Sex Abuse Victims Urged to Come Forward

Sydney Morning Herald

August 26, 2008

All victims of an alleged pedophile ring at a Catholic boys' school in Bathurst are being urged to come forward by the NSW police.

Shocking allegations have surfaced about years of sex abuse at St Stanislaus' College from the late 1970s to the early 1980s.

At least 13 alleged victims have come forward since local police were first alerted last year by men claiming to have been abused while they were students at the private school in the state's central west.

A 65-year-old former priest is now facing 33 charges, following allegations a pedophile ring of priests and teachers had operated at the school.

Police have released scant information but have asked anyone else who fell victim to the alleged abuse to contact police.

"I would imagine it would be very hard for anyone subject to these sort of things to come forward," Detective Superintendent Michael Goodwin told reporters in Sydney.

"All I can say is that NSW police force will be providing every form of support we possibly can to make the process for them as trouble-free as possible.

Supt Goodwin would not reveal how many suspects are being investigated but said police inquiries had not led officers to any other schools where former St Stanislaus staff may have also been employed.

"All of the lines of inquiry that have been presented to us have been explored and are being investigated," he said.

"There's no loose ends being let go at this stage."

"I can confirm that there's no one at the school at the moment that is subject to that inquiry."

On May 23, the former priest was charged with offences relating to sexual assault and gross acts of indecency of boys aged between 10 and 18 years old.

"At this stage we're looking at 13 victims and we're following up those lines of inquiry at the moment," Supt Goodwin said.

St Stanislaus principal John Edwards said he had been served with a search warrant last month which listed the names of three former staff members.

"There were three former staff members who were listed on the search warrant that was served on me in early July, and we facilitated the gathering of material for police," Mr Edwards told Fairfax Radio Network on Wednesday.

"I'm not able to comment any further."

Mr Edwards also said he first became aware of

the allegations "several years ago" when, he said, he referred the claims to police.

"The college received some internet material which contained allegations that I think are linked to the ones that are currently taking place," he said.

"Those matters were referred to the police some years ago."

He said the material included claims of late night prayer and chanting sessions in which boys were sexually abused.

"Those circumstances where people have betrayed trust, it is a matter of grave concern and shame, and it needs to be addressed comprehensively in order to protect children in the future," Mr Edwards said.

"I can assure parents that this school is committed to the most thorough child protection measures, that we have been implementing for some considerable period of time.

"We work closely with authorities in the area of child protection, we are committed to protecting children wherever we can."

Supt Goodwin would not specify how many suspects are being investigated or reveal their whereabouts.

"We're pursuing those lines of inquiry and to anticipate when charges will be laid at this stage is a little bit presumptuous," he said.


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