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  Priest Who Had Sex with Teenage Boy Resigns from Parish

By Farrah Tomazin
The Age (Melbourne, Australia)
May 14, 2004

A Catholic priest who was allowed to work next to a Melbourne primary school - despite having sex with a teenage boy 10 years ago - has resigned from the parish.

The move came amid a public outcry over the church's decision to allow Father Barry Robinson to return to St Mary Immaculate Conception, in Williamstown, where he had been assistant priest for seven years before details of his past in the US emerged in January.

The Age revealed yesterday that while the Melbourne Archdiocese and many parishioners supported the priest's return, some parents with children at St Mary's Primary School next to the church had raised concerns.

A church spokesman confirmed last night that the priest, now in his 60s, had asked to withdraw from St Mary's.

"In light of what has happened, he's applied to be relieved of his duties," the spokesman said. "He's been given administrative leave, which means he no longer operates as a priest for as long as he is on that leave."

Father Robinson had admitted to sex with a 16-year-old boy while a priest in Boston in 1994. He was never charged and was appointed to Williamstown after "intensive and successful treatment" according to the church.

Father Robinson could not be contacted last night, but had earlier told The Age that the concerns about him were unfair and unwarranted.

"(People should) face their own truths before throwing stones at someone else's truths," he said.

His resignation came as St Mary's was preparing to announce that an independent counsellor would be appointed to deal with concerns about Father Robinson's return.

Sources said there was a loose split between parents with children at the school and regular church attendees, many of whom wanted the priest to stay.

Kevin Maloney, one of nine people on the parish council, said a plan to appoint a counsellor "to facilitate the healing process" in the parish had been in train for several weeks and that the chosen candidate was set to be announced soon.

He said the move would have meant that people who had problems with Father Robinson's past, or were concerned about his re-emergence at the church, would be able to speak to the counsellor to work through their grievances.

Steve Littleton, a parent and parishioner at St Mary's, said he believed "the vast majority of parishioners support Father Robinson wholeheartedly".

But Steve Trevena, who has a son in grade 2 at the school, said he was "not disappointed" by his departure.

"He should not be in a parish that is attached to a school," Mr Trevena said.

Father Robinson was not living at St Mary's but had been conducting Masses since Easter. His resignation came one day after The Age revealed the acting principal of St Mary's Primary School had also resigned following a contentious decision last week to ban children from playing in the grounds before school.

 
 

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