An Anglican brother convicted of indecently assaulting a child in his bed five decades ago has been stripped of his holy orders.
Neither Bruce William Shaw, also known as Brother Bruce-Paul, or his victim – referred to only as AB – were present at the Anglican Diocese of Newcastle’s headquarters on Tuesday as the decision was handed down.
Shaw, who works at a spiritual retreat centre at Stroud, faced the diocese’s professional standards committee in December after he was given a three month suspended jail term in a Victorian court in April, 2017, for indecently assaulting AB in 1967.
The victim was 12 years old at the time and Shaw was a 23-year-old teacher, who had not yet joined the ministry.
In his findings, standards committee president Colin Elliott said Shaw “sought to shift blame or lessen his moral culpability” by giving a signed statutory declaration to the committee that disputed the facts under which he was convicted and instead alleged AB had initiated the sexual contact.
“At the time (1967) he was not a priest, he was a friend of the family who trusted him to take care of two children. He breached that trust,” he said. “Such conduct, as disclosed in the facts tendered to the court, must be viewed seriously by the board.”
Mr Elliott said Shaw “could not be admitted to holy orders” if he had applied to enter the priesthood after his conviction and that the church was unaware of the incident until he was charged almost 50 years later.
Mr Elliott cited a range of factors before he recommended that Shaw be deposed of holy orders, including that Shaw was a registered sex offender, he was legally barred from working with children, and that the church, its supporters and AB were “entitled not to be diminished” by Shaw’s misconduct.
“Because of these facts and circumstances, he is not fit to hold a particular or any office, licence or position of responsibility in the Anglican Church or to be, or remain, in holy orders or in the employment of the church body,” he said.
Mr Elliott said it was unclear whether Shaw was entitled to a 28 day review period.
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