During the mid 1970’s now notorious Adelaide catholic priest Charles Alfred Barnett used his position within the church to sexually assault a number of boys the youngest just six years old.
Charles’ first victim referred to in court documents as JH was introduced to the defendant when the parish priest befriended his family through the church. Mr Barnett, as mentioned in transcripts was regularly invited to the family home for special functions, but disturbingly he also attended the home of 6 year old JH when not invited. One particular night during in 1975 the priest entered the victims bedroom as the child was getting dressed. The priest lifted the boy off the ground from behind and thrust his hand down the child’s pyjama bottoms and grouped his genitals before fleeing the residence all unbeknown to the victims parents.
Despite the multiple victims who were abused over many years the charges against Mr Barnett only totalled three.
- Persistent Sexual exploitation of a child which carries a maximum sentence of life imprisonment.
- a single count of indecent assault, carrying a maximum sentence of five years imprisonment
- a single count of indecent assault, carrying a maximum sentence of eight years.
Charles next victim was 14 year old MJK (identity is supressed with respect to the victim being a minor at the time) . The defendant again met his victim through a family of the church. Following a similar modus operandi as before the priest entered the child’s bedroom while he was lying on his bed, again the priest reached down grouping the boys penis in his hand. MJK made it clear to Barnett he did not like was he had done and ordered the man from his bedroom to which he complied immediately.
The worst case of the priests offending was with regard to Barnett’s charge of persistent sexual exploitation of a child. The offence occurred during the priests time in Whyalla over a four year period when the child was only 10 years old. The victim AGK served as alter boy at a Whyalla Catholic church where Barnett presided as the parish priest. The defendant befriended the child’s family spending Christmas together and would accompany them on family holidays.
Barnett began grooming the boy, making him feel special. He took special interest in AGK and bonded by taking interest in the boys hobby of stamp collecting. Soon after he would begin supplying his young victim with pornographic material and encouraging conversations of a sexual nature. Barnett quickly gained the trust of the victims family through his role in the church and would regularly visit the family.
On at least three occasions the priest visited the family home clandestinely entering through the victims bedroom window and sexually assaulting him. On other occasions the abuse took place in the priests bedroom in the church presbytery. The constant sexual abuse continued over the next four years and would occur weekly. The priest encouraged the victim to masturbate in front of him and would force the boy to allow to the priest to preform felatio on him.
In the mid 1990’s the defendant left Australia to live in Indonesia teaching English for thirteen years. During his new life in Indonesia, three of his prior victims bravely came forward and gave statements regarding their abuse which had occurred during a period of 1977 to 1994.
Barnett was eventually extradited to Australia and was found guilty on five charges relating to sexual abuse of children and spent only four years in prison. Barnett pleaded guilty only to the crimes the court had offered, he never at the time admitted to abusing any other children. Barnett was released on parole in 2015.
Barnett was convicted of the new charges on the 16 March 2018 and though his victims have suffered a life sentence at his hands. The court ordered a light sentence of 4 years which will be served as home detention.
My personal thoughts:
The defendant, over the course of 2 decades used his influence as a catholic priest to abuse at least 6 young boys that the court knows about and was handed a shorter sentence them some offenders are awarded for assault. Considering at least one of his charges carries a maximum sentence of life imprisonment is 4 years home detention justice for his numerous victims?
I can only imagine how many nameless victims are still out there, who haven’t come forward. How may victims did he leave in Indonesia? Once again our courts fail to punish people who have preyed on children. Who abuse their power and influence to groom and assault the most venerable members of our society.
This is not justice.
The courts will argue this is a fair sentence given that no one has reported him raping them in 20 years, because he is now 76 years old, because he has health issues. None of these should be reasons to not pay for your crimes, for ruining peoples lives. Home detention should never be an option for a sex offender. What kind of example does this set, where is the deterrent to others paedophiles. Light sentences for serious sexual predators does nothing to stop this from happening again.