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10 members of altar servers’ society resign due to parish handling of allegations of inappropriate behaviour

Man accused of improper behaviour undergoing professional counselling

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Singapore—Around 10 members of the altar servers’ society in a local parish have quit over how allegations of inappropriate behaviour were managed, reports  The Straits Times (ST).

The behaviour of a former altar server with a number of younger altar servers (ages 11 to 16) was investigated by the Catholic Church after allegations were made, but it came up with inconclusive findings.

The former altar server resigned in 2020. 

A representative of the Roman Catholic Archdiocese of Singapore told ST that he is currently undergoing professional counselling at the parish.

Ten members of the altar servers’ society resigned in the last two weeks over the manner in which the allegations were handled and the investigation was conducted.

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The group that resigned includes its chairman, president and secretary, and some junior members. They all tendered their resignations to the parish priest. 

According to ST, those who resigned comprise around a third of the society’s membership.

Among the concerns of the members who resigned is that no police report has been made about the incidents, which reportedly took place between 2013 and 2019.

 Another is a perception of a lack of action from the parish priest.

The Professional Standards Office (PSO) of the archdiocese and the parish priest learned of the incidents after they were alerted by the core team of the society, when a video of the former server with a young server in bed at a hotel circulated on social media in 2019.

The PSO was established in 2011 as a channel for tackling sexual abuse against children and young people, but it only takes in complaints where the clergy is involved.

“All other sexual complaints involving lay personnel are handled at the parish or organisation level.

“However, the PSO advises and maintains oversight of the investigations to ensure that proper protocols and processes are adhered to. Hence, in this instance, it was proper that the investigations were undertaken at the parish level,” the representative of the archdiocese is quoted in ST as saying. 

He added that the findings were declared to be inconclusive by a committee, and not just by the parish priest who took charge of the investigation with the assistant parish priest and an individual with legal training.

The man accused of inappropriate behaviour, the representative said, was told to take a leave of absence when the investigation was held — and to refrain from any contact with the altar servers’ society.

The former altar server then resigned from the society, but still goes to church at the parish.

The representative of the archdiocese also said the parents of those involved in the alleged inappropriate behaviour “were repeatedly invited to make a police report”.

“The archdiocese takes all complaints of such nature most seriously. To ensure transparency and to avoid any allegations of a cover-up, all complainants or their parents (if they are minors) are encouraged to make a police report.

“Once they choose to do so, all church investigations will cease and be held in abeyance pending the results of the police investigations.”

ST added that the former altar server has denied the allegations against him.

/TISG

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