Priest Charged with More Abuse Counts

By Ingrid Bown
The Herald

October 1, 2008

POLICE have laid a further 37 charges against a Catholic priest and former Hunter school teacher accused of sexually abusing boys for more than 15 years.

The new charges relate to 14 males, bringing John Sidney Denham's total of alleged victims to 32.

Denham, 66, appeared in Newcastle Local Court by video link from a Sydney jail to face 67 charges yesterday.

Dressed in a green prison tracksuit, and with a thick white beard, he appeared relaxed during the brief hearing.

Denham initially faced 30 charges at a Sydney court in August, relating to 18 alleged victims in various parishes.

The charges, including multiple counts of indecent assault and sexual assault, one count of buggery and one count of indecent assault of a person under his authority, now span from 1968 to 1986.

Of the new charges, 16 allegedly occurred in Adamstown, and one at Charlestown, between 1978 and 1980.

The earliest offence is alleged to have occurred between 1968 and 1971 at Granville.

That boy was allegedly assaulted between 1968 and 1979, while four others were allegedly abused at Taree in the 1980s and two at Wingham in the late 1970s.

Police documents before court in Sydney said Denham was attached to the Newcastle-Maitland Diocese of the Catholic Church and restrictions had been placed on him concerning pastoral duties involving children.

Police said Denham first arrived at the diocese as a deacon in the Mayfield parish in 1972 and moved to the Singleton parish in 1973.

He taught at St Pius X High School at Adamstown, where he lived in parish quarters.

About 1980 he moved to the Charlestown parish and was later transferred to Taree. About 1986 he became a teacher at Waverley College where he stayed until the early 1990s, when police allege he was instructed not to associate with children or young people.

Police said Denham still posed a risk to the community because of "evidence of offending in all areas he was attached to in NSW".

Police said they had received the first complaint about Denham in April this year.

Denham had been living in Sydney and working for the Catholic Church as a librarian at a resource centre.

The case was adjourned to the Newcastle Local Court on November 12.


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