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Salesian arrested at Melbourne Airport

Convicted pedophile priest Frank Klep was able to slip in and out of Australia undetected three times in the past four years despite being wanted on five charges of indecently assaulting a teenage boy in the 1970s, a court heard on Friday.

The Age reported on Saturday that Klep was arrested on arrival at Melbourne Airport on Friday after being deported from Samoa for failing to disclose a conviction for sexual assault.

Another Australian priest, Fr John Murphy, Salesian Provincial between 1994 and 1998, also faces deportation from Samoa for witnessing Klep's visa application.

Klep, 61, appeared in Melbourne Magistrates Court charged with five counts of indecent assault against a boy in 1973 while teaching at the Salesian order's Rupertswood College in Sunbury.

He also faces one charge of failing to appear on summons.

Detective Senior Constable John Raglus told the court that Klep had left Australia to work in a Samoan mission in April 1998 and had returned three times, most recently in January.

He said Klep was aware of the charges against him but had made no effort to contact police when he returned to Australia.

The court heard that in 1973 Klep engaged in oral sex and fondled a boy's genitals in Rupertswood College's infirmary. Klep worked as a priest and a teacher at the school between 1973 and 1979. Police interviewed him about the allegations in June 1996 but charges were not laid until May 1998, after the Catholic Church sent him overseas. The court was told that police went to serve a summons on August 10, 1998, but they were told Klep had gone to Samoa.

Klep's defence lawyer, Tony Hargraves, told the court that his client thought he would have been stopped by immigration officials on arrival if the charges against him had been serious.

Magistrate Paul Smith refused Klep bail and said there was no explanation as to why Klep had not contacted authorities when he knew there were charges against him. He ordered Klep to reappear in court in September.

On Friday, current Salesian Provincial Fr Ian Murdoch, said in a statement: "The Salesians were not aware of details of complaints against Father Klep which were taken to the police until they were reported in the media this week. I am not aware of the police having ever informed the Salesian order of any outstanding warrants for Father Klep."

Pedophile priest arrested at airport (The Age 26/6/04)

Counting the cost of a priest's bad faith (The Age 26/6/04)
Father Klep refused bail (ABC Radio PM 25/6/04)
Father Klep back in Australia (ABC Radio The World Today 25/6/04)
Priest charged with sex offences (AAP/The Age 25/6/04)
Paedophile priest refused bail (Herald-Sun 25/6/04)
Paedophile priest arrested in Melbourne (ABC Lateline 25/6/04)
Catholic Priest Arrested in Australia (The Guardian/Associated Press 25/6/04)
Accused child sex priest in jail (The Australian 26/6/04)
Customs lets wanted priest pass (The Age 25/6/04)
Catholic Priest Arrested in Australia (Associated Press/Bucks County Courier-Times)
Fr Klep being deported from Samoa (CathNews 25/6/04)
Sex priest to return to Melbourne (The Age 25/6/04)
Priest given 48 hours to flee (The Australian 25/6/04)
Church accused of hiding pedophile priest (Sydney Morning Herald 25/6/04)
The Salesian Congregation rejects the accusations in "The Dallas Morning News": we condemn every kind of child abuse (ANS Salesian News Agency 21/6/04)
Samoa's pedophile anger (The Australian 23/6/04)
Church compounds the sins of the fathers (The Age 23/6/04)
Pedophile priest stays out of reach (The Age 22/6/04)
Australian Salesians

28 Jun 2004