Church leaders questioned over claims they failed to report Farrell

The former chancellor of the Catholic Archdiocese of Sydney and other church figures have been investigated by police over the question of whether they failed to report allegations related to convicted paedophile priest John Joseph Farrell, a royal commission has heard.

Monsignor John Usher told the public inquiry he was interviewed by detectives from Strikeforce Glenroe​, dedicated to investigating Farrell's alleged abuse of children over decades, in May this year.

 "They told me that the Director of Public Prosecutions had asked them to investigate this Farrell matter to see whether I and others had failed to report matters to police," he said.

Mgr Usher told the Royal Commission into Institutional Responses to Child Sexual Abuse he believed Farrell had committed "boundary violations" with children and "never should have been made a priest."

The inquiry heard Mgr Usher formed the view after interviewing Farrell in 1990, 15 years before he was removed from the priesthood.

Mgr Usher told the commission he believed Farrell was obsessed with children and was aware he had been charged over sexual offences before the 1990 meeting.

"His personality traits concerned me considerably . . . I detected he had a serious psychiatric illness," he said. 

"He talked about how he loves children, loves to spend time with children and all the other priests don't do their priestly work well because they don't spend time with children.

“He was an odd bod. My thinking was this man should never have been made a priest."

Mgr Usher, who was serving on the NSW Child Protection Council in 1990, told the commission he referred Farrell to a psychiatrist for therapy and did not raise his concerns with police at that time. 

Farrell was sentenced to a minimum jail term of 18 years in May after being convicted of 62 offences involving 12 children in Moree, Armidale and Tamworth between 1979 and 1988.

The hearing before Justice Peter McClellan​ continues.

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