Priest Charged: Armidale Cleric Linked to Bathurst Scandal

By Jacqueline Van Aanholt
Northern Daily Leader

September 4, 2008

A 65-YEAR-old Armidale priest was arrested late yesterday afternoon over allegations of sexual abuse committed on students at a church secondary college in Bathurst.

The 65-year-old priest attended Armidale Police Station shortly after 4.30pm yesterday where he was questioned and charged with four offences.

He was bailed to appear at Bathurst Local Court on September 15.

He is the latest of four elderly priests to be arrested as a result of investigations by Strike Force Belle (formerly known as Strike Force Heador).

The strike force was formed by Bathurst Police in August 2007 to investigate claims of sexual abuse by a former St Stanislaus College chaplain Brian Spillane and two other staff members at the prestigious Catholic boys’ school.

Strike Force Belle officers are now investigating a large number of sexual assault allegations at both a Catholic school and an Anglican secondary school in Bathurst in the 1970s.

Brian Spillane, a former member of the Vincentian Order and the chaplain and a teacher at St Stanislaus in the 1970s and 1980s, was arrested on Tuesday night.

After initially being charged with 33 offences allegedly involving five former students he was later charged with a further 60 offences.

These involved allegations of sexual intercourse with pupils aged between 10 and 16 and acts of gross indecency.

It is understood the additional charges relate to a further eight of Spillane’s pupils from the school in the 1980s.

Spillane was granted bail and will appear in the Bathurst Local Court to answer the 33 original charges on September 15.

Strike Force Belle inquiries were responsible for two other arrests yesterday.

A 66-year-old Brother from Marsfield in Sydney’s north – who is understood to be a member of the Vincentian order based in Sydney and a former teacher at St Stanislaus’ – was arrested and charged yesterday morning.

He has been bailed to answer a total of 28 sexual offence charges at Bathurst Local Court on September 15.

A 63-year-old Queensland man, who has not yet been identified, was also charged with three sexual offences. He has been bailed to appear at Bathurst Local Court on November 17.

Chifley Local Area Commander Detective Superintendent Michael Goodwin said Strike Force Belle had been expanded to investigate additional allegations of past sexual assaults at an Anglican secondary school in Bathurst.

This followed new allegations by former students.

“Since allegations became public last week, a number of informants have come forward with further information,” he said.

“We are currently sifting through a significant amount of information... we have broadened this investigation.

“We cannot rule out further arrests.”


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