Evangelism Exposed

“Jesus wept.” Joh 11:35

Priest faces 33 college sex charges


FOR years Father Brian Spillane presided over a flock of young, impressionable boys at St Stanislaus College in Bathurst.

A chaplain and a teacher, he officiated at school Masses, led the pupils in prayer and gave them religious guidance.

According to allegations by 13 former students, he also repeatedly raped them.

“The first time I met Father Spillane he was very ‘touch e feel e’ (sic) type person, he was always putting his arms around me,” wrote an alleged victim in a blog he used to expose what he called an “evil pedophile ring”.

That former pupil, who completed year 7 at the Catholic boarding school in 1986 before being expelled, blew the whistle on 65-year-old Spillane’s alleged sex offences.

The allegations are the latest in a string of abuse scandals to rock the Catholic Church.

The school says it first became aware of the allegations five years ago when it was contacted by the same alleged victim. The allegations were forwarded to Bathurst police, who sent the information to the NSW Police’s child protection and sex crimes squad.

It is not known what became of that investigation. But in August last year Bathurst police set up Strike Force Heador to investigate the claims of abuse by Spillane and two other staff members.

The investigation was a watershed moment for the whistleblower, who has been diagnosed with post-traumatic stress disorder and has spent time in psychiatric care.

Last month police executed search warrants at the school relating to two former priests, one of whom is believed to be Spillane, and a lay teacher.

Four other former pupils came forward to allege abuse and police have charged Spillane with 33 offences.

The charges include six counts of sexual intercourse with pupils aged 11, 12 and 13, and 18 counts of engaging in and inciting to commit acts of gross indecency. The other charges relate to sex with males aged between 10 and 16.

Yesterday Spillane’s lawyer, Greg Walsh, declared his client’s innocence.

Since the charges, eight other former students have come forward to allege abuse and assault.

School principal John Edward said Spillane joined the school in the 1970s, left and then returned as school chaplain in the mid-1980s. He left the school in 1991 or 1992 but remained a member of the congregation for some time.

As late as 2004 he was serving at the headquarters of the Vincentians, the order that runs St Stanislaus. At a hearing last month, his lawyer said he was no longer a priest and had married.

The charges have renewed the concerns of some former students. One who attended about a decade before the whistleblower said he had observed late night visits to priests’ and brothers’ quarters by pupils. He said he suspected a cover-up.

The activities of priests and brothers at the college should have been known to other staff members because they were obvious to students, he said.

The then college president, Joe Keating, died several years ago. The second highest ranking priest at the college during the period was Father Peter Dwyer. He is now a parish priest. He did not return calls yesterday.

August 27, 2008 - Posted by | Australia, Catholic Church, Church Scandals, Rape, Sex Abuse

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