Sydney, Jul 2 (IANS): A catholic priest was sentenced to 20 years in jail Friday by an Australian court which convicted him of sexually abusing children over a period of 18 years.
John Sidney Denham, 67, was jailed for 19 years and 10 months by Sydney's Downing Centre District Court, with the judge saying many victims were left feeling terrified and Denham himself describing his behaviour as "evil".
Judge Helen Syme spent almost three hours detailing the charges Denham had pleaded guilty to, including buggery and multiple counts of indecent assault against boys aged five-16 years between the period of 1968 and 1986, Australian news agency AAP reported.
"The indecent assaults involved multiple children, often significant planning, were frequently sadistic and overall persistent, objectively serious, criminal courses of conduct," the judge said.
"The offender's actions contributed to a culture of fear and depravity, especially at the school, which allowed these disturbing offences to occur and then remain unpunished for years," Syme said.
Outside the court, one of the 39 men who made complaints against Denham, Matthew Oakley, said he was pleased with the sentence.
"My only hope from the result that we have achieved today is that other abused victims have the strength and courage to come forward and achieve justice," Oakley told reporters.
The mother of another victim, who cannot be identified, said the Catholic Church should be held accountable for the abuse.
"He was a horrendous man, really horrendous," she said. "It just all goes back onto the families, it's ruined families, siblings. It's disgusting, the hierarchy in the Catholic Church."