Naming ban to remain

SILENCE: A suppression order, protecting the identity of a former Catholic priest accused of child abuse, will remain in effect at least until the man’s next court appearance. A POLICE media release has been used to justify suppressing the name of a former Catholic priest facing 125 historic child sex abuse charges.

The 59-year-old man appeared in Armidale Local Court on Wednesday to answer 61 charges related to the alleged sexual abuse of three girls and six altar boys during the 1970s and 1980s.

But Crown prosecutor Peter Woods told the court that police had charged the man with a further 64 offences related to the alleged abuse of another two girls and one boy in Moree and Armidale between 1982 and 1985.

While a non-publication order on the man’s name remains in effect for the earlier offences, Mr Woods requested that the defendant’s identity not be suppressed for the charges filed on Wednesday.

“It’s in the public interest for the accused’s name to be released, given that it may result in other victims coming forward,” he said. The defendant’s solicitor, Glen Kee protested against the publication of the man’s name, arguing that it would compromise the non-publication order on the earlier charges.

Mr Kee used a police media release connecting the most recent alleged offences with the charges issued in November and January to support his case.

“If a non-publication order is not granted for these new charges, it will make the previous order ineffective,” he said.

“A simple web search shows a connection between these charges and the earlier charges under the order.”

Magistrate Karen Stafford said she would issue an interim non-publication order until the man’s next court appearance, when she would consider lifting the suppression orders on all 125 charges.

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