A solicitor has strongly criticised a police investigation after a retired Christian Brother was acquitted of historical sexual/indecent assault this week.
Brother David Michael Curtin, 67, of Mulgoa, was found not guilty by a jury in Downing Centre District Court.
He was facing three counts of sexual/indecent assault at the former Saint Patrick’s College, Goulburn in 1986 and 1987.
The majority verdicts were handed down on Tuesday and Wednesday.
Curtin’s solicitor, Greg Walsh, said the outcome “clearly vindicated his client’s position of innocence”.
“It’s a matter of obvious relief to him. He always maintained his innocence and the case should never have been prosecuted,” he told the Goulburn Post.
His comments followed a 10-day trial before Judge Mark Buscombe.
Curtin was charged in early 2017 following an investigation by Goulburn-based Strike Force Charish detectives.
He was alleged to have indecently/sexually assaulted three boys aged 12 to 14 at the Goulburn school in 1986 and 1987.
He was a teacher and dormitory master at the time.
Crown prosecutor John Bowers alleged during the case that the charges involved touching or fondling the boys’ genitals or immediate area.
But Mr Walsh had argued his client had not done so and had never at any time “acted inappropriately”.
In court, the solicitor had also criticised aspects of the police investigation.
On Thursday, outside the court, Mr Walsh repeated this belief.
“The defence is dependent on police investigating allegations fairly and in this case, it didn’t occur,” he said.
“Witnesses who should have been interviewed (initially) were not and when they were interviewed, they gave statements in favour of the accused. That’s pretty damning.”
In court, Mr Walsh said a detective had to be “basically forced” to go back and obtain a statement from a witness, who was not a complainant.
This witness had said he never recalled Curtin having a camera in his possession while the boys were showering, as alleged. Further, he had said Curtin had “never done anything” to him.
Mr Walsh told The Post that if he hadn’t insisted statements that were exculpatory of his client be obtained, they never would have come to light.
Exculpatory evidence is favourable to the defendant in a criminal trial that exonerates or tends to exonerate the defendant of guilt.
“Some (of the witnesses) said these incidents never occurred and that is very important,” Mr Walsh said.
“Secondly, the complainants were motivated to obtain money (compensation) and that gave them a very strong motivation to make statements that were (adverse of) Brother Curtin.”
In addition, they were relying on memories of events years ago in a current environment in which “there was a bias against Christian Brothers,” Mr Walsh said.
In court and on Thursday, Mr Walsh was damning of what he said was a counsellor’s decision to not only “help” one of the complainant’s with his “memories” but to refer him to a Canberra solicitor who was mounting a class action against the Christian Brothers. He said neither of these actions were part of the counsellor’s role.
The verdicts bring to an end a two-year legal process.
Hume Police District crime manager, Detective Inspector Brendan Bernie referred questions about the adequacy of the police investigation to the Office of the Director of Public Prosecutions (ODPP).
“Further, any allegations relating to police misconduct, which includes investigation / court issues, can be referred to the NSW Police Force as a 'complaint' by the ODPP, defence legal representatives, accused person or trial judge,” he said.
A spokeswoman for the ODPP said the Office was obliged to conduct all its prosecutions within the Director’s Prosecution Guidelines.
“This matter was prosecuted in accordance with those Guidelines,” she said.
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