In an incredible interview on the Neil Mitchell program, Deputy Commissioner Graham Ashton has said that the Catholic Church in Victoria has never come to the Victoria Police with knowledge of suicides or sexual offences, despite them being aware of committed offences.
“I can’t think of a single referral we’ve had from the Catholic Church in the last couple of years I’ve been around,” Deputy Commissioner Graham Ashton told Neil Mitchell.
Mr Ashton said that while it’s possible issues may had previously been referred to the police by the Catholic Church, he was unable to recall any instance in which this had occurred.
Deputy Commissioner Graham Ashton said he had personally had meeting with the Catholic Church to urge them to pass any awareness of criminal acts, but they had their own processes in place where they would internally decide upon criminality.
“Our point is we’re the ones to make the decision around whether things are criminal or not, that’s what investigations do,” he said.
“We need the opportunity to make those investigations. We can’t just wait for victims of their own volition to come to us.
“We’ve had victims turn up in different location that appear to have been the subject of the same offender who has moved locations.”
This morning, The Age revealed Victoria Police have confidential reports detailing the suicides of at least 40 people abused by Catholic clergy, and were urging a new inquiry into these and any other deaths suspected to be linked to church abuse.
Neil Mitchell said the Catholic Church were effectively frustrating police attempts to to investigate and prosecute paedophiles within their system.
“That they are not coming forward with cases that they know of, they’re dealing with them internally. They’re not helping the police with it, and it’s only when the victims come forward that these paedophiles face the prospect of justice,” Neil Mitchell said.
“This is an organisation that will get into the pulpit and tell you how to live your life.
”It has got the inherent immorality to protect paedophiles within its own system. Not in the 60s, not in the 70s, now. Today.”
Neil Mitchell said if Premier Ted Baillieu and Attorney-General Robert Clark did not react to the police report and the words of the Victoria Police Deputy Commissioner, then they did not deserve to govern.
Earlier this morning Neil Mitchell spoke with Premier Ted Baillieu, who said he had only been made aware of the police reports detailing suicides as a result of sexual abuse by Catholic Church in Victoria in this morning's paper.
"I have to say it's very disturbing," Premier Ted Baillieu said.
"The government and me, speaking personally, take this very seriously."
Mr Baillieu said while the Attorney-General Robert Clark was working on how to proceed with the report, he would not confirm whether the government would precede with a public inquiry into the matter.
LISTEN: Victoria Police Deputy Commissioner Graham Ashton speaks with Neil Mitchell: