A FORMER Newcastle Anglican church employee said he repeatedly warned the diocese, from as early as 1984, that a ‘‘network’’ of paedophile priests preyed on children, but the diocese failed to act on the warnings.
‘‘I told them in 1984 that ‘You’ve got a network of these bastards preying on altar boys’, and I named names,’’ the former church employee said.
In the past four years the diocese has defrocked three priests and sanctioned others, and confirmed a number of clergy and church workers were child sex offenders.
In 2010 former Newcastle Anglican bishop Brian Farran apologised to victims of Father Peter Rushton after confirming allegations he was an offender over four decades and part of a broader network of paedophiles in the Hunter.
Rushton was one of five clergy on a diocese board that from 1987 considered child sex allegations involving clergy. One of Rushton’s former Wallsend parish colleagues, Eric William Griffith, was jailed for 18 months in 1992 after pleading guilty to child sex offences at Bellingen after being transferred from the Newcastle diocese.
Other Newcastle Anglican offenders include Robert Ellmore, jailed nine years for offences against children over four decades; trainee priest Ian Neil Barrick, jailed for two years for offences against a 14-year-old in 1998; Allan Kitchingman, jailed for offences against a 14-year-old in 1975; and Stephen Hatley Gray, 68, a former rector of Wyong given a good behaviour bond after sexually abusing a juvenile in 1990.
In 2012 James Michael Brown, a former board member of the Anglican church’s St Alban’s Boys Home at Aberdare, was sentenced to at least six years’ jail for offences against young boys while he was a youth worker between 1974 and 1995. St Alban’s was described by the diocese as providing ‘‘a caring environment for boys who had no place to live’’.
In 2012 Bishop Farran removed the holy orders of priests Graeme Lawrence, Bruce Hoare and Andrew Duncan, and placed Cardiff priest Graeme Sturt on a prohibition order preventing him from performing any functions of a clergyman for five years, after professional standards hearings following sexual misconduct allegations.
Former church worker and Anglican school teacher Gregory Goyette was prohibited from holding a position in the church.
The priests and Mr Goyette denied the allegations which were referred in 2009 to police, who investigated but took no action.