Priest who molested children escapes jail
AAP News Wires

February 26, 1999

A Catholic priest, who indecently molested numerous young children in his Victorian parishes during the 1960s and 1970s, has escaped a jail term. Father Bryan Desmond Coffey's sentence of three years' jail was suspended -- despite the judge describing his crimes as a heinous betrayal of his role as a priest.

A jury in the Ballarat County Court found the 64-year-old priest guilty last week of 13 counts of indecent assault against young children and one count of false imprisonment. The court heard Coffey committed the crimes while working in the parishes of Ballarat, Port Fairy and Ouyen between 1960 and 1975. It heard he touched his victims indecently during tickling games, spanking sessions and while the children sat on his knee.

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