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Broken Rites Australia helps victims of church-related
By a Broken Rites researcher
An Australian Catholic priest who was ordained in 2004 has admitted that he committed child-sex offences in 2006 — after only two years in the ministry.
Broken Rites researchResearch by Broken Rites has ascertained that Paul Pavlou was born in Australia in 1959, in a family of Greek Cypriot origin. The third of six children, he grew up in Melbourne suburbs (he attended primary school at East Burwood and high school at Richmond and Syndal).
He studied engineering at Melbourne's Monash University for a year before completing a Diploma of Teaching (Primary) at Melbourne’s Frankston State College in 1981, majoring in physical education and social science. He began teaching in state primary schools at Hallam and Mount Waverley (both in Melbourne’s east).
Other members of his family identify with the Greek Orthodox Church but Paul Pavlou became a Catholic and began taking an active role in Catholic affairs.
After spending ten years teaching, he began preparing for a career in religious life. In 1997, he graduated with a Bachelor of Theology at Melbourne’s Catholic Theological College and became a Brother in a Catholic religious order, the Salesians of Don Bosco.
Brother Pavlou lived in Salesian establishments in Melbourne’s east (at Oakleigh, Lysterfield and Ferntree Gully). At Ferntree Gully, Brother Pavlou taught at St Joseph's Regional College, which is conducted by the Salesian order.
In his forties, he was accepted by the Melbourne Catholic archdiocese as a mature-age entrant for the priesthood and did his training at the church's Melbourne seminary.
After being ordained during 2004, he worked as an assistant priest at Croydon (Sacred Heart parish) in Melbourne's outer east. Broken Rites has ascertained that Pavlou was listed as a priest, for the first time, in the next edition of the Australian Catholic Directory (compiled in early 2005).
In late 2005, Paul Pavlou took up duties at the Healesville parish (St Brigid's). He was listed there (as the administrator, or acting priest-in-charge) in the next edition of the Australian Catholic Directory (compiled in early 2006).
How the case beganAbout October 2006, the complaint surfaced regarding the 14-year-old boy. The boy’s mother became concerned about the 47-year-old priest's persistent interest in her son, including telephone calls and text messages and regular sleepovers at the priest's home.
The mother notified her concern to the principal of St Brigid's primary school. The mother was then directed to the Melbourne archdiocese’s internal investigation system. This system is supervised by a Melbourne barrister, Peter O’Callaghan, QC, who is engaged by the archdiocese.
As part of the church’s internal process, the church sent two female representatives of the archdiocese to conduct a series of tape-recorded interviews with the boy. Under the church process, Father Pavlou was notified about the boy’s allegations, thus enabling him to prepare his defence.
During the church's internal investigation, Pavlou left the Healesville parish after being there for only 12 months. The reason for his departure, according to the next edition of the Australian Catholic directory (compiled in early 2007) was "sick leave", and his forwarding address was given as "care of the archdiocesan office".
Police investigationMeanwhile, the mother became dissatisfied by the church process and she decided to consult the police. Unlike the church process, the police acted decisively.
In 2007 the police interviewed Pavlou and checked his computer. Because he had been forewarned by the church process, Pavlou had deleted files from his computer. However, police were still able to retrieve evidence that Pavlou had been using the computer for child pornography.
Police from the Lilydale criminal investigation unit eventually issued Pavlou with a court summons. The case was listed for a mention in court in 2008, and again in early 2009, but Pavlou's lawyer successfully asked the magistrate for adjournments because the defence was still compiling its case.
Originally, the defence indicated that Pavlou would contest the charges. Normally, this would entail a long hearing, perhaps over several days, with witnesses being examined and cross-examined.
When the "contested hearing" date (29 June 2009) arrived, the defence indicated that Pavlou had decided plead guilty. This meant a relatively short hearing.
The prosecution agreed to amalgamate the two counts of indecent acts into one charge.
Porn found on computerThe court was told that, during their investigations, police seized a computer hard-drive. Police retrieved a large number of photographs depicting children under 16 in pornographic situations, the court was told.
"The vast majority of the images depicted young adolescent males," the police prosecutor (Senior Constable Sean Van Geyzel) said.
Originally, in the police investigation, Pavlou claimed ignorance about the pornography but police found evidence that he paid for the porn himself. This persuaded Pavlou to change his plea to guilty.
SentencingAfter Pavlou's guilty plea, the hearing was largely devoted to submissions by the defence, seeking a lenient sentence.
Church defence lawyer Brian Bourke told the court that, at the age of 50, Pavlou now had little prospect of employment in any field for which he was trained.
As requested by the defence, the magistrate took into account the guilty plea when deciding the sentence.
In sentencing, Magistrate Anne Goldsborough told Pavlou: "These are charges of the utmost significance not only for you but for the young victim involved."
The victim and his family were present in the court for the magistrate's summing up and sentence.
FootnoteThe prosecuting agency in the Pavlou case was the Lilydale branch of the Victoria Police's criminal investigation unit. The police contact at Lilydale was Leading Senior Constable Mark Molloy. The court case number for the Pavlou prosecution was X02540146.
Any further complaints about Paul Pavlou should be addressed, in the first instance, to the Lilydale C.I.U.
Paul Pavlou is the second Healesville parish priest to be convicted of child-sex offences. Father David Daniel, of Healesville, was jailed in 2000.
Eight months before Paul Pavlou's conviction, another Melbourne Catholic priest (Father Fr John Haines) was jailed for similar offences. Haines was sentenced on 4 November 2008, after pleading guilty to six counts of an indecent act with a child under 16, procurement of a minor for child pornography and possessing child porn.
In the very same month that Paul Pavlou was convicted, another Catholic priest from Melbourne was convicted in the same court: Father Desmond Gannon, jailed on 10 June 2009.
Church lawyer Brian Bourke, who represented Father Paul Pavlou in court, also appeared for Father Des Gannon. In 1995, Mr Bourke appeared in court for pedophile priest John Kevin O'Donnell, who was later jailed.
For another example of a priest who was involved in child-pornography, see the Broken Rites article about Father Adrian van Klooster.
A feature article about Paul Pavlou in the Melbourne Age, on 10 August 2009, can be seen here.