Maitland-Newcastle diocese stands down priest

Maitland-Newcastle diocese has stood down a second priest over a professional misconduct investigation, the diocese has announced.

The Sydney Morning Herald reports that Fr David O'Hearn, of St Michael's parish, Nelson Bay, was stood aside last Wednesday.

He is the second priest to be suspended from duty since September. Parishioners at St Michael's Church were told on the weekend that their priest of four years would "not be involved in his usual parish ministry at this time". His suspension concerned a matter that required "independent investigation".

The diocese is refusing to specify why Fr O'Hearn is under investigation, or how long the investigation will take.

"The diocese follows clear protocols relating to such matters," Vicar-General Fr Tom Brennan said in a statement to parishioners.

"At this stage Father O'Hearn will live privately."

Fr Brennan said the matter had been discussed with the Bishop Michael Malone, who was on pilgrimage.

A separate investigation of a professional conduct matter concerning a Maitland priest, Fr Peter Brock, who was stood down in September, remained "current", the Herald said.

ABC News adds that Monsignor Bill Fuller has been appointed to look after the parish in the meantime.

 

Porn teacher on full pay

In another story, the Sun-Herald reports that a Melborne parish priest said he regretted that a school teacher who is guilty of possessing child pornography received full pay for a year while being investigated.

Fr John Madden said Tyrone Jones, 32, a teacher at Seaford's St Anne's Primary School in 2006-07, was not sacked when first investigated about May last year.

Jones, formerly of Hawthorn Court, Carrum Downs, pleaded guilty in Frankston Magistrates' Court to one count of possessing child pornography.

The court heard he accessed up to 500 written pornographic stories on a laptop computer.

Members of St Anne's community were in court as Jones pleaded guilty before magistrate Graeme Keil.

As he left the courthouse on bail, one woman approached him, shouting: "Shame on you."

Lawyer Tim Walsh, for Jones, said his client, who was sexually abused between the ages of four and 11, read the stories as a form of self-medication and now considered his offence to be "horrendous".

SOURCE

Diocese stands down second priest (Sydney Morning Herald, 2/6/08)

Church investigates second priest (ABC News, 2/6/08)

Duty of care failed' (Frankston Leader, 2/6/08)

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Maitland-Newcastle diocese

St Anne's Primary School Seaford

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