Sydney Morning Herald [Sydney, New South Wales, Australia]
May 24, 2021
By Laura Chung
A Catholic priest charged with indecently assaulting 12 boys in a NSW Southern Highlands boarding school in the 1980s allegedly wrote if he could change something about himself it would be “this feeling I have towards young boys”, a court has heard.
Father Anthony William Peter Caruana, 79, allegedly assaulted the boys when he was a dormitory manager, rugby coach and band teacher at Chevalier College, in Burradoo, between 1982 and 1988.
He has pleaded not guilty to 29 charges, including four counts of homosexual intercourse with a student and several counts of indecent assault of a person aged under 16.
In her opening statement at the Sydney Downing Centre on Monday, crown prosecutor Nerissa Keay outlined the allegations and told the jury what they could expect to hear from the 12 complainants over the course of the eight-week trial.
Among the allegations, is the indecent assault of a student who took part in an extracurricular school activity in 1984.
Ms Keay told the jury the complainant would tell them that on one occasion after practice, Father Caruana allegedly rubbed his erection against the boy’s buttocks.
During the incident, Father Caruana allegedly said words to the effect of “God will love you if you let me teach you” and told the student he would be expelled if he told anyone what had occurred, Ms Keay expects the complainant will say.
In a separate incident, Ms Keay said another former student will recall one night in Father Caruana’s office the priest allegedly pulled his erect penis from his pants, grabbed hold of the student’s head and forced his penis into the student’s mouth.
After the alleged incident, the student was given a lolly and told to return to his room.
“It is the crown’s case that there is evidence that establishes the accused had a sexual interest in boys between 11 and 15 years [of age] in the 1980s and had a tendency to act in accordance with that sexual interest,” Ms Keay said.
The court was also told there was a questionnaire which had been located in church records by police that had been completed in 1989, the year the complaints were made, “which is in the accused’s handwriting”, she said.
When the questionnaire asked: “what do you like least about yourself”, Father Caruana allegedly responded with,“my sexual problem.”
In response to the question: “do you or did you feel there might be something wrong with you” he allegedly wrote: “Yes and now for the last 30 years, my sexual problems.”
When asked if he could change something about himself, he responded, “this feeling I have towards young boys.”
Following the 1989 complaints, Father Caruana was moved from a “teaching role to an archiving role in Sydney” and did not teach again, Ms Keay said.
The Crown is also expected to hear from a former manager in the Missionaries of the Sacred Heart, who allegedly wrote a file note in 1993 that “Tony acknowledges he is a paedophile and there is little likelihood of change,” Ms Keay said.
She added while the man couldn’t remember writing the note, he will likely tell the jury “he wouldn’t have written it if that wasn’t said to him”.
Defence barrister Bernard Brassil told the jury it was vital they gave his client a “fair trial” and urged them to be patient.
“That imperatively means that you must not decide anything at this point in time,” he said. “Listen with open ears and open minds what it is the defence says about this trial … We all know the sound that liars make when they give untruthful stories and sometimes intelligent questioning reveals more.”
Detectives launched Strike Force Caber in 2018 to investigate reports of sexual and indecent assaults and arrested Father Caruana at a home in Kensington in Sydney’s eastern suburbs in April 2019.
The trial continues.
National Sexual Assault, Family & Domestic Violence Counselling Line: 1800 737 732. Crisis support can be found at Lifeline: (13 11 14 and lifeline.org.au), the Suicide Call Back Service (1300 659 467 and suicidecallbackservice.org.au) and beyondblue (1300 22 4636 and beyondblue.org.au).