FORMER Newcastle Anglican priest George Parker has died only three weeks after he was charged with 24 child sex offences against two young boys in the 1970s.
Father Parker, 79, was first charged with child sex offences in 2000. But in a controversial Newcastle District Court case in 2001, four charges relating to the sexual assault of the young boys were no-billed after an Anglican church register was produced during the trial.
No-billed matters are withdrawn from court but can be resumed at a later date if there is further evidence.
Newcastle Police Strike Force Arinya-2 Detective Acting Inspector Jeff Little reinstated the no-billed offences and charged the priest with 20 fresh offences, including five counts of buggery, after travelling to Ballarat on December 23.
It followed extensive investigations and new statements from the two men about multiple sexual assaults by Father Parker between 1971 and 1975, from when they were 10 and eight.
In 2010 one of the men received a public apology from the then Newcastle Anglican Bishop Brian Farran for the diocese’s handling of the matter, including former Bishop Roger Herft writing to him in June, 2004 and incorrectly stating Father Parker had been acquitted of the charges.
In the apology Bishop Farran said the man and his family “were treated inappropriately over an extended period of time by members of the Anglican Church after he reported he had been sexually abused as a child by a member of the church”, Bishop Farran said.
“I wish to extend a sincere and public apology to him and his family for their situation, and the pain and trauma they have experienced.”
The man, a former Newcastle Anglican church employee, said he repeatedly warned the diocese, from as early as 1984, that a “network” of paedophile priests preyed on children, but the diocese failed to act on the warnings.
“I told them in 1984 that ‘You’ve got a network of these bastards preying on altar boys’, and I named names,” the former church employee said.
A Royal Commission into Institutional Responses to Child Sexual Abuse into how Newcastle Anglican diocese responded to allegations heard evidence in August and November about extensive church knowledge of child sex offending by priests including Peter Rushton. Evidence included church files on 36 “sexual misconduct” cases, primarily child sex allegations.
Archbishop Roger Herft became the most senior casualty of the royal commission when he resigned in December, after admitting he “badly” let down abuse survivors.