NEWCASTLE priest Campbell Brown was found dead in his home on Sunday as the Anglican Church prepared for a hearing into child sexual abuse allegations against him from the 1960s.
Reverend Brown, 80, died only hours after attending a service at Newcastle’s Christ Church Cathedral where people were asked to say a prayer for survivors of child sexual abuse and to stand with those who had been abused.
He died two days after former Grafton Bishop Keith Slater was defrocked for failing to act when allegations against Reverend Brown and fellow Newcastle clergyman Allan Kitchingman were raised with the Anglican Church in 2005.
Reverend Brown died two years after the Royal Commission into Institutional Responses to Child Sexual Abuse heard evidence that he had ‘‘made an implied admission of guilt’’ about sexually assaulting a boy at Lismore’s North Coast Children’s Home in the early 1960s.
Reverend Brown made the admission in 2005 to the then Grafton diocese registrar Reverend Patrick Comben, who was defrocked earlier this year for his failure to act on child sex allegations.
While the NSW Police Sex Crimes Squad in Sydney was advised of some allegations against Reverend Brown in 2006, it was not told about the implied admission of guilt.
Reverend Brown was expected to be defrocked after a church professional standards board hearing planned for the near future.
He was born in 1935, was a parishioner at St Stephen’s Church at Adamstown in the 1940s, attended Morpeth theological college, and was a priest in the NSW north coast region until returning to Waratah in 1966. He was a priest at Cardiff, Aberdeen and Merewether until moving to Kincumber between 1975 and 1982, and Parkes from 1982 to 1989. He was at Mudgee between 1993 and 1997.
Reverend Brown returned to Newcastle by 2006 and attended Christ Church Cathedral. More recently he has been an organist at Raymond Terrace.
Anglican Bishop Greg Thompson said it was distressing and terrible when someone took their own life.
‘‘Our thoughts and prayers are with his wife and family at this time. They need our comfort and care in this season of grief and bereavement,’’ the Bishop said.
The royal commission will hold a public hearing in 2016 into child sex allegations involving the Anglican Church in the Hunter region.
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