The Royal Commission’s Report of Case Study No. 10 – the Salvation Army’s handling of claims of child sexual abuse 1989 to 2014, was released today.
This is the second case study report released into The Salvation Army. The report for Case Study 5 was released in March 2015.
The public hearing was held in March 2014 and examined The Salvation Army’s Eastern Territory’s (covering New South Wales, Queensland and the ACT) response to claims of child sexual abuse at children’s homes it operated, the experience of people who made complaints and the disciplining of officers who were subject to allegations.
A number of the claimants gave evidence to the Royal Commission that they were concerned that The Salvation Army’s claims process was not clear. The claimants also said they were unaware of what matters were considered in the determination of ex-gratia payments.
The Commissioners found that in a number of claims examined in the case study The Salvation Army did not clearly explain the claims process including what steps it would take to discipline officers or members of The Salvation Army who were implicated by the claimants.
The Commissioners also found that in a number of the claims, The Salvation Army did not give the victims an opportunity to respond to the information it had obtained. This included not giving the victims the opportunity to respond to information it had obtained that contradicted or was adverse to the victim’s evidence. The Commissioners found The Salvation Army relied on this contrary or adverse information, to determine a low or reduced ex-gratia payment.
The case study also considered allegations of sexual abuse against Captain Colin Haggar.
In 1989 Captain Colin Haggar admitted to sexually abusing an eight-year-old girl at the Salvation Army Citadel in a central west New South Wales country town. As a result of a meeting of the Officers Review Board (ORB) both Captain Haggar and his wife, Captain Kerry Haggar, were dismissed as officers.
In 1993 the Haggars were permitted to return to their positions as captains of The Salvation Army. Colin Haggar then served in a number of managerial positions within The Salvation Army including at Samaritan House and Carinya Cottage. In 2012 he was promoted to lieutenant-colonel.
The Commissioners found Colin Haggar occupied a position of managerial responsibility for children even though he had admitted to sexually abusing a child. The Commissioners found that The Salvation Army should not have promoted Colin Haggar to the rank of lieutenant-colonel.
The Commissioners found that Commissioner James Condon was, from 3 September 2012, required to report to the New South Wales Ombudsman the allegation of sexual abuse of a girl in 1989 by Colin Haggar as soon as Colin Haggar became responsible for Samaritan House and Carinya Cottage.
Commissioner James Condon did not take steps to report the allegation to the Ombudsman until 10 December 2013 because he had received equivocal legal advice as to whether he was required to report.
The Commissioners also found that from 15 June 2013, The Salvation Army had an obligation under section 35 of the Child Protection (Working with Children) Act 2012 (NSW) to notify the New South Wales Children’s Guardian that in 1990 it had dismissed Colin Haggar.
Read the full report.