Posts Tagged ‘Melbourne Archdiocese’



16 Dec 2014 – 7:44pm

Vic pedophile priest to walk free in weeks

An 88-year-old Catholic priest who sexually abused an alter boy in Melbourne in the 1970s will walk free from jail within weeks, after successfully appealing the length of his sentence.

The now-retired priest, James Henry Scannell, had served 138 days of his two year sentence when the Victorian Court of Appeal reduced his jail time to 15 months, with 10 months of this suspended.

Scannell was found guilty of a single charge of buggery by a Victorian County Court jury in July, and he continues to deny committing the assault.

The joint ruling by Justices Mark Weinberg, Phillip Priest, Lex Lasry on Tuesday rejected Scannell’s bid to have his conviction overturned but did allow a reduction in his prison term.

Scannell’s was originally required him to serve at least 12 months before being eligible for parole.

Under the reduced sentence, he will be released within weeks.

Scannell committed the abuse during a sexual education lesson more than 40 years ago.

He was asked by a long-time friend and member of his East Kew parish to discuss puberty with the boy.

Instead, Scannell, wearing only a dressing gown, led the boy into his bedroom, stripped him naked and sexually abused him.

The victim came forward in 2010 when he learnt Scannell was to conduct his aunt’s funeral.

Victorian Catholic priest, 88, jailed for two years for raping boy

By court reporter Peta Carlyon

Thu 7 Aug 2014, 3:55pm

An 88-year-old Victorian Catholic priest has been sentenced to two years in jail for raping a boy more than 40 years ago.

James Scannell was convicted in the Victorian County Court of one charge of raping the 12-year-old while he was working in Kew in the early 1970s.

The court heard that Scannell had always denied the offence and had shown no remorse.

The priest suffered from a series of serious health problems, including a heart condition and cancer, the court heard.

Scannell joined the church as a Marist Brother in 1945 and served as a priest for almost 50 years, working in parishes around Melbourne, including Warburton, Brighton, Flemington and Geelong.

His lawyer told the court his client dedicated his life to serving the community and had set up an important education program for autistic children.

But Judge David Parsons said Scannell was guilty of a serious breach of trust and that he had no choice but to sentence the elderly priest to an immediate term of imprisonment.

Although Scannell was suspended last year, the church had yet to revoke his religious orders.

His credentials for working with children were only revoked last year.

Bernard Barrett, a representative from victims’ advocacy group Broken Rites, said Scannell’s victim had waited a long time for justice.

“The guilty parties covered this up all these years,” he said.

Dr Barrett said the conviction raised serious questions about whether the Melbourne Archdiocese knew about Scannell’s offending and what they would do in response to his jailing.

“[Scannell] has been a priest in the Melbourne Archdiocese for 50 years, including working with disabled children,” Dr Barrett said.

“Questions need to be asked of the Melbourne Archdiocese about how and why this sort of thing could have happened and how it’s taken all these years for it to come out.

“Why is it that victims always feel as though they must remain silent, when the offender is a priest or some sort of church person?

“He’s still listed in the current edition of the Annual Australian Catholic Directory, as Reverend Father Scannell, past or emeritus, a distinguished priest.”

Scannell will be eligible for parole in 12 months.


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Priest walks free on sex assault charges

By Dan Silkstone
December 16, 2003

A Catholic priest who sexually abused a schoolboy and said celibacy was to blame for his indiscretions walked free from the County Court yesterday after being given a suspended sentence.

John Barry Gwillim, 71, was a model priest, popular with his flock at St Peter’s Church in East Keilor and a gifted arranger of hymns, Judge Fred Davey said.

But Father Gwillim had an unholy secret, one that took more than 20 years to emerge.

Judge Davey said Father Gwillim met the boy, then 15, for sexual encounters in his car, in a motel room and at his presbytery during late 1979 and early 1980.

Judge Davey said Father Gwillim was unlikely to reoffend and wholly suspended his sentence of two years and eight months. “In any event, you will serve another sentence, the sentence of a disgraced priest whose good works will be forgotten,” he said. “The memory of your disgraceful conduct will blot your good deeds from people’s memories forever.”

Father Gwillim left St Peter’s in 1999 and has since worked as a relieving priest. He is on sick leave from the archdiocese.

The president of victim support group Broken Rites, Chris MacIsaac, yesterday called on the archdiocese not to reinstate him. “This is just another example of a pedophile priest,” she said. “It’s been 10 years since people started coming forward with these stories. How many more are there?”

The encounters began in late 1979 when Father Gwillim met the boy and offered him a lift home from a swimming lesson.

Judge Davey said Father Gwillim stopped his car in a Parkville side street and asked if the boy “wanted to do something nice for him”. He then directed the child to perform oral sex.

Father Gwillim began regularly collecting the boy from his swimming lessons. The pair performed sexual acts on each other in the car, at a motel and in the presbytery at St Peter’s.

Father Gwillim pleaded guilty last week to five counts of indecent assault on a child under 16 and four counts of gross indecency with a child under 16.

In July, the priest told police: “If we could do away with celibacy this would all go away. It was the sort of thing (where there was) a lovely slice of cake and I bloody well ate it.”

Judge Davey said Father Gwillim had not used his position to influence the boy, who initially did not know he was a priest. He said that Father Gwillim had otherwise led an exemplary life.

Monsignor Les Tomlinson, from the Melbourne Archdiocese, said Father Gwillim had been formally stood down when the charges were laid. He would not be restored as a practising priest but there were no plans to formally remove him.


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Father’s rage over innocence lost

By Kath Gannaway

7th August 2007 02:00:04 AM

IAN Lawther knows what it’s like to be in a blind rage.

The Healesville father of five lost the sight in his left eye when blood vessels burst in a moment of uncontrollable anger.

Looking through court documents a few weeks after the conviction of paedophile priest David Daniel in 2000, the realisation hit home that at the time the St Brigid’s Parish priest was baptising Ian’s baby daughter, Daniel had already molested his school-aged son.

“I got so incredibly angry I really did want to kill. And I could have killed … would have killed,” Ian recalled.

Losing an eye and the repercussions on his personal and work ambitions were terrifying, but the worst part was having to come to terms with the hate he felt.

“I had considered myself a good Christian, someone who believed in the 10 commandments, but I had to face the fact that I could kill,” Ian said, talking last week about HEAR (Healesville Education and Awareness Raising).

When I met up with Ian by chance on Anzac Day about three years ago, he told me about the betrayal which had shattered his family.

Shoulders slumped, hands tightly clasped, he had been sitting alone trying, again, to come to terms with the turmoil.

Ian married into the church and although he was never baptised, he had every right to consider himself a “good Catholic”.

He and wife Pam wanted a Catholic education for their children and played a prominent role in church activities.

Fr Daniel was regularly a guest in their home.

Ian still believes in God, but not in the church.

In line with the Melbourne Archdiocese’s response to abuse by members of the clergy, Ian and his family had to deal with Peter O’Callaghan QC, the independent commissioner appointed by the church.

“The impression I got from him was what I call the “ho hum, you can’t shock me, I’ve heard it all before” response,” Ian said.

“There was no concern shown for my son, what he had been through, or was going through at that stage, and there was no support either during the court case.

“We only ever saw people paid for by the church.

“You go in there thinking they are going to be on your side, but it’s all about avoiding litigation,” Ian said.

“There is no investigation of how it came about, how they employ priests or how and when they are moved around.

“The process simply deals with the victims and the litigious events before them – the ones that go to trial.”

Ian says while St Brigid’s School was supportive and a few parish members made an effort to recognise the family’s pain, the fact they were kept in the dark by the church hierarchy and their own feelings of confused loyalty put up a barrier.

“The problem for so many people was, and still is, if you put the words ‘paedophile’ and ‘priest’ in the same sentence, nobody wants to know,” he said.

Ian believes it is the total power and control given to priests which allows those who offend to infiltrate families and ‘groom’ their victims.

“The priest arrives on the doorstep, without even a reference, and all of a sudden he becomes God,” Ian said.

“We are not asking people to question their faith, just the hierarchical system of power which is answerable to no-one.

“HEAR is our way of making change. It’s about trying to save our kids pain and suffering.”