Bishop was told pedophiles fostering kids

By Annette Blackwell
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NSW boys home used by pedophile ring

An Anglican boys home in the NSW Hunter region was used by a pedophile ring headed by a clergyman.

A mother has told an inquiry she informed the local bishop that an Anglican priest and a youth worker who were fostering children had booked a "sex tour" in Europe, but she never heard from the Church again.

Suzan Aslin, who has four boys, said in the late 1970s she became concerned that Anglican youth worker James (Jim) Brown was preying on one of her sons.

Ms Aslin was giving evidence on Tuesday at a child sex abuse royal commission hearing into how the Anglican Diocese of Newcastle responded to repeated allegations of child sex abuse against a number of its clergy and lay workers over three decades.

In 2011 Brown pleaded guilty to 27 charges of child sexual abuse of boys and was sentenced to 20 years in jail with a non-parole period of 12 years.

The commission has heard Brown was closely associated with senior priest Peter Rushton who headed a pedophile ring in the Hunter region of NSW.

Rushton died in 2012 without ever being charged.

Rushton and Brown were on the board of St Alban's, an Anglican home for boys in Cessnock.

On Tuesday, abuse survivor Paul Gray told how the home was used by a network of pedophiles who would pick out boys and have anal and oral sex with them. Rushton arranged access to the boys.

Ms Aslin, whose family were involved in scouts in Kurri Kurri, said Jim Brown started turning up "inappropriately" at their house.

Her suspicions grew when she found "stacks and stacks of porno magazines" at Brown's house when she and her son were there for dinner.

Later a boy from St Alban's, Phillip D'Ammond, told her he was moving in with Brown who was becoming his guardian.

Mr D'Ammond has given evidence of being groomed by Brown who would get him drunk and give him drugs before assaulting him.

Ms Aslin reported her concerns about Brown and Rushton to a member of the Anglican Synod who said he would contact Bishop Alfred Holland, then Bishop of Newcastle.

Ms Aslin said she received a phone call from the bishop and she told him about the two men who were fostering children and going on the sex tour.

"As a mother of boys I wanted something positive for these boys (St Alban's) and this was not positive."

The bishop said to leave it with him and she never heard from the Anglican Church again, Ms Aslin said.

In her opening statement on Tuesday, counsel advising the commission Naomi Sharp said evidence would be presented that Bishop Holland licensed Brown as a lay reader in the church around 1986 - almost seven years after Ms Aslin had raised her concerns.

The commission will hear that there were numerous reports to the church about the activities of Rushton, Brown and a number of clergy and lay workers but it was not until 2010 that the Anglican Church acknowledged Rushton was a pedophile who procured boys for his mates.

The commission will hear from eight current and former bishops of the Dioceses of Newcastle including the now Archbishop of Perth Roger Herft.

Bishop Holland will give evidence on Wednesday at the commission being held in Newcastle before Justice Peter McClellan.