Church funded abuser's extradition fight

A Catholic order went to great lengths to resist the extradition of two of its members to face child sex abuse charges in New Zealand, an inquiry has heard.

A Catholic order's leader dropped to his knees and begged a brother to face child sex abuse charges in New Zealand yet still paid to take the extradition battle as far as Australia's highest court.

Brother Timothy Graham believes his predecessor as provincial of the Hospitaller Order of St John of God should not have funded the three-year extradition fight.

The issue caused great controversy, Brother Graham told the child sex abuse royal commission on Wednesday.

"The provincial at the time virtually got on his knees and begged the individual to go to New Zealand to speak to the police but his independent legal advice was not to do that," he said.

"It would have been better if the individual had of done as the provincial asked and gone to New Zealand and spoke to the police."

Brother Graham said his now deceased predecessor should not have funded the extradition battle.

"In hindsight I think it would have been better for the provincial at the time not to have done that."

University of Sydney law professor Patrick Parkinson has criticised the lengths the St John of God order went to resist the extradition of two of its members to face charges in New Zealand, even seeking special leave to appeal to the High Court.

"It is unimaginable that an Australian bank, for example, would fight to resist the extradition of one of its managers to New Zealand on fraud charges," Professor Parkinson said in a statement to the commission.

"Hiding alleged offenders overseas or fighting extradition proceedings to countries with mature and fair legal systems is not consistent with responsible citizenship."

The St John of God brother and priest were eventually extradited to New Zealand to face charges they sexually abused boys at a Christchurch special school in the 1970s, after the High Court refused their special leave application in 2006.

The brother was jailed in 2008 for two years and nine months for offences against five boys, while the case against the priest did not proceed due to his and a complainant's ill health.

Source AAP

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