Australian Lawmaker Names Catholic Priest as Accused Sex Abuser

Posted September 14th, 2011 at 5:30 am (UTC-5)
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An Australian lawmaker has angered the Catholic Church by naming a prominent clergyman as a suspect in a 40-year-old sexual assault.

Senator Nick Xenophon revealed in parliament Tuesday that Monsignor Ian Dempsey is the previously unnamed priest accused of repeatedly raping Archbishop John Hepworth in the 1960s. At the time, Dempsey was a seminary student and Hepworth was a teenager.

Hepworth revealed last week that he was violently raped and sexually abused by two priests and a seminary student, but did not identify the attackers. He says he first raised the issue with the Catholic Church in 2007. The two priests have since died.

Xenophon revealed Dempsey's name after the Church refused to remove him from his post as a parish priest in the southern city of Adelaide. The archdiocese of Adelaide said it was upset over Xenophon's decision to name Dempsey as the archbishop's alleged attacker.

Hepworth became an Anglican priest in the 1970s and now heads a breakaway Anglican group seeking reconciliation with the Vatican.