2016 185

Ex-Catholic priest John Joseph Farrell jailed for 29 years for child sex assaults.

Paedophile ex-priest gets 29 years - Comment on 2016 May 2 (2)

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A former Catholic priest and prolific child sex offender who abused a dozen children in regional NSW has been sentenced to 29 years behind bars. Read more:

Ex-Catholic priest John Joseph Farrell jailed for 29 years for child sex assaults

Paedophile ex-priest gets 29 years

A former Catholic priest and prolific child sex offender who abused a dozen children in regional NSW has been sentenced to 29 years behind bars.

John Joseph Farrell, 62, preyed on three girls and nine boys over a nearly decade-long reign of abuse at Moree and Tamworth.

He was sentenced in Sydney District Court on Monday for 62 historical sexual crimes against children, and a further 17 offences were taken into account on sentencing.

The disgraced ex-priest sat in the dock with his eyes closed as Judge Peter Zahra told the packed courtroom how Farrell had raped and indecently assaulted his victims between 1979 and 1988.

Judge Zahra said Farrell 'disregarded and took advantage' of his victims, whom he groomed over long periods of time.

The offender was aware of, and exploited, the powerful position he held as a priest, Judge Zahra said.

Although some of Farrell's crimes appeared at first glance to be spontaneous or opportunistic, they were in reality a result of the offender's long-term grooming of the victims and the cultivation of their parents, the judge said.

Many of those sitting in the public gallery of the courtroom wept as the sentence was handed down, while others clapped as the judge imposed a non-parole period of 18 years.

With time already served, the decision means Farrell will not walk free until 2033 at the earliest. One crime that demonstrated Farrell's 'depravity' involved him using a toothbrush to sexually assault a boy as the child sobbed and screamed.

In another incident, an altar boy assaulted by Farrell was working in a church cellar when the priest forced him to perform oral sex on him.

After the assault, the boy waited in the cellar until he heard Farrell's retreating footsteps, before telling Farrell's superior - a monsignor - what had happened.

He was told they would sort it out, Judge Zahra said.

But when the boy next saw Farrell, he raped him for what felt like hours as he whispered threats in his ear.

He said Farrell's threats made it perfectly clear that if the boy told anyone, he would kill him or his family, the judge said.

The child ran home and noticed his underwear was stained with blood, the court heard on Monday, and he was in pain for weeks.

In another assault that the judge said illustrated the 'persistence and brazenness of the offenders conduct', Farrell fondled a girl as he sat next to her at a large family gathering, his hands hidden under the tablecloth. But the girl was too embarrassed to speak up.

'The offender's conduct was degrading and humiliating,' Judge Zahra said of that offence.

One boy was aged only 11 or 12 when Farrell held him down and raped him in the presbytery of their church as the boy attempted to twist and turn away.

'He said he yelled and screamed to get the attention of others in the presbytery but there was no response,' Judge Zahra said.

'The complainant said in evidence that it was the worst memory of his life.'

After the brutal assault Farrell 'pretended like nothing had happened' and told the little boy that what he had done to him was 'a normal thing between a man and a boy'.

Asked at trial why he did not come forward, the victim said: 'Back in 1982, nobody would have believed my word against a priest, so I guess I thought, I'll keep this secret.'

Others did try to come forward.

One boy spoke out about the abuse after being confronted by his mother, who had heard rumours about the churchman at a school Parents and Friends meeting.

The child's mother immediately contacted Farrell's superior.

Though Farrell was asked to leave that parish almost immediately, he went on to serve in a number of other parishes and was not suspended from public ministry until 1992.

His jail term will expire in 2044.

 

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