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Cathedral Dean defends basis for sacking choirmaster

The Sydney St Mary's Cathedral Dean who sacked his choirmaster for failing to prevent child sex abuse in his home in the 1980s told NSW Industrial Relations Commission yesterday that he acted on the "balance of probabilities" rather than conclusive evidence.

Monsignor Tony Doherty told the Commission that when he sacked Mr David Russell, he had relied on a report by a solicitor the church engaged to investigate the allegations of two former choirboys.

Russell is attempting to win back his job following his sacking in February. He has denied he witnessing abuse alleged to have taken place in the early 1980s.

Under cross-examination, Monsignor Doherty admitted he had chosen to accept the 20-year-old recollections of one of the former choirboys over Mr Russell's denial.

In the late 1990s, the two men told the church they had been abused by convicted pedophile David O'Grady in Mr Russell's lounge room in the early 1980s. They said Mr Russell had opened the door and seen the three naked on the floor.

Monsignor Doherty said: "My decision that I made was a cumulative process that based itself on a number of documents . . . and a professional investigator."

"The child protection situation we have at the moment insists we view these cases on the balance of probabilities and the evidence I had in front of me I found was quite compelling."

The hearing continues.

Sydney Morning Herald

Choirmaster denies deceiving inquiry (30/7/03)
Choirmaster denies letting pedophile abuse boy (Sydney Morning Herald)
Choirmaster denies claims (Courier Mail)
Pedophile victim speaks out against sacked choirmaster (7/3/03)
Choirboy says abuse was watched (The Age)
Sydney Church sued over St Mary's choirmaster allegations (3/3/03)
Sacked Sydney choirmaster claims Archbishop was hijacked (10/2/03)
Parents back sacked choirmaster (Daily Telegraph)
Archbishop was hijacked, claims sacked choirmaster (Sydney Morning Herald)
Cathedral music director dismissed after 'extensive inquiry': church (ABC)
Statement of David Russell (9/2/03)
Pedophile victim to sue church over abuse in home of sacked choirmaster (Sydney Morning Herald 8/2/03)
Anger over sacking of Sydney Cathedral stalwart (6/2/03)
Archdiocese of Sydney | St Mary's Cathedral

20 Aug 2003