“Catholic priest sorry for abuse: court” & related article

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The Sydney Morning Herald

Melissa Iaria

A Catholic priest who sexually abused 15 schoolboys has become a sorry and shameful pariah, known wherever he goes as “the pedophile priest”, a court has heard.

Frank Gerard Klep, 70, abused the boys at Salesian College Rupertswood from 1973 to 1984.

In the aftermath, he endured a spectacular fall from grace, the Victorian County Court heard on Tuesday.

Defence barrister Julie Sutherland says Klep’s remorse was heartfelt and real, having told a friend he was “profoundly sorry and ashamed”.

After his crimes surfaced, he was demoted, forbidden to work with children and stripped of his priesthood duties.

“He went almost, your honour, from priest to pariah and he has remained a pariah in so many respects,” Ms Sutherland told the pre-sentence hearing.

“He, of course, wherever he goes, is known as pretty much the pedophile priest.

“His fall from grace has been spectacular.”

Some of Klep’s victims previously laid bare the trauma of their abuse in court.

Depression, substance abuse and failed relationships plagued them in the wake of Klep’s crimes.

Klep preyed on many of the boys as they lay ill in the school’s sick bay, which he operated.

Several awoke during the night to find Klep had removed their pants and was fondling their genitals.

One boy was pinned to his bed and raped.

However, Ms Sutherland argued Klep was of “otherwise good character” who did volunteer work for charities, the disadvantaged, the elderly and worked in Samoa with families with leprosy after being defrocked.

On Klep’s return to Australia in 2004, he was reduced to being a volunteer mail clerk for the Salesians in a “complete fall from grace” before being arrested.

Ms Sutherland asked the court to acknowledge Klep’s early guilty plea, his public shaming and the prospect he will die in jail.

Already on the sex offender’s register for life, he showed a “moderately minimal” risk of reoffending.

Ms Sutherland said Klep has completed sex offender programs in jail and was advanced in his rehabilitation.

“He clearly has so much to give to the people in the community who could benefit by the help, by the comfort of this man,” she said.

Prosecutor Kieran Gilligan said Klep’s crimes involved a gross breach of trust.

He was predatory, isolated his victims and even offended against children from the same family, Mr Gilligan said.

Klep has pleaded guilty to 12 counts of indecent assault, buggery, attempted buggery and rape.

It is the third time he has either pleaded guilty to or been convicted of indecently assaulting schoolboys.

He was convicted of child sex crimes in 1994 and placed on an intensive corrections order.

In 2005, he was given a five-year-and-10-month prison sentence for similar offences.

Klep will be sentenced on May 15.


Victims walk out of court as pedophile priest Frank Klep delivers apology

The Age (Victoria)

Victims of a pedophile priest have walked out of a Melbourne court as he stood to deliver an apology.

Frank Gerard Klep, 70, has pleaded guilty to sexually abusing 15 boys while a teacher and principal at Salesian College, Rupertswood from 1973 to 1984.

As Klep stood to read a prepared apology, many of his victims left the courtroom.

‘‘I abused your trust and betrayed you in the most appalling circumstances, for that I am truly sorry,’’ Klep said.

It is the third time Klep has either pleaded guilty to or been convicted of abusing schoolboys.

Many of the boys were sexually assaulted or raped while in beds at the school’s sick bay, which was operated by Klep.

One boy passed out in the bathroom and woke in Klep’s bed, with his genitals being fondled by Klep.

Another victim was sexually assaulted when he used a pay phone outside Klep’s office to call home.

Their suffering was laid bare in the Victorian County Court on Thursday, as they spoke of the failed relationships, depression and alcoholism they have experienced in the years since Klep’s crimes.

‘‘Frank Klep you left a lasting impression on me that will never be erased,’’ one victim said.

‘‘I’m often ashamed of myself, how did I let this happen to me?’’

Another victim told the court he abused alcohol as a coping mechanism for the trauma of the abuse.

‘‘When I had dark days I would drink myself into unconsciousness,’’ he said.

He said he often woke in a cold sweat after dreaming he was back at the Sunbury school.

Defence barrister Julie Sutherland said Klep had successfully completed a sex offenders course when he was last jailed for child abuse in 2006, and was remorseful for his crimes.

Klep’s bail was revoked and he was taken into custody with his pre-sentence hearing continues next week.


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