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West Australian priest pleads guilty on abuse

A priest of the Bunbury Diocese pleaded guilty in the District Court yesterday to 12 counts of indecently dealing with children under the age of 13.

60 year old Fr Adrian John Van Klooster also pleaded guilty to four counts of indecently recording children under the age of 13 and one of possessing child pornography. He was remanded in custody to appear in the same court on May 12 for sentencing.

The court heard Van Klooster committed the offences during two weekends in February last year when two boys and three girls, ranging in age from six to 12, were entrusted to his care overnight by their mothers.

The mothers are two sisters with whom Van Klooster became close friends after the loss of their mother.

Defence lawyer Robert Mazza expressed his client's sorrow, shame and regret for his actions to the court, which was attended by the mothers of the victims and supporters.

Outside court, Mr Mazza said 12 other related charges were dropped by the prosecution because to argue them would require the victims to testify in court.

Bunbury diocese Bishop Gerard Holohan issued a statement expressing shock and sorrow for the victims and their families.

Bishop Holohan said the Church, including other dioceses where Van Klooster had worked, had never heard the slightest hint of Van Klooster's paedophile tendencies until his arrest on February 21 last year.

"My hope is that people will be fair-minded and not make negative judgments about the thousands of faithful priests because of these events," Bishop Holohan said.

The West Australian

Statement of Bishop Gerard Holohan, Diocese of Bunbury | Word format
Priest faces jail for indecent dealing (The West Australian)
Former priest pleads guilty to sex charges (ABC)
Priest charged with child assault (15/1/03)
WA priest in sex case hit in court (26/2/02)
Bunbury bishop addresses parishioners on sex abuse case (18/3/02)
Catholic Diocese of Bunbury

22 Jan 2003