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Suspended sentence for Tasmanian monsignor


Monsignor Philip Green, who was removed from active ministry last year after allegations of inappropriate behaviour, has been given a suspended three-month jail sentence on condition he behaves for two years.

Monsignor Green admitted in the Supreme Court in Hobart to groping the groin of a 22-year-old and forcefully tongue-kissing him in a car at Greens Beach, in the state's North, in 1977.

Chief Justice Peter Underwood said the crime was a gross breach of trust.

The court heard Green had been a family friend of the victim and had been consoling the family after the victim's sister had been killed in a car accident. Green had identified the sister's body for her family and interviewed police to pass on information about the accident to them. He attacked the man by grabbing his groin through his clothes and kissing him while he was sitting in his car trying to come to terms with the death of his sister.

Justice Underwood said a significant aggravating feature of the crime was that it was committed while Green was ministering to the man and his family, all traumatised by the death.

"You, as an ordained priest of the Catholic Church, held yourself out to this young man and his family as a custodian of moral values and a person in whom trust could be placed when in need," he said.

"Your public humiliation is complete for your former high standing has been transformed to disgrace and odium from which you are unlikely to recover."

Green's lawyer, Bill Ayliffe, told the court his client was 41 at the time of the crime and for reasons he could not understand he "crossed the boundary from appropriate conduct to sexual conduct". Ayliffe said Green, 69, accepted his public disgrace and deeply regretted the harm and hurt caused.

The court heard the man escaped from the car and walked away down the road. When he returned to the house he found Green and his father talking as if nothing had happened.

Prosecutor Daryl Coates, SC, said that in 2002 the man spoke to a priest about the incident and after a meeting in Launceston between him and church officials he understood Green would no longer act as a priest, and would have counselling.

But the following year he learned Green was still performing church duties, so he complained to police.

A spokesman for Catholic Archbishop Adrian Doyle said there would be no comment on the case.

A spokeswoman for Survivors Investigating Child Sex Abuse, Denise Cripps, said Green's victim had been vindicated.

SOURCE
Top priest avoids jail over grope (The Mercury 10/12/04)

LINKS
Archdiocese of Hobart

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10 Dec 2004