Dobbed-in priest jailed for indecency

AAP, Australia/November 06, 2008

A former Catholic priest who taught at several of Queensland's most prestigious private schools will spend the next six months behind bars for indecently touching young girls.

Michael Francis Reis, 66, pleaded guilty today in the Brisbane District Court to five counts of indecent treatment of girls under 14 and two counts of indecent treatment of girls under 16.

The court was told the first victim was aged 13 in 1984 when she was assaulted five times at her Brisbane home.

Prosecutor Maita Aylward told the court Reis - a Catholic priest who has taught at private schools in Queensland including a prestigious college in the state's south - would hug the girl and touch her on the breasts and the vagina.

The court was told he eventually stopped of his own accord because he realised his actions were wrong.

However, 10 years later he relapsed and assaulted a second girl at Caboolture, north of Brisbane. The court was told the second victim was aged between 10 and 13 at the time.

Ms Aylward told the court the trio participated in mediation run by the Catholic church, and that all took part in counselling.

She said a psychiatrist told Reis he did not require further counselling, and that he promptly gained employment at a Catholic school in Victoria.

Ms Aylward said the victims were so upset upon hearing he was still in contact with young girls that they reported their abuse to police, who arrested Reis early this year.

The court was told Reis is extremely remorseful for his behaviour, and that it has cost him his career.

However, Judge Kerry O'Brien said the offences were serious as Reis had breached a position of trust, and that he would be required to spend time in jail.

Reis was sentenced to 18 months' jail, suspended after six months.

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