Catholic Community in Shock

By Janice Harris
Central Western Daily

August 28, 2008

ORANGE’s Catholic community has been shocked by revelations a police investigation is underway into alleged sexual abuse and gross acts of indecency against former students of St Stanislaus College in Bathurst.

A police probe into the claims involves three former staff, St Stanislaus College principal John Edwards says.

A 65-year-old former priest at the private school is facing 33 charges, following allegations of a paedophile ring comprising priests and teachers at the school during the 1980s.

SUPPORT: The parents of several St Stanislaus students based in Orange called the college’s principal John Edwards yesterday, offering their support.

For decades many Orange parents have sent their sons to the all-boys college in Bathurst, as weekly boarders or travelling daily by bus.

Yesterday police would not say if any of the former students who have come forward with allegations were from Orange, due to suppression orders imposed by the court.

Former St Stanislaus student and high profile rugby player James Grant, who attended the school for two years in the early 1980s, said he spent a great deal of time yesterday answering calls from former schoolmates, many of whom still live in Orange.

“As far as I am concerned I didn’t hear or see anything when I was there and certainly no-one pulled the wool over my eyes,” Mr Grant, a former Wallaby, said.

“To my mind it is still a great school and I had nothing but positive experiences there.

“But I am glad people have had the courage to come forward.”

Mr Grant said he telephoned the school yesterday, along with other parents he knows, to offer support to Mr Edwards at what he said must be a trying time.

Officer in charge of the investigation Detective Acting Inspector Lance McFawn told the Central Western Daily 13 former students of the school had given police comprehensive statements outlining alleged sexual abuse which occurred in the 1970s and 1980s

“The investigation is ongoing and I would urge anyone with information to come forward and call Bathurst police,” he said.

“I understand it will be difficult to come forward and discuss such matters, but I would reassure anyone with information that a phone call to police would be dealt with in the strictest confidence.”

Former priest Brian Joseph Spillane, 65, who is now living in Sydney, will reappear in Bathurst Local Court on September 15 charged with 33 offences relating to sexual assault charges.

Mr Spillane is on bail after being charged on May 23 following the establishment of Strike Force Heador.

Yesterday Detective Inspector McFawn said police were investigating whether a detailed description on a website of the alleged offences by the priest and another teacher at the school would interfere with the investigation.

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.

“There's no loose ends being let go at this stage,” he said.

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

Several former Orange students of St Stanislaus College were contacted by the CWD but declined to comment.


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