His shocking reign of terror spanned almost two decades, as he groomed and abused dozens of children between 1968 and 1986 while working as a parish priest and teacher at St Pius X Catholic School in Newcastle.
He targeted young students who came from disadvantaged backgrounds and groomed the boys and their families as a master of manipulation.
Denham’s abuses ranged from touching the boy’s genitals to full on rapes. He often caned the boys after the attacks and threatened further punishment if they spoke out about the abuse.
He also threatened to expose his victims as homosexuals to the church community, and freely attacked children in his office, in classrooms, outside confessional boxes, and even in the school playground.
He was also accused of giving boys alcohol during overnight school excursions, and was actively protected — and even encouraged — by St Pius headmaster Father Tom Brennan and fellow priest Father Ron Picken.
Tom Brennan died weeks after being the first clergyman in Australia to be charged with concealment offences for child sex. Brennan is remembered as the one who protected Denham and allowed him free reign.
During Denham’s trial, it was revealed that Brennan had received numerous complaints about Denham’s abuse but failed to take any action against Denham or protect the boys he continued to abuse despite the complaints.
Shockingly, Priest John Denham has failed to show any remorse following his conviction.
“Some of the offences represent the most abhorrent and sadistic combination of circumstances that courts are likely to see,” said Judge Helen Syme during Denham’s sentencing.
Denham will be eligible for release in 2028. He will be aged 85.
Image source: Newcastle Herald