David O’Hearn Child Abuse – A Call For Witnesses
Sexual abuse of children in religious institutions is widespread. Unfortunately, there are more and more such reports as time goes on. The lack of accountability and the covert and unmonitored activities of religious institutions allow child sexual abuse here to continue.
Transparency, access to justice, and adequate legal protection from violence are crucial to protecting and restoring children’s rights and guaranteeing their safety. Religious institutions must be held accountable for the actions that occur under their auspices. It will prevent the concealment of crimes and ensure victims & survivors have access to justice.
The UN Committee Against Torture (UNCAT) has already addressed the alleged cover-up of child sexual abuse by the Holy See, leading to impunity for abusive priests.
What are the causes of child sexual abuse in religious institutions, and how does it keep happening?
The global community has repeatedly considered and studied the causes and conditions of child sexual abuse and the possible prevention. Susan Raine and Stephen A. Kent have studied the grooming of children for sexual abuse in religious environments.
Perpetrators use psychological techniques based on their authority and the authority of religion to cultivate false consent in the victim.
Sexual abuse is made possible by the gradual, slow sexualization of the relationship between the person with religious authority and the child. Non-sexual touching, the first step in establishing a basis, is the first to appear. Next, such touching takes on the character of sexual contact. At this point, the child is exposed to a significant psychological influence of religion and authority. By the time of the sexual abuse, the child may not be aware of the inappropriate and abusive nature of the actions.
The influence of an authority figure with religious power over the child creates conditions of implicit obedience, where the child considers the actions done to him to be God-pleasing.
Perpetrators can be religious and spiritual leaders, counsellors at religious camps, staff at religious schools, or others associated with religious communities. They morally groom the child and create conditions for the child to be abused.
Unfortunately, by this point, the adults in a child’s life tend to trust the authority of such persons rather than the abused child’s words.
The perpetrators use not only their power and authority. They also use God’s will, which for children, in this case, is an unquestionable and ultimate authority that evokes both great fear and a notion of infinite love.
While society should not go into a moral panic over the improper use of religious authority, it should realize that known and respected adults cause the majority of child abuse. It can be a family member, coach, teacher, pastor, or priest.
David O’Hearn’s Institutional Child Sexual Abuse
The same happened in the case of David O’Hearn’s child abuse.
Who Is David O’Hearn?
Father David Anthony O’Hearn was born on April 28, 1961. Before ordination, he was a deacon in Waratah Parish in 1985 and Singleton Parish in 1986.
David O’Hearn was ordained in late 1986. Then he became an assistant priest at Muswellbrook in 1987.
In the early 1990s, Father O’Hearn was listed in Catholic directories as a priest in charge, first in Windale Parish (St. Pius X) and then in Toronto Parish (St. Joseph).
Where and When Did David O’Hearn Abuse Children?
David O’Hearn’s crimes against children occurred in the Diocese of Maitland-Newcastle, north of Sydney. At the same time, O’Hearn served in various parishes in the 1980s and 1990s.
Police began investigating O’Hearn in 2008, and they brought the first charges against him in court in 2009.
David O’Hearn Faces Justice
A jury found O’Hearn guilty of the first tranche of child sexual abuse charges in May 2012. He was imprisoned, and the court issued a media suppression order because of a subsequent jury.
After that trial, O’Hearn appealed the verdict. There was a retrial with another jury. He was again found guilty.
Later, a new jury heard charges concerning the remaining victims.
David Anthony O’Hearn has been in prison since May 2012. A jury of seven men and five women found him guilty of 23 counts of indecent or sexual assault against four boys in the 1980s and early 1990s.
The Child Abuse Victims of David O’Hearn
David O’Hearn’s abuse victims ranged in age from 8 to 14 years old. The victims were from different parishes and did not know each other before they made their statements to the police.
O’Hearn had befriended his victims, who had family problems or difficulties at school. The families repeatedly trusted Father O’Hearn because of his status as a Catholic priest to counsel their boys and take them on trips and camps for up to 10 days.
During the trial, victims` family members described in detail the changes they noticed in the boys’ behaviour as they grew older. Some of the boys experienced difficulties in life after the abuse. They had problems with drugs and alcohol. Some of them became violent, and some of them attempted suicide.
Child sexual victims said O’Hearn had ruined their lives. Many lived in a constant state of anger and depression, and many had struggled with relationships and developed addictions.
David O’Hearn told his victims that no one would believe them if they spoke about his abuse.
You Have a Right to Justice Against Paedophiles
David O’Hearn, the paedophile, was punished for his crimes. However, not all victims found the strength to speak out about their sexual abuse. It continues to poison them, destroying lives, families, marriages, bodies and souls.
It is crucial in cases of sexual abuse to be able to seek help, no matter how much time has expired.
You have a right to justice.
Koffels Solicitors and Barristers are seeking witnesses to child sexual abuse perpetrated by Father David Anthony O’Hearn. The crimes occurred in the Diocese of Maitland-Newcastle north of Sydney in the 1980s and 1990s. At the same time, O’Hearn served in various parishes.
If you or someone you know would like to talk to one of our historical sexual abuse specialists, for free and in confidence, about your legal options, please feel free to either complete the form below with the best way and the best time to contact you, or you can call us on 02 9283 5599.