Detective Denis Ryan began work in Mildura in 1962
by Mary W Maxwell
I quote the words of Senior Officer McFarland, in Denis Ryan’s 2013 book “Unholy Trinity” (2013) page 149:
“I’m going to tell you something now, Detective Ryan, and you’re not going to like it. I’m a Superintendent and you’re a nobody. Do as you’re fucking told.”
Ah, now we’re beginning to get somewhere with this Royal Commission into Institutional Responses to Child Sexual Abuse. I think Victorian policeman Ryan has cracked the code.
Previous Parts in this series were: 1. Jehovah’s Witnesses 2. The Catholic Hierarchy 3. Power and Dr Day’s Predictions 4. Geelong Suicides 5. Cardinal Pell and Mind Control, and 6. Allen Dulles on Brainwashing.
Finding the Right Focus: the Police
Having caught up with 83-year-old Denis Ryan (watching the live-streamed hearings) I think I can chuck most of my previous questions as to why the Church covered up. The more crucial question for the victims – and for society – is: Why did law enforcement not enforce the law?
Oh well, maybe cops are good at catching drink-drivers, or grocery store thieves, but if it comes to arresting ‘protected persons’ they ain’t ever gonna do the job. Ryan tried for forty years to have bad priests removed from proximity to children. He couldn’t even get that much done!
The first person to tell him that Monsignor Day was raping 11- year-olds (gender no bar — he did girls as well as altar boys) was John Howden, headmaster of St Joseph’s College in Mildura. Recall how the administration of Geelong wouldn’t admit the sex abuse? Here we have a principal reporting it to the right office, but to no avail.
The blockage was the police. Makes me wonder if Geelong had reported it, would the police have acted?
What a Trinity!
Who was in the unholy trinity referred to in the title of Ryan’s book? He says, on page 139: “Day the tyrant, Barritt [his fellow detective] the thug, and Kearney [clerk of court] the conman.
Well, there you go. The justice system was completely tied up. And it took only the two low-level men, Barritt and Kearney, to do it.
Speaking of thuggery, we learn that many of the survivors were threatened (such as “Your parents will lose their jobs if you tell”). And allegations were made against them!!
We also learn that they had to sign a gag order to qualify for the payment of compensation by the church. I am pretty sure that is overridden by the Royal Commission’s right to quiz anybody. Indeed several survivors have eagerly come foreword to the RC. And Ryan says “When the Royal Commission was announced in 2012 I jumped for joy.”
What’s This about a Catholic Mafia?
Let’s agree, for this go-round, to ignore the sins of Monsignor Day himself. Psychopaths will be psychopaths. The question is why did his atrocities continue – for forty-eight years? (Day was born in 1904 and died in 1978.) Two of the explanations that seem to satisfy Denis Ryan do not really satisfy me.
One, which is repeated throughout the book, is that the police let the criminal get away with child-rape because the church needed to protect its reputation. Ryan thinks the cops joined in on this because they themselves were Catholic. I can’t buy it. Yes I do recall the era myself, and the holiness of the Church, but it does not make sense.
His other explanation is that the cops in a similar way were trying to protect the reputation of the Force. That just does not jive with the fact that the upper levels were engaging in complete protection of the church. They should have wanted to protect their cop-hood. They clearly had no pride, no sense of duty about their responsibility to protect children. Why?
Another thing that Ryan takes as a given – but to me it is a problem – is the fact that the trinity of men were bosom buddies. Day, Babbitt, and Kearney spent a lot of time together. OK I want to know why. Could it be, as I suggested in Parts 2 and 5 of this series, that they were engaged in some other task? At one point Ryan casually mentions, on page 195, that Babbitt was “covert ASIO.” Now you’re talkin’.
The Riverland Is Not Melbourne
Denis Ryan raised his four sons in Mildura. The saddest part of the book is when his wife left him, largely because of all the troubles related to the Church, and she died of alcoholism in 1980. Most of the book’s action is in the 1970s.
Ryan tells us the names of all his supervisors up the chain of command, including at Russell Street, Melbourne. None would respond to his pleas. Amazingly also, when he went to the Police Association to fight his loss of a job, the personnel there simply left the room and would not serve him! (page 198)
His best shot was the help of a local member of parliament:
“On 6 August 2006 Russell Savage [Independent] got to his feet in the Victorian Legislative Assembly and spoke of the miscarriage of justice suffered by Day’s victims. Russell requested the then police minister Tim Holding to instruct the police to hold an inquiry into the coverup.”
In the long run, Chief Commissioner Christine Nixon signed a report which contained such gems as these:
“The reported misconduct by Monsignor John Day [well in his grave by that time] was subject to inquiries by Mildura CIB… . Detective Inspector Child interviewed nine youths, none of which made any allegations against Day….
I am completely satisfied with the conduct of the investigation into the Day matter and that Denis Ryan resigned from the Victoria Police of his own accord.”
In fact there were hundreds of children molested by the one Monsignor. In Ryan’s words:
“Alby Irwin – that timid, scared excuse of a police officer, was promoted to chief inspector. The victims had lost their opportunity to see their tormentor standing disgraced in the dock. They had learned that the police would do nothing to prevent Day from committing further acts of sexual violence against children.”
Jim Barritt and Joe Kearney
I must not fail to mention two remarks passed about the lay members of the trinity. First, Kearney. Note that the position of Clerk of Court is a powerful one. In those days it also had a welfare function. A woman receiving child support had to go to Kearney personally to collect the money.
This gave him power over many mothers, some of whom he took sexual advantage of. Ryan describes Kearney as having a “vicious criminal streak.” As for the other one, the cop Jim Babbitt, Ryan found child pornography in his desk.
Oddly, years later, Ryan got a call from a detective whose wife was friendly with the wife of Babbitt. This man said:
“Barritt’s a very strange fish. His wife told my missus that she’d never seen Jim naked. He used to strip off at night in the bathroom. She told her that he had never consummated the marriage. Never gave his missus one once!”
Says Ryan: “Day, Barritt, Kearney … it’s a nightmare that never ends. I still wake up in a old sweat almost every night.”
He has counted seven suicides among Day’s victims (imagine it!) and he keeps asking himself if he could have prevented that.
Note: the bishop who left everyone high and dry, Bishop Ronald Mulkearns, has received permission to not give testimony to the Royal Commission as he is in palliative care.
The Melbourne Response
In 1996, when Cardinal Pell was archbishop of Melbourne, he set up something that was a reply to complaints of the survivors of pedophile priests. It is known as “The Melbourne Response.” The current Royal Commission investigated it. They commented on a meeting called The Melbourne Forum as follows:
“A mother of two of the children who were abused, Mrs Foster, expressed dissatisfaction with the meeting. She reported that the bishops did not engage with the audience at the forum and did not appear to want to listen to the parents’ description of their experiences. She said that while her letter was being read out the Catholic Church leadership stood up and walked out.”
Later, the Royal Commission queried Cardinal George Pell and Bishop Hart about this. They each said they did not recall anyone walking out. The following is from the report released by the Royal Commission as Case Study 16 on July 15, 2015:
“Notwithstanding these differing accounts, we accept Mrs Foster’s recollection of the events. Given the circumstances of the public meeting and her personal interest in the reading of the letter, she is less likely to recall the events incorrectly. The impression the meeting left on the senior members of the Church is different, but no doubt both Cardinal Pell and Archbishop Hart have attended multiple meetings and recollections of the impact of the events on the audience may not be as clear for them as for Mrs Foster.” [Emphasis added]
So we see that the Royal Commissioners, including the two Justices, McCallum and Coate, have discretion to make judgment on the credibility of witnesses. I say again that this RC could be quite the very thing we have been waiting for.
I have one more article to provide tomorrow, “Part 8 – Mental Furniture,” and then will let up until some new action occurs at the February hearings.
— Mary W Maxwell is the author of “Fraud Upon the Court” (2015) and co-author with Dee McLachlan of “Truth in Journalism.”