Samoa's Pedophile Anger
By Claire Harvey, Michael Davis and Natalie O'Brien
June 23, 2004 AUSTRALIAN Catholic authorities learnt last October that convicted Australian pedophile priest Frank Klep was associating with children in Samoa, but failed to inform the Samoan Catholic Church until yesterday.
The furious Catholic Archbishop of Samoa, Alapati Mataeliga, is now preparing to send Klep home to Australia "on the first plane", where he faces arrest.
Victorian police last night could not explain why it had not sought the extradition of Klep under outstanding warrants, despite a Commonwealth agreement that allows extradition for crimes punishable by more than two years jail. Commander Terry Purton of Victoria Police Crime Department said there was an "active investigation" against Klep. "If he returns to this state he will be arrested."
The Australian Federal Police last night also said it had informed Samoan authorities of Klep's convictions as far back as 1998, on advice from Victoria.
However, chief inspector of Samoa's Criminal Investigations Bureau, Willie Lafaili, said yesterday he had never been asked to investigate Klep by Australian police. Archbishop Mataeliga has summoned the Salesian Order to his Apia office this morning to explain its "breach of trust", "and ordered it to prevent Klep from delivering Mass or mixing with children".
"We are not prepared to be involved in sheltering or hiding Father Klep in any way," the Archbishop's spokesman, Puletini Tuala, said yesterday.
"As soon as the police inform us that he is wanted for arrest, we will say yes, take him, he is out of here on the first plane."
Klep was convicted in 1994 of sex offences during the 1970s against a student at the Salesian College in Rupertswood, north of Melbourne, where he was principal.
Klep's religious order, the Salesians of Don Bosco, sent the priest to its Samoan mission in 1998 after he served nine months' community service for the offences, instructing him to refrain from contact with children.
Klep was also forbidden to deliver Mass to congregations including children.
Victorian police then issued a warrant for Klep's arrest on five charges of indecently assaulting students at the college during the 1970s.
The Salesians' Australian head, Father Ian Murdoch, has firmly denied the order moved priests to shield them from sex allegations, although another Australian priest working for the order in Samoa, Jack Ayers, was also reportedly accused of rape at the Rupertswood school in the 1960s.
In an October 2003 letter to Klep, obtained by The Australian, Father Murdoch warned he had learnt Klep was disobeying the order to stay away from children.
Father Murdoch wrote that an Australian tourist had reported seeing Klep delivering Mass at Apia's main Catholic cathedral.
Father Murdoch reminded Klep he had been sent to Samoa on the strict instruction that he did not associate with children, or deliver Mass to any congregation involving children.
"The prime purpose of this letter, then, is to restate the limitation on the practice of your priestly ministry," Father Murdoch's letter said. "You are not permitted to have unsupervised contact with children under the age of 18, nor are you permitted to meet with them for any purpose whatsoever in the private sleeping quarters of the Salesian residence. You are not to preside over any celebrations for youth groups, nor act as a confessor. You may not celebrate the eucharist or administer the sacrament in any place where contact and interaction with minors is involved."
The Archbishop only learnt of Father Murdoch's October 2003 letter yesterday, when the Salesians' Samoan head, Father John Murphy, delivered it to his office. It was clear Klep had ignored the letter, the Archbishop's spokesman Puletini Tuala said.
Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests