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Man abused by priest says he forgives him

AAP logoAAP 7/09/2016 Andi Yu

A man who was sexually abused by a Maronite priest when he was a teenager has looked his abuser in the eye and told him he forgives him.

The priest, 40, was accused of indecently assaulting the victim in 2005 and pleaded not guilty, but was found guilty by a jury earlier this year.

At the end of an emotional victim impact statement at the Parramatta District Court on Thursday, the victim, now 26, asked a defence lawyer to move aside so he could look directly at the offender.

"I swear to God, I forgive you," he said.

The court heard the priest gave the victim, then 15, a lift home in his car at the parents' request and on the way he fell asleep.

He awoke to the priest holding his penis.

Just over a decade on, the victim said the priest's actions had ruined his life and sent him into a spiral of "drugs, gambling, girls, lying and inappropriate things".

He said he had anger, depression and thoughts of self harm and wouldn't be alive if it wasn't for the love and support of his mother.

"I could not understand why you would touch an innocent boy when you had dedicated your life to Jesus Christ," he said.

The court public gallery was packed with the priest's supporters, who filled most of the space so extra seats had to be found for the victim's family.

"Would your supporters be here today if the victim you abused was their son or little brother instead of me?" the victim said during his statement.

"For the sake of the salvation of your soul, tell the real truth to all your supporters."

The offender is not in ministry, having been granted leave by the Maronite Church.

He will be sentenced by Judge Penelope Wass on October 4.

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