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Exchange Students And Sexual Abuse
Rotary Student Rapes Kept Hidden


CHILD protection expert Professor Freda Briggs has launched a scathing attack on Rotary, accusing the charitable organisation of cover-up and inaction over the rape of school exchange students.
Professor Briggs, an honorary Rotarian, went public with her concerns yesterday after three years of frustration with the organisation's lack of interest.
She revealed four former Adelaide exchange students had approached her asking for help with bringing to justice rapists who were either in host families or fellow Rotarians.
The women were 15 and 16 years old at the time of the offences, with one, Mary Galea, revealing her identity yesterday. Two others complained of sexual assault.
"Rotary assured me they were supposed to be acting on these concerns they have not," the professor said.
She said she had:
COMPLAINED to Rotary International General Secretary Ed Futa.
BEEN groomed by a rapist herself when she was a Rotary exchange student in Belgium in the 1950s.
HELPED a seventh Adelaide exchange student who had been raped while overseas with the Southern Cross organisation.
TRAVELLED to Japan in May to appeal for action to the 2004 Rotary International Conference.
RECEIVED draft copies of Rotary district child protection policies which were still totally inadequate.
Professor Briggs has joined forces with Britain's Chief Superintendent of Avon and Somerset Police, Chris Gould, who has also campaigned for action.
In her own case, Professor Briggs was 19 when her Belgian host approached her for sex 15 minutes after their first meeting.
The man told her he was being investigated by police over the rape of an 11-year-old girl he had hosted before her, but denied the charge.
Rotary International's youth exchange spokesman, John Wakefield, said the organisation was taking the allegations very seriously and believed Mrs Galea's claims. He also urged Professor Briggs to take the matter to the police.
Rotary sponsors about 450-500 exchange students each year to foreign countries with an equal number visiting Australia.

(17-7-2004)
Miles Kemp

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