Newcastle Anglican hearing into priest’s fitness for ministry ends suddenly

Hearing: A Newcastle Anglican professional standards board hearing ended suddenly after a priest suffered an apparent seizure.A NEWCASTLE Anglican professional standards board hearing into the fitness for ministry of a priest ended suddenly on Thursday when the priest suffered an apparent seizure after evidence he had a problem with alcohol.

The priest, 49, was treated by ambulance officers about 3.30pmafter he collapsed at the hearing in Newcastle before professional standards board president Colin Elliott.

The incident occurred as his former wife was giving evidence in which she alleged he physically abused her during their marriage. She was 19 and he was 36 when they wed in 2004, three years after their first contact while she was a student at a Victorian school and he was a chaplain. The priest denied the physical abuse allegations.

The priest’s former wife told the hearing she bought an expensive concealer to hide a black eye she allegedly received during one incident. She said she did not speak aboutthe alleged physical abuse for a number of years because “I was trying to protect my husband. I was trying to protect my marriage”.

She alleged the physical abuse was directly linked to her former husband’s problem with alcohol.

She told the hearing of the isolation of being a priest’s wife as he struggled to find permanent places. The couple came to Newcastle in 2011 after the priest obtained a job with an Anglican welfare group. He lost the position in 2013.

Police attended the couple in Victoria after an incident in 2009 that included a self-harm attempt by the priest’s wife. In 2015 Newcastle Anglican diocese professional standards director Michael Elliott reported the alleged physical abuse to police. The woman later made a statement to police but said she did not pursue legal action because it would be protracted and draining.

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