Justice hasn't been served: victim

An altar boy abused by Fr Magnus Murray in Dunedin says the priest has never answered for his most serious crimes.

The boy, now a man who cannot be named for legal reasons, was abused by Fr Murray from 1968-70, when he was aged 11 and 12.

Fr Murray's offending against the man began at St Mary's church and continued at the presbytery, at a squash club, on "country runs'' to other parishes or during overnight trips to a crib in Warrington.

A copy of his police statement, released to ODT Insight under the Official Information Act, details how he was taken alone by Fr Murray on some of the Warrington trips.

Father Magnus Murray. Photo: supplied
Father Magnus Murray. Photo: supplied
But, on other occasions, he was accompanied by other boys, who were also abused in the same bed.

"I knew what he was doing to me was wrong, but because of who he was and his standing in the community I felt that I did not have anyone to talk to about it,'' the man later told police.

The offending against him ended when he left for boarding school, aged 13, in 1970.

But even now, the man said justice had not been served.

When Fr Murray's offending came to light in 2002, the victims agreed to drop sodomy changes in return for a guilty plea, the man said.

Instead, Fr Murray pleaded guilty to 10 charges of indecent assault, doing indecent acts and inducing indecent acts when he appeared in the Dunedin District Court.

The charges carried maximum sentences of 10 years' imprisonment, less than the 14-year penalty for sodomy.

And, because of the guilty plea, the victim never got to have his own day in court.

The positive side was Fr Murray "got dealt with''.

"The negative is . . . he didn't get dealt to for his serious crimes.''

In the years before the trial the victim had worked hard to put the offending behind him, climbing the ladder to a position of responsibility in an Auckland firm.

But then, one day in 2002, the phone rang.

It was Detective Mark Lodge of the Dunedin Police child abuse unit.

"He said 'I'm ringing in regards to Magnus Murray', and with that I said 'yes, yes, yes, anything anyone tells you about Magnus Murray is true'.

"That just blew my life away. I left the job and I was basically unemployed at home and going downhill fast.''

The downward spiral lead to alcoholism, a prolonged stint in Ashburn Clinic and, eventually, a diagnosis of post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), leaving him "a total broken arse''.

"It cost me my house in Auckland, going to Ashburn Clinic, and basically everything I own.''

The battle continued even after the court case, as he wrestled with the Catholic Church over compensation, before eventually settling on a $25,000 payout.

But that did not cover legal fees, which were substantial, and so a further struggled ensued, which was only resolved in 2010, he said.

Even now, he believed the church "got off absolutely bloody lightly'' for Fr Murray's crimes, as many more victims were unwilling to come forward.

"The actual case would be four times the size of what went to court. That's how bad he was.''

Asked why more victims had not spoken up, he said: "It comes down to they don't know what s*** is going to be involved, and they're scared as hell.''

He was scathing of the Church's handling of the entire affair, including its refusal to defrock Fr Murray, now aged in his 90s, who remained a priest in retirement in an Auckland aged care facility.

"It's totally disgusting . . . it was throwing a total blanket over everything that was going on.''

The Government was yet to rule on the scope of a pending Royal Commission into historic abuse in New Zealand, but he argued it should be expanded to include churches and other religious settings.

Doing so would only encourage more victims to come forward and speak up, he believed.

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