Priests who abused children in their own homes will be included in a Royal Commission into historical sexual abuse.

The move is being described as a change-in-scope by advocates but the Royal Commission says it is only a clarification of the exiting scope.

After the Government bowed to pressure and added abuse in faith-based institutions to the Royal Commission, victims and survivors were concerned the scope was too narrow, because it only looked at abuse in bricks-and-mortar institutions.

Published in Stuff

But advocate Liz Tonks said she got confirmation late on Monday that the scope had been widened meaning priests and the like who abused children in places like family homes, at functions, during weekends, or on holidays would also be looked at.

The confirmation from the Royal Commission was “very definitely a change” to the inquiry’s previous scope, she said.

“The Royal Commission has confirmed that all those abused by any person in a pastoral role in a faith-based institution will be included in its inquiry.

“Survivors have been anxiously waiting for reassurance that their inclusion is not dependent on where the abuse took place.

“[We are] happy the Commission has listened to our survivors.

“There is still a long way to go before survivors have justice and we will work with the commission to ensure the procedures and processes are in place for this to happen.”

The Commission plans to investigate the abuse and neglect of children, young people and vulnerable adults who were in the care of State and faith-based institutions in New Zealand between 1950 and 1999.

But it said it may also consider cases out of those years, including those in care now.

Tonks said the organisation she fronts, Network of Survivors of Abuse in Faith-based Institutions, would continue to advocate for the commission to include abuse between 1999 and now.

The widened scope meant cases such as those of former Catholic clergyman Michael Beaumont – who in February pleaded guilty to historically sexually abusing three girls including a nine-year-old in her home – would be included, Tonks said.

A Royal Commission spokeswoman said the move was merely clarifying the existing terms of the inquiry rather than changing them.

By Tom Hunt
Published in Stuff
5 March 2019