You are using an older browser version. Please use a supported version for the best MSN experience.

Priest changes story on Farrell diary note

AAP logoAAP 22/09/2016 Miranda Forster

A senior Catholic Church figure has admitted giving conflicting accounts of what he meant in a diary entry he made about ex-priest John Farrell and child sexual assault.

Former Vicar-General of Sydney John Usher told the child sex abuse royal commission his 1992 note about a plan to defrock Farrell "following CSA (child sexual assault)" meant "following a CSA meeting", not following assaults committed by Farrell.

Monsignor Usher and another senior church official have denied that Farrell admitted to them at a September 1992 meeting he had abused boys in the 1980s.

The commission heard that in 2012 Monsignor Usher told an inquiry he couldn't explain the "cryptic" diary note and didn't know what it meant.

But in a statement to police in May he said "CSA" referred to matters Farrell had already been in court for.

Probed about the three different accounts, he told the child sexual abuse royal commission he had "no explanation".

"I'm only human and I made some different comments," he said on Thursday.

The royal commission has spent the past nine days inquiring into how church leaders in Parramatta and Armidale handled the Farrell case.

The inquiry was told that complaints about him sexually abusing altar boys first surfaced in 1984 at Moree, in northern NSW, where Farrell was an assistant priest.

However Farrell was allowed to keep working in public ministry until 1992 and wasn't defrocked until 2005.

In 2012 an old letter surfaced that indicated Farrell admitted to sexually interfering with five boys at Moree in a 1992 meeting with Monsignor Usher and two other priests, Brian Lucas and Wayne Peters.

The letter, by Father Peters to his then-bishop, contradicted previous statements by the priests and Cardinal George Pell that Farrell had made no admissions.

On Wednesday Monsignor Usher said he had been investigated by police over whether he and others had failed to report Farrell to the authorities.

The royal commission's probe into the Farrell case has been adjourned until a date to be fixed.

image beaconimage beaconimage beacon