Criminal Law News & Current Affairs
Some charges dropped against Catholic priest Father Edward Evans accused of molesting young girl
A former Catholic priest has been acquitted of two charges of molesting a young girl in the kitchen of his Braddon home.
But Father Edward Evans still faces a series of other allegations that he abused the girl at his home and at Cooleman Court in the 1990s.
Father Evans, 85, has pleaded not guilty in the ACT Supreme Court to charges of committing acts of indecency and sexual assault on the girl, then aged between 10 and 13 years.
The Crown alleged the priest put his hands down the girl’s pants and grabbed her bottom three times, and digitally penetrated her twice in his kitchen.
It is also alleged he grabbed her breast while they sat alone in a car outside a southside shopping centre, before pulling her on top of him into a straddling position.
But Justice Richard Refshauge directed the jury to find Father Evans not guilty of one count of sexual intercourse without consent, and the backup charge of committing an act of indecency.
The dropped charge was an allegation the priest digitally penetrated the girl in his kitchen and was said to have occurred during a morning tea at the priest’s home after a Sunday church service.
Father Evans still faces one charge of sexual intercourse without consent in relation to a similar incident in the kitchen.
Defence barrister Steven Whybrow, instructed by Ben Aulich & Associates, requested the acquittal on Tuesday afternoon after the alleged victim failed to outline the allegation while on the witness stand. Without evidence of the alleged incident, the charge had to be dropped, he said.
Justice Refshauge reserved his decision overnight and made the direction on Wednesday morning.
He also granted the prosecution leave to amend the dates on the indictment, so the remaining counts encompassed a longer timeframe.
The trial has previously heard the girl’s family was close to Father Evans, who they referred to as “Father Eddie”.
The family would sometimes attend his German-language masses in Braddon, which included morning teas at his nearby home once a month.
Most of the alleged acts took place at these social gatherings.
The prosecution closed its case on Wednesday and the defence has begun calling witnesses.
Credit: Michael Inman, Canberra Times