Tuesday, November 16, 2010

Priest accused

Former priest denies assault after channelling voice of dead David Marr
November 16, 2010
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Accused ... Father Brian Spillane Photo: Dean Sewell

''KNOW that I will always love you,'' Father Brian Spillane wrote to a girl he is accused of indecently assaulting the day after the death of her best friend in a car crash.

He denies the assault, which is said to have taken place in his car after he had said a home Mass for the distraught 17-year-old's friends and family in 1981.

In the letter, he explained the voice of her dead friend had compelled him to reach out to her.

Advertisement: Story continues below ''She knew and knows that I love you and really care for you,'' he wrote. ''As [she] would have it, you are my very special care, with deep concern and care to be shown to [her classmates] whose lives God may have touched through this weak human instrument who happens to be one of his priests.''

Mr Spillane, who has left the priesthood, denied he was purporting to channel messages from the dead. ''All I was writing down were the fruits of my prayer in this spiritual exercise,'' he told a District Court jury. ''I went with the spirit. It was the spirit of God speaking.''

He is facing 11 charges of indecent assault on girls as young as six. He told the court he would often tell children that he and God loved them. He would lightly touch a hand, shoulder, back or leg of a child because touch can be ''a powerful way of conveying a sense of care, encouragement and affirmation''.

The former priest denied any ulterior motive behind inviting eight- to 12-year-old children to sit on his knee in confession.

''It was my pastoral approach, to break down the barrier between the fearful God and the loving God.''

Mr Spillane denied kissing the neck of a 12-year-old girl while hearing her confession in 1979 when he was acting parish priest at St Anthony's in Marsfield. ''That's not part of the sacrament.'' His trial continues.

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