Thursday, February 10, 2011

Priest to stand trial
Fr Dennis John Corrigan in court in Newcastle
Broken Rites Australia helps victims of church-related

By a Broken Rites researcher

A Catholic priest who ministered in New South Wales has been ordered to stand trial, charged with sexual offences against boys.

Father Dennis John Corrigan, born in April 1942, first appeared in Newcastle Local Court on 19 October 2010, charged with sexual offences against three boys aged between 13 and 15. He faced 14 charges relating to incidents that allegedly occurred in the Windale area, in the Maitland-Newcastle diocese, north of Sydney, between December 1987 and May 1988.

The charges included 13 counts of indecently assaulting a person under his authority and one count of sexual intercourse with a person aged between 10 and 16 under his authority.

The charges alleged that the priest kissed, cuddled and indecently touched the victims and masturbated in front of them.

In one charge, he is alleged to have held a payment to one victim for household chores in one hand, while masturbating with the other hand.

Father Corrigan, of Thomas Street, Mayfield (in Newcastle NSW), was not required to enter a plea at this hearing, and magistrate Elaine Truscott scheduled the matter to come up in court for mention again at a later hearing.

The magistrate arranged for a brief of evidence to be prepared for the case's next mention-day. Father Corrigan's bail was continued.

The police investigation is being conducted by Lake Macquarie Detectives, at Charlestown, NSW, telephone 02 9242 9999.

Committed for trial
In the same court on 9 February 2011, the magistrate ordered Corrigan to stand trial, with a judge, at the Newcastle District Court on 17 indecent assault charges.

He has not yet entered a plea (that is, pleading either guilty or not guilty) on any of the charges. This procedure will be raised again when he appears at the District Court.

According to court documents, Father Corrigan served in the Phillipines and in Melbourne and Tasmania before he arrived in the Maitland-Newcastle Diocese in the 1980s. He worked for the Glendale parish before being appointed to the Windale parish. He was living in the presbytery at St Pius X parish at Windale when he is accused of molesting three boys over a period of several months.

One of the complainants told police he still had scars on his penis from the abuse he allegedly suffered.

Another of the complainants told police of an incident when Father Corrigan visited the boy’s home.

The complainant’s statement said that Father Corrigan was intoxicated as he sat on the lounge-room floor drinking from a brown paper bag and playing with a flick knife in a way that scared the complainant.

One of the complainants stated that he was molested when he was at the presbytery to do odd jobs. Another alleged that he was abused when he stayed overnight at the presbytery.

Father Corrigan was admitted to hospital in March 1988 for ‘‘burnout issues’’ and did not return to active ministry, the court documents said.

Police interviewed him in 2004 after allegations were made and he denied any wrongdoing. He was interviewed again in 2009 and 2010 year before being arrested and charged.

In April 2009 in a totally separate matter, Father Corrigan was convicted and fined $2400 after pleading guilty to high-range drink-driving and negligent driving after his car crashed into a parked car in a Mayfield hotel carpark in October 2008. He was found to have a blood-alcohol reading of 0.210.

In the directories from 1999 to 2001, he was listed as the administrator acting in charge of St Mary's parish, Dungog in the Maitland-Newcastle diocese.

In the directory for 2003, Reverend Dennis Corrigan was listed as assistant priest, St Patrick's parish, Wallsend, Maitland-Newcastle diocese. In 2004 he was listed as a chaplain at Sandgate, Maitland-Newcastle diocese.

In 2005 and 2006 he was listed as on leave, care of the diocesan office. On 20 October 2010, Broken Rites found "Rev. Dennis Corrigan" listed on the Maitland-Newcastle diocese website, "care of the diocesan office".

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