There’s only one thing terminal cancer patient Paul Conaghan wants before he goes – and that is to see the man who abused him as a child held to account.
The former Rosmini College student is one of at least five boys police are aware of who say they were sexually abused by music teacher Brother William Jackson during private singing lessons in the late 1960s and early 1970s.
Jackson, who had offended in Tanzania before being sent to New Zealand and later became a priest, has apologised to the victims and the Church has offered compensation to some of them, but he has not been charged as he now lives in England and is considered too old to extradite.
Conaghan is now appealing for police to reconsider their stance – something that might be possible now that an officer is believed to be reviewing his file.
Police made a request to Interpol last year to speak to Jackson about Conaghan’s allegations but a decision was made not to by a high-ranking officer in London, despite him acknowledging “we know of his offending and we consider him to be an offender” and there will be “many victims out there”.
For Conaghan, who gave police a statement in December 2018, that’s not good enough and he wants police to reconsider their position after learning through a Herald article that he wasn’t the only victim.
“I want justice. I want compensation. I want him hauled back. I want to expose him.”
READ MORE: Inside the life of Brother William Jackson, the young cool teacher who boys quickly learnt to avoid
READ MORE: Paul’s story
Last month the Herald revealed police interviewed Jackson, who is in a retirement village for Rosminian priests in Surrey, after receiving a complaint from a man who only wants to be known as Tim in 2018. During the course of that investigation they discovered four other men who claimed they were also abused, one of whom had since died.
Jackson, now 78, told police during questioning he didn’t remember the abuse but sent letters of apology to Tim and some of the other victims for “the ugly events” anyway.
Former Detective Sergeant James Watson, who has since left the police, told the Herald a decision was made not to extradite him after that interview because of his age, the fact the charge was unlikely to have resulted in a prison sentence and Tim was the only one of the surviving victims who wanted to lay charges.
Conaghan, 59, came forward several months later after being told to get his affairs in order after being diagnosed with bowel, liver and prostate cancer. Watson reached out to police in England again.
This time they responded saying while they received total co-operation from the Church in Tim’s case “we may not receive the same level of co-operation if we redress similar issues again”.
They also added that while Jackson had acknowledged something could have happened and had apologised, there was no acknowledgment of offending against individual victims.
Instead the officer said he was satisfied with the safeguarding provisions that had been put in place by the Church to ensure Jackson “does not get any opportunity to create more victims”.
Conaghan, who is currently based overseas for business, feels differently and is anything but satisfied by the response.
“I went to the police and said ‘hey, I want this guy extradited, I want him charged’.”
Conaghan said the response from the police in the UK was frustrating, especially knowing there are other victims, both here and overseas, Jackson has apologised to.
“They didn’t even bother going down to interview Jackson.”
Police have refused to talk to the Herald about Conaghan’s case but told him while there were no guarantees of changing anything, an officer was reviewing the file.
For now he hopes police reopening his file will give him a chance to at least get his statement recorded on video so it could be used as evidence if he loses his battle with cancer before Jackson could be extradited.
He also wants the Church held to account, saying it sent Jackson to New Zealand despite knowing he had offended against boys in Tanzania.
“It’s never going to be closure but it’s going to show me that the system was working … and whether you are the Pope or a pauper, you (stuff up) and you get put on trial and you get what’s coming to you.”
Jackson could not be reached for comment.
Father Chris Fuse, the Provincial Superior in Britain and NZ, said Jackson initially denied the Rosmini claims but has since acknowledged “such abusive touching and written his apology to these men”.
“He has been interviewed by police but never charged, given his age and degree of confusion.”
Fuse said the Church in Britain intervened when it learned of the allegations and has”removed from Jackson any exercise of ministry”.
“The bishop has removed from Bill Jackson the right to be called ‘Father’, the right to his ministry and to be seen as a priest.”
Where to get help:
• If you’ve ever experienced sexual assault or abuse and need to talk to someone call the confidential crisis helpline Safe to Talk on: 0800 044 334 or text 4334. (available 24/7)
• Better Blokes which provides peer support throughout Auckland, including a specific Pacific group.
• Male Survivors Aotearoa offers a range of confidential support at centres across New Zealand – find your closest one here.
• Mosaic – Tiaki Tangata: 0800 94 22 94 (available 11am – 8pm)
• If you have been abused, remember it’s not your fault.
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