Tasmanian priest guilty of abuse, SA accused dies

A Tasmanian Marist priest has been found guilty of sexually assaulting two boys during the 1970s while an 80-year-old retired teacher at an Adelaide Catholic boys school has died before he could face trial on similar charges.

The Launceston Examiner reports that Fr Ferguson, 70, was charged with maintaining a sexual relationship with a person under 17 and indecent assault.

The Launceston Supreme Court jury returned the guilty verdicts yesterday afternoon after several hours of deliberation.

Ferguson had denied all allegations against him.

The two boys were aged 13 to 14 when the crimes occurred at the school in 1971.

The week-long trial heard from the two complainants and other former students and priests. Ferguson was a teacher at the school and would allow the boys into his room where the sexual assaults occurred.

Justice Ewan Crawford remanded him in custody to be sentenced on 24 April.

Meanwhile, Blackfriars Priory School in Adelaide is offering counselling and potential compensation to former students who alleged they were sexually abused by a teacher who has died before he could go on trial, the Advertiser reports.

Albert Davis, who was unable to be named until yesterday, had been committed to stand trial in the District Court on 17 charges of indecent assault involving seven boys between 1956 and 1960.

Davis, a former teacher at Blackfriars Priory School, had been suffering a number of health problems and died this month in a Canberra nursing home, aged 80.

Blackfriars yesterday said it had written letters to Davis's alleged victims, offering counselling and possible compensation.

Principal Dr Paul Hine said the offer was a "moral imperative" for the school.

"We've got to at least find a way to support these people in the event these things occurred," he said.

He said while the school could not say whether Davis was guilty, it also could not ignore that there may be legitimacy in the allegations against him.

"We can't do nothing," Dr Hine said.

"We have a responsibility to those who have come through our school."

Priest found guilty of sexual assault (Milton Ulladulla Times, 29/3/07)
School pledges help for `abused' pupils (Adelaide Now, 29/3/07)

LINKS (not necessarily endorsed by Church Resources)
Marist College Burnie
Blackfriars Priory School

Tas priest on trial over 70s abuse accusations (CathNews, 22/3/07)
Marist apology to victims in abuse case (CathNews, 28/3/06)
Marist Burnie ex-pupil tells of sex abuse (CathNews, 21/2/06)

29 Mar 2007