Catholic church denies negligence over Hunter paedophile

Catholic church denies negligence over Hunter paedophile

THREE men are suing the Catholic church over allegations they were sexually assaulted by a paedophile teacher whose child sex convictions were known to Maitland-Newcastle diocese.

In claims to the NSW Supreme Court the men allege two priests who acted as directors of Catholic education knew Anthony Bambach had convictions for sexually assaulting five boys at Stroud in 1962 when he was employed in 1974 to teach primary school children.

The diocese has denied the directors knew of his offending, despite an affidavit from Bambach in a 2005 court case in which he alleged he told the late monsignors Coolahan and Dilley about his convictions when they interviewed him.

Five men have so far taken action alleging Bambach sexually abused them at Hunter Catholic schools in the 1980s before he was convicted of further sexual abuse charges in 1988.

One man received compensation in 2005 after evidence Bambach removed him from St Michael’s Primary School at Nelson Bay during lunchtime, had sexual intercourse with him and warned the boy, 10, that he would ‘‘Kill your mum’’ if he told anyone.

Bambach worked at Catholic primary schools at Gateshead, Lambton, Merewether and East Maitland before he was moved to Nelson Bay to take up the deputy headmaster’s position.

The 2005 case showed he received a formal warning from the Catholic Education Office ‘‘regarding similar matters’’ during the 14 years before his final arrest, and some parents who complained about him were threatened and made to ‘‘confront’’ him.

Bambach was charged after a parent, a solicitor, bypassed the church and went directly to police with a complaint.

In the most recent Supreme Court cases three men allege Bambach repeatedly sexually abused them at St Joseph’s Primary School at East Maitland in 1983 and 1984 when they were aged between 9 and 12.

One of the men launched proceedings after Newcastle Herald articles in 2010 outlined Catholic Education Office knowledge of Bambach’s offending during his time at Hunter primary schools.

Solicitor Jason Parkinson of Porters Lawyers, who is representing the men, said material in the public arena tended to indicate there were more alleged victims of Anthony Bambach who had not come forward.

In a defence filed with the NSW Supreme Court the diocese denied ‘‘any allegation of breach of duty or negligence’’ that it knew, or ought to have known, that Bambach posed a risk to children.