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The Sunday Telegraph broke this story on the 16th of September, 1990. Read the article below.
Two years’ jail for sex offences
By Warren Owens
A FORMER policeman branded a “disgusting” hypocrite is serving more than two years in jail on sexual abuse charges linked to offences both at home and the police boys’ club where he worked.
A District Court judge accused the policeman, Stephen Dent, of hypocrisy after Dent complained a stranger, who had assaulted his stepson, was “let off lightly”.
And a clergyman who learned of these criminal acts, Pastor Gary Dench, admitted he told neither the police nor the boy’s own mother, a parishioner at his western Sydney church, refused to answer key questions in court.
The extraordinary suburban drama unfolded in the Penrith District Court last week when Dent pleaded guilty to a series of sexual abuse charges.
The beginning of the saga occurred one Sunday in 1985 when Jason, then 15, ran away from Sunday School and sent a note to his mother Kerry, to explain. His stepfather intercepted the note outside the western Sydney church where the family had just attended Sunday worship and ripped it up.
Jason’s mother never learned of it until years later when Jason ran away again, this time from the Australian School of Ballet where the brilliant youngster had won a scholarship.
Mother and son went to the police and as Judge Urquhart told Dent: “The letter exposed you for what you were . . .”
That Sunday in 1985, Dent went back into the Christian City Church to find the New Zealand-born minister Pastor Dench, and Dent told the court: “The whole thing came to a head. I asked Jason to forgive me and promised it would never happen again.”
He said his behaviour was “a betrayal of Jason’s trust in me, a betrayal of his innocence”.
Pastor Dench was less forthcoming. Claiming to defend the secrets of the confessional, the clergyman refused to tell the District Court what Dent had said to him. “I will not, before God, give evidence about confessional matters,” he declared.
Asked if he obeyed the laws of the land he said: “I obey the laws of the land and I obey God.”
The minister agreed that Jason may have made allegations to him, but loudly denied suggestions that he had told the boy he was “partly to blame – that he had led his stepfather on”.
He agreed Mrs Dent may have telephoned him at a later stage and sought to discuss the sex abuse allegations.
Asked if he had told her it was none of her business but a matter between father and son, Pastor Dench replied: “I can’t recall. She was rather angry.”
Dent told the court: “I knew what I was doing. I find it hard to fathom that I was involved. It’s not an excuse, but an expression of where I was mentall.”
He said he was upset over his sexual relationship with his wife, though he conceded that she was twice pregnant during this time and had suffered post-natal depression.
Dent said he had also been under great pressure to sell art union tickets to raise funds for the police boys club.
Often he borrowed money from the club – replacing them with IOUs – to help finances stretched from having a mortgage and five children, as well as a carton of beer every second night.
When police investigators sought to interview him over the misappropriation of Paramatta Police Boys Club funds, his wife Kerry had arranged to admit him into a psychiatric clinic. He left after several months, but returned twice. He was eventually interviewed, charged, pleaded guilty and was placed on a good behavior bond. He became a salesman.
Judge Urquhart said the sexual abuse began as a game of tickling at the club early in 1990, [?] before Jason was 10. Dent said the conduct ended five years later after the church episode with Jason and Pastor Dench, but His Honor said there was “some uncertainty about when the activity did in fact cease”.
The judge said right-minded members of the community would be disgusted at what had accured and even more so because the “game” had involved money.
He said that at a time when Jason was entitled to trust, Dent exploited his trust to him.
“I accept that you were under emotional and financial stress. So are many husbands and fathers, and they do not turn to the activity to which you turned.”
Judge Urquhart said Jason had suffered but could not say to what extent or for how long this would last. He took into account Dent’s guilty pleas and contrition.
For five years of misery to his stepson, and with maximum terms of up to 10 years available for the offences, Dent was jailed for a minimum of two years and three months.
- Waren Owens, Hypocrite Policeman – Two years’ jail for sex offences, Sunday Telegraph, 16/09/1990.
The second article reads:
Pastor knew but did nothing
A CLERGYMAN who knew of sexual abuse of a boy by his stepfather admitted he told neither the police nor the boy’s mother, a parishioner at his western Sydney church, and refused to answer key questions in the Penrith District Court last week.
Pastor Gary Dench of the Christian City Church, Penrith, reacted heatedly to several questions from prosecutor Pat Barrett.
Barrett: (Stephen) Dent (the stepfather) told you about his sexual conduct with Jason.
Dench: Under the Act, I’m not permitted to divulge information. I have looked at the Act and I have spoken to a solicitor. I’m not prepared to answer.
Asked if he spoke to Jason about allegations following his conversation with Dent, Pastor Dench said he was “unable to divulge that”.
Was he acting as confessor or counsellor? Confessor, he said.
He added: “I have never revealed confessional matters in my life and . . . I will not do it”.
He admitted he had told no authority of the sex abuse allegations; nor had he suggested that the matter should be reported to the police.
He also agreed that he knew the conduct was “morally wrong” and illegal, but added: “If things are confidential, I can’t divulge them”.
- Sunday Telegraph, Pastor knew but did nothing, 16/09/1990.