Bishop called to testify before NSW Supreme Court: The Church of England Newspaper, Feb 4, 2011 p 6. February 6, 2011Posted by geoconger in Abuse, Anglican Church of Australia, Church of England Newspaper.
First published in The Church of England Newspaper.
The Bishop of Newcastle, Australia has been summoned to give evidence before the New South Wales Supreme Court in the civil review of a diocesan disciplinary hearing which found three men, including the retired Dean of Newcastle Graeme Lawrence, guilty of sexual abuse.
Papers were served last week on the diocese, ordering Bishop Brian Farran to appear for questioning on Feb 3. However, the bishop is currently out of the country and the diocese is expected to ask for a postponement.
On Dec 15, the Professional Standards Board held that Dean Lawrence and his partner—church organist Gregory Goyette—had engaged in sexual relations with a 17 year old boy at a church camp in 1984. A second priest, the Rev. Graeme Sturt was found to have observed the incident, but did not report the abuse.
The board recommended Dean Lawrence and Mr. Sturt be defrocked and Mr. Goyette prevented from working in the church.
Bishop Farran, board president Colin Elliott and two other board members were named in the suit, which claims their decision was “affected by actual bias” against the accused and that they prejudged the allegations against them.
The suit also alleges the priests were denied procedural due process and that the standards board had held itself out as a court competent to judge the accused, when it lacked the powers of a court or the ability to gather and hear evidence.
The diocese has responded in its pleading that the Supreme Court does not have “supervisory jurisdiction” over ecclesiastical affairs and is barred from adjudicating the priests’ claims.
A spokesman for the diocese denied the charges of bias leveled by the accused, telling the Australian Broadcasting Corporation “proceedings against the former Dean and his partner have nothing to do with their sexual orientation.”