'Reasonable doubt' Catholic brother abused student
A former Catholic student's allegations he was sexually abused four decades ago may have been made against the wrong person.
Brother Daniel Slattery taught at Kendall Grange School and faced 13 counts of historical sexual abuse against three young boys aged between nine and 13 years who were students in 1980.
Kendall Grange on the shores of Lake Macquarie was run by the Order of the Hospitaller Brothers of St John of God, a religious order of the Catholic Church.
Boys with intellectual and behavioural difficulties were enrolled at the school and were frequently exposed to sexual or violent acts by the Brothers there.
In July 2018, Slattery was accused of committing a number of sexual acts on the three boys at various locations around the school including in his bedroom and their dormitory.
Diagnosed with Parkinson's disease and deemed unfit to stand trial, he was found guilty in May 2021 of all charges after a special judge-alone hearing.
A limiting term of 11 years was imposed in November that year.
His lawyers always denied Slattery abused the three students and appealed the guilty verdicts, claiming they were "unreasonable".
Miscarriages of justice were also alleged after Slattery's prior legal team did not provide evidence of his good character to the court and failed to attack the complainants' credibility by grilling them about their own criminal histories.
On Friday, the NSW Court of Criminal Appeal partially upheld Slattery's challenge to the verdict, finding the alleged abuse of one boy would have occurred well after he left his employment at Kendall Grange.
The alleged victim claimed he was abused by two Brothers at the school and there was "reasonable doubt" that one of the assailants was Slattery, the court found.
"This is not to doubt (the boy's) evidence that he was sexually molested in the way he described ... but it is to doubt the correctness of his identification of the second perpetrator as being (Slattery,)" Chief Justice Andrew Bell wrote in a decision supported by two other appeal judges.
The guilty verdicts against the other two boys were upheld with all remaining appeal grounds dismissed.
Slattery's defence team and crown prosecutors will now make submissions to the court as to how the quashing of the one count changes the total limiting term imposed.
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