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Ex-priest ‘attacked vulnerable Vic boys’

Posted by on 02/05/2019

Former Catholic priest James Patrick Jennings knew when the schoolboys he abused would be alone and in which dormitory they slept.


Jennings, 81, indecently assaulted three boys while a priest at Bendigo’s St Vincent’s College in the 1960s.

One of his victims, who was abused over a number of years, said Jennings had deprived him of his adolescence and made him feel guilty his whole life.

“He left me feeling exploited, humiliated and with lost self-esteem,” he said in a statement read to the Victorian County Court on Tuesday.

Prosecutor Susan Borg said Jennings learnt his victims’ class timetables to find out when they’d be alone.

She said he also knew in which dorms they were sleeping.

Ms Borg said Jennings had exploited a power imbalance, and knew the boys would not come forward as they would not be believed.

“It’s an attack on one of the most vulnerable categories of victims – children,” she said.

Defence barrister Mark Hird said Jennings had been of exemplary behaviour since the offending, doing years of charity work and raising a family after leaving the priesthood.

He asked Judge Wendy Wilmoth to wholly suspend any prison sentence imposed on Jennings.

However, Ms Borg called for an immediate term of imprisonment, saying Jennings had shown no remorse for his offending.

Jennings, who lives in the Huon Valley in Tasmania, was in February found guilty of five counts of indecent assault against the three boys.

He was acquitted on a sixth charge of indecent assault.

Judge Wilmoth will sentence Jennings on Wednesday.

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