The Attorney-General's Chambers of Singapore denied the request of the Roman Catholic Archdiocese to lift the gag order of a member of a local catholic community, who had sexually abused two teenage boys and had been jailed for five years a month ago.
The incident came to light in 2009 when the offender was questioned by the local church authorities, as one of the boys had refused to approach the police when he confided in the sector leader of the catholic order in Singapore.
The victims, who were 14 and 15 at the time of the abuse, did not file official police compliant against the offender, a man in his 60's, therefore he was sent to the US to undergo a six-month therapy program.
The offender is not a priest but has taken a vow of celibacy, as per the Strait Times. After the completion of the therapy program, the man was transferred to another country where he was not allowed to associate with minors.
He often returned to Singapore to visit his family, but due to the Pandemic, was not allowed to travel overseas when he came back in March 2020.
The board of the Catholic school linked to the victims and the offender, initiated an internal inquiry in late 2020. A Religious order was released when the Archbishop was informed about the case and soon after a formal report had been lodged by May last year. After through investigations by the police the man was arrested in January 2022, CNA reported.
Religious Orders within the Roman Catholic Church are separately constituted and are governed by their own judicial proceedings and administration of law.
Taking into account the offender's cooperation with the investigations and decision to plead guilty, the court sentenced him 5 years of jail time, citing the man's abuse of trust and authority.
"Shocked and Dismayed", the Archbishop of Singapore Reverend William Goh said that this incident was a "wake-up call" and there was an urgent need to seriously take charge of their spiritual life.
"As Archbishop and leader of the Catholic Community in Singapore, I humbly apologize on behalf of the Church," Reverend Goh said in a letter posted on the Archdiocese's website, as per the Strait Times.
Recently the Religious order requested the AGC for 'a partial lift' on the gag order imposed by the court. This order prohibits the publication of the offender's name, his designation, as well as details of the school he was linked to.
The request was denied. "The AGC informed that they had carefully considered our request but were unable to accede to it," the Archdiocese said.
The Religious order is currently reviewing the protocols for the protection of the young via the Professional Standards Office. With the Archbishop regularly informed, all religious sponsoring authorities for Catholic schools have been ordered to immediately report any similar incidents involving minors or vulnerable persons.