This time from The Courier:
The Anglican archbishop at the centre of controversy in Federal Parliament over alleged sexual abuse faced a Ballarat court on theft charges 30 years ago, it was revealed yesterday.
Independent South Australian Senator Nick Xenophon this week used parliamentary privilege to name a priest accused of sexual abuse against Archbishop John Hepworth of the breakaway Traditional Anglican Communion more than 40 years ago.
A decade after the alleged abuse took place, Archbishop Hepworth was charged with misappropriating funds from an Anglican parish in Sebastopol.
He pleaded not guilty in a Ballarat court to the misappropriation of $1200 and said the magistrate failed to find a verdict.
He said he used the funds to pay for his son’s baptism party.
‘’My marriage was breaking up. I was really gone to pieces. And yes, there was a court case. I pleaded not guilty. The magistrate refused to find any verdict. And that was the end of it,’’ he said.
‘’I was trying to stop the marriage breaking up. My then wife wanted a big party and I could not afford it.
‘’The [Anglican] diocese brought [the charge] because I had wrongly used … [a parish account] and regretted it afterwards … I had paid an account intending to pay it back.
“It was as common as that. And it was wrong.’’
Archbishop Hepworth later left the Anglican church and lived in Europe.
It was reported that further allegations of financial irregularities faced the Archbishop during his time in a South Australian parish.
Archbishop Hepworth denies these allegations.
He told The Age he believed his detractors were using the information to smear him as he calls for action from the Catholic Archdiocese of Adelaide over the alleged sexual abuse which has generated another round of unwanted controversy.
The Courier contacted the registrar of the Anglican Diocese of Ballarat yesterday, but he declined to comment and said the incident was long before any of the current diocesan leaders were in place.
Calls and emails to Archbishop John Hepworth were not returned yesterday.
I must confess that these (ongoing) revelations are all extremely embarrassing. If anything, the Archbishop has exposed himself.