In December 2017, the Royal Commission into Institutional Responses to Child Sexual Abuse released its final report which showcased findings and 400 recommendations based on child sexual abuse in Australia. Despite not knowing the exact number, the Commission estimated that tens of thousands of children had been sexually abused in religious institutions around the country.
In a recent case brought before the District Court NSW, a former priest faced sentencing over a number of child sexual assault crimes while practising in the state.
Background of the case
The offender, who is currently 65 years of age, was ordained in 1981 and worked in that capacity at several locations in NSW. Following a number of complaints relating to inappropriate behaviour, the offender was restricted in his clerical duties and defrocked in 2005.
In 2012, a popular news channel televised a report entitled 'Unholy Silence'. The program included several reviews from victims and their family members who all accused an unnamed priest of acts of child sexual assault. The priest in question was only referred to as 'Father F'. Following the program's initial release, a number of other people came forward with information relating to the offender. As such, the investigation process that followed confirmed 'Father F' as the offender in this case.
The victims in each instance were school children who attended the local parish where the offender was once a priest. After reviewing the evidence, the court were left with 17 counts of sexual abuse on children under the former priest's care. He was found guilty of 10 of these counts.
However, it soon become apparent that the offender had previous counts of child sexual abuse, and was therefore sentenced to a total of 79 offences.
Making a decision
Despite his substantial crimes, the court noted that the offender must be sentenced in accordance with current procedures as opposed to a consideration of sentencing procedures at the time of the offending. As a result, the offender was sentenced to a total nine years and six months for the crimes that occurred when he was a practising priest.
The subject of child sexual abuse is extremely sensitive and one that should always be taken seriously – no matter whether events occurred recently or in the past. If you're a victim of sexual abuse, we want to help you get compensation for the hardships you've encountered. Get in touch with the team at Gerard Malouf & Partners today to find out more.