IT’S more than 20 years since a 13-year-old altar boy gave evidence that put a Newcastle Anglican priest in jail for child sex abuse.
Now the former altar boy, 39, wants answers about church knowledge of Father Eric William Griffith’s offending.
He wants to know why the church transferred Griffith from Newcastle to Bellingen, to sexually abuse him in the early 1990s only months after his father and brother died.
‘‘It seems like the church was just as bad as Eric, except they were hiding it,’’ said the former altar boy, who asked to be known as Jim.
‘‘I remember a bishop telling me at the time that the church wasn’t to blame, and they were waiting for someone like me to come forward.
‘‘It just makes you a bit sick because that sounds like they did know. If they knew about it and I hadn’t said something, how far would they have let it go?’’
In 2010 former Newcastle Anglican Bishop Brian Farran named the late Father Peter Rushton as an offender over four decades and part of a broader network of paedophiles in the Hunter.
Rushton was one of five clergy on an Anglican diocese board that from 1987 considered child sex allegations involving clergy. Father Eric Griffith was one of Rushton’s Wallsend parish colleagues.
In August last year Bishop Farran’s successor, Bishop Greg Thompson, confirmed the diocese had provided tens of thousands of documents to the Royal Commission into Institutional Responses to Child Sexual Abuse, which is investigating the diocese’s handling of child sex allegations over the past 60 years.
It was more than likely serial perpetrators were ‘‘aware of one another’’ and ‘‘people of significant influence’’ in the Church had failed to respond to child sexual abuse allegations, Bishop Thompson said.
John said he was not aware of Griffith’s association with Rushton, or allegations the church had failed to act in the past, until his wife recently found a 2014 Newcastle Herald article online that named Griffith.
He has asked the diocese what it knew about Griffith and whether there were other reported allegations. The diocese has previously confirmed a disturbing lack of files and documents, but has offered its full support to Jim.
‘‘I was abused in a church and it was Griffith who conducted my father and brother’s funerals,’’ Jim said.
‘‘There’s a memorial to them but I can’t go to see it because of what happened to me there.
‘‘Why did it take a child to speak before he was stopped? The church made me be the one to make him accountable. The church should have made him accountable.’’