Pressure is mounting on Australia's constitutional head of state, Governor-General Peter Hollingworth, to resign over his handling of a sexual abuse case that occurred when he was Anglican archbishop of the Queensland state diocese of Brisbane.

Hollingworth, who now acts as Australia's head of state on behalf of the British sovereign, was accused at a Supreme Court trial last month of failing to contact the parents of a 12-year-old girl sexually abused by an Anglican boarding school master.

The Queensland Supreme Court trial was the result of a civil action brought by the girl against the Anglican Church. The Supreme Court awarded the girl more than $428,000 in damages.

The psychologist who counseled the victim told the court that she had phoned Hollingworth and asked him to support the parents, who were "falling apart." She said Hollingworth replied that he needed a holiday and could not help.

The headmaster accused of the abuse, trial evidence suggests, offered to resign over the incident, but Hollingworth urged him to stay on. In fact, he allegedly received a pay raise. The headmaster committed suicide in 1990, the day before he was due to appear in court to answer charges. He left a suicide note admitting the abuse and saying that he had "loved" other girls.

The allegations against Hollingworth were initially met by silence from the governor-general and his office, while child protection groups called on him to resign.

After more than a week of public uproar, Hollingworth released a public statement defending his stand. He denied that he had expressed a lack of concern to the psychologist, and said he had arranged for the church to pay for counseling for the girl and her family.

However, he said that "the legal and insurance ...

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