Priest clerical collar
Priest clerical collar Studio-Annika

Royal Commission will hear of former paedophile Tweed priest

THE royal commission into child sex abuse is expected to hear a known paedophile was allowed to work as a priest for almost 40 years - many years of which were spent in Tweed.

It's understood while the man was convicted of indecent assault against a male in the late 1960s he remained in a position of trust with children across the NSW North Coast before his past caught up with him.

Documents tendered during the first hearings into abuse at Lismore's North Coast Children's Home reveal Allan Kitchingman was before the courts in Newcastle when the bishop of the day recommended he be transferred to the Grafton diocese.

In a letter before the commission, the Newcastle bishop explains that Kitchingman is a "most acceptable" priest who is currently "living under a shadow" and needs to leave the diocese.

A handwritten footnote marked "highly confidential" describes Kitchingman as being popular with young people but having "some homosexual difficulties."

It is said that the charge of indecent assault stemmed from an incident with a young man in a car where "the urge got the better of him".

The Grafton bishop accepted the version of events and Kitchingman was transferred to the Lismore Parish.

Court proceedings would later reveal that in 1975, during his time as chaplain of the children's home, Kitchingman repeatedly assaulted a 13-year-old boy over a period of 12 months.

According to the statement of facts, Kitchingman regularly took a group of boys youth camps to east Ballina where he would perform oral sex on the boy and masturbated him.

When he was convicted of five counts of assault on a male in 2002, the court heard Kitchingman had accepted the position of Parish priest at Mullumbimby in 1976 and had gone on to serve for several years in the Tweed Heads area.

The sentencing judge noted that "rather than using his position to protect the vulnerable victim, this offender used it to exploit the victim for his own sexual gratification…where he knew the risk of detection was minimal".

Kitchingman, who at the time was 69, was sentenced to five years jail with a non-parole period of 18 months.

His victim successfully claimed $290,000 in damages against the Anglican Church.

The commission is inquiring whether "steps were taken to discipline" Kitchingman, whose name remained on the Anglican Directory as a member of clergy up until 2007.

The hearings continue in Sydney this week.