Always forget your pen

Aha, clever. There’s a priest high up in the Catholic church in Australia, Brian Lucas, who is also a barrister (non-practicing), who thought of a good dodge for occasions when he had to talk to priests accused of child-rape: don’t take notes.

…the senior figure within the Catholic Church on Wednesday told an  inquiry  into sexual abuse he never made notes when dealing with about 35 priests accused  of sex crimes.

The inquiry also heard that Father Brian wrote advice for clergy that it was  a good idea not to take notes during interviews with accused priests to avoid  the material being exposed during any ”subsequent legal process”.

Attaboy, Father Brian. Always protect your institution at the expense of its victims. Always stack the deck in favor of yourself and your colleagues, and be completely indifferent to the people you and your colleagues harm. Then lecture the rest of us and how to be as good as you and your colleagues.

He testified that he never reported priests accused of sexually abusing  children to police. He had no recollection at all of a meeting in 1993 when the  paedophile priest Denis McAlinden ”opened up and confessed … freely” to him,  as stated by McAlinden in a letter tendered as evidence.

For about six years from 1990 it was Father Brian’s  job to confront priests  accused of sexual abuse around NSW and the ACT and persuade them to leave the  ministry, he told the inquiry.

In that time he dealt with about 35 priests, ”seducing” more than 10 of  them with ”strong armed” tactics into agreeing to resign the priesthood. He  said the best way of keeping children safe from priestly abuse was to take the  offending priest out of the ministry, and that was his priority.

He said ”it staggers me and shocks me” that McAlinden practised as a priest  and worked at a school of 7000 children from kindergarten upwards in the  Philippines after his priestly faculties were removed in Australia in 1993.

”Were you satisfied after your dealings with McAlinden that appropriate  child protection steps had been taken?” asked the counsel assisting the  inquiry, Julia Lonergan, SC. ”It was probably the best that was on offer at the  time,” Father Brian replied.

“On offer”? By whom? What a ridiculous, evasive, don’t look at me reply. He could have “offered” better himself! That was the point of the question, I think.

“Is the real position as to why you didn’t want to take any note that you didn’t want it to have to be exposed in any subsequent legal process?” Ms  Lonergan asked.

”I think that would be a reasonable comment,” he replied.

She asked whether he wrote his views for other clergy to the effect that it was a good idea not to take notes “so that a subsequent legal process that would  compel production of them cannot be successful”.

“In some instances that would be accurate,” Father Brian responded.

The Mafia with rosaries.

H/t Ian.


  1. Sili says

    Tough one. If he was hired as a lawyer, it would be his duty to advise his clients to the best of his abilities – as long as it broke no laws. Not taking notes does not do that.

    But he’s hella unethical fucker, that’s for sure.

  2. says

    I take your points, but that don’t-take-notes strategy is, as I understand it, just main-stream lawyering, and not something diabolical dreamed up by lackeys of the loathsome Vatican. And it’s the same thing as libraries not keeping records of what books you’ve borrowed so that they can’t be forced to tell government officials, which was a hot topic a few years ago.

  3. says

    Except he’s a priest. If I understand the story correctly he was acting in his capacity as a priest when he “dealt with” the rapey priests. The story calls him a non-practicing barrister. It’s not at all clear that he was the lawyer for the priests (especially since there was no law enforcement involved so why would they need a lawyer?). He had legal expertise, but he wasn’t acting as the priests’ defense lawyer, as far as I can tell.

  4. Pierce R. Butler says

    Had he dealt with his colleagues wearing his legal hat (which however probably would have required him to pass a state bar exam, and possibly other conditions), then – if Australian law follows the same English common-law traditions as the US – wouldn’t their discussions, notes and call, have been sealed under attorney-client privilege?

    … he dealt with about 35 priests, ”seducing” more than 10 of them with ”strong armed” tactics ,,,

    Considering the context, I feel both surprise and relief that the word “priest” was used in this sentence.

  5. Sili says

    Now I wish that he was acting as a lawyer – then he could get booked for practising law without a licence.

  6. Omar Puhleez says

    I am no lawyer, but as I get older I get more inclined to think that it is high time my native land of Australia considered ditching the adversarial court system inherited from Britain, and replacing it with an (shock, horror) inquisitorial one along European lines. I understand that under the latter, the court’s primary responsibility is to establish the truth, and to get justice done.

    No doubt, however, lawyers in the latter system do their utmost to complicate and extend proceedings as far as possible, as their fees are proportional to the time wasted in the usual legal argument and bullshit.

    Lucas is lucky his Lord and Saviour did not descend into the inquiry as he was giving his evidence. I am sure He (L&S) would have fetched him (the said Lucas) a swift kick in the arse.

  7. Donnie says

    No. In business, HR, you TAKE notes and tell managers to take notes. Else, how do you make a case for firing the employee? Managers should document instances of wrong doing by his/her employees. Then, you sit down with the employee and tell him/her what is wrong and that you have documented the wrong. If necessary, you develop a remidal plan to correct the behaviour.

    What you, as a manger, do not do is keep a personal file on the employees but a L/ER (labor and empoyee relations file) documenting the instances of ‘fuck uptness’. Without notes, you cannot build a case over time to show a judge, or an EEO compliance officer or the MSBP Board (federal government) that there is cause to fre the employee.

    The priest admitted not taking notes, and if true advised others not to take notes. Thus, all accusations against the priest(s) are true because the priest(s) have no notes to disprove the allegations. Next time, the priest(s) should learn to take notes in order to protect themselves against false accusations.

    Firing employees, even in the Federal government, is possible, as long as you follow the prescribed rules and regulations and keep notes and work with the employee in order to correct the behaviour. The problem is that small mistakes add up, and bad conduct add up, and managers say ‘enough is enough’ and fire the employee without documenting the instances, providing counseling and providing an opportunity to improve.

    All in all, document, take notes and keep the notes professional. Do not editorialize.

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