Ex-Pupil Tells of Sex Abuse
By Gavin Lower
The Mercury [Australia]
February 21, 2006
A PRIEST used boys under his care for his own comfort and sexual gratification, a court was told yesterday.
Roger Michael Bellemore, 69, was a priest and teacher at Marist College in Burnie when he is alleged to have sexually assaulted four boys more than 30 years ago.
He has pleaded not guilty to four charges of maintaining a sexual relationship with a young person under the age of 17.
Crown prosecutor Michael Stoddart told a jury of eight women and four men in the Supreme Court in Hobart yesterday that Mr Bellemore was a popular figure at Marist College.
He said Mr Bellemore had taught Latin, coached sport and worked in the school's infirmary.
"Rather than nurture, Mr Bellemore used the boys, under the guise of caring, for his own comfort and sexual gratification," Mr Stoddart said.
He said the alleged abuse occurred at a time when sexual abuse was a "taboo" subject in society.
Mr Bellemore is alleged to have sexually assaulted boys aged between nine and 15 in the years from 1967 to 1971.
Mr Stoddart said Mr Bellemore would tell the boys not to tell anyone what had happened.
A 48-year-old man, who cannot be identified, told the court he was a boarder at Marist College when Mr Bellemore sexually assaulted him.
He said he went to Mr Bellemore's room one night to get help with his Latin.
The man said Mr Bellemore told him to sit on his bed.
Mr Bellemore then put his arm around him and "started playing with me", the man said.
He said he also touched Mr Bellemore after the priest told him to.
The man said he was too scared to resist Mr Bellemore and felt "confused, embarrassed".
He said he was sexually assaulted three or four times by Mr Bellemore.
Mr Bellemore's lawyer, Paul Byrne, SC, told the jury his client denied the allegations of sexual abuse.
Mr Byrne told the jury it would hear evidence that called into question the reliability of the alleged victims' evidence.
The trial is continuing.
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