Catholic Priest Blames Celibacy for Assault

Herald Sun [Australia]
December 9, 2003

A CATHOLIC priest who indecently assaulted a 15-year-old boy told police celibacy was to blame for the sexual abuse of minors, a court heard yesterday.

Father John Barry Gwillim, 71, of Coburg, yesterday pleaded guilty in the County Court to five counts of indecent assault and four counts of gross indecency between October 1979 and February 1981.

A fellow priest described Gwillim's repeated abuse of the teenager as "an occupational hazard".

Prosecutor Michael Tinney said Gwillim told police after his arrest in July last year: "If we did away with celibacy this would all go away. It was the sort of thing (where there was) a lovely slice of cake, and I bloody well ate it. I suppose there was some sort of ego trip in it -- it was something, which had never happened to me before."

The court heard Gwillim, who was the priest at St Peter's church in Keilor East between 1979 and 1999, approached the schoolboy in the city while he was waiting for a train in late 1979.

Telling him he was a teacher or private tutor, he offered him a lift home. He pulled aside on a quiet street and after asking the boy to be "nice" to him, directed him to perform oral sex.

Fr Bob Maguire, the director of Open Family Foundation, said Gwillim was a "wounded healer" who suffered burnout.

Judge Fred Davey will sentence Gwillim this week.

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