassed cannot assail these actions and those of my trusted colleagues such as the late Glen Meloy, Robert Priddy, Brian Steel, Serguei Badaev, Alexander Nagel, and, most recently, after years of public silence, Eileen Weed (who, as Divya, lived for many years at Sai Baba’s Puttaparthi ashram, and was very close to Sai Baba sister, Venkamma).

Alas, we have lacked means or time or energy to sue the Sathya Sai Organization or individual followers.  For over two decades, we have withstood an almost unimaginable onslaught of Sai cult defamation and libel. Media investigators, institutions like UNESCO, scholars and the public have seen this. The Sai cult’s dastardliness has, ironically, much furthered our cause. Proper conduct from us, and unconscienable behavior from those such as the world deputy head of the Sathya Sai Organization, Dr G. Venkataraman and the especially vindictive and destructive person supported by many Sai devotees, the late Gerald Moreno. Some former Sai devotees have not wanted to sue, even had they the means. They have taken the view expressed, e.g., in Christianity, as “take not thy brother to court”. Others have said that they did not want to go ahead unless as witnesses in court cases in democratic jurisdictions. Many others have been too frightened to come out because of social stigmas and taboos. With a vice-like grip, their perceptions drove them to think that they would be militated against in business, places of employment or study, of institution, and within family and friendship settings. All too many have not accepted offers, as is, alas, the case universally, even of the most competent and experienced professional counseling, which we went to much effort to source and organize.

I invite all who wish to support our Australian effort to make the Australian Sathya Sai Organization accountable to contact me, with confidentiality assurred, via:  bpittard (at) westnet.com.au

Some Key Resources

Royal CommissionRoyalCommission.com.au

Updates on the Royal Commission into Child Sexual Abuse

Royal Commission into Institutional Responses to Child Sexual Abuse

16 January 2013On Friday 11 January 2013, Her Excellency Quentin Bryce, Governor-General of the Commonwealth of Australia appointed a six-member Royal Commission to investigate Institutional Responses to Child Sexual Abuse. The Honourable Justice Peter McClellan has been appointed Chair of the Commission. The following documents will provide further information on the Royal Commission and how it will work:

For more information visit Royal Commission into Institutional Responses to Child Sexual AbuseLink to external website website.

Content Updated: 24 January 2013

Call for media and government investigation of Sathya Sai Baba

An Early Community Response

Scouts refer sex abuse file to royal commission

By Peter McCutcheon

Updated Fri Jan 25, 2013 8:59am AEDT

Scouts refer sex abuse file to royal commission

By Peter McCutcheon

Updated Fri Jan 25, 2013 8:59am AEDT

Scouts Australia is referring a file on a 1980s scout leader to the royal commission into child sexual abuse.

Scout leader Paul Hayes, also known by his scout name Grizzly, was accused of interfering with eight boys over a 20-month period in Canberra and Sydney.

Victim Steven Cox, who was abused by Hayes, says he is disgusted with the Scouts for failing to report the matters to police.

He has accused the association of putting its reputation ahead of the welfare of the children in its care.

Mr Cox says he has found internal Scout documents that show at least eight other complaints were lodged against the paedophile.

“It’s just a cover-up. That’s all it was – it was a cover-up to protect the Scouts’ name and keep it all quiet so it never got out anywhere,” he said.

That’s all it was – it was a cover-up to protect the Scouts’ name and keep it all quiet so it never got out anywhere.

To me they’re just as guilty as him. They may not have done the abuse, but they knew all about him and did nothing.

Steven Cox

“To me they’re just as guilty as him. They may not have done the abuse, but they knew all about him and did nothing.”

Call for media and government investigation of Sathya Sai Baba

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Australia Leads With Long-term Tough Royal Commission On Institutional Child Sexual Abuse

Posted by Barry Pittard on March 4, 2013

Subscribe to Call for media and government investigation of Sathya Sai BabaBarry Pittard. May 22, 2013

For over two decades, via the international media and in many other ways, my colleagues and I have exposed Sathya Sai Baba and his monolithic, worldwide cult, the Sathya Sai Organization.  We know much about institutional and personal cover ups. Constantly, we have confronted these in our work involving many countries, and, not least, in one of the most venal countries in the world – India. A country which we, very mistakenly, had thought would become a great spiritual light to the world.

Indictingly, all our societies have taken tragic years to grapple meaningfully with child sexual abuse. Trustfully,  the Australian Royal Commission into child abuse – expected to last at least three years – will prove not only a great turning point for Australia but (along with Ireland) inspire the rest of the world in combatting the evil of child sexual abuse. And of course, that other evil – which is for most of us to shut up and say nothing about it. See:  Australian Royal Commission To Probe Institutional Handling Of Child Sexual Abuse. Posted by Barry Pittard on November 14, 2012.

On the downside, it is regrettable that some way has not yet been found, similarly, to address physical and emotional abuse and neglect, as distinct from sexual abuse.

The Australian newspaper reports that the head of the Royal Commission, Justice McClellan has said:

“We wish to emphasise that the commission has powers to compel the production of evidence and we will not hesitate to exercise those powers …..

“We will of course be mindful of the potential sensitivity which may require constraints on the publication of details it obtains by this means.

“The commission expects that all institutions that may have entered into confidential agreements will cooperate with the commission in relation to the disclosure of those matters.”

                                                                   The commissioners

                                                                 From top, left to right:

Peter McClellan

  • Senior NSW Supreme Court judge
  • Former chair of the Sydney Water Inquiry
  • Former assistant commissioner at ICAC

Jennifer Coate

  • New appointee to the Family Court of Australia
  • Victorian County Court judge and former president of Children’s Court

Bob Atkinson

  • Former Queensland police commissioner
  • Oversaw police reforms following Fitzgerald inquiry

Andrew Murray

  • Former WA senator
  • Advocate on issues surrounding institutionalised children
Helen Milroy

  • Psychiatrist with a focus on the wellbeing of children
  • Director for WA’s Centre for Aboriginal Medical and Dental Health
Robert Fitzgerald

  • Commissioner on the Productivity Commission since 2004
  • Convenes the Indigenous Disadvantage Working Group
  • Former Community and Disability Services commissioner in NSW

“Redress By Institutions”

In Ireland, the State – where there is not the same separation of Church and State powers – will bear half the cost of compensating institutional child molesters. In Australia, victim compensation will, expectedly, loom large. In this sense, the taxpayer is spared. But the perpetrator is not spared. The terms of reference direct the commissioners to find:

“what institutions and government should do… (to ensure) justice for victims through the provision of redress by institutions…”

I do trust that the Sathya Sai Organization, among many others, will, after icy shivers, give a great deal of thought to this notion: “redress by institutions…”

Sexual abuse of children is rife at all levels of society, and we all need to deal with it.

Leaving institutions or individuals to do the job – no matter how principled and dedicated some of them may be – is far from the best approach. The pressure to derail even the best processes is too great: The pressure to shut up for the ‘sake’ of family, school, company, etc. Or to compromise and, for example, settle out-of-court. To be frightened off. To be bought off.  

We need to find a way, first, to hear the massed voices that have for so long been silent – or, rather, silenced. We need a way which inspires in victims that their testimony will truly change things – in all the systems:  judicial, government, corporate, educational, religious, and so on.  It is wrong to abuse victims twice-over – first, when they were victims of sexual abuse, and second, under grilling by adversarial lawyers or other unjust forces and circumstances which demean them.

Victims of child sexual abuse – whether it is recent or longer ago – will need to feel that we all mean business. That we intend a vast, beneficent historic change.

Select Reading

Serial Pedophile Issues and Comparisons: Sir Jimmy Savile and Sathya Sai Baba.

Posted by Barry Pittard on October 30, 2012.

Pedophilia: Why Do Most Of Us Protect the Jimmy Saviles Everywhere?

Posted by Barry Pittard on November 1, 2012

Barry Pittard – On Institutional Cover Ups and Psychological Denial

Posted by Barry Pittard on September 5, 2011

Roman Catholics’ Deep Concern At Pope’s Apology. But He Is Way Ahead Of Indian ‘Pope’ Sathya Sai Baba

Posted by Barry Pittard on March 23, 2010

Call for media and government investigation of Sathya Sai Baba

Supreme Court judge to head abuse royal commission

By ABC chief political correspondent Simon Cullen

Updated Fri Jan 11, 2013 5:19pm AEDT

New South Wales Supreme Court judge Peter McClellan has been appointed to lead the royal commission into child sexual abuse.

He will be supported by five other commissioners, including former Queensland police commissioner Bob Atkinson and former senator Andrew Murray, who have been asked to provide an interim report on progress by mid next year.

Prime Minister Julia Gillard says the Government will make sure that survivors of abuse receive the support they need and that lessons are learnt from the past.

“I believe our nation needs to have this royal commission,” Ms Gillard told reporters in Sydney.

“Child sexual abuse is a hideous, shocking and vile crime.

“It is clear from what is already in the public domain that too many children were the subject of child sexual abuse in institutions.”

The Government says the inquiry will have “as long as it needs” to finish its investigation, although each of the commissioners will be appointed for an initial period of three years.

Its main focus will be to investigate systemic failures within church and state-run institutions in preventing and dealing with child abuse.

“Today is the day that we start to create a future where people who perpetrate child sexual abuse cannot hide in institutions, where we work together to find a better way of keeping our children safe,” Ms Gillard said.

“The royal commission is into child sexual abuse and related matters in institutional contexts.

“It will not deal with child sexual abuse in the family. It also will not deal with abuse of children which is not associated with child sexual abuse.”

Ms Gillard says the selection of commissioners and the terms of reference were finalised after extensive discussions with state leaders, law enforcement agencies, support groups and community leaders.

The commissioners will hold a telephone hook-up on Monday, with their first face-to-face meeting scheduled for Wednesday.

Shadow attorney-general George Brandis says the Coalition has examined the terms of reference and believe they are “sufficiently comprehensive” to carry out a proper investigation.

“It is very important that the royal commission not be constrained in pursuing its inquiries in relation to all institutions, both public and private, where there is reason to believe child sexual abuse may have taken place,” Senator Brandis said in a statement.

“For instance, there is a great deal of evidence of widespread sexual abuse of children within Indigenous communities, which the royal commission will have the opportunity to examine.”

Terms of reference

The terms of reference specifically ask the commissioners to consider what action governments and institutions should take to provide “redress” to victims of past and future sexual abuse.

Families Minister Jenny Macklin acknowledges the process will put extra pressure on victims support groups and has pledged to provide extra government funding to help.

“For many people, it will open up very old wounds and for that reason the Government will make sure that we provide support for individuals,” Ms Macklin said.

“We’ll also provide financial resources to those organisations that individual survivors know and trust.”

Given the large number of people expected to come forward with examples of abuse, the Government is proposing changes to the laws governing royal commissions to speed up the process.

Attorney-General Nicola Roxon says the current legislation only allows evidence to be heard before all commissioners at the same time.

“Part of our purpose of appointing six commissioners is because we expect that there will be very large numbers of people who may want to present to the commission,” Ms Roxon said.

“They may want to do it less formally than would normally be expected, and we certainly don’t intend that all evidence would need to be given to every one of the six commissioners at the one time.”

Investigations unit

The Government has suggested the royal commission team establish a special investigations unit to work with victims of abuse and refer matters to police for prosecution where appropriate.

Ms Roxon says the Australian Federal Police has already offered to second officers to the inquiry, although she says it will be up to the commissioners to decide how best to organise the process.

There have been many inquiries and investigations into different aspects of child abuse over many years, many of which have taken place at a state level.

The commission has been asked to consider what information is already publicly available to avoid “unnecessary trauma to witnesses” and to speed up the process.

Some victims have already received compensation for the abuse they suffered and signed confidentiality agreements with the relevant institution.

Ms Roxon says the royal commission will not be limited in its work by those contracts.

“They do have far-reaching powers that enable them to override those (confidentiality) agreements or indeed immunities,” she said.

“But it would be pure speculation, which we are not prepared to make now, whether the commission will indeed take that approach or not.”

Ms Gillard says it will be up to the commission to decide what witnesses they call to give evidence, but she has urged people to cooperate with its investigation.

Topics: child-abuse, community-and-society, federal-government, government-and-politics, australia, wa, vic, tas, sa, qld, nt, nsw, act

First posted Fri Jan 11, 2013 1:57pm AEDT

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