Former Catholic priest Vincent Gerard Ryan to face trial

ACCUSED: Former Catholic priest Vincent Ryan leaving the old Newcastle courthouse. Mr Ryan was on Wednesday committed to face a trial on six charges relating to three young boys at The Junction and Cessnock.
ACCUSED: Former Catholic priest Vincent Ryan leaving the old Newcastle courthouse. Mr Ryan was on Wednesday committed to face a trial on six charges relating to three young boys at The Junction and Cessnock.

A FORMER Hunter Catholic priest accused of sexually and indecently assaulting three young boys while he was the parish priest at St Joseph’s at The Junction and Cessnock between 1973 and 1991 will face a trial in Newcastle District Court. 

Vincent Gerard Ryan, 79, of Ryde, appeared in Newcastle Local Court on Wednesday via audio visual link from a suite in the Sydney Downing Centre court complex where he was committed to face a trial on six charges, including three counts of indecent assault, two counts of sexual assault and attempted sexual intercourse of a child.

Three other charges, which related to alleged offences against a young boy at Cessnock between 1987 and 1991, were withdrawn by Office of the Director of Public Prosecutions (DPP) solicitor Fiona Irwin.

Mr Ryan is alleged to have given one boy, aged 10 or 11 in 1973 or 1974, a full glass of wine in the sacristy at St Joseph’s, The Junction, while explaining the role of church altar boy, according to a brief of evidence tendered in court on Wednesday. 

Mr Ryan allegedly told the boy that the wine was “the blood of Christ” before introducing the boy to his “tickling games”. 

Mr Ryan is then accused of indecently assaulting the boy and masturbating himself before telling the boy “you can see how much fun it can be being an altar boy”, court documents state. 

A week after the alleged assault, the boy was allegedly summoned to the sacristy for altar boy training, according to court documents.

The alleged victim told detectives he arrived to find he was the only altar boy there and Mr Ryan began showing him a number of pornographic magazines, which included homosexual pornographic images. 

Mr Ryan then allegedly asked the boy to try on his robe, making the boy take off his shirt and shorts, before again indecently assaulting the boy, according to court documents. 

Another alleged victim claims he was 10 or 11 when Mr Ryan allegedly indecently assaulted him on his mother’s bed while he was home sick from school. 

The alleged victim later told police he knew something “wasn’t right”, but didn’t tell anyone about the alleged abuse because he “believed at that time that the position [of parish priest] was one of the highest positions in society”. 

Now retired, Mr Ryan was ordained in 1966 and held a number of appointments at parishes across the Hunter. 

Mr Ryan, who was flanked by his legal representative Maria Walz on the AVL screen on Wednesday, has previously been excused from attending Newcastle courthouse due to his age and health concerns. 

He will appear in Newcastle District Court on March 8 to get a trial date.