SOUTH Australian police investigating child sex abuse within the Anglican Church say that at least six men suspected of pedophilia continue to work within the church.
Police revealed yesterday that 196 men had come forward in the past four months and accused 47 past or present church employees of sexually abusing them.
Initial investigations will focus on the six men - because of the number of allegations against them - and the fact they are still employed by the church.
"We are confident that we have a strong base to work from (and) we will move as quickly through these numbers as we can," police assistant commissioner Madeleine Glynn said.
The Adelaide diocese of the Anglican Church said it was "distressed" that police investigations had uncovered suspected pedophilia activity, but had given assurances the suspects would not present a "continuing risk to children involved in the church or any other associated organisations".
Due to the large number of responses from victims, information from an Anglican Church help line and other church personnel, the police taskforce investigation has expanded and will now include other organisations.
Legal sources close to the investigation believe these new targets include the Catholic, Jehovah's Witness and Salvation Army churches.
Ms Glynn said a number of the allegations had been forwarded to police in Tasmania, NSW, Victoria and Queensland. These were in addition to the cases under investigation by South Australian police.
The developments in South Australia come as disgraced Anglican priest Garth Hawkins awaits sentence in the Tasmanian Supreme Court for nine charges of sexually abusing teenage boys during the late 1970s and early 80s.
During that time, Hawkins was involved in the Church of England Boys Society in Tasmania and in 1980 the then Reverend Hawkins formally commissioned a young priest, Phillip Aspinall, as a field officer for the boys society. During a trial, one of the victims claimed Dr Aspinall - now the Anglican Archbishop of Brisbane, arranged, or urged, him to go to Hawkins, and that he was then abused.
Dr Aspinall has denied the claim. Abuse inside the boys society first became known in Tasmania and then in South Australia when boys society leader Robert Brandenburg made admissions to police and committed suicide in 1999.
In Tasmania the Coalition Investigating Child Sex Abuse is working towards getting a police taskforce set up. Spokesman Steve Fisher, a key complainant in the conviction of Hawkins, said an "abusive subculture" was fostered by a loose association of priests, lay preachers and schoolteachers in Tasmania, South Australia and Queensland.
The group will shortly forward its information to Tasmanian police. Mr Fisher's claim is backed by South Australian Anglican priest Don Owers who in May predicted the number of alleged victims could reach 200.
This report appears on news.com.au.