Allegations of Abuse in Institutions

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Berhampore Childrens Home

The Presbyterian Church of Aotearoa New Zealand
April 29 2005

The Church's response to the Berhampore home case
Press Release by Josephine Reader, Church Spokesperson

“Our first priority is safety of those in our care. We take extremely seriously complaints of assault, abuse or inaction.

“These complaints relate to alleged incidents at a home that wasn’t under the management or control of the Presbyterian Church. However, an allegation that during 1991 the Moderator of the Church’s General Assembly took no action when he was informed of conversations during which people spoke about being abused is our responsibility.

“We’ve completed an investigation into the allegation of inaction by the Church and our records are inconclusive. The investigation was more difficult because the Moderator has since passed away, If, however, that information was passed to the Moderator, we’ve been unable to establish whether that report was passed to Presbyterian Support for their investigation.

“Since then, the Church has significantly strengthened its processes to manage complaints of sexual misconduct. If a similar case were to arise today, we have a nationwide network of contact people to whom complaints could be made and we would support the person to take their complaint to the Police. In this case, the matter would have been sent to Presbyterian Support for formal investigation, as the home was under their management at the time of the alleged incidents.

“We have a responsibility to keep people safe, and our processes in this area are increasingly robust, both on the prevention side and in dealing with complaints when they arise.”



·           Presbyterian Support and the Presbyterian Church of Aotearoa New Zealand are separate legal entities. The organisations have a shared ethos based on historic links, but have been managed and operated separately since 1909.

·           The Berhampore Home was under the management and governance of the Presbyterian Support Services Association (now know as Presbyterian Support) at the time of the alleged incidents.

·           In 2001 when the church became formally aware of the alleged abuse, a church support person attended meetings with complainant about the matter, provided assistance to lay a complaint with the Police and gave spiritual guidance and general support.