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Scandal Sidelines Royal Official in Australia

May 12, 2003|From Associated Press

CANBERRA, Australia — The governor general of Australia, the British monarchy's face here, stepped aside Sunday to fight an allegation that he raped a woman in the 1960s when he was a preacher.

Peter Hollingworth, 68, already is under severe pressure to resign because of criticism over his handling of cases of sex abuse by clergy while he was Anglican archbishop of Brisbane during the 1990s.

Prime Minister John Howard, who handpicked Hollingworth for his post, announced the decision Sunday. Hollingworth later released a statement saying, "I have always been mindful of maintaining the integrity and dignity of the office of the governor general of Australia."

Hollingworth is the official representative of Queen Elizabeth II in the former British colony. In his mostly ceremonial post, he signs laws passed by the Australian Parliament and presents awards, and his power comes chiefly from the moral authority of the office.

The queen was not involved in the case. A Buckingham Palace spokesman said she "will be guided by her ministers and the decision will be one for the Australian government."

Howard said Hollingworth stepped aside pending the outcome of the rape case. Rosemarie Anne Jarmyn, 57, filed a civil suit this year alleging that Hollingworth raped her at a youth camp in the 1960s. Jarmyn killed herself last month.

Details of the lawsuit became public Thursday after a court lifted orders suppressing the identities of those involved. Hollingworth applied for the suppression order in March to keep himself from being identified in the rape allegation.

Hollingworth denied the accusation in a nationally televised address Thursday.

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