Investigation into Sexual Assault Claims Broadens

Daily Liberal

August 27, 2008

Dubbo Catholic priest Father Paul Devitt yesterday spoke in support of St Stanislaus’ College at Bathurst as police broadened an investigation into alleged sexual assaults at the prestigious boarding school 30 years ago.

A 65-year-old former priest has been charged with 33 counts of sexual assault and gross acts of indecency on five juveniles, aged between 10 and 18.

The man has faced court and is scheduled to reappear next month. Since then, more people have come forward alleging similar assaults by a paedophile ring comprising priests and teachers.

The St Stanislaus’ investigation is ongoing and people with concerns are urged to contact police.

St Stanislaus’ College in Bathurst has been rocked by claims of sexual assault in the 1970s and 1980s.

Father Devitt stressed the alleged assaults happened during the 1970s and 80s and police were not looking into anything in the current day.

“St Stanislaus’ has been co-operating with the police completely and the principal informed parents of the allegations long before they came to the attention of the media,’’ Father Devitt said.

“Sexual, physical and mental abuse occurs in ... families and has been associated with all faiths and institutions.

“The Catholic church has had a series of protocols in place since the clergy scandal broke in the 1990s. The aim is to assist those who have experienced abuse to find healing.’’

Father Devitt said people with claims of abuse should inform police and proven offenders should be answerable to the full force of the law.

“Abuse is something done secretly and individually,’’ he said. “Thousands of kids who attended St Stanislaus’ during the time of the alleged assaults wouldn’t have known anything was wrong.’’

Police urge alleged victims to come forward

All victims of an alleged paedophile 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 sexual 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.

A 65-year-old former priest is now facing 33 charges, following allegations a paedophile ring of priests and teachers had operated at the school.The first signs of trouble at St Stanislaus’ College emerged when an ex-student posted allegations of sexual abuse on a website in August last year.

Police 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 said.

Supt Goodwin said police inquiries had not led officers to any other schools where former St Stanislaus’ staff may have also been employed.

“I can confirm that there’s no one at the school at the moment that is subject to that inquiry,” he said

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.

St Stanislaus’ College

principal John Edwards yesterday said the school was

determined to address historic sexual abuse allegations “as openly and as comprehensively as possible”.

Adopting an “open door policy”, Mr Edwards said the allegations against a former teaching priest at St Stanislaus’ dating back to 1986 was a matter of “grave concern”, and there must be “open and transparent discussion”.

The headmaster gave assurances the school had significant policies and practices in place.

“Our risk management policies and practices were extensively examined by the NSW Board of Studies inspectors as recently as June, 2008,” Mr Edwards said.

There was a feeling of shock among several ex-students of Stannies following the revelations.

Local businessman Pip McIntosh attended Stannies from 1979-1984.

He said yesterday he never had any idea, or heard any rumours, of the allegations which have surfaced.

“I didn’t have a clue these types of things were going on,” he said. “I never heard any mention of it. When I read the newspapers this morning I was shocked, just dumbfounded.

“However, I really feel for the victims of the abuse.

“I hope the offenders get the justice they deserve once all this comes out.”

Mr McIntosh said he has only fond memories of his time at Stannies.

“I had a great time up there,” he said. “The best thing about the school was the sport and the mateship. I made lifelong friends.”


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