ABC News:-The Anglican Church has expressed surprise after an 85-year-old former priest was sentenced to just two years in prison for sexually abusing five boys over a 30-year period in Western Australia’s south.
Serial paedophile Raymond Sydney Cheek targeted young boys across numerous parishes between 1955 and 1985.
In November last year, Cheek was found guilty of committing an act of gross indecency and two counts each of indecent assault and indecent dealings with a child.
Despite maintaining his innocence during the trial, Cheek has since admitted to committing two of the most serious offences.
District Court Judge Ronald Birmingham said Cheek had abused a position of trust and authority he had over the vulnerable children.
He was remanded in custody and will have to spend at least one year behind bars before he becomes eligible for parole.
Judge Birmingham sentenced Cheek to three years’ imprisonment but reduced it to two so it was not a “crushing” life sentence.
Anglican Bishop of Bunbury Allan Ewing said he was expecting a longer sentence.
“I understand from the judge’s comments that he was guided by the need to give a sentence which allowed a person to imagine release, but I was surprised that it was as short as it was.”
Bishop Ewing has conceded the church had failed to protect the boys, despite becoming aware of rumours of Cheek’s inappropriate behaviour 15 years ago and did not act.
“The church has failed those who suffered the abuse and those who are their families. We need to ensure that it does not happen again,” he said.
“I am shamed as a member of the church that this happened within the church. I offer a complete apology to those who have suffered pain and suffering.”