So you’ve got to be a special kind of person to be a “Key advisor to the Catholic Archdiocese of Melbourne in relation to abuse claims and other matters. A pioneer in non-legal responses to claims”. You’d have to one would think be a ruthless individual and it would be beneficial if not burdened by an excess of empathy and compassion (I guess that would be “street sense”?). A person who can “get in there and nail difficult issues” relating to child rape victims before they make it to the police or the press and hopefully still sleep at night so you can deal with the workload such a job requires.
Ladies and Gentlemen – can I present to you Richard Leder – a senior (e.g. partner) Corrs Chambers Westgarth lawyer who proudly sports a bio boasting about his skills & involvement with the most paedophile scandal plagued organisation in Australia (and indeed the world); the Catholic church.
Richard’s name crops up time and time and time again in the media as he boasts that he handles the dirtiest of dirty work of the Catholic church as their legal representative, keeping many cases out of the courts via those “pioneering” non-legal responses one would presume. I’m wondering how a lawyer writing legal sounding “threats” of legal action and filling out contracts to sign is “non-legal” – but then again, I’m not a lawyer.
As an aside, since we’re talking “non-legal” stuff, when there’s a crime committed and the intent is to conceal it from police/courts a recent case was about it being less “non-legal” and more “illegal”. Just a thought, now back to the techniques that this pioneer of Catholic abuse settlements works on.
Take the money.. Keep your mouth shut and no one gets a legal “threat”
According to this article (Let’s loosen the lock on these secrets) the pioneering Catholic “non-legal” process sounds a bit like something the mafia would use: take the money, keep quiet.. or else. A “threat” was the description.
From the article:
The letter also enclosed a modest offer of compensation to Emma. Archbishop Pell’s words, and his offer, were genuine, but the church is a business and employs expensive experts to protect its interests. Like Royce.
In the same envelope, Emma received another letter, dated August 31, 1998. Its tone was different.
Signed by Richard Leder, a respected partner of law firm Corrs Chambers Westgarth, it contained what, in my opinion, was a threat: The compensation offer provided “a realistic alternative to litigation that will otherwise be strenuously defended”.
So Richard Leder’s letter to a victim of child abuse contains a polite warning to take the cash or else see what a ruthless multi-billion dollar organisation means by the term “strenuously defend”?
Gee, the heart on this man on behalf of his paymasters showing such understanding to a victim of one of the worst crimes humanity has on offer – surely a man of such compassion and empathy should be involved with a children’s hospital or something.
From child abuse to charity
Now the legal work for the Catholic church’s globally-mobile and prolific predators might keep any mere mortal lawyer busy enough – but no – not the “fine intellect” of Mr Leder. He’s also apparently got time for other child matters – namely sitting on the board of a Children’s hospital foundation.
No, I am not writing an article for the Onion. This is deadly serious. The Victorian Catholic Church’s number one lawyer for child abuse settlements – sits on the board of a children’s hospital charity. Why it’s almost as sensible as having him on the board of a press club when his company is constantly taking the press to court for reporting stuff.
Anyhow, here’s the Royal Children’s hospital foundation page listing the board members listing a Richard Leder, partner, Corrs Chambers Westgarth. And again here.
Seriously? You’d have a guy involved in what can be described as diverting away true justice for child victims of the most awful crimes from police via settlement negotiations on the board of a children’s hospital foundation?
Now it may be that he’s doing fine work on there – but it’s a little like having a “pioneer” in backyard dogfights sitting on the RSPCA board in his spare time.
This has to be a contender for worst decision – the only “Royal” child thing this man should be involved with is a Royal Commission into child abuse – that’s if there’s anything left in his filing cabinets that hasn’t been put through the shredder (if the police allegations of Catholic church hindering and destroying evidence are on the money).
What paediatric research is this group funding? How best to destroy kids for their entire lives (if they don’t commit suicide after the abuse they suffered) and then “threaten” them with protracted legal action when they finally have the courage to speak up? Or is it more about psychological studies to determine the minimum amount of cash combined with the “threats” of tough defence legal action (I presume including such tactics as dragging a victim’s reputation through the mud in court) that can be offered to rape victims to get a signature on the dotted line?
Quality legal advice surely includes “report the matter to police”?
You’d have to think that with his lawyer background and the fact that he is (allegedly) a human being (allegedly) with some remaining morals – he would have suggested that the church refer at least ONE case to the police while he’s drafting up papers to threaten rigorous defence of victims? According to a recent article there have been zero referrals to police despite 300 people compensated as “victims of sexual abuse” and “86 offenders” identified.
Somewhere in there you’d think there must have clearly been a matter for referral to police because a crime appears to have been committed. I mean I’m sure the Catholic church doesn’t part with money willy-nilly – they’re more on the “take” side as far as contributions (tax and otherwise) go. Most businesses would get legal advice to inform police of any crimes within their walls. Govt organisations would call ‘em in too. Shit, I’ve called the police a bunch of times about things going on in the street – and that’s without the crime I’m observing being so serious and without legal representation or months to think about it.
Perhaps the Catholic church needs a better lawyer if this guy has been at the helm of their legal decisions for at least a decade or more and still apparently zero reports to police.
Compensating for compensating
To be fair to Richard Leder – perhaps he’s just trying to compensate for his role in helping ensure that the Catholic church remains out of the papers and courts. Blood on his hands would be pretty thick these days via his “pioneering” work in (mis?)handling abuse cases. A decade of dealing with the worst the catholic church has to offer would take a terrible toll on any decent human being.. Or perhaps it was a suggestion from a confessional when unloading his sins – say ten hail marys and get involved with a charity to do with kids.
I guess if I was helping avoid a scum-bag organisation off admitting responsibility for their culture of paedophile protectionism/self interest – I’d be wanting some sort of charity work to try and justify in my head what I was doing for a living was somehow mitigated.
Richard Leder and team’s allegedly “sometimes aggressive” involvement in this dirty Catholic abuse pay-off scheme isn’t cleansed that easily in my opinion. Perhaps if tomorrow he turned all his files over to the police and took the stand as a whistle blower – maybe that might in some part make up for what he’s helped with over the years.
I think that if what people like Richard Leder & the Catholic church do to divert victims away from police/courts isn’t illegal (these self described “non-legal” out-of-court “hush-hush payment” contracts) – it bloody well should be if we’re at all serious about child abuse prevention/justice.
Perhaps the hospital was just confused when he said he was a specialist in dealing with the “difficult issues” of child abuse and thought he might have been someone doing some good – like a rape counsellor, psychiatrist or a doctor? Nope: sorry, this guy is the lawyer that helps enable the Church to get away from the “difficult issue” without police, courts or media getting involved.
To be fair – there are lots of other people involved in this with far greater evidence and proximity to the abuse who should be getting a spank before Mr Leder – the people who first dealt with the victim’s complaint, the people who were their bosses. The people who decided to shuffle on the predator. And there need to be lawyers defending the very worst in society – but perhaps I’m a little unsure on how boasting about such things right next to boasting about working with a children’s hospital charity is tactful or smart.. Street smart or otherwise.
Why is he on the board of a Children’s hospital foundation?
If you’d like to ask them about why such a man sits on a board of a children’s hospital foundation: http://www.rch1000.org.au/contact-us.asp might be one place to start. I’m a little confused as to why they can’t find someone with a less distasteful day-job.
This guy sitting on a children’s hospital foundation is nearly as bad as giving the Catholic church billions a year to run schools and childcare facilities with special exemptions to discrimination laws and apparently letting them operate (so far) as a law unto themselves.. We wouldn’t do that now would we?
Contacts that actually help in such cases (unlike Corrs Catholic Church legal advice and Richard Leder)
I think about the last place to go would be the Catholic church or their legal team. That we have a royal commission under-way is down to the fact that they do not deal with these matters with the victim in mind – still clinging to the rights of a predator over those of the victim.
- BeyondBlue suicide counselling/hotline – http://beyondblue.org.au – ph 1300224636
- Lifeline suicide counselling/hotline – http://www.lifeline.org.au – ph: 131114
- NSW Police – http://www.police.nsw.gov.au/ – ph: 131444 or local police contact here.
- Victorian Police – http://www.police.vic.gov.au – find local police contact here.
- SA Police – http://www.sapolice.sa.gov.au – ph: 131444 or find local police contact here.
- WA Police – http://www.police.wa.gov.au/ – ph: 131444
- NT Police – http://www.pfes.nt.gov.au/Police.aspx – ph: 131444
- Tasmania Police – http://www.police.tas.gov.au/ – ph: 131444
- ACT Police (federal police) – ph: 131444
- Qld Police – http://www.police.qld.gov.au/ – ph 131444
Or there’s the recently announced Royal Commission that has almost universal support with 95% of those polled in favour of finally, FINALLY getting some accountability from the Catholic church. Meanwhile however the Catholic church still receives billions of dollars from the tax system, is not a legal entity, pays no tax and its leadership continues to play the victim. So business as usual.