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'Society' priest pleads guilty on 13 child sex charges


70 year old ex-priest Vincent Kiss will be sentenced next month after he pleaded guilty to 13 child sex charges in a Sydney court yesterday.

Judge Penny Hock was told the offences had taken place between 1966 and 1973 at Albury, Yass and Sydney. The four complainants' names have been suppressed. Judge Hock indicated that Kiss would be imprisoned. "In my view, the offences are so serious that a custodial sentence is inevitable," she said.

Kiss was released from Victoria's Ararat jail in 1999 after serving seven years for stealing $1.8 million from a charitable trust he had been employed to administer. It was, in the words of the sentencing judge, "a gigantic theft".

As a fixture on the Melbourne social scene, he had enjoyed the confidence and support of many prominent figures. One, socialite Sheila Scotter, said she had found him "an utterly charming man" while the arts patron Jeanne Pratt once described him as "like Jesus Christ. He is not priestly, he is saintly".

But the court was told this week that Kiss had begun preying on teenage boys years before. When the offences occurred he was the Catholic director of youth in Wagga Wagga and the four victims belonged to the Young Christian Students' association.

On Monday, Kiss pleaded not guilty and sought a permanent stay of proceedings to prevent the matter going to trial. The court was told Kiss had been left severely depressed and frightened, suffered from feelings of helplessness and worthlessness and was suicidal. But when Judge Hock refused the application for the stay, Kiss changed his plea to guilty.

Meanwhile another former Catholic priest at a central Queensland orphanage has been deemed permanently unfit to stand trial on a range of indecent-dealing charges and the rape of a 14-year-old girl more than 30 years ago. Mental Health Court Judge Margaret Wilson ruled on June 28 that the 84 year old was ``unfit for trial and that the unfitness for trial is of a permanent nature''.

In the ruling, it was detailed that he had been charged with 21 counts of indecent dealing between 1945 and 1975 and the single count of rape in late 1966.

LINKS
Ex-priest admits sex charges (Herald Sun)

SOURCE
SMH/Courier Mail (payment required)


8 Aug 2002