Priest denies withholding abuse claims

Inspector Peter Fox

A New South Wales Hunter Valley Catholic priest has rejected claims at a public inquiry that he held back information from police because child sexual abuse allegations are 'damaging and distasteful', reports the ABC.

Father Bob Searle was the parish priest at Nelson Bay, north of Newcastle, in the late 1990s.

In giving evidence to a Special Commission of Inquiry into matters relating to the Police investigation of certain child sexual abuse allegations in the Catholic Diocese of Maitland-Newcastle, he said he remembered a person known as AH, a victim of paedophile priest James Fletcher, coming to the presbytery one night drunk and angry and yelling out 'nobody loves me.'

Police whistleblower Detecitve Inspector Peter Fox has said that, at the time, Father Searle told him AH was also yelling about priests 'doing filthy things to little boys', but it was not included in his statement to police.

Father Searle said that was because he never heard the comments. He rejected claims he held back information from police despite the allegations being 'damaging and distasteful.'

The special commission is holding its eighth and final week of public hearings in Newcastle.

FULL COVERAGE

Priest denies withholding abuse claims from police (ABC)

Church kept 'bad' files, says witness (Maitland Mercury)

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