Former Priest Charged with Sex Offences

By Alex Tibbitts and Georgina Robinson
Sydney Morning Herald
August 23, 2008

A former Wollongong priest has been charged with a series of sex offences dating back to the 60s.

Kelvin Gerald Sharkey, an 81-year-old retired Catholic priest who now lives in Victoria, has been charged with 10 counts of indecent assault and two counts of buggery of an altar boy at St John Vianney's, Fairy Meadow, which runs a primary school.

Police allege the offences occurred from 1969 to 1976, starting when the victim was 10 years old.

The Bishop of the Diocese of Wollongong, the Most Reverend Peter Ingham, said the priest had been retired from active ministry since 1988.

"I wish to assure the community that the Diocese of Wollongong is committed to the protection of children and young people," he said.

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

He would not say if the church knew of the offences or any other allegations against the priest or whether the priest had been sanctioned over child-abuse allegations, saying that it was inappropriate to make any further comment because the matter is in front of the courts.

A former student of St John Vianney's school said she 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.

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

NSW Police travelled to Melbourne to interview Sharkey and charged him on August 6.

Sharkey was living in two-bedroom apartment owned by Diocese of Wollongong in the Melbourne bayside suburb of Mordialloc for 10 years until it was sold in March. A spokeswoman for the Australian Catholic Bishops Conference said he is no longer living on church premises.

Sharkey has been summoned to appear in the Wollongong Local Court on September 30.

It is the third arrest in eight days of retired or serving Catholic priests in the state.

Police last week arrested a 65-year-old priest at an Adamstown high school and charged him with 30 child sex offences commited on 18 boys during the 1970s and 1980s.

Two days later another priest at the same school was charged with perverting the course of justice in a police probe into the allegations at the school.

with Jodie Minus and Michelle Hoctor


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