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  Home :: 2006 November :: Church `covered up' sex assaults
 
 

Ex-clergyman convicted of molesting boy

By Suzanne Klotz

November 06, 2006 05:36pm

A FORMER Anglican curate has been found guilty in Brisbaneof having sex with a teenage organist he was mentoring during the 1970s.

Robert Francis Sharwood, 62, of Brisbane, had pleaded not guilty inthe District Court in Brisbane to five charges including one each ofcarnal knowledge and permitting carnal knowledge and two of indecentassault, and to a charge of gross indecency.

A jury tonight found Sharwood guilty of the first four charges, but not guilty of the gross indecency charge.

Sharwood already had pleaded guilty to another seven chargesrelating to the sexual relationship which occurred between January 1974and March 1976 while he was an assistant curate at a parish inBrisbane's southwest.

The now 46-year-old complainant, who cannot be named, was only 13and a young parishioner who played the organ at the same parish whenSharwood seduced him.

A joint love of classical music, particularly Mozart, forged thesetting for the abuse which included kissing, masturbation, oral sexand anal intercourse.

During the two-and-a-half years Sharwood molested the boy about twoto three times a week – including when he picked him up after school,at the rectory, during musical concerts, at their homes, and in a car.

Sharwood befriended the family of the complainant – who is nowmarried with four children – when he arrived at their home to helpclean up after the devastating 1974 Brisbane floods – in only hisswimming togs.

In 1976 Sharwood moved to Sydney, and the victim's father intercepted a love letter Sharwood had written to his son.

He took it to the parish, where a bishop and a another clergymanbestowed "absolute forgiveness and restoration to the church" onSharwood to reform him.

Sharwood was an assistant priest at the complainant's wedding in1982, after the complainant was a groomsman at Sharwood's wedding in1977.

Sharwood later worked at a exclusive Brisbane private school, whichterminated his employment in 2002 on hearing about the alleged abuse.

In an unusual move today, Judge Fleur Kingham agreed to continue Sharwood's bail until he is sentenced later this week.

 


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Pedophilia and sexual abuse of children in Australia