Ex-Clergyman Found Guilty of Molesting
Sydney Morning Herald
November 6, 2006
A former Anglican curate has been found guilty in Brisbane of having sex with a teenage organist he was mentoring during the 1970s.
Robert Francis Sharwood, 62, of Brisbane, had pleaded not guilty in the District Court in Brisbane to five charges including one each of carnal knowledge and permitting carnal knowledge and two of indecent assault, and to a charge of gross indecency.
A jury found Sharwood guilty of the first four charges, but not guilty of the gross indecency charge.
Sharwood already had pleaded guilty to another seven charges relating to the sexual relationship which occurred between January 1974 and March 1976 while he was an assistant curate at a parish in Brisbane's south-west.
The now 46-year-old complainant, who cannot be named, was only 13 and a young parishioner who played the organ at the same parish when Sharwood seduced him.
A joint love of classical music, particularly Mozart, forged the setting for the abuse which included kissing, masturbation, oral sex and anal intercourse.
During the two-and-a-half years Sharwood molested the boy about two to three times a week - including when he picked him up after school, at the rectory, during musical concerts, at their homes, and in a car.
Sharwood befriended the family of the complainant - who is now married with four children - when he arrived at their home to help clean up after the devastating 1974 Brisbane floods - in only his swimming togs.
In 1976 Sharwood moved to Sydney, and the victim's father intercepted a love letter Sharwood had written to his son.
He took it to the parish, where a bishop and a another clergyman bestowed "absolute forgiveness and restoration to the church" on Sharwood to reform him.
Sharwood was an assistant priest at the complainant's wedding in 1982, after the complainant was a groomsman at Sharwood's wedding in 1977.
Sharwood later worked at a exclusive Brisbane private school, which terminated his employment in 2002 on hearing about the alleged abuse.
In an unusual move Judge Fleur Kingham agreed to continue Sharwood's bail until he is sentenced later this week.
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