Although this scandal is old, this issue is important to analyse due to current events and behaviours we see in C3, Hillsong and the way they are governed.
This has been an ongoing series that has covered how a paedophilia scandal continued to snowball across the two biggest churches in Sydney.
When reading the below news article, some people might think, “Well, what is CW on about? Pringle did sack Dench over the paedophilia issue didn’t he?”
No. Pringle did not.
This below news article’s first sentence was not accurate.
What makes this scandal so disgusting on Phil Pringle’s behalf was that he did not discipline Gary Dench for defending in court the pedophile and wife-beater Stephen Dent, Dench’s discipline came into play because… wait for it… Dench’s wife won the lottery.
Phil Pringle did NOT take any action over the covering up of the paedophilia. Pringle blatantly REFUSED to take any action or censure pastors Gary Dench and Ian Treacy or instruct them to cooperate with the police.
Pringle’s response to the abused mother was that he couldn’t do anything about it stating, “Gary is a law unto himself.” Pringle never contacted the mother of the abused again.
The alleged suspension of Dench occurred over two years and three months later only when the matter of the lottery win became known in the church and co-incidentally after the affairs of this particular family became public when aired on the 60 Minutes news program.
The church did NOT take any action over this family’s matter and it was, (in our view), a cynical and manipulative exercise (even, it could be said, a lie) for Pringle and CCC to claim that Dench’s suspension was related directly to the sexual case.
That matter had all been raised with Pringle over two years previously. The only way in which Dench’s suspension related to the sexual abuse was that it had been made public and Dench’s behaviour on national TV had brought embarrassment to the church. (See above – Parramatta Scandal (Part 2).)
According to Phil Pringle, why was gambling a greater sin than dealing with a pastor defending a pedophile and wife beater?
A SYDNEY clergyman has been suspended from church duties following a controversial court case when he admitted not telling police nor a parishioner that her son was being sexually abused by the boy’s stepfather.
The minister has also been asked to advise church officials what he intends to do with his wife’s share of an office lottery win – an even that has aroused controversy within the church and promoted a formal church policy on gambling.
A statement from Christian City Church International (CCCI) on Friday, said Pastor Gary Dench stepped down for three months to give him and his wife some time and space to clarify what actually took place and to resolve what will take place.
“Gary and Joyce Dench have stepped down from a position of responsibility within the church for a period of time so that the CCCI executive, the Westside Board and Gary and Joyce are all able together to clarify and resolve the situation.
“Their future ministry direction is also still yet to be finally resolved”.
The $50,000-a-year Castle Hill clergyman left on extended leave early this month, just after he and his wife returned from a two-week holiday overseas.
A spokesman confirmed that Pastor Dench’s decision to step down followed discussions with church superiors and fellow directors.
He said t related to the sexual abuse case and “Gary’s position with the board and with the church”
“Not just Gary, but people in the congregation were hurt, by that,” he said, referring to the media reports of pastor Dench’s court evidence.
“The case raised questions, and there needs to be time for those to be clarified”.
Last month Pastor Dench testified in support of a former parishioner, ex-policeman Stephen Dent, who had pleaded guilty to sexually abusing his (Dent’s) stepson. Pastor Dench admitted he had sent the boy home with his stepfather after he had run away, and that he had not told the boy’s mother, also a parishioner, of the alleged abuse.
He responded heatedly to cross-examination by Pat Barrett, and refused to reveal what Dent told him, claiming it as a secret of the confessional.
The spokesman said that the lottery issue was separate, but that it had sparked a detailed new policy.
“We’ve asked him to tell us where the money will be direct.”
A local church spokesman said that the lottery issue was part of the reason for the suspension for Pastor Dench’s duties.
Church members reported that the prize was thought to be $1 million, but the Sunday Telegraph has been unable to confirm the amount.
While the Denchs were overseas the CCI executive met and formalised a written policy opposing all forms of gambling by church officers.
The Denchs say Mrs Dench had not bought a Lotto ticket, but was given a staff payout from her office manager, who bought the ticket.
Source: Warren Owens, Pastor Suspended, Sunday Telegraph, Published 21/10/1990.