Anglican Church abuse compensation not motivated by suffering, inquiry told

22 November 2013 1:45 PM

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Anglican Church abuse compensation not motivated by suffering, inquiry told

A lawyer for the Anglican Church has told the Royal Commission into Institutional Responses to Child Sexual Abuse the decision to compensate a group of abuse victims was not motivated by their suffering.

He was the Diocese's legal representative when a group of former residents from the North Coast Children's Home in Lismore wanted compensation for allegedly being sexually and physically abused.

This latest phase of the Royal Commission is looking into the response from the Diocese to the allegations and how it handled the group claim.

During a tense exchange, Counsel Assisting the Commission, Simeon Beckett asked Mr Roland the motivation behind offering compensation.

"This was not making any offer of payment for the hurt and suffering that people had experienced, is that right?," he asked.

The Royal Commission has heard the Anglican Church still denied responsibility for abuse at the home, even after paying the compensation.

The Commission heard a draft of the apology referred to the home as a "community-based facility".

Mr Roland was asked if that was appropriate, given the victims wanted the Church to take responsibility.

He told the Commission he believes that the home was not run by the Church.

At one stage, Simeon Beckett asked Peter Roland why he was smiling during questioning.

"Do you remember Reverend Comben also saying at one stage in relation to the commencement of proceedings, using the words 'bring it on'?" Mr Beckett asked.

He was referring to Reverend Pat Comben, who was the Registrar of the Diocese of Grafton.

"It wasn't at all, and I'm sorry if my response created that impression," Mr Roland responded.

Pat Comben has the told the Royal Commission negotiations over compensation were derailed by former residents employing a lawyer.

Mr Comben said his approach was defensive, but that was only after the residents involved the media and a lawyer.

"We would have settled the matter with considerable compassion and speed, had the lawyers not got involved," he said.

He also admitted to lying to one of the claimants about finances, saying it was hard to find $500 when the church really had $2 million.

"I would not have been viewed well as an employee, had I just gone out there and said 'the diocese has $2 million'," he said.


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