Most people who read beyond the headlines will have seen or heard about last Monday’s edition of the Australian Broadcasting Corporation’s Four Corners investigative journalism show. It documented the coverup of sexual grooming of boys at the ‘exclusive’ St Kevin’s Catholic college in the wealthy Melbourne suburb of Toorak. On the show, it was alleged that a volunteer athletic coach who trained a student had groomed the boy for possible child abuse. When the court case happened, it became clear that the headmaster and the dean of sport took the side of the person charged with the grooming, to the extent of providing character references for him. While I have provided character references for people charged with driving under the influence, as to their otherwise good character, it was not the references which were at issue, it was the attempted coverup and the apparent lack of concern for the boy1. This has led the headmaster resigning and the dean of sport being stood down2. It has also unearthed other instances of sexual grooming at the school.
I don’t watch the drivel that Andrew Bolt excretes on Sky News but some of this is all over social media, mostly with a large dose of disgust. Bolt had, as a guest, ultraconservative commentator Gerard Henderson, and they tried to put across the story that grooming a child was not that bad because the athletics coach only “hit on a boy at that school; no sex occurred”. The coach was “later gaoled for grooming”. This is not true (surprise!); the athletics coach was sentenced to a community corrections order and put on the sex offenders’ register for 8 years. Gerard Henderson made it sound like the ABC was simply involved in a “terrible pile-on against St Kevin’s and [was] within the ABC’s tradition of attacking mainly Catholic institutions, sometimes Christian institutions”3. The dismissal of this crime as ‘not that bad’ simply illustrates the lengths these ‘kultur warriors’ will go to protect the privilege (and the tax-free status) of the Catholic and other churches, and the privilege of wealthy private schools. They would quite happily sweep such criminal activity under the carpet, and to hell with the well-being of any child being groomed or perhaps even molested.
Bolt wasn’t simply springing to the defence of St Kevin’s College through some attachment to the school. This is part of a pattern. It was he, among others, who jumped to the defence of George Pell when the latter was convicted of sexual abuse of children. Bolt stated that he had ‘serious misgivings’ that Pell should have been convicted. He stated that these misgivings were based on ‘overwhelming evidence’. Bolt then proceeds to list what he considers evidence: that one of the boys (now dead) denied it; the other boy waited years before he told anyone; it happened in a room usually very busy (not so); there were no other instances of abuse by Pell; he couldn’t believe Pell would do it4. This is what constitutes overwhelming evidence in Bolt’s febrile mind: ‘I don’t believe it therefore it cannot be true’. This is the ‘argument from personal incredulity’ or the ‘argument from ignorance’5. Although Bolt was not at Pell’s trial, he stated he read the transcripts. However, the complete transcripts are not available to people like Bolt. They are only available to the survivor, the police, the lawyers, the judge, the jury and Pell4. This defence of Pell and St Kevin’s is just Bolt attempting to protect the privilege of the Church, as well as failing, wilfully or otherwise, to understand the concept of evidence. To my sensibilities this disgusting defence of St Kevin’s by Bolt should lead to his sacking, but it won’t, because in Murdoch’s Sky News world, propriety is unimportant when defending conservatism.
The defence of the privilege status quo, particularly of the churches, and especially the Catholic Church seems odd coming from people like Bolt, given that he is not otherwise known for his religious zeal. That is only until you realise that his employer, Rupert Murdoch was made a papal Knight Commander of St Gregory by Pope John Paul II after donating money to a church education fund and to the building of Los Angeles Catholic cathedral6.
The boy, then 15, who was being groomed by his athletics coach for future sexual activity, is one Paris Street, and he has replied to Bolt and Henderson on Facebook. This is an extraordinary reply and it well worth reading7. This young man is a class act and shows up Bolt and Henderson for the vile, malevolent apologists they are.