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Lengthy jail sentence imposed on Australian Catholic priest

Lengthy jail sentence imposed on Australian Catholic priest

Robert Patrick Claffey, 73, above, who sexually abused 12 Victorian children over decades in a ‘shameful and protracted abuse of his authority’, has been jailed for 18 years and four months.

He will serve a minimum of 13 years and four months.

He assaulted a seven-year-old girl who was preparing for her first communion in 1969 in the first of “a truly appalling litany of offending” during which he exploited his position of trust.

Claffey went on to assault altar boys and children making preparations for religious ceremonies until 1992.

He pleaded guilty to 19 charges but the Victorian county court judge Felicity Hampel noted that he had offered no apology to his victims – nor shown any remorse.

Claffey was a “paedophilic sexual predator” who groomed parents and children by visiting families, establishing trust and threatening children to keep them quiet, the judge said.

That you were able to act with impunity for such a period speaks volumes for the power you exerted over your victims and the gross nature of the breach of trust of a priest in respect of the children of the parish. The consequences for your victims have been profound and, for many, lifelong.

Speaking outside court after the sentence was passed one of the victims said the sentence was just, fair and tantamount to a death penalty.

This is a person who subjected the children of western Victoria to unbridled and unbroken rape. Bob Claffey has taken a fair portion of everyone’s lives and he deserves to have a fair portion of his life taken from him.

bishop

Former Ballarat Bishop Ronald Mulkearns, above, was earlier this year forced to give evidence at a Magistrates Court committal hearing in relation to Claffey’s case.

Mulkearns, who has previously avoided testifying in court because of ill health, has long been accused of being responsible for a widespread cover-up of abuse under his watch in Ballarat between 1971 and 1997.

While Mulkearns was Ballarat bishop hundreds of children were molested by notorious paedophiles within the Catholic Church.

Mulkearns has previously admitted mishandling cases of sexual abuse while in charge at Ballarat.

It has been alleged before the child abuse Royal Commission hearings that he routinely shuffled priests around the diocese after complaints were made about them.

It has also been alleged that Mulkearns destroyed documents relating to sexual abuse matters.

Giving evidence in Claffey’s hearing he conceded complaints were made about the priest. He said he remembered that Claffey:

Had been misbehaving … in a sexual way.

The court heard the father of one complainant told Mulkearns in 1989 his son had been having behavioural problems, and that Claffey had “misbehaved” with him.

According to court documents Bishop Mulkearns called a meeting with Claffey and the priest resigned, effective immediately.

Counselling was offered to the complainant’s family, but no other action was taken.

Hat tip: Peter Sykes

15 responses to “Lengthy jail sentence imposed on Australian Catholic priest”

  1. L.Long says:

    See a man in a smart suit and smiling? Consider him a criminal of the highest order! See a preacher of any kind? Him too!!
    All such types must PROVE themselves better then the high end of the bell curve.
    One of the best people I ever met was a leather clad dust covered biker, one of the most criminal types is a nicely dressed orange colored lying tax evader.

  2. Broga says:

    Looks like that will be game over for him. Inmates who are parents have a reputation of putting the boot in on paedophiles. I don’t think prayer will help.

  3. As I’ve pointed out once before, when I worked as a 16-18 year-old prostitute in London in the late 1970s, many of my clients were men of the cloth. Perhaps surprisingly, their activities seemed to cause them no ethical anxieties whatsoever. But then again, the same was true of me. Titter. Finally, a word of warning: Never accept an apple from a priest, especially a small pinkish one. Oh, and avoid Dolphin Square…..a night spent there may well remove all sense of porpoise from one’s life. Now, where do I pick up my compo?

  4. AgentCormac says:

    ‘…a ‘shameful and protracted abuse of his authority’…’

    What authority? How come anyone who is a member of the clergy is deemed to have ‘authority’? No one gave it to them, they just claimed it while everyone else looked on and got frightened of their imaginary god. It is way beyond time we re-assessed the power and privilege which these people have usurped and the way society continues to surrender it to them without a second thought.

  5. Cali Ron says:

    L.Long: Your biker friend is what my old associates would have called “Good people”. After rebelling from the church and my family I became a close friend and associate with a family (and their circle of friends) that taught me that there are 2 kinds of people in the world: Good people and Bad people, but they were not talking about religious, or law abiding. I was supporting myself through the distribution and sales of substances that law enforcement frowned upon and in their eyes my associates and me were criminals and bad people. I trusted them with my life and they trusted me. They never cheated me, double crossed me or betrayed me. If I needed money, a meal, a bed, bail, they were there for me. They were Good people. Their loyalty was to their family and friends and their ethics were stronger than any practiced by any priest or pope.

    Many people in the world, like most religious leaders are put on pedestals and called good, when in fact they are “Bad people”. Trump definitely fits that mold. His only loyalty is to himself.

  6. L.Long, A few years’ ago I myself hung around with a dust-covered leather-clad biker. I met him in a pub in Marble Arch whilst feeling rather tipsy, and after I had left he followed my bus home on his motorbike! Within three weeks of meeting him I discovered that I was in the company of a complete maniac. Little did I realise as I sat astride his chopper as we whizzed through the streets of Richmond at midnight that I had rendered myself at the mercy of a stalker who would make the next five months of my life a total misery filled with fear! In the end I had to contact the police, as he several times attempted to break in the door of my apartment at 3.30 in the morning–a total nightmare for a generally solitary person such as myself! The officers discovered that he’d been in the nick for rape and drug offenses! Bikers? No thanks, I have decided to avoid them all in future–without exception.

  7. L.Long says:

    True MissF it just goes to show that NO ONE should be ever truly trusted until it is earned & proven! Its just that most AUTOMATICALLY trust well dressed people or preachers when they do not deserve it.
    Yes Cali I too knew a drug seller that would be considered criminal by law, but I did not as I believe all drugs should be legal. But this dealer proved himself a GOOD PEOPLE when told my wife & friend to not listen to the cops and just let things be and then beat the crap out of the dealer that was selling to under age school kids! So good & bad are everywhere and never trust anyone.

  8. Angela_K says:

    Mulkearns gets off free but is as guilty as the filthy scumbag priests who do the molesting; he should be locked up for perverting the course of justice. Hatred is a very strong emotion and one in which I’m justified when religion is involved.

    Motorcyclists? The best people I’ve ever known have been bikers.

  9. Trevor Blake says:

    I thought I remembered one other instance where rapist clergy were sheltered by their church. Just one other time. Perhaps I am mistaken. Either way, this is clearly just something that has happened once, maybe twice, and is not a multi-decade, international, near-weekly revelation.

    If sheltering rapist clergy were something revealed to happen on a constant basis I’m sure Christianity as a whole would root out the problem. They would consider it a priority. That, or a certain amount of child sacrifice remains the heart of religion.

  10. barriejohn says:

    Trevor Blake: The way people keep going on about it, you’d think that it was Vatican policy to shelter those responsible for child abuse within the church!

    https://www.theguardian.com/world/2015/nov/06/cardinal-bernard-law-disgraced-boston-child-abuse-scandal-vatican-haven-spotlight

  11. David Anderson says:

    ¡Joder! I wore suits for most of my working life, still do sometimes and I tend to be a bit smiley. I had no idea that doing so would make people consider me as a “criminal of the highest order”.

  12. RussellW says:

    Well, at least after 2000 years,some priests are finally facing the courts, probably only a fraction of the total number of offenders, but it’s a start. Can anyone imagine this occurring until recently?

    There seems to be an epidemic of legally induced illness amongst the clergy.

  13. Robster says:

    Those nice Vatican staff are gloating today about putting the now jailed Mulkearns’ waterfront house on the market for millions of dollars and will use the cash to compensate victims and pay the fines imposed. A priestly type with a multi million dollar property portfolio? Sounds reasonable.

  14. barriejohn says:

    Robster: They vow Poverty, Chastity and Obedience – for their followers!