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Priest's return to parish worries Melbourne parents

A priest who admitted having sex with a teenage boy in the US 10 years ago has returned to work at a Williamstown church that adjoins a primary school.

Fr Barry Robinson's return to St Mary Immaculate Conception comes after public pressure forced him to leave the parish, where he had been assistant priest for seven years before his past was revealed in January.

Former Melbourne archbishop Cardinal George Pell appointed Father Robinson to Williamstown with the approval of the church's Independent Commissioner Against Sexual Abuse.

The priest is widely supported by the Melbourne Archdiocese and many parishioners. But some parents have raised concerns about his re-emergence at the church, which is next to St Mary's Primary School.

Fr Robinson told The Age: "People have got a right to be concerned about things, but if it's continuously trying to tear the guts out of somebody or some issue, obviously you've got no good intentions."

He had been at St Mary's for several years before it was revealed in January that he had sex with a 16-year-old boy while serving as a priest in Boston in 1994. He had admitted the incident to his therapist, but left Boston in April that year without being questioned or charged by US authorities.

Melbourne Archdiocesan Vicar-General Monsignor Les Tomlinson said Father Robinson was helping out at St Mary's, but did not live there.

"I don't think his presence at the church on a Sunday poses any risk to the children," Monsignor Tomlinson said.

Priest's return worries parents (The Age 13/5/04)

Archdiocese of Melbourne | St Mary of the Immaculate Conception, Williamstown
Sex priest serves in local paris (The Age 16/1/04)

13 May 2004