$500 fine for abuse priest an "insult"

A Victorian County Court judge has fined retired Fr Adelrick D'Cruz $500 and imposed a two year good behaviour bond following the priest's conviction for indecent assault on a teenage girl.

The Catholic Church acknowledged Father Adelrick D'Cruz abused five other girls from the same extended family, but then asked if they minded if he held a Mass for their relative, the Herald Sun reports.

D'Cruz, of Clayton South, was convicted on May 22 of indecent assault after he admitted attacking a 17 year old girl who sought his help when he was a priest in Victoria's northeast in 1984.

The teenager was assaulted after going to St Joseph's Church, in Benalla, to ask for help because she missed her bus home.

In sentencing him at Shepparton County Court, Justice Frank Shelton said the crime was a "gross breach of trust and a complete negation of your vocation as a Catholic priest". But he said D'Cruz had "some remorse".

Justice Shelton fined him $500 and imposed a two year good behaviour bond.

The decision has been criticised as an insult to the girl and other sex abuse victims.

Dr Caroline Taylor, a Ballarat University expert on child sex abuse, said the fine was "ludicrous".

D'Cruz is listed in the Catholic directory for Sandhurst, but Bishop Joseph Grech, the church's most senior representative in the diocese, said he had been suspended.

The five women, three sisters from one family and two of their cousins, told the church in 2005 that they had been abused by the priest over many years, but didn't complain to police.

SOURCE

$500 'insult' to victim (Herald Sun, 1/6/08)

ARCHIVES

Former Sandhurst priest to face rape charges (CathNews, July 2007)

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