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Melbourne priest steps down from parish duties

A Catholic priest who was allowed to work next to a Melbourne primary school - despite having sex with a teenage boy 10 years ago - has resigned from the parish.

The move came amid a public outcry over the church's decision to allow Fr Barry Robinson to return to St Mary Immaculate Conception, in Williamstown, where he had been assistant priest for seven years before details of his past in the US emerged in January.

The Age revealed yesterday that while the Melbourne Archdiocese and many parishioners supported the priest's return, some parents with children at St Mary's Primary School next to the church had raised concerns.

A church spokesman confirmed last night that the priest, now in his 60s, had asked to withdraw from St Mary's.

"In light of what has happened, he's applied to be relieved of his duties," the spokesman said. "He's been given administrative leave which means he no longer operates as a priest for as long as he is on that leave."

Father Robinson admitted to sex with a 16-year-old boy while a priest in Boston in 1994. He was never charged and was appointed to Williamstown after "intensive and successful treatment" according to the church.

Priest who had sex with boy resigns (The Age 14/5/04)

Statement regarding Father Barry Robinson -- Catholic Archdiocese of Melbourne
Priest's return to parish worries Melbourne parents (CathNews 13/5/04)
Priest asks to be relieved of duties (ABC 13/5/04)
Priest quits church over sex row (Herald-Sun 13/5/04)
Principal quits over play ban (Daily Telegraph 14/5/04)

14 May 2004