Real Life

Victorian paedophile priest, 73, jailed for 18 years

A priest described as one of Victoria’s most dangerous paedophiles is behind bars serving a total sentence of 18 years and four months.

Robert Patrick Claffey, 73, has been jailed for using his position as a Catholic priest to sexually abuse 12 Victorian children between 1969 and 1992. He pleaded guilty to 19 charges.

His charges related to sexual abuse in the Catholic Diocese of Ballarat, and involved boys and girls aged between five and 14.

Claffey served as a priest for 25 years in Ballarat, Warrnambool, Apollo Bay and Portland.

In sentencing, Judge Felicity Hampel told the court Claffey had acted with impunity, abusing his position of power in what she called a truly appalling litany of offences.

"The loss of faith in the church as an institution, its priests, bishops and cardinals and even for many of your victims and their families and God himself, is a direct consequence of your conduct, even if others share some responsibility," she directed at Claffey.

"That you were able to act with impunity for such a period speaks volumes for the power you exerted over your victims and the gross nature of the breach of trust of a priest in respect of the children of the parish.

“The consequences for your victims have been profound and, for many, life-long."

She also noted that he'd offered no apology to his victims, nor did he show any remorse.

Claffey will be eligible for parole in 13 years.

read more from