Monday, July 12, 2010

Disgraced priest also abused us, say twins

Disgraced priest also abused us, say twins
RAFAEL EPSTEIN AND NICK MCKENZIE
July 13, 2010

NSW police are investigating new claims of sexual abuse against the Sydney Catholic priest Father Finian Egan, who had separate complaints of sexual molestation upheld by an internal church investigation last year.

Two sisters took their allegations to the police after seeing reports in the Herald and on television about the previous claims against Father Egan.

Peta Sneesby alleges she was repeatedly groped and once raped by Father Egan when she was a teenager in the 1980s. She told ABC TV: ''Most Friday nights he'd be at [our] house, he'd play cards with my aunts and uncles and that's when he'd take me aside and sexually assault me.''

Her twin, Paula Sneesby, says she was also repeatedly groped when they lived at The Entrance on the Central Coast.

Through his lawyers, Father Egan denies ''each and every one of the allegations'' against him.

In May the Herald revealed that the church's independent assessor ''substantiated'' claims from two women who said Father Egan had repeatedly groped them in the 1980s when he was their parish priest at St Gerard's in Sydney. One of the women who first approached the church has now taken her claims to the police.

Despite being suspended from conducting church services last August, Father Egan took part in a service celebrating the 50th anniversary of his ordination, at a church next to the office of the Bishop of Broken Bay, David Walker. Father Egan was a parish priest in Bishop Walker's diocese.

Bishop Walker says he had no prior knowledge of the anniversary service. His office now concedes they sent out a parish notice about the service, but without Bishop Walker's personal involvement.

Father Egan was also given special permission to officiate at eight services while being investigated by the church, including being allowed to travel to Ireland to celebrate a wedding in 2008. Initially Bishop Walker's office said Father Egan had been granted exemption to celebrate only four services. Father Egan remains suspended while the bishop considers his future.

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