Salvos boss faced ‘dilemma’ in sacking abuser

A senior Salvation Army official says he faced a dilemma over how to sack an officer who had once been stood down for admitting to child sexual abuse, an inquiry has has heard.

Salvation Army Commissioner James Condon also said he did not refer allegations against Colin Haggar to the ombudsman because he was advised he didn’t need to.

The Royal Commission into Institutional Responses to Child Sexual Abuse has heard Mr Haggar confessed to indecently assaulting an eight-year-old girl in 1989, and was dismissed from the Salvos.

But he was re-admitted in 1993 and subsequently promoted before additional allegations were made against him in 2013.

When it was decided Mr Haggar had breached the army’s internal Sexual Offender Management minute, there was debate among officials over how to sack him.

“My dilemma in relation to that was that he’d already been dismissed … for the offence,” Mr Condon said on Tuesday.

“That was the dilemma I was trying to work through.”

Mr Haggar was forcibly retired and demoted in October 2013.

Mr Condon also said he did not refer claims against Mr Haggar to the ombudsman because the charity was conducting a review of historical cases.

“I was advised we didn’t need to,” Mr Condon said.

“When we decided to review all historical matters and to look at them, we were looking at all and asking the question of whether they need to be reported.

“We were getting mixed messages.”

On Friday, Captain Michelle White said concerns about Mr Haggar had been raised with Mr Condon in early 2013.

Ms White said delays by Mr Condon in fulfilling mandatory reporting requirements prompted her to report to the NSW Ombudsman that there was an active Salvation Army officer with a known history of child-related sexual abuse.

Mr Condon previously said a decision had been made to “have a fresh look at all historical cases”, including those involving Mr Haggar, in preparation for the royal commission.

“We were reporting to the ombudsman, reporting to the police … we were in the process … we were absolutely committed to doing the right thing,” he said.

The hearings continue.


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