EXCLUSIVE: Retired Hunter priest charged with concealing child sex crime

A RETIRED Hunter priest has become the second Catholic priest in Australia to be charged with concealing a child sex crime.

The retired priest, 81, was charged at Charlestown police station this morning with misprision of a felony – failing to disclose a serious crime – relating to child sex offences committed by another man in the Hunter in the mid 1980s.

Strike Force Georgiana also charged the retired priest with one count of accessory before the fact relating to the offences.

He became only the second Catholic priest in Australia to be charged with concealing child sex crimes after the strike force charged former Toronto priest Tom Brennan in August last year with concealing the child sex crimes of another Hunter priest in the late 1970s.

Father Brennan died of cancer in October before the matter went to trial. He denied the charges.

The charging of Father Brennan made international news and was described as a ‘‘milestone in Australia’’ by Dr Bernard Barrett of the victims’ advocate group Broken Rites.

The priest charged this morning worked in Maitland-Newcastle diocese parishes in the 1970s, 1980s and 1990s.

The charge of misprision of a felony was replaced in the NSW Crimes Act in 1990 by a package of concealing serious crimes offences under section 316.

The retired priest was charged with the old offence of misprision of a felony because the allegations relate to the 1980s.

People with information are asked to contact Detective Sergeant Faber at Charlestown police station on 4942 9999.