A MAN who attempted suicide in a church-owned building in October last year is one of 14 men alleging that defrocked Catholic priest John Denham sexually assaulted them at a Hunter school in the 1970s.
Mr Denham, 70, did not enter pleas to 47 charges including indecent assault and buggery during a brief appearance at Newcastle Local Court yesterday.
Police allege a man made a statement after attempting suicide last year. He alleged Mr Denham had repeatedly sexually assaulted him at St Pius X School Adamstown in 1977, when the man was 12.
Police allege the man had attempted suicide or contemplated it many times before October last year when he made his allegations against Mr Denham for the first time to an employee from the Catholic Church’s investigative unit, Zimmerman House.
He made a statement to police in July alleging that Mr Denham, his year master in 1977, used force to sexually assault him in the priests’ quarters after approaching him as he stood with other students outside class.
Police allege Mr Denham forced the boy to commit oral sex, and left him bleeding after a forced sexual assault.
Police allege Mr Denham told the boy: ‘‘Don’t forget you’re the one who comes to me. If you tell anyone I’ll tell your family and friends. No one will believe you.’’
The boy was too upset to return to class after one alleged incident, and too frightened to tell his violent father, so he told another priest, police allege.
He told police the priest yelled at him and hit him.
Another former St Pius student alleges Mr Denham repeatedly indecently assaulted him in 1978 and 1979 when he was 12 and 13, and when the priest was his religion teacher.
Police allege Mr Denham repeatedly called the boy from class in front of other students and teachers and indecently assaulted him in the music room. The assaults allegedly occurred three to four times a month throughout 1978 and 1979 until the boy tried to stop the priest.
Police allege the priest became more forceful with the boy and held him down. They also allege the boy repeatedly reported the offences to another priest from early 1978 but with no effect.
‘‘At the end of 1979 the boy pleaded with his mother to let him change schools as he did not want to go through any further assaults,’’ police allege.
The boy completed his schooling at a Hunter public high school.
He suffered drug and alcohol problems through his adult life and made a statement to police in February.
The matter will return to court next month.