Priest 'abused teacher's trust'
January 20, 2005
A CATHOLIC priest whoindecently assaulted a male parishioner had abused his position oftrust and authority, a Sydney court heard today.
Terence Norman Goodall, 64, now retired, pleaded guilty in the Downing Centre District Court to one count of indecent assault.
Although his victim reported the matter to police only in 2003,Goodall was charged under laws that existed when the crime took placein 1982.
Until it was amended in 1984, the legislation made any sexual activity between two males illegal, regardless of consent.
The court heard that in 1982 Goodall invited his victim, then a29-year-old religion teacher, to attend mass at St Catherine LaboureChurch at Gymea where he was the visiting parish priest.
After mass they went swimming at a Cronulla pool, where Goodall fondled the younger man.
Later, at the presbytery, Goodall indecently assaulted the victim as he was changing out of his swimmers.
Prosecutor Anita Zeid said the victim had not invited the action and was "paralysed by fear".
"This comes back ... to the abuse of trust and power," Ms Zeid said.
"The victim was 29 at that stage but was also a devout Catholic, completely consumed by the Church.
"So he would not be in a position ... to question the authority of someone he respects and reveres."
Defence barrister Mark Buscombe argued that Goodall's offencewas at the lower range of seriousness and urged Judge Philip Bell notto record a conviction.
"There's no suggestion that there was any force used," Mr Buscombe said.
"(Goodall) was always of the view that it was consensual."
Judge Bell said he might not have recorded a conviction againstthe former priest had it not been for the incident at the swimmingpool, over which Goodall was not charged.
But the fact that the victim swam away after being fondled "should have indicated these advances were not welcome", he said.
Judge Bell indicated he would not jail Goodall full-time butasked: "How do you sentence a priest who has departed from the moralstandards expected of a priest?
"We're not just dealing with an ordinary, run-of-the-milloccupation; we're dealing with someone who, by virtue of hisoccupation, is in a position of trust in the community."
But to sentence someone on the basis that the community expectedhigher moral standards of them would make people unequal before thelaw, he said.
The victim, who cannot be named, reported Goodall to policeafter a church investigation in 2002 could not be satisfied theincidents were not consensual.
"There appears to have been a culture in religious institutions,up until a decade or two ago, that dealt with these matters lessrigidly than today," Judge Bell said.
"That too, may account for a lot of the distress that this victim has endured."
Goodall will be sentenced on Tuesday.
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