More Charges against Priest Likely

By Kim Christian and Danny Rose

August 14, 2008,23599,24181332-29277,00.html

NSW police expect to lay more charges against a Catholic priest accused of sexually abusing 18 boys aged as young as 11 in the state's Hunter region.

John Sidney Denham, 65, is facing 30 child sex related charges dating back to the 1970s and 1980s.

He opted not to apply for bail or appear in Sydney's Central Local Court today where his case was before Magistrate Alan Moore.

Denham faces 28 counts of indecent assault of a male, a charge of buggery and one charge of attempted indecent assault of a male.

He was arrested in Kensington, in Sydney's east, earlier today after a four-month police investigation.

Police say the victims were all males aged between 11 and 17, and the 30 alleged offences mainly occurred in the Newcastle area.

Lake Macquarie Acting Local Area Commander Garry O'Dell said Strike Force Georgiana was set up at the end of April this year to investigate allegations relating to 18 victims.

"It was investigating a number of historical sexual assaults which took place in the 1970s and `80s in relation to young males,'' Commander O'Dell said.

He said further charges were likely.

"Strike Force Georgiana has a number of complaints that they're looking at, so inquiries are ongoing.

"We've obtained statements that support the offences that we're putting before the court and we've certainly had that support and the involvement of a number of victims and witnesses.''

Police allege the assaults took place at St Pius X High School at Adamstown in the late 1970s.

Further assaults allegedly occurred in the Charlestown parish in 1980 and the Taree parish in 1981.

Detectives were receiving ongoing assistance from the Newcastle-Maitland diocese of the Catholic Church, police said.

On August 7, Bishop Michael Malone apologised to victims of sex abuse by the clergy at Sacred Heart Cathedral in Newcastle in front of a congregation of some 500 people.

The congregation reportedly erupted with applause when Bishop Malone said the Newcastle-Maitland diocese was committed to supporting sex abuse victims.

The charges against Denham come almost a month after Pope Benedict XVI apologised during his World Youth Day visit to Sydney to victims of sexual abuse by clergy in Australia.

Magistrate Alan Moore remanded Denham in custody to appear in court in Newcastle on October 1.


Any original material on these pages is copyright © 2004. Reproduce freely with attribution.