Black Collar Crime
A bishop learned about a priest's sexual crimes but allowed him to remain in parish ministry, the Brisbane District Court was told recently. Father Patrick Cleary, 63, parish priest of Ashgrove in Brisbane, pleaded guilty to indecently assaulting two boys (aged 15 and 16) in 1967 and 1973.
Applying for a lenient sentence, the defence said one victim complained to Bishop John Gerry about Cleary in the late 1980s; Gerry then told Cleary about the complaint, and Cleary was allowed to continue ministering. (Outside the court, a church spokesman said Bishop Gerry would not comment on the incident and Archbishop John Bathersby declined to say if any action would be taken against Bishop Gerry.)
The prosecution said Clearys' offences involved him masturbating the boys. The 15-year-old boy, who was grieving the death of his mother, went to Cleary's church for Confession. Cleary molested the boy after hearing his confession.
A month later, the boy was washing a car for Cleary. Cleary followed the boy into the sacristy and assaulted him again. The second boy, then 16, was given a lift in Cleary's car, Cleary drove him to parklands where he interfered with him. Cleary then gave the boy $2 in an envelope.
Cleary was sentenced to 15 months jail, suspended after serving five months.