Priest pleads not guilty to child sex charges

PUBLIC prejudice against Catholic priests was going to be ‘‘the elephant in the room’’, a barrister told a Sydney District Court jury yesterday at the trial of a priest charged with sex offences involving four boys.

‘‘There’s a prejudice in our community, that if you’re a priest and you’re charged with crimes of a sexual nature with respect to young boys then that’s it. Game over. Walk away,’’ the priest’s barrister said.

The priest, who cannot be identified for legal reasons, has entered not guilty pleas to eight charges, including indecently assaulting the four boys and unlawfully detaining one of the boys at a Hunter location for a short period during an alleged indecent assault.

The court was told a three-week trial would hear evidence of wrestling bouts involving the priest and boys, during which the priest would allegedly hold the boys down and rub his erect penis over their bodies.

An alleged victim would tell the court how the priest sat on him, pinned him down and ran his feet over the boy’s genital area until a ‘‘look of lust’’ crossed his face.

‘‘The Crown alleges he was getting sexual gratification out of rubbing his feet over the boy’s testicles and penis,’’ the jury was told.

The priest allegedly took another boy into a room at a Hunter location before locking the door, wrestling with the boy and trying to remove his pants.

The jury would hear evidence the boy became very upset and yelled at the priest to stop. The priest initially refused to unlock the door so that the boy felt trapped, the Crown told the jury.

The priest’s barrister told the court his client did not commit the offences, although ‘‘he did involve himself with the youth in that community’’.

The trial continues.

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