A Catholic priest who sexually abused 12 Victorian children over decades in a “shameful and protracted abuse of his authority” has been jailed for 18 years and four months with a minimum of 13 years and four months.
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Robert Patrick Claffey, 73, attacked a seven-year-old girl who was preparing for her first communion in 1969 in the first of “a truly appalling litany of offending” during which he exploited his position of trust.
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Claffey went on to assault altar boys and children making preparations for religious ceremonies until 1992.
He used the excuse of providing pastoral care to one casualty – whose brother had expired before the lad was assaulted by him in his house.
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Former Catholic priest sentenced to 29 years in jail for sexual offenses against kids
The former priest pleaded guilty to 19 charges but the Victorian county court judge Felicity Hampel noted he had offered no apology to his victims – nor shown any remorse.
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Claffey was a “paedophilic sexual predator” who prepared kids and parents by threatening kids to keep them calm, creating trust and seeing families, the judge said.
That you could act with impunity for this type of span speaks volumes for the power the gross nature of the breach of trust of a priest in respect of the children of the parish and you used over your casualties,” Hampel said.
“The results for your casualties have been deep and, for many, lifelong.”
Speaking outside court on Tuesday one of the victims said the sentence was reasonable, just and tantamount to a death penalty. This is someone who subjected the kids of western Victoria to unbroken and unbridled rape .
“Bob Claffey has required he deserves to have a reasonable part of his life taken from him and a reasonable part of everyone’s lives.”
The victim said he was disgusted with the activities of the Ballarat and Melbourne dioceses, which he described as a “paedophile move system”.