Desmond Laurence Gannon gave boy 'anatomy lesson'

AAP, Australia/May 21, 2009

A pedophile Catholic priest who claimed he was giving an altar boy an anatomy lesson when he sexually molested him has pleaded guilty to five indecent assault charges.

Desmond Laurence Gannon, 79, was a Catholic priest at Kilmore, north of Melbourne, when he abused the boy on three separate occasions in 1968 and 1969.

The incidents occurred in the middle of 18 years of abuse by Gannon, who has previously been convicted of molesting young boys at various Victorian parishes between 1958 and 1976.

The court heard that despite these convictions, the Catholic church continues to support Gannon by helping to pay his rent.

Prosecutor Ray Gibson told the Victorian County Court today that the boy was a student at Kilmore's St Patrick's Primary School in 1968 when he was asked by his class teacher to go with Gannon to "pick up some typewriters".

Gannon drove him to a bush track were he removed the boy's pants and underpants and said "this is your penis". He also kissed and fondled the boy, who was aged 11.

Gannon later fondled the boy as he was putting on his robes prior to assisting him celebrate Mass in 1968, the prosecutor said.

And he fondled and kissed the boy in the pump room of the local swimming pool in 1969, the court heard.

Asked by police why he took the boy to the secluded bush location and touched his penis, Gannon replied he was explaining the "differences in anatomy".

"I thought it was less formal rather than inviting him into the presbytery and that's all," he told police.

Mr Gibson said the offences were planned and deliberate and had long-term psychological effect on his victim.

He said a jail sentence between nine months and three-and-a-half years would be appropriate.

In a statement to the court, the victim, who is now in his 50s, said he had gone from being a happy boy who wanted to be a policeman, to a delinquent who spent time in jail.

"Father Gannon has succeed in destroying all my hopes and dreams," he said.

"At last I can finally speak out. Not like the dark old days, people are listening now."

Gannon's lawyer Brian Bourke said the former priest had already served one year in jail in 1995 and was now an old man who should not spend any further time behind bars.

He said there was no evidence that Gannon had offended since 1976.

Mr Bourke said the Catholic church makes "provision" for payment of Gannon's rent on the unit he lives in.

Judge Frank Gucciardo will sentence Gannon, of Box Hill, on June 3.

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