DEFROCKED Catholic priest John Denham will appear in Newcastle Local Court today via an audio visual link from jail after he was charged yesterday with 40 child sex offences.
Detectives attached to Strikeforce Georgiana travelled to Sydney to charge Denham, 69, with 40 counts of indecently assaulting 12 males under 16 at various Hunter locations in the 1970s.
The charges include allegations that he indecently assaulted male students at St Pius X High School at Adamstown. Denham was formally refused bail.
In a statement yesterday, Diocese of Maitland-Newcastle Bishop Bill Wright said Denham had been a priest in the diocese between 1972 and 1986.
Denham was a deacon at Mayfield in 1972 before moving to Singleton parish in 1973 and to St Pius X late that year.
He worked at Charlestown in 1980 and Taree from 1981 before being transferred to Christian Brothers Waverley College as a chaplain in 1986.
Denham worked at a Catholic theological library in Sydney from 1994.
Pope Benedict XVI laicised, or defrocked, John Denham in May this year.
The defrocking was recommended by retired Maitland Newcastle Diocese Bishop Michael Malone, and announced by Bishop Wright in July.
In his statement yesterday, Bishop Wright said his thoughts and prayers were with the alleged victims.
‘‘I admire their courage in coming forward and I pray for their families and friends during this difficult time,’’ he said.
He encouraged alleged victims of child sex abuse to speak to police or counselling services offered in the community, including services offered by the diocese.
‘‘I wish to assure those who have been harmed by historic sexual abuse, and the community, of the diocese’s continued commitment to promoting the safety, welfare and wellbeing of children now and into the future,’’ he said.