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Salesian in court on 29 child sex charges

A priest facing 29 child sex charges dating back to the 1970s appeared in Melbourne Magistrates Court yesterday for the start of his committal hearing.

The Herald-Sun reports that Frank Gerard Klep, 61, has been charged by Sexual Crimes Squad detectives with 28 counts of indecent assault and one of buggery.

The offences involve eight boys and were allegedly committed at Sunbury between 1973 and 1979.

Fr Klep, a Salesian, was a teacher at the order's Rupertswood College in Sunbury on the north-western fringe of Melbourne, during the period and eventually rose to become principal.

He left Melbourne in April 1998 to become the senior financial officer at a Salesian theological college in Samoa.

A month later, he was charged with five counts of indecent assault involving a 15-year-old student at the college that dated back to 1973.

He has since been charged with a further 24 offences but was released on conditional bail.

The head of the Salesian order's Australia-Pacific region, Fr Ian Murdoch, said in a statement yesterday that Fr Klep remains a member of the order and is living in supervised Salesian accommodation in Melbourne.

"As with anyone else while still a member of a religious order, and in keeping with the Catholic Church's Towards Healing protocol, Klep's legal fees are being paid for by the Salesians," Fr Murdoch said.

Magistrate Rowan McIndoe closed the hearing to the public and the media to protect the identities of witnesses in the case. The hearing is continuing.

Priest faces 29 child sex charges (Herald-Sun 30/3/05)

LINKS (not necessarily endorsed by Church Resources)
Towards Healing (Australian Catholic Bishops Conference)
Salesians of Don Bosco - Australia

Abuser 'not moved to avoid police' (CathNews 31/7/04)
Salesians 'knew of Klep allegations' (CathNews 29/6/04)
Salesian arrested at Melbourne Airport (CathNews 28/6/04)
Fr Klep being deported from Samoa (CathNews 25/6/04)

Klep in Court (Online Catholics 30/3/05)
Catholic priest on 29 child sex charges (The Age/Australian Associated Press 29/3/05)
Two arrested on paedophile charges (ABC News 20/3/05)
San Francisco Jury Rules Against Church in Sex Suit (Reuters 18/3/05)
Terry Lane: Hands off our sex lives, puritans (The Age 20/3/05)
Mahony, in legal battle, insists church has right to secrecy (National Catholic Reporter 18/3/05)
Editorial: Sealing the answers won't quiet the questions (National Catholic Reporter 16/3/05)

30 Mar 2005