Friday, June 18, 2010

Catholic priest faces court on child sex charges

Catholic priest faces court on child sex charges
Posted June 18, 2010 08:46:00 ABCNET
Map: Newcastle 2300 An infamous paedophile priest has vouched for the character of another Hunter Valley Catholic priest who has been committed to stand trial on child sex offences.

Father David Anthony O'Hearn is charged with 17 child sex offences relating to five boys, dating back to the 1980s.

The brief of evidence tendered to court includes a statement from the jailed former Catholic priest Vince Ryan, who pleaded guilty to abusing dozens of boys over a 20-year period, prompting a multi-million dollar payout to his victims.

Ryan's statement said O'Hearn was his assistant at Cessnock in the early 1990s, however Ryan "didn't hear anything about him or another assistant priest in relation to children".

But he went on to say that "they wouldn't have been aware of my behaviour either".

Court documents show concerns were raised about O'Hearn years before police charged him.

The brief of evidence tendered in court includes a statement by the former manager of the Maitland-Newcastle Catholic Dioceses Child Protection Unit, Helen Keevers.

She told police the O'Hearn matter was discussed at one of the first meetings of the Dioceses Child Protection Advisory Panel after it was formed in 2004.

She said the panel was advised about a series of complaints regarding inappropriate behaviour by O'Hearn between 1995 and 1997.

She also told police a psychologist's report given to the former Bishop Leo Clarke outlined information about O'Hearn's behaviour in the company of children.

O'Hearn is due to stand trial in Newcastle District Court later this month.

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