17 Sep 2007

Sex crime priest 'should have got life in jail'

News.com.au - Australia

September 17, 2007

A PRIEST who raped and sexually abused four boys over 12 years has been jailed for more than seven years.

One of his victims criticised the sentence, saying the Catholic priest should have been locked up for life.

Terrence Melville Pidoto, 62, was found guilty of 11 charges including rape, indecent assault and buggery by a Victorian County Court jury in July this year.

Today, Judge Ross Howie said Pidoto - who had denied all charges - had abused his position of trust and influence, adding that his actions were "a shocking betrayal of your vocation".

Outside court, Pidoto's last victim said he felt "mediocre" after the sentencing.

"He should have got life," the 38-year-old Greensborough man, said.

"But he's behind bars for a minimum of five years so, for those five years, he can't hurt any more children."

The victim - who was 12 when he was first abused - said his experiences at Pidoto's hands had affected his personal and professional relationships.

"It's quite hard to trust people. I didn't really like myself growing up. I always put myself in abusive situations, drugs and alcohol.

"There'll never be closure, because I'm a different person to what I might have been had I not been abused."

Pidoto was ordained in 1971 aged 26 and began his sordid sex acts just a year later, taking one 14-year-old boy to the Corpus Christi seminary, in Melbourne's east, where he raped and abused him on several occasions between 1972 and 1973, the court was told.

More assaults on two 15-year-old boys took place at St Clare's Catholic parish in Box Hill, from 1978 to 1979, while Pidoto was an assistant parish priest.

The Greensborough man became Pidoto's fourth victim after the priest officiated at the then 12-year-old's sister's wedding, the court was told.

Pidoto wore headphones and appeared nonchalant as Judge Howie ordered him to serve at least five years before being eligible for parole, saying only "thank you, Your Honour" after he was sentenced.

"You used the power of your position and authority and influence associated with it to sexually violate the boys in abhorrent manner," Judge Howie told him.

Outside court, Crime Victims' Support Association president Noel McNamara said such a sentence was impossible to "rehabilitate these paedophiles".

"The sentence of 1.3 years for each of the four guys is absolutely disgusting, disgraceful and bloody outrageous," he said.

"Something's got to be done about having minimum sentences so these judges have to do the right thing about the sentencing.


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