Tough for Boys, Sex Trial Hears

By Gavin Lower
The Mercury [Australia]
February 25, 2006,5936,18265143%255E3462,00.html

SCHOOL authority prevented four boys from speaking out about being sexually abused by a priest more than 30 years ago, a court was told yesterday.

Crown prosecutor Michael Stoddart said the boys could not complain about the priest's behaviour because of the harsh regime they were under at Marist College in Burnie.

"How could these children have challenged the authority?" Mr Stoddart told the jury in his closing address in the trial of Roger Michael Bellemore.

"They're told not to say anything by Father Bellemore."

Mr Bellemore, 70, has pleaded not guilty to four charges of maintaining a sexual relationship with a young person under the age of 17.

He is accused of indecently assaulting the boys while he was a priest and teacher at Marist College between 1967 and 1971.

Mr Bellemore's lawyer, Paul Byrne, SC, told the jury in his closing address the evidence of the complainants was not enough to lead them to find his client guilty beyond reasonable doubt.

Mr Byrne said the jury had heard evidence from reliable sources in the defence case that would give them at least a reasonable doubt about the guilt of Mr Bellemore.

He said there were concerns about the reliability of versions of events by the now-grown men.

One man said he went to Mr Bellemore's room at night for Latin lessons but a former priest at the school said Latin was not taught at the school.

Mr Stoddart said the four men in the trial had not known each other before the court case.

He said it would be a very strange coincidence for four different students in different years but of similar ages to describe being sexually abused in the same room.

Mr Stoddart said the men who gave evidence were more credible than Mr Bellemore.

The jury at the Supreme Court trial in Hobart is expected to retire to consider its verdict on Monday.


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