Highlands News

Southern Highlands priest placed in custody after guilty verdicts on historical child sex assaults

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A Catholic priest convicted of sexually abusing 12 young boys in NSW, including one he told was "pleasing a man of God", awaits his sentencing behind bars.

Anthony William Peter Caruana, 79, has been found guilty of 26 charges including four counts of homosexual sex, the last being a majority verdict reached on Wednesday before the jury was discharged on a final count of indecent assault.

Judge Robyn Tupman thanked the jurors for all their time and effort following nearly 11 days of deliberation they "studiously attended to," and six weeks of evidence.

She said they were "perhaps overwhelmed by some of the things" heard.

The teacher and dormitory master took advantage of young boys at training, on excursions, in their rooms, and other parts of Chevalier College in NSW Southern Highlands, in the 1980s.

As a rugby coach, he held onto one 12-year-old's genitals while showing him how to pack a scrum, at a swimming carnival he grabbed those of a year-seven boy underwater after calling him over in the pool.

He attacked one 13-year-old multiple times in the band storage room while cleaning musical instruments.

On one occasion he grabbed the teenager's hands, forcing them down his pants, saying words to the effect of "God will love you if you do what I say" and "you're pleasing a man of God" as the boy struggled against his grip.

The former conductor testified that he never indecently touched any of the children, including one to whom he read his mother's monthly letters inside his own private room upstairs and not in the public dormitory.

He claimed his visits to the shower blocks were to ensure "no bastardisation," of big boys bullying the little ones, and denied fondling children in the dormitory saying they would playfully jump on him.

But in 1989 he left the school after complaints were made about his conduct towards those under his authority.

That same year, a questionnaire was filled out in Caruana's handwriting that demonstrated his sexual interest in boys aged 11 to 15.

One response spoke of feeling there might be something wrong with "my sexual problem".

"I was always worried it would be found out and now that it has, it has shattered me," read an answer to a question about having a "bad feeling".

When asked about any desire to change something by "magic", he responded: "This feeling I have towards young boys".

In giving evidence Caruana said he had left out a crucial part of the passage, which should have read "in my dreams".

Despite admitting to his former Missionaries of the Sacred Heart manager that he was a pedophile in the 1990s, in the witness box he said it was all because of "his dreams" that he had been worried.

Judge Tupman said she would recommend that Caruana be placed in "strict segregation given the nature of offences and his vulnerable age," when placed in custody.

Up to 12 of the complainants are expected to write victim impact statements for Caruana's sentence hearing on August 18.

His bail was revoked following the final verdict.

With AAP, Image: Supplied 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Tags: NSW District Court , Trial