July 12, 2021
A Catholic priest has been found guilty of numerous historical abuse charges including three counts of having homosexual sex with young boys.
Anthony William Peter Caruana, 79, was convicted of 25 charges relating to 12 victims after jurors in his Sydney trial were deliberating for nearly 10 days.
They will return to the NSW District Court on Wednesday to continue deciding on a majority verdict for the remaining two counts.
The former boarding housemaster is accused of abusing male students while he was a school teacher, rugby coach, and conductor at Chevalier College, south of Sydney in the 1980s.
Over a six-week trial, the jury heard evidence that one of his 14-year-old victims was attacked while in the band storage room cleaning instruments.
The teacher grabbed his hand and forced it down his pants, another time saying words to the effect of “God will love you if you do what I say” and “you’re pleasing a man of God”.
The teenager remained petrified and on another occasion he repeated “no no no” but was gripped so tightly he bruised for days after.
Caruana testified that he never assaulted any of the children, including one to whom the teacher read his mother’s monthly letters inside his own private room upstairs and not in the public dormitory.
In 1989 he left the NSW Southern Highlands school after complaints were made about his conduct towards boys.
That same year, a questionnaire was filled out in Caruana’s handwriting that the Crown says “demonstrates” the priest’s contemporaneous sexual interest in boys aged 11 to 15.
One response spoke of feeling there might be something wrong with “my sexual problem”.
“I was always worried it would be found out and now that it has, it has shattered me,” read an answer to a question about having a “bad feeling”.
When asked about any desire to change something by “magic”, the respondent said: “This feeling I have towards young boys”.
In giving evidence Caruana said he had left out a crucial part of the passage, which should have read “in my dreams”.
“When you talk about fondling young boys, is this referring to your dreams or real life?” the 79-year-old’s barrister Bernard Brassil said in June.
“My dreams,” Caruana said.
Judge Robyn Tupman previously directed the jury to find Caruana not guilty of an additional two counts of indecent assault following a lack of evidence.
The trial continues.