Ex-Catholic priest faces sex crimes charge
18th October 2012
Updated 18th October 2012
A FORMER priest who the Catholic church sacked in 2005 has been arrested in northern NSW over a number of historic sex offences against young girls.
A 59-year-old man, known as Father F, is expected to be charged with a number of child-sex offences against three girls in the 1970s and 1980s, a police source has told AAP.
He was arrested at an Armidale home at 6.30am (AEDT) on Thursday following an almost three-month investigation into allegations of child sexual abuse by a priest based in the area, police said.
The man has been taken to Armidale Police Station where he is currently assisting police.
Father F was implicated in other abuse cases the Catholic Church was accused of covering up, ABC TV's Four Corners reported in June.
The report said Father F was sacked by the church in 2005 after serious sexual abuse allegations but had since become a prominent citizen in the NSW town of Armidale.
It said Father F raped young boys in Moree in the 1980s before being transferred to a parish in Parramatta where he continued to sodomise altar boys.
The ABC said Father F made clear admissions of abuse to three senior priests during a meeting at St Mary's Cathedral in Sydney in September 1992.
As a result of the investigation, Father F was banned from conducting mass, hearing confession and counselling, but the matter was reportedly never referred to police.
The Catholic Archdiocese of Sydney has previously rejected claims senior priests failed to refer evidence about Father F to authorities.
The diocese said Father F had never made specific admissions when he met Sydney priests Father Lucas and Monsignor Usher Sydney in 1992.
But a third priest present at the meeting, Father Peters, wrote an account of the meeting in a private letter to the Armidale bishop, Father Manning, dated September 11, 1992.
"He admitted that there had been five boys around the age of 10 and 11 that he had sexually interfered with in varying degrees in the years approximately 1982 to 1984 while he was the assistant priest at Moree," the letter states.
On Thursday, the Catholic Bishop of Armidale said the Armidale diocese would offer its full co-operation to the police investigation.
"I again take this opportunity to extend my deepest sympathy to victims of child abuse and their families, and reassure the community of my commitment to see justice achieved," the bishop, Father Kennedy, said in a statement.
In June, Father Kennedy said he would arrange for an internal investigation of the allegations by an independent expert.