Cleric on abuse charges

The Sunday Mail, Australia/June 11, 2006

A former deacon in a religious order linked to the Anglican Church was yesterday charged with sex offences involving a street kid.

The clergyman, in his 80s, was arrested by detectives from the Sexual Crime Investigation Branch and taken to the city watch house, where he was formally charged just before 11am.

He is facing six counts of indecent assault and one count of gross indecency. He has been given police bail to appear in Adelaide Magistrates Court at a later date.

The charges relate to the alleged abuse of a male street kid between 1979 and 1982.

The clergyman, who cannot legally be identified, has been the subject of serious allegations since 2002, when his alleged activities arose during an inquiry into sexual abuse within the Anglican Church.

Detectives intensified their investigations into the clergyman three weeks ago after one witness to the Mullighan inquiry gave a detailed account of his alleged abuse to the Sunday Mail.

The witness, Bill, detailed how the clergyman and two of his colleagues – both now dead – allegedly abused him and other street kids when they were placed in a city homeless shelter the clergymen were in charge of.

The charges the clergyman was arrested over yesterday relate to the alleged sexual abuse of Bill at the city shelter between 1979 and 1982.

Bill has told the Mullighan inquiry and the Sunday Mail the clergymen also allegedly took street kids from the shelter and provided them to a group of Adelaide men who would sexually abuse them.

The men included a well-known lawyer, a former Correctional Services officer and a police suspect in one of the "Family" murders.

Bill also has detailed a five-year sexual relationship with a prominent legal identity connected with the group of men.

He says this man paid him for sex every week and that photographs were taken of them naked. Their liaison started when he was aged 16.

SCIB detectives are conducting a major investigation into these allegations and similar claims made by another former street kid, John.

Detectives have seized material from the legal identity's home and office, as well as interview notes and tapes from the offices of the Sunday Mail as part of that investigation.

The Sunday Mail has learned the charged clergyman is a member of the Society of the Sacred Mission.

He worked at a city homeless shelter before being ordained as a deacon, and held a general licence in the Diocese of Adelaide.

Former Anglican Archbishop Ian George withdrew his general licence and requested he relinquish his orders as a deacon after allegations about his conduct were made to the Anglican abuse inquiry.

He relinquished his orders but has remained a lay member of the Society of the Sacred Mission.

The man declined to comment on the charges when approached by the Sunday Mail as he left the city watch house just after noon yesterday.

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