Abusive priest Gannon gave boy an ‘anatomy lesson’
A FORMER Melbourne priest who sexually abused young boys over an 18-year period from 1958 refused to apologise for indecently assaulting an 11-year-old for fear of a compensation claim being made against the church, a court has heard.
Retired Catholic priest Desmond Laurence Gannon, 79, told police last year that he was giving the boy an anatomy lesson when he took him from school and assaulted him in 1968. “I thought it was less formal rather than inviting him into the presbytery and that’s all,” he said.
It is Gannon’s fifth prosecution for sex offences. He was previously convicted in 1995, 1997, 2000 and 2003 for other indecent assaults committed between 1958 and 1976.
While Gannon received jail sentences on each occasion, he served an immediate term only once.
In a victim impact statement read yesterday to the County Court, the now 51-year-old victim described feeling “broken” and totally worthless and said he did not socialise as a normal child after the offences.
“It destroyed all my hopes and dreams,” he told Judge Frank Gucciardo.
Gannon, who previously served across Melbourne including in Macleod, Ashburton, Northcote and Kilmore, yesterday pleaded guilty to five counts of unlawful and indecent assault.
Prosecutor Ray Gibson told the court that in 1968 Gannon travelled alone with the victim and stopped his car on a bush track outside Kilmore where he assaulted him. Gannon told the boy not to tell anyone and that they wouldn’t believe him.
The victim was assaulted by Gannon on two other occasions, once after arriving early for altar boy duties at Mass and another in a pump room at a college swimming pool.
Gannon was secretly recorded by police last year refusing to apologise to the victim because he was fearful of a compensation claim against the church. “I won’t say sexual abuse because at the time I didn’t know what it was,” he told the victim.
Mr Gibson said that Gannon’s offending had been “planned and deliberate”.
Brian Bourke, for Gannon, said his client had not offended since 1976 and that to impose a jail term for offences 40 years old would be “unreasonable”.
Character witnesses for Gannon said he was remorseful, but Mr Gibson and Judge Gucciardo questioned the extent of the remorse as Gannon had failed to apologise.
Witness Donald Johnson, a former Baptist minister, said Gannon had “a maladaptive approach to his own sexuality”, but had never said he knew what he did was wrong.
Judge Gucciardo will sentence Gannon on June 3.