Priest sex abuse trial extended

THE trial of defrocked Hunter Catholic priest John Sidney Denham has been transferred to Sydney.

Denham, 70, is charged with sexually assaulting 17 boys at Hunter Catholic schools in the 1970s.

In Newcastle District Court yesterday  he was not required to enter pleas to 43 charges of abusing boys at St Pius X school Adamstown between 1977 and 1979, and at Rutherford, Wingham, Toronto and in the Hornsby area.

The court was told the trial had to be moved to Sydney because of Crown estimates it would run for three weeks.

A lawyer representing Denham told the court it could last three months.

Denham is alleged to have repeatedly sexually abused boys while working as a teacher at St Pius school.

In a fact sheet, police alleged  he indecently assaulted boys behind his desk during class and while the boys were reading out loud to their classmates.

He is alleged to have  given them a choice between having their genitals fondled or being caned.

Police alleged Denham sexually assaulted a boy, 12, in 1979 before repeatedly caning him ‘‘for being a crybaby’’.

They also allege Denham indecently assaulted boys while acting as their religious studies teacher, and after hearing their confession.

He is alleged to have indecently assaulted a boy after ordering him to close his eyes and say the ‘‘Our Father’’.

Police said former St Pius X students, who came from devout Catholic families, described the school in the 1970s as a violent and brutal place.

The matter was adjourned to Sydney District Court till next month.  

Victims speaking out 

■ CHILD sex abuse victims are coming forward to make submissions to Australia’s two inquiries, the Hunter’s Clergy Abused Network says.

Network  spokesman Bob O’Toole said publicity about the federal royal commission and NSW special commission of inquiry had encouraged victims to speak.

‘‘There’s a groundswell of people who are coming forward and want to speak and that is very heartening,’’ Mr O’Toole said.

‘‘These commissions of inquiry will give people the opportunity to have a voice and be heard.’’

The  network will support anyone  wanting to make a submission and has  a template  they  can follow. It also runs a phone help line.

The NSW  inquiry into police and church responses to allegations about Hunter paedophile priests Denis McAlinden and Jim Fletcher has asked for submissions by March 1.

 And a hotline set up by the federal royal commission into child sexual abuse has taken 25 calls a day since it opened in mid-January.

The commission started its work on February 4 and expects to be in a permanent office by June. Public hearing dates have yet to be scheduled.

Clergy-Abused Network 1300722689