Priest Friend of Attorney-general Greg Smith Arrested

By Andrew Clennell and Clementine Cuneo
The Telegraph
May 1, 2012

Father Finian Egan arriving at Ryde Police station and being met by detectives to be charged over child sexual assault allegations. Picture: Tracee Lea Source: The Daily Telegraph

A CLOSE friend of NSW Attorney-General Greg Smith, Catholic priest Father Finian Egan, has been charged with rape and indecent assaults today in connection with alleged child sex offences.

A statement from Police released a short time ago said detectives had “arrested and charged a Catholic priest with child sex offences dating back four decades”.

“The 77-year-old man attended Ryde Police Station with his legal representative about 10am,” the statement said.

“He was taken into custody by detectives attached to Eastwood Local Area Command and questioned in relation to alleged sexual offences against four children.

“The offences allegedly occurred between 1972 and 1987, while the man was appointed as a priest to parishes in Sydney and on the Central Coast.

He has been charged with 17 offences including:

Two counts of indecent assault and one of rape relating to an alleged incident involving a 17-year-old girl at The Entrance in 1972.

One charge of indecent assault relating to a 14-year-old boy from an alleged incident at the Entrance in 1973

Three charges of Indecent Assault relating to an alleged incident involving a 16-year-old girl at Carlingford in 1987

And 10 charges of indecent assault relating to an alleged incident involving a 11-year-old girl at Carlingford in 1979

The man was granted strict conditional bail to appear in Ryde Local Court on 23 May 2012.

Father Egan attended Ryde Police Station by appointment to be arrested this morning over allegations which have been the subject of media reports over the past couple of years.

Mr Smith is close enough to Father Egan to have mentioned him in his maiden speech in 2007, saying "at St Gerard's Father Finian Egan charmed us with his Irish wit and his pastoral devotion to his flock".

A Catholic Church investigation upheld claims against Father Egan in 2009 brought by two Sydney women who said he repeatedly groped them in the 1980s when he was their parish priest.

In 2010, Mr Smith confirmed to The Daily Telegraph that Father Egan remained a friend and "I have respect for him".

Asked what he thought of the allegations, Mr Smith said: "It's not really for me to say . . . I don't know the extent of the allegations."

The ABC's 7:30 Report reported last month that one of Father Egan's alleged victims had been told by an unnamed priest that Mr Smith thought she was chasing her money.

In an email to the victim, an unnamed priest said: "I was with Greg Smith the other day and I raised you [sic] case with him. He commented that 'you were just trying to get $1m from the church.' "

The victim told the program she was "horrified that the chief lawmaker in the state could comment on an open criminal case [and] that he'd pass judgment on someone he doesn't even know".

Mr Smith denied making such comments.

A spokesman for Mr Smith said at the time of the report: "The Attorney-General recalls no such conversation. He says he would never suggest any victim of sexual abuse was simply motivated by a desire to claim a financial payout."








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