A Catholic priest charged with child sex offences in Australia was stood down from active ministry a year ago when investigations into him began, the Maitland-Newcastle Diocese says.
Peter Julian Brock, 63, was yesterday charged with 22 offences dating back to the 1970s after handing himself in to Newcastle police. He is the third serving priest in the Newcastle area to be charged with child sex or related offences since the beginning of August.
As an executive officer for the Australian Catholic Bishops Conference from 2002 to 2005, Brock spent some of his career travelling the country promoting the care and wellbeing of clergy across Australia.
The priest presented himself at the police station yesterday with 56-year-old Ashleigh Edward Jarrold, a dentist from Hamilton in Newcastle, who is facing 13 offences.
Brock is facing 18 counts of indecent assault, two acts of indecency and two counts of sodomy.
The offences were allegedly committed in the 1970s and 80s against two brothers, from the age of 12, at Charlestown, Belmont and Newcastle.
Jarrold is charged with 12 counts of indecent assault and one act of indecency, relating to one of the brothers and two other victims aged 13 and 14.
Both men appeared in Newcastle Local Court yesterday and were granted bail of A$5000 ($5662) on the condition they attend their local police station three days a week.
Their case was adjourned until November 26 in the same court.
The head of the Diocese of Maitland-Newcastle, Bishop Michael Malone, said Brock had been stood down last year.
"Father Peter was stood aside from active ministry in September 2007 whilst an independent investigation was undertaken," Bishop Malone said yesterday. "I was informed early this morning that Peter had been arrested and I travelled to be with him at the police station.
"Unfortunately I was unable to see him at that time, but I hope to see him later today.
"He has been released on bail and will live privately.
"The diocese will continue to co-operate fully with the police in this matter in the interests of a just outcome being achieved."
In early August, Bishop Malone apologised to the victims of sex abuse by clergy, in front of a NSW Hunter Valley congregation.
Victims, relatives and politicians erupted into applause upon hearing the apology, at Sacred Heart Cathedral in Newcastle.
At the time, he said his diocese was committed to supporting sex abuse victims.
Acting Superintendent Gary O'Dell said the arrests had arisen from information that followed the earlier arrests of local priests.
One of the Catholic priests arrested in August by detectives, John Sidney Denham, 66, is facing 67 child sex-related charges against 31 boys dating from the late 1960s to the 1980s.
The charges relate to alleged assaults at St Pius X High School at Adamstown in the late 1970s, police have said.
Other assaults allegedly occurred in the Charlestown parish in 1980, the Taree parish in 1981 and 1986, and in the western Sydney suburb of Granville between 1968 and 1971.
A 70-year-old priest was also charged in August with perverting the course of justice in relation to a statement he gave to a police investigation in 1998 into child sex offences.