WA Priest Told Boy Abuse Was "Tradition"

7 News
November 23, 2016

A former Anglican priest accused of sexually abusing five boys over a 30-year period told one complainant it was tradition for a priest to undress an altar boy, a Perth court has heard.

Raymond Sydney Cheek, 84, is on trial in the West Australian District Court charged with committing an act of gross indecency and two counts each of indecent assault and indecent dealings with a child between 1955 and 1985.

One complainant, 48, testified on Wednesday that he was an altar boy in 1976 when he was eight or nine, and remembered Cheek as a "large, red-faced man" aged in his 30s.

He said on his first day as an altar boy, Cheek stripped him naked, leaving only his shoes on, and placed a robe on him, touching his genitals with his hands and the tassels of the waist rope.

The complainant said it happened every Sunday for a few years and it made him feel uncomfortable, but Cheek referred to the Bible and said it was tradition for a priest to dress an altar boy.

"He seemed to be very convincing as to reasons why he did it," he said.

The man never told anyone about the abuse until Cheek made headlines, the court heard.

Prosecutor Alan Dungey said in his opening address that Cheek was first charged after a complainant came forward claiming he was 15 in 1985 when Cheek undressed him and rubbed his body against him.

Cheek allegedly told the boy he should keep what happened to himself because "God doesn't care for liars".

Mr Dungey said after the case was reported in the media, four more men contacted police, but none of them knew each other.

"Their dealings with Raymond Cheek are decades apart," he said.

Each man alleged Cheek fondled them and Mr Dungey told the jury they could conclude Cheek had a sexual interest in boys, noting the complainants had "remarkably similar" accounts.

The alleged abuse occurred in Perth, Albany and two small country towns in WA's south.

Defence counsel Michael Perrella asked the jury to keep an open mind and assess the credibility of witnesses.

"To say that the passage of time looms large in this trial is an understatement," he said.

"An honest witness can be mistaken."

The trial before Judge Ronald Birmingham and a jury continues.








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