1 Nov 2010

Catholic Church apologizes to dozens of child abuse victims of priest in New South Wales

ABC - Australia July 9, 2009

Church apologises to child abuse victims

The Catholic Church has acknowledged the distress of dozens of victims of a New South Wales Hunter Valley priest, who yesterday pleaded guilty to nearly 30 child sex offences.

In Newcastle Local Court yesterday, John Sidney Denham, 66, pleaded guilty to 29 child sex offences dating back to the 1970s.

A further 29 charges will be considered when he is sentenced in the District Court later this month.

Police from Strikeforce Georgiana charged Denham in August last year, after nearly 40 men claimed they had been abused as boys.

Most were targeted while they were students at St Pius high school at Adamstown in Newcastle.

Maitland-Newcastle Bishop Michael Malone has apologised to the victims and expressed a deep sadness for the pain they are continuing to feel.

He said the distress caused by Denham's actions will have a lifelong impact on his victims and their families.

Dr Bernard Barrett from the support group Broken Rites has helped several of Denham's victims.

He says they still want answers about the church's handling of the matter.

"Well the church has some explaining to do, why it's taken so long for the victims to bring him to justice," he said.

"These offences go back several decades and they go back to when he was a trainee priest before he got ordained and the church needs to explain why he was able to do it all these years under the noses of his superior."

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