Abuse Accused Fired

By Mark Oberhardt
Courier Mail [Australia]
November 1, 2006,23739,20684177-3102,00.html

An Anglican priest was fired from his job at a leading Brisbane private school after allegations were made he had a sexual relationship with a teenage boy from his parish nearly 30 years earlier.

The former headmaster of Brisbane's Anglican Grammar School, David Scott, told a District Court trial he "terminated" Robert Francis Sharwood's employment as a teacher and assistant chaplain in February 2002.

Mr Scott, now the headmaster of Newington College in Sydney, said that after allegations about the 1970s offences were made to a school board member he raised them with Sharwood, who had moved to the school in the mid-1980s.

He said he recalled Sharwood made no comment other than to say the matters were dealt with "long ago".

Under cross examination from barrister Gary Long, for Sharwood, Mr Scott confirmed there was another anonymous allegation made about Sharwood's behaviour at the school but an investigation found there was no substance to it. Mr Scott said he did not know the source of stories in The Courier-Mail in 2002 about Sharwood's sacking.

In the trial the Crown is making no allegation of criminal behaviour by Sharwood at Anglican Grammar and the events relate to his time as curate of the Sherwood parish in the mid-1970s.

Sharwood, now 62, has pleaded not guilty to two counts of indecent assault, carnal knowledge against the order of nature, permitting carnal knowledge against the order of nature, and gross indecency.

Before evidence was called, Judge Fleur Kingham told the jury Sharwood had on an earlier occasion pleaded guilty to seven counts of indecent assault involving the same complainant.

The trial heard Sharwood was the assistant curate at St Matthews Anglican church at Sherwood, and the Crown alleges from 1974 to 1976 he had a sexual relationship with a boy, a parishioner, which developed through their mutual love of music.

The complainant gave evidence in closed court and the former rector of St Matthews, Thomas Hood, also gave evidence.

The trial continues today.


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