AN Anglican Diocese of Newcastle professional standards hearing has recommended former assistant bishop Richard Appleby be “deposed” from holy orders and have no further office or licence as a church worker.
Bishop Appleby was referred to the diocese for possible disciplinary action after his evidence to the Royal Commission into Institutional Responses to Child Sexual Abuse.
On Tuesday, Colin Elliott, the president of the Professional Standards Board of Newcastle Anglican Diocese, determined Bishop Appleby was “unfit permanently” to hold any office due to his conduct while Assistant Bishop of Newcastle from 1983 to 1992.
“This board concludes, just as the royal commission did, that this respondent took no steps in relation to Father [George] Parker after being advised in 1984 of the allegations he had sexually abused a child many years earlier,” Mr Elliott said.
“After this time, Father Parker remained licensed as a priest in the diocese until February, 1996.
“I am satisfied that, because of the conduct found, the respondent is unfit permanently to hold any office. I recommend therefore, that he be deposed from holy orders and that, other than as a parishioner, he have no office or licence as a church worker.”
Mr Elliott said Bishop Appleby had denied any knowledge of priest Stephen Hatley-Gray’s sexual assault of a child, despite attending the scene of the crime – as instructed by Bishop Alfred Holland – to seek Mr Gray’s resignation.
“Given his then classification as Assistant Bishop, one might have expected that he would have been even slightly inquisitive as to the nature of the so-called ‘serious disturbance’,” Mr Elliott said.
“A reasonable and objective bystander … would be entitled to conclude that the respondent was, at best, willfully blind to the reasons why that resignation was sought … or, at worst, untruthful.
“This is the type of conduct that did nothing to prevent the cover-up culture that, sadly, prevailed in this diocese at that time.”
A spokesperson from Newcastle Anglican Church said Bishop Appleby has 28 days to make an application for a review of any decision of the Professional Standards Board.
“The diocese maintains its commitment to work with survivors of child sexual abuse,” the spokesperson said.
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