Newcastle priest on 30 charges

Days after Maitland-Newcastle Bishop Michael Malone apologised for clergy abuse in the diocese, a local priest has been charged with 30 counts of abusing boys. reports NSW police expect to lay more charges against Fr John Sidney Denham, who is accused of sexually abusing 18 boys aged as young as 11 in the New South Wales Hunter region.

Fr Denham, 65, is facing 30 child sex related charges dating back to the 1970's and 1980's, the paper says.

He opted not to apply for bail or appear in Sydney's Central Local Court yesterday where his case was before Magistrate Alan Moore.

Fr Denham faces 28 counts of indecent assault of a male, a charge of buggery and one charge of attempted indecent assault of a male.

Police told the court Fr Denham was working as a librarian in the Chevalier Resources Centre in Sydney's Kensington, and he was a risk to the community, The Sydney Morning Herald says.

According to a police fact sheet, police allege: "The accused is a risk to the community due to evidence of offending in all areas he was attached to in NSW.

"He has restrictions placed upon him, concerning pastoral duties involving children due to a previous conviction,'' police alleged.

"The accused is working in a Catholic library situated opposite the local Catholic school.''

Police also alleged most of the offences occurred between 1972 and 1994.

They said Fr Denham arrived in the Newcastle diocese at the age of 29 in 1972 and served as deacon in the Mayfield Parish.

In 1973 he was appointed to the Singleton parish, where he served until his appointment as a year seven teacher at St Pius X high school in Adamstown.

In 1980, he moved to the Charlestown parish.

In 1981 he was transferred to the Taree parish and served there for five years, until appointed a teacher at Waverley College, where he taught until 1994.

"The following allegations outline 18 victims of various child sex offences,'' police said in their statement to the court. "These offences occurred at St Pius X High School, the Charlestown parish and Taree parish.

"Police will also be reliant upon evidence of similar facts pertaining to offences committed at Waverley College by a further complainant.''

Lake Macquarie Acting Local Area Commander Garry O'Dell said further charges were likely.

"We've obtained statements that support the offences that we're putting before the court and we've certainly had that support and the involvement of a number of victims and witnesses.''

Detectives were receiving ongoing assistance from the Newcastle-Maitland diocese of the Catholic Church, police said.

On August 7, Bishop Michael Malone apologised to victims of sex abuse by the clergy at Sacred Heart Cathedral in Newcastle in front of a congregation of some 500 people.


Priest on sex charges refused bail (News,, 14/8/08)

More charges against priest likely (News,, 14/8/08)

Catholic priest faces 30 sex offences (Sydney Morning Herald, 15/8/08)


Maitland-Newcastle diocese



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