Russian Orthodox priest charged with child assault against Belarusian teenager in Australia

By @snksounak on
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A man and a boy light candles during an Orthodox Christmas service at a cathedral in Stavropol, southern Russia January 7, 2015. Most Orthodox Christians celebrate Christmas according to the Julian calendar on January 7, two weeks after most western Christian churches that abide by the Gregorian calendar. REUTERS/Eduard Korniyenko

A 33-year-old Orthodox priest has been charged with child assault. The Russian national came to Australia in 2013. The Department of Immigration and Border Protection cancelled his visa.

The priest has been charged with grooming and indecent assault offences against a 15-year-old Belarusian boy, whom he regularly communicated with over the Internet, according to police allegations. The teenager came to Australia in July 2014. He stayed at the inner west church where the priest lived as well. The priest was charged with three counts of aggravated indecent assault, one count of child grooming and one count of detaining for advantage after Sex Crimes Squad investigators had arrested him.

The priest is presently held in the Villawood Detention Centre. AAP reported that the priest had been refused bail. He will appear at Burwood Local Court on Oct. 14.

This is not the first time a priest in Australia has been accused of child abuse. The Roman Catholic Diocese of Ballarat hired a respected Victorian QC to defend Robert Claffey and he was charged with “historical sex offence,” The Australian reported.

Claffey pleaded not guilty to over 10 charges of indecent assault in several locations like Portland, Apollo Bay, Ballarat and western Victoria. The offences were allegedly committed between 1970 and 1992. Ronald Mulkearns served as the Bishop of Ballarat from 1971 to 1997, roughly the period when Claffey allegedly abused children.

Mulkearns told the Geelong Magistrates Court he remembered Claffey misbehaving “in a sexual way” with the 13-year-old son of a parishioner. "There seemed to be some difference in emphasis but his statement was that 'what he did was wrong' and he was not trying to suggest otherwise," ABC quoted the former bishop’s letter. Claffey resigned the next day.

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