A priest abused two boys aged 9 and 11, police allege

Broken Rites
July 19, 2015

A Catholic priest in northern New South Wales, John Patrick Casey, 67, appeared in court on 10 July 2015, charged with sexual offences, allegedly committed against two young boys in the 1980s. Casey has been denied bail. A magistrate said the charges are serious and could bring a custodial sentence if there is a conviction.

John Patrick Casey is a priest of the Lismore diocese, which takes in the NSW north coast from the Queensland border to Camden Haven, south of Port Macquarie. The city of Lismore is where the diocese has its headquarters.

John Patrick Casey is currently a priest for the "Mary Help of Christians" parish at Sawtell, near Coffs Harbour. (After he was charged, the diocese announced that Father Casey is standing down from this position.)

The police investigation was conducted by detectives from the NSW Police's Richmond Local Area Command, which has headquarters in Lismore. The detectives were investigating information which had been received by Australia's national child-abuse Royal Commission.

At 9.00am on 9 July 2015, John Patrick Casey was arrested by detectives and was taken to Kempsey Police Station where he was charged with nine offences. He was refused police bail and was placed behind bars.

Next day, he was taken in custody to appear before a magistrate in Port Macquarie Local Court. This was an administrative procedure, for the case to be officially filed.

The charges include five counts of sexual assault on a person under 16-years-of-age and four counts of sexual assault and committing an act of indecency.

The offences are alleged to have been committed against two brothers, aged nine and 11, in the Northern Rivers region of New South Wales (within the Lismore Catholic Diocese) in 1985.

A lawyer for the priest told the court that Casey should be granted bail because he had no prior convictions and was not a flight risk.

But magistrate Thomas Hodgson refused bail. He said the accusations relate to "serious offences" and it was a "reasonably strong" prosecution case. He said a custodial sentence was likely if Fr Casey is convicted.

The case was adjourned until it comes up for another mention in Lismore Local Court in September 2015. The Lismore magistrate would then supervise the next steps in the judicial process.

As well as working in parishes, John Patrick Casey has also worked as a part-time police chaplain, with duties such as conducting funerals and other religious services for police officers.

The arrest of Father John Patrick Casey at 9.00am on 9 July 2015 meant that he was absent from an event for which he had been scheduled for later that day — a commemorative service to mark the 20th anniversary of two police officers who were murdered while stationed at Kempsey in 1995. At the time of these murders, Father John Patrick Casey was a part-time chaplain for the NSW Police Mid-North Coast Local Area Command and he conducted the funeral for one of the officers.

A church website says that Fr John Casey, of the Lismore diocese, was ordained on 2 February 1974.

Fr John Patrick Casey has ministered in a number of parishes in the Lismore diocese. A website of the Townsville diocese in north Queensland says that in 1978 Fr John Casey (on loan from the Lismore diocese) was appointed for one year to the parish of Ingham in the Townsville diocese. He returned to the Lismore diocese at the end of 1979.

Some sculptures by Father John Patrick Casey are on display at one of his early parishes — the parish of "Our Lady of Perpetual Succour" in Mallanganee (situated to the west of the city of Lismore).

In the 1990s Fr John Patrick Casey was the parish priest at Camden Haven (Laurieton) in the south of the diocese. In the late 1990s, he had a senior role in the diocese, as one of the diocese's four Regional Vicars — he was the Regional Vicar for the diocese's south (the Macleay Region).

After being at Camden Haven (Laurieton) until 2004, Fr John Patrick Casey was appointed to his current parish at Sawtell, near Coffs Harbour.


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