Catholic Priest Found Guilty of Common Assault after Giving Child a "Smack" in Church

By Eamonn Duff
Sydney Morning Herald
July 19, 2015

Domino effect: The incident at St John Vianney Catholic Church in Greenacre ended up involving the Catholic Education Office, the NSW Police Force and criminal charges. Photo: James Alcock

A Catholic priest has been found guilty of common assault and dismissed from his Sydney parish after he smacked a child in church.

Three days before Holy Communion, eight-year-old Peter* was "grabbed" in the St John Vianney Catholic Church at Greenacre by Father Terrence Millard, "positioned" in front of a symbolic image of Jesus Christ being nailed to the cross and then punished with a "smack" to the upper buttocks for perceived bad behaviour.

When an alarmed teacher reported the incident to the school principal, it triggered a domino effect involving the Catholic Education Office, the NSW Police Force, criminal charges and a court case in which a finding of guilt was delivered with no conviction recorded against the priest.

A priest has been dismissed from St John Vianney Catholic Church at Greenacre for smacking a child, but the congregation was told a different story. Photo: James Alcock

After a turbulent 10 months, Peter's distraught parents were happy with the judgement and thought they had found closure.


They were wrong.

A fortnight ago, and just days after the magistrate's ruling, the boy's family became aware of a buzz of chatter among the church community that the priest had "won the case."

They discovered that, in their absence, a verbal announcement was made at evening mass, on July 4, suggesting the court case had gone the priest's way. Their humiliation was complete when they were shown a "parish notice", published in the church bulletin that same night. It read: "On Tuesday June 30, the Magistrate at Bankstown Local Court dismissed the case against Fr Terrence Millard."








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