Retired Catholic priest Richard Doyle found guilty of molesting young girl decades ago

Australian Broadcasting Corporation - ABC [Sydney, Australia]

March 18, 2022

By Cason Ho

A retired Catholic priest in Perth has been found guilty of sexually abusing a young girl more than 40 years ago.

Key points:

  • The charges stem from incidents between 1979 and 1982
  • The abuse began when the victim was six
  • Doyle will be sentenced in May

Richard Doyle, 85, was found guilty of four charges of indecent dealings with the girl when she was between the ages of six and 10.

The District Court in WA was told the girl’s mother was a devout Catholic with a strong involvement in the church.

She first met Doyle in Bruce Rock where he was a parish priest.

When the family moved to Perth in 1978, Doyle visited their home uninvited.

The court heard Doyle would visit frequently between 1979 and 1982, and would often stay for dinner.

“If you knew my history of growing up, my parents, my grandparents would never turn away a priest,” the mother stated in her evidence.

Judge Belinda Lonsdale found Doyle guilty of several instances of sexual abuse during those visits, and said the former priest had “an indecent interest in prepubescent children”.

She told the court a prison sentence was “almost inevitable”.

“I’m sure you’ll appreciate that you are to receive a term of imprisonment to be immediately served,” she said.

Back scratches led to abuse, court heard

The court previously heard from the prosecutor that Doyle would ask for “back scratches” from the girl during his regular visits.

In her evidence, the mother said she remembered seeing Doyle take off his shirt in her daughter’s room to have his back scratched, but never expected anything “untoward”.

The prosecutor said the interactions would progressively escalate, with Doyle eventually molesting the girl.

Doyle had previously denied any claims of receiving back scratches at the family home.

The defence said Doyle’s frequent contact with the girl and the family was to provide support, as they were struggling at the time.

It was alleged the abuse happened “very frequently”, with Mr Doyle charged with six counts of indecent dealing of a child.

Judge Lonsdale found Doyle guilty “beyond reasonable doubt” on four of the occasions.

Doyle has been remanded in custody and is due to be sentenced on May 9.