My day with Emma Foster’s parents by Susan Leith-Miller

July 23rd, 2008

Emma and her sister Katie were raped by a trusted Priest, Father Kevin O’Donnell .  Emma  committed suicide in January 2008.  Also read the Herald Sun report below…MiSociety

 I met Emma’s parent’s Anthony and Chrissie Foster at Sydney Airport. In between the media frenzy I was able to spend several hours with them. They are wonderful, kind people whose lives have been shattered by the rape of their two daughters Emma and her sister Katie by a Catholic priest. 

Anthony and Chrisie did not fly all the way to Sydney from London to get an apology from the Pope.  What they want from the Pope is a guarantee that the Catholic Church will provide for the physical, psychological and spiritual needs of all individuals who have been the victims of sexual abuse by members of the Catholic clergy.

Indeed, the Foster’s had deliberately left Australia to avoid the media hype around the World Youth Day. For them, it is not a joyous occasion, but a constant reminder of the rape of their daughters by a Catholic priest who they trusted.  They returned to Australia when they realised that there existed an opportunity to raise the awareness of what had happened not only to them but to thousands of others and to bring about a significant shift in the Catholic Church’s attitude and response to sexual abuse victims.

The Fosters are ordinary people doing the extraordinary.

Your emails of support and encouragement for them can be sent to ASCA – and we will pass them on to Anthony and Chrisie on your behalf.  They need all the support we can give them.  “You never know if they keep the pressure up things just might change!”

Earlier this year, in conjunction with Anthony and Chrisie, ASCA established the Emma Foster Memorial Fund.  ASCA’s goals for the fund are to raise $100,000 plus. This money will be used to :

– fully resource ASCA’s 1300 information line,
– establish ASCA’s 1800 HELP line,
– create a comprehensive database of qualified psychologist and counsellors who are able to provide the therapeutic counselling required for survivors, and
– develop and offer therapeutically sound workshops around Australia for all survivors.

ASCA’s City2Surf ‘Run of Emma’ campaign has already raised over $10,000 – thank you!

Your continued support will make it possible to achieve our goals.

You can help by:

 – sponsoring me as I puff my way to Bondi –
– running with the ASCA team and raising your own sponsorship
– giving out ‘Run for Emma’ postcards (which can be ordered by emailing
and passing my email to your family, friends and colleagues.

Report in the Herald Sun January 13, 2008 12:00am by Kim Wilson

A FAMILY’s brave battle to save a child sexually abused by a priest ended tragically last week with the death of the Melbourne woman.

Emma Foster, 26, died alone on her bedroom floor clutching her teddy bear, a treasured first birthday present from her parents.

It was a tragic end to a life shattered by abuse by the the family’s parish priest.

For 13 years, Emma’s parents, Anthony and Christine, battled to keep their eldest daughter alive as she rode a roller-coaster of drugs and self-destructive behaviour.

Last Sunday, they were told Emma had died of a suspected drug overdose.

“Over the past days we have experienced grief like we could never possibly have imagined or predicted,” Mr Foster said.

Emma and younger sister Katie were victims of Father Kevin O’Donnell as students at Sacred Heart Primary School, Oakleigh, from 1988 to 1993.

O’Donnell served 15 months’ jail after pleading guilty to indecently assaulting 11 boys and one girl, aged eight to 14, between 1946 and 1977. He died after his release in 1997.

Katie, 22, turned to alcohol to dull memories of her abuse and was hit by a drunk driver in 1999, leaving her with intellectual and physical disabilities.

O’Donnell was not charged with offences against Emma and Katie but the Catholic Church paid the family a confidential six-figure settlement.

“He could walk in there any time, any class, any day and take whatever child he liked . . . to a secluded spot,” Mrs Foster said.

“I felt so stupid that I thought these men were next to God and he’s been having sex with kids for 50 years.”

Emma’s parents found out when she was 12.

“It seemed when she read about his offences in the local paper of March, 1995 it hit her that that is what happened to her and she became anorexic and went into an adolescent psych unit in September of that year,” Mrs Foster said.

Mr Foster said his daughter was a caring and vibrant person.

“It was just overshadowed by what happened to her and it was too heavy for her to bear,” he said.

Emma tried heroin at 17 and went on to use several illicit and prescription drugs.

“It made her forget things, took the pain away,” Mr Foster said.

Mr Foster said the family was “going to suffer a lot of pain, but we’re not going to let him take away our life or our good memories of Emma”.

Emma’s funeral will be on Tuesday at Boyd Chapel, Springvale Botanical Cemetery, at 10.30am. Instead of flowers, the family has asked for donations to Advocates for Survivors of Child Abuse

Comments are closed.