Newcastle priest Peter Rushton had child porn: Royal Commission

ROSE TO ARCHDEACON: The royal commission says Peter Rushton was a prolific child sex offender who went unconvicted during his lifetime. He died in 2007.
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“Our men are no angels but they were shocked by the material.”

The men were removalists from the Hunter firm Farragher Removals. The material was a cache of pornography –some of it child pornography – that the Royal Commission into Institutional Responses to Child Sexual Abuse says was owned in 1998 by the “prolific”paedophileNewcastle Anglican priest, Peter Rushton.

Rushton’s pornography was examined at lengthduring the commission’s Newcastle hearing, andthis week’s report –case study 42 –sides with the removalists over the church when it comes to deciding what really happened at the time.

One of the removalists said Rushton’s videos had covers showing “males having sex with each other”. One showed pictures of a “naked young boy” who the removalist thought looked about 12 years old.

The dioceseobtained a letter from a former solicitor who had looked at “certain material” possessed by Rushton, andwas of the view that the material was “legal to possess or view in private”.

But as the commission reportnoted, “it did not occur” to Newcastle’sthen-bishop, Roger Herft, or the diocesan registrar, Peter Mitchell, that Rushton “might not have provided all the videos or materials that the removalists had complained of”.

As far as Farragher’s principal John Farragher was concerned, Bishop Herft “seemed to be concentrating on potential reputational damage to the church rather than … whether Father Rushton had child pornography in his house”.

The report says that in the following year, 1999, Rushton asked another priest, Archdeacon David Simpson, to “collect hundreds of video tapes from the rectory at Hamilton and destroy them”.

“Archdeacon Simpson reported that he burnt them and that some of the video covers depicted men and boys,” says the report, made public on Thursday.

Bishop Herft said he could not “compulsorily gain access” to Rushton’s home to collect the material but the commission says, given the “serious criminal offence’’ alleged, he could have gone to the police “at the time he was first notified”.

Newcastle Herald

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