Victim Says Payment for Evidence ‘rubbish"
By Rashida Yosufzai
March 15, 2013
A MAN who was allegedly sexually assaulted by a former Catholic priest as a teenager says the priest's claim he was paid by the church for evidence is "absolute rubbish" and wants the case taken up by the royal commission.
The man, who has asked not to be named, has denied a claim by former Wollongong priest John Gerard Nestor, 50, that he was paid to provide evidence in a 1997 court case alleging he was sexually assaulted by the then-priest at his home in 1991.
Mr Nestor was a priest in the Wollongong diocese in NSW when he was charged with the indecent assault of the then-14-year-old altar boy.
In the 1997 court case - in which Opposition Leader Tony Abbott acted as a character reference - the Wollongong local court was told that on the night of the alleged offence, Mr Nestor had slept alongside the altar boy and his brother.
The magistrate found Mr Nestor guilty and sentenced him to jail.
But in October 1997, the conviction was overturned on appeal - in part because of doubts cast on the accuracy of the boy's evidence - and Mr Nestor never served any time behind bars.
In an interview with AAP in February, Mr Nestor alleged that the church had paid the alleged victim following the court case's conclusion.
"I suspect - and I have reason to say it, I don't know it (for sure) - that he was promised money in return for giving evidence against me, by the church or officials of the church," he said.
But in a statement to AAP, the alleged victim, who is now in his 30s, dismissed the claim as "absolute rubbish" and said the only support he received was counselling from the church.
"Neither myself nor any member of my family received any sort of payment from the church," he told AAP.
"Why would the church pay us? What did the church have to gain by paying me?"
"I can only consider his claim as a desperate attempt to clutch at straws."
After the court case, the Catholic church never allowed Mr Nestor to return to ministry, because it sourced "significant additional material" relating to further complaints made against Mr Nestor.
Around 2008, the Vatican officially struck off Mr Nestor from the clergy list.
The alleged victim said the case should be examined by the royal commission into child sex abuse.
"Any incident that involves a person who has been struck off by the church should be given further consideration," he said.
"The royal commission can do a lot of good by providing victims with a sense of justice they may otherwise never have felt."