January 28, 2005

The limit of the law

Sydney Morning Herald

Jan. 29, 2005

NSW police and the DPP are using laws repealed two decades ago to prosecute homosexuals. David Marr reports.

A two men swam at Cronulla on a hot night 23 years ago, one fondled the other in the dark. They were not youngsters. One was a skinny teacher of 29 and the other a priest in his early 40s. The teacher had an erection but dived under the water and swam away. After this brief encounter in the pool, they drove back to the presbytery together and had sex.

What they did that night in January 1982 was criminal. The law in NSW was about to change after a long and acrimonious campaign for reform, but when these men had their one-night stand in the presbytery of St Catherine Laboure Church at Gymea, each was committing an "indecent assault" that might land them in jail for five years. Consent was no defence.

The police came for Father Terry Goodall at his Penshurst parish in September 2003 and arrested him - under the old law - for having sex with the teacher all those years ago. Judge Philip Bell, of the NSW District Court, remarked that on the facts before him, "you'd never get a conviction if you ran this trial today", but under the old law Goodall had no choice but to plead guilty. Having sex with a man was enough to convict him. He was sentenced last week.

Posted by kshaw at January 28, 2005 08:45 AM