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Notorious Australian priest sentenced to prison, abused 39 children

July 06, 2010

John Denham, a former priest of the Diocese of Maitland-Newcastle, was sentenced to at least 12 years in prison for abusing 39 children between 1968 and 1986. His victims’ ages ranged from five to 16.

“For reasons known only to them, other teachers and priests did not intervene to stop the abuse of which most of the students were aware,” said Sydney District Court Judge Helen Syme during the sentencing.

Bishop Leo Clarke, who led the diocese from 1976 until 1995, permitted the priest to remain in ministry for eight years following a meeting with Mike and Mary Rounce, the parents of one of Denham’s victims. “‘I got the impression he was going to handle things,’’ Mrs. Rounce told the Newcastle Herald. “‘If we’d gone to the police, all those other boys wouldn’t have been abused. That’s something you carry around with you.”

“But we knew nothing about what was happening with other boys. We didn’t know how bad it was until after Denham was charged. Only the Church knew what he was doing, and they just moved him on.’’


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