Former Anglican minister sentenced to 16 years for 15 counts of child abuse

A former Anglican priest was sentenced to 16 years’ imprisonment in Wagga District Court last week for historic child sex offences.

Judge Gordon Lerve sentenced the 71-year-old Riverina man, who cannot be named for legal reasons, to a non-parole period of six-and-a-half years for sexually abusing five children in 15 separate offences.

The crimes were committed in the central Riverina, Southern Tablelands and the South Coast between 1975 and 1990. The victims were aged between 10 and 16.

He put his depraved sexual gratification ahead of his victims.

Judge Lerve

The man pleaded guilty on 11 counts of indecent assault, three counts of sexual intercourse without consent and one count of rape on Monday. In sentencing, Judge Lerve said the man “repeatedly took advantage of children in his care”.

“He put his depraved sexual gratification ahead of his victims,” Judge Lerve said. 

“(The victims) spoke eloquently about the effects of these depraved acts and some contemplated suicide.”

The man’s hands shook as he sipped from a plastic cup of water while Judge Lerve recounted the details of each offence.

One of the victims was just 10 years old when she was first groped by the man. 

A year later at a holiday camp, he touched her through her swimmers, before taking her around a bend in the river. 

“Come here, I’ve got something for you,” the man said before he raped her.

On more than one occasion, Judge Lerve said, the man told his victims “don’t move, don’t scream, this isn’t my fault it’s yours.”

“This is typical of offenders to blame their child victims for their own perverted conduct,” Judge Lerve said.

In 1986, the man told a 12-year-old girl he would only buy her a gift if she agreed to let him touch her.

“There’s something of an insidious aspect to that count as he offered a reward for his indecent conduct,”Judge Lerve said.

While he described the crimes as “depraved” and “perverted”, the judge said he accepted the offender was “remorseful”. 

The man will be eligible for parole on April 9, 2023.