Former Fairy Meadow Priest on Sex Charges

By Jodie Minus and Michelle Hoctor
Illawarra Mercury
August 23, 2008

A retired Catholic priest from Fairy Meadow has been charged with a string of child sex offences after a former altar boy complained to a victims support group.

Kelvin Gerald Sharkey, 81, was charged by Lake Illawarra detectives earlier this month with two counts of buggery and 10 counts of indecent assault.

He has been summonsed to appear in Wollongong Local Court on September 30.

A police spokesman said the alleged offences occurred over a period from 1969 to 1976, beginning when the victim was 10 years old.

"The charges relate to the repeated sexual assault of a former altar boy on the state's south coast," he said.

The victim, now in his late 40s, complained about the assault to a victims support group, which then alerted police.

NSW Police investigators travelled to Melbourne, where Sharkey lives, to follow up the claims and charged him on August 6 with the 12 sex offences.

Sharkey was a former priest at St John Vianney's Church, on the corner of the Princes Hwy and Cabbage Tree Lane at Fairy Meadow.

A former student of St John Vianney's School told the Mercury they remembered Sharkey at the school in 1968 as a "dark figure".

"He was a bit of a fire and brimstone priest - he would yell from the pulpit," said the woman, who wished to remain anonymous.

"I cannot recall if he was the parish priest or the assistant priest," she said.

In 1988 Sharkey, then 61, retired from active ministry and later moved to Melbourne.

For at least 10 years he has been living in a two-bedroom apartment in the seaside suburb of Mordialloc, 25km south-east of Melbourne.

According to documents obtained by the Mercury, the apartment had been owned by the Trustees of the Roman Catholic Church for the Diocese of Wollongong since 2000.

The pink brick apartment was sold in May for $351,000.

Bishop of the Diocese of Wollongong, Peter Ingham, expressed his sadness over the allegations and said the church would co-operate fully with police.

"I express deep sadness concerning allegations of abuse by a retired priest of the Diocese," Bishop Ingham said in a statement.

"The Diocese will co-operate fully with police and other relevant authorities in bringing this matter to a just resolution."


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