Priest Misconduct Findings Not Made Public

By Joanne Mccarthy
Newcastle Herald
September 9, 2010

ANGLICAN Bishop of Newcastle Brian Farran has defended a decision not to publicise serious misconduct findings, including sexual misconduct and harassment, against former Cooks Hill parish priest Garry Dodd in July.

Although the priest admitted seven counts of serious misconduct at a Professional Standards Board hearing on July 30, Bishop Farran said he did not make the findings public out of concern for "secondary victims" including the priest's family members.

"I thought we'd done all that was required without escalating the matter and I felt we'd completed our obligations to the complainants," Bishop Farran said yesterday after the Newcastle Herald contacted the diocese on Tuesday about the hearing.

Father Dodd is the second Newcastle Anglican Diocese priest to face a misconduct hearing this year after Terrigal priest John Gumbley was defrocked in May for multiple sexual liaisons.

Father Gumbley has denied misconduct and indicated he could appeal against the decision.

Father Dodd was suspended from the ministry in September last year after a series of complaints.

At a Professional Standards Board hearing in Newcastle on July 30 before retired NSW magistrate and board president Col Elliott, the priest admitted seven counts of serious misconduct.

In a statement yesterday the diocese described the matters as "breaches of the Diocesan code of conduct including sexualised behaviours, boundary breaching and sexual harassment involving adult females, as well as attempting to mislead the investigation into the matter".

The conduct was not criminal.

The board adjourned the matter for 12 months during which Father Dodd, now working at the Seafarers Mission, will remain under strict supervision.

He is unable to carry out "individual pastoral ministry" to women for six months, and will not be allowed to undertake "general ministry" to women for a further six months without "a high level of visual monitoring" by one or more licensed church workers who must record the matter in a diary.

He is also required to undergo regular counselling.

Mr Elliott will review the priest's progress in July next year.

Father Dodd did not respond to a call from the Herald.


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