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Anger over sacking of Sydney Cathedral stalwart

One of St Mary's most senior and long-serving figures has been dismissed over his association with a fellow church worker convicted of child sex offences which took place in the early 1980s.

The Sydney Morning Herald reeports that David Russell, who has served as St Mary's choirmaster and music director since 1976, was dismissed last Friday by cathedral administrator Monsignor Tony Doherty.

In 1988, a former cathedral acolyte, David O'Grady, was sentenced after pleading guilty to seven counts of indecent assault on two children, aged 10 and 12. In 2001, he was found guilty of one count of indecent assault against a child. The offences allegedly took place in Mr Russell's inner-western Sydney home.

There is no suggestion that Mr Russell was involved in the offences and his supporters said he had been unaware of the attacks. Mr Russell has declined to comment but it is understood he is considering taking legal action on the grounds of unfair dismissal.

The sacking led to a boycott of Sunday's Solemn Mass by the men of the cathedral choir, and parents of child choristers angrily confronted the dean after the service.

A letter of protest from the adult choristers was sent to Archbishop George Pell's office yesterday.

Dr Pell's spokesman referred all questions back to Monsignor Doherty, who said the church had carefully followed due process. He said Mr Russell was not under further church investigation; nor was he the subject of any police investigation.

Sydney Morning Herald

Archdiocese of Sydney | St Mary's Cathedral | Sacred Music

6 Feb 2003