A former Holy Spirit College chaplain charged with molesting a student in the 1980s says he “only vaguely” remembers the boy who became his accuser.
School reports show Father Patrick Kevin taught the boy commerce in Year 10 and dubbed his scholastic performance “a satisfactory result”.
In Albion Park Local Court, Friday, Kervin said it was more than 20 years before he heard of the student again.
“The name comes to my memory only from the complaint made against me. I don't have a memory of him at school,” he said.
Kervin is accused of indecently assaulting the boy in an office on the school’s ground, while acting in his role as school chaplain.
Now aged in his 40s, Kervin’s accuser claims he was summoned to the office via the school’s PA system, around the time his mother was sick.
He claims Kervin opened the conversation by saying “I remember hearing about you … from your primary school” before attempting to kiss him and touching his genitals.
Under oath on Friday, Kervin denied interfering with the boy or meeting him alone. He denied ever using the PA system or referencing the boy’s primary school.
“I would never say anything like that,” he told the court. “If he’s come into high school the last thing you want to do is talk about primary school and if someone’s in year 10 you’d never refer to primary school anyway.”
Kervin said he taught religion only to students in years seven to nine – so couldn’t have been the boy’s year 10 religion teacher, as claimed.
Outside of the classroom, he said his guidance work was limited to the school’s newcomers.
“My brief was to speak to students who were new to the school and see if they were settling in,” he said.
“But it wouldn’t just be new students,” Director of Public Prosecutions lawyer Kristy Spiers said.
“That was my brief.”
“Children would approach you about a number of things.”
“You wouldn’t just speak to students in year seven.”
“Students who were new to the school … and students who had asked to see me.”
Defence lawyer Peter Skinner highlighted inconsistencies between the man’s statement and the account he provided in an earlier church investigation.
That investigation exonerated Kervin after it was discovered he wasn’t working at the school at the time of the alleged abuse.
Kervin’s accuser later revised the time frame to three years earlier.
Mr Skinner pointed to the man’s contradictory accounts of the extent of the touching and of which hand Kervin used to abuse him.
”How could you have possibly have to it so wrong?” he said.
“There is only the word of this complainant against my client and no other evidence at all.
“It falls well short of the level of reliability and accuracy Your Honour would require in order to convict beyond reasonable doubt.”
The matter returns to court next month.