Sex abuse commission: School warned about predator priest

The Age

November 30, 2015

Beau Donelly

Senior Catholic education officials warned a Melbourne principal that children were not safe to be left alone with the school’s new priest, the child abuse royal commission has heard.

But when former St James Primary School principal Patricia Taylor took her concerns about incoming priest Wilfred “Billy” Baker to her regional bishop Peter Connors, she claimed he told her “once a paedophile always a paedophile”. She said she did not hear from the bishop again and that Baker was appointed to the parish a short time later.

On day five of the royal commission’s probe into the church’s handling of historic child abuse cases, Ms Taylor said the Catholic Education Office informed her about allegations against Baker before he was sent to the Richmond North parish adjoining her school in mid-1992.

She said she was warned never to leave children unsupervised with Baker or allow them to attend confession with him behind closed doors, and that she should also avoid being alone with him.

Ms Taylor said she received a phone call from someone she knew who revealed they had been abused by Baker. She also had a conversation with another Melbourne principal who warned her about allegations against the priest and told her to be “very, very wary and very careful”.

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