Ex-Priest Takes Stand to Reject Abuse Claims

By Gavin Lower
The Mercury [Australia]
February 23, 2006,5936,18242248%255E3462,00.html

A FORMER college priest accused of sexually abusing four boys more than 30 years ago entered the witness box yesterday to deny the allegations against him.

Roger Michael Bellemore, 70, has pleaded not guilty to four charges of maintaining a sexual relationship with a young person at Marist College in Burnie between 1967 and 1971.

Mr Bellemore told the Supreme Court jury in Hobart he'd never had the boys in his room, which was upstairs from the college's junior dormitory.

He denied touching or sexually assaulting the boys and said he could not remember them at the school.

Four former students, who cannot be named, have told the court they were sexually assaulted by Mr Bellemore in his room before bed time.

One said he would go to Mr Bellemore's room two or three times a week for two years while he was at the school.

Cross-examined by Crown prosecutor Michael Stoddart, Mr Bellemore said boys would come to his room wearing their pyjamas if they had something to do with a sporting team or cadet unit but never for study work.

Mr Bellemore denied giving boys whiskey or cigarettes, saying he gave up smoking in 1965 and there was a policy at the school banning alcohol in priests' rooms.

He said he had a fairly good memory for a 70-year-old but "I do need help".

The trial is continuing.


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