Former Lismore priest on child sex charges refused bail
THE Catholic Diocese of Lismore has immediately stood down one its priests who was this morning denied bail on a series of historic child sexual assault charges.
Father John Casey, 67, was based at Mary Help of Christians School in Sawtell prior to his arrest on Thursday.
The historical charges brought against him are alleged to have occurred while he was based in Lismore during the 1980s.
Bishop of Lismore Reverend Geoffrey Jarrett said Father Casey had been immediately stood down.
"The Catholic Church is committed to fully supporting survivors of child sexual abuse within the Diocese and is fully cooperating with the police investigation," Rev Jarrett said,
"As the matters are now before the Court, the Diocese is unable to comment further on this particular matter at this time."
UPDATE, 1.42pm: A FORMER Lismore priest facing a range of historic child sex assault charges which allegedly occurred in Lismore in the 1980s was refused bail in Port Macquarie Local Court today.
Father John Casey, 67, is charged with five counts of a sexual assault on a person under 16-years-old, four counts of sexual assault and committing an act of indecency.
The matter was heard by magistrate Thomas Hodgson after Fr Casey was arrested and held by police overnight on Thursday.
According to the Port Macquarie News, Father Casey's solicitor Stephen Wright argued that Fr Casey could "languish in prison" for up to two years until the matter was handled by the district court.
Mr Wright reportedly suggested the 67-year-old could instead reside with his sister, who was present in court for support.
Mr Hodgson noted Fr Casey had strong community ties, no history of violence and no history of non-compliance with court orders. But he said the accusations related to "serious offences" and it was a "reasonably strong" prosecution case.
The magistrate said if found guilty, Father Casey would likely face prison.
The charges follow investigations by Lismore police commenced in February this year into allegations against Father Casey, who is also a part-time police chaplain.
The investigation has been referenced at the Royal Commission into Institutional Child Sexual Abuse
INITIAL REPORT: A CATHOLIC priest working as a police chaplain will face court today over child sex offences alleged to have happened when he was working in the Lismore diocese in the 1980s.
In a statement, NSW Police say detectives from the Richmond Local Area Command have been investigating the priest since February after evidence raised in the Royal Commission into Institutional Child Sexual Abuse.
The commission is ongoing and is still accepting submissions from victims who were abused as children at or via institutions such as churches, schools, or sports clubs.
Detectives arrested the former Lismore priest on Thursday and charged him with nine offences at the Kempsey Police Station.
He was refused bail and will appear before Kempsey Local Court today (Friday July 10, 2015).