An inquiry has been told that a top Salvation Army official’s evidence is ridiculous after he could not recall if victim details were handed to police.
The evidence of a senior Salvation Army official at a royal commission has been branded ridiculous, after he said he could not recall if police were given any information about a child sex abuse victim when he visited a police station with the girl’s confessed abuser.
Salvation Army Commissioner James Condon told the royal commission into institutional responses to child sexual abuse he also faced a dilemma over how to ultimately sack Salvo Colin Haggar, who had already been briefly stood down for admitting to child sexual abuse.
The commission has heard Mr Haggar confessed to indecently assaulting an eight-year-old girl in 1989, and was dismissed from the charity.
But he was re-admitted in 1993 and subsequently promoted.
Mr Condon visited Parramatta police station with Mr Haggar in 1990 so he could confess, the commission heard.
But when asked if he thought to provide the police with the information to identify the victim or her family, Mr Condon replied “no”.
Mr Condon said as far as he could recall no information was given to the police about the specifics of Mr Haggar’s confession at the time.
But he denied the pair went to police with a hypothetical scenario.
“Your evidence is ridiculous, isn’t it,” NSW State Lawyer John Agius QC asked Mr Condon.
“No it is not,” Mr Condon said.
“It beggars belief, doesn’t it … that the police would not have asked for details of the complaint,” Mr Agius said.
“No, it doesn’t, as far as I’m concerned,” Mr Condon replied.
Fresh abuse allegations were made against Mr Haggar in 2013, and he was eventually demoted to the rank of Major and involuntarily retired in October that year.
When it was decided in 2013 Mr Haggar’s position was in breach of the Salvation Army’s internal Sexual Offender Management minute, there was debate among officials over how to sack him.
“My – I don’t know what to call it – yes, my dilemma in relation to that was that he’d already been dismissed … for the offence,” Mr Condon said.
“That was the dilemma I was trying to work through.”
Mr Condon also said he did not refer claims against Mr Haggar to the ombudsman because the charity was conducting a review of historical cases.
“I was advised we didn’t need to,” Mr Condon said.
“When we decided to review all historical matters and to look at them, we were looking at all and asking the question of whether they need to be reported.
“We were getting mixed messages.”
Captain Michelle White last week told the commission concerns about Mr Haggar had been raised with Mr Condon in early 2013.
Ms White said delays by Mr Condon in fulfilling mandatory reporting requirements prompted her to report to the NSW Ombudsman that there was an active Salvation Army officer with a known history of child related sexual abuse.
Mr Condon previously said a decision had been made to “have a fresh look at all historical cases”, including those involving Haggar, in preparation for the royal commission.
“We were reporting to the ombudsman, reporting to the police … we were in the process … we were absolutely committed to doing the right thing,” he said.
The hearings will continue before Justice Peter McClellan on Monday.