Quite often, child sex offenders have no remorse for their crimes. They don’t understand what all the fuss is about. It’s like they are from a different planet than the rest of us.
Father Desmond Gannon was one of those offenders. Gannon abused children in various schools and parishes from 1958 until he retired from his role at the Macleod-Rosanna parish in 1993.
He feared a compensation claim would be made against the church and according to police-recorded conversation between Gannon and one of his victims in 2008, he refused to call the incident “sexual abuse” because he “didn’t know what it was” at the time.
Gannon was a priest in the Catholic Diocese of Melbourne. He was ordained a priest in 1956 and according to Broken Rites, Gannon served in the following parishes:
- Glenhuntly 1957-62
- Alphington 1962-65
- Braybrook 1965-66 & 1971-79
- Ashburton 1966-67
- St Kilda East 1968
- Kilmore 1968-71
- Macleod-Rosanna 1980-93
Gannon’s sexual crime spree began in 1958 in Glenhuntly and Carnegie, Victoria.
His parents died never knowing their son’s pain was real.
On another occasion, Gannon asked a student to help him after school with “answering the phones” and asked the child’s parents if he could stay overnight in the presbytery. He told another boy he was writing a “book on sexuality” and needed to do “tests” on him.
In 1968, Gannon took a child into the bushland to give him an “anatomy class”. Gannon assaulted the child and later in court, Gannon said he “thought it was less formal than inviting him into the presbytery.”
On these occasions, Gannon fondled the boys’ genitals, made them masturbate him, or he put his genitals against the child’s behind. Gannon was charged with the abuse of four children in 1995. His victims suffered serious psychological damage.
Gannon served 52 weeks in prison. Upon release in 1996, Gannon was charged with the assault of three more boys from Alphington, Kilmore and Ashburton in the 1960s. He was given another 52 weeks in prison but never served the sentence.
In 2000, Gannon faced 11 counts of indecent assault and four counts of gross indecency against four boys between 1963 and 1976. Gannon was charged with the masturbation of the victims, having the victims masturbate him, acts of oral penetration and simulated intercourse.
Despite the seriousness of his charges, the judge refused to jail Gannon.
He was charged in 2003 and then again in 2009. The victim who received the “anatomy lesson” from Gannon pressed charges and described feeling “broken, old, clumsy, dirty, ugly, guilty, confused, rejected, worthless and scared” from the abuse he suffered as a child.
At the age of 79, Gannon pleaded guilty to these charges and faced time in prison for the serious abuse of a child under the legal age of consent.
Gannon was able to avoid serious prison time for almost a decade. It wasn’t until 2009 he was imprisoned for “serious abuse”.
All sexual abuse is serious. Gannon ruined the lives of countless children and was allowed to walk free multiple times throughout his dark, criminal life. An adult taking advantage of vulnerable children like that is horrendous.
At Kelso Lawyers, we work tirelessly to ensure survivors of sexual abuse receive the justice and compensation they deserve – get in touch with a member of our team today and let us help you.
Get the justice you deserve with Kelso Lawyers. We want to hear your story. Call (02) 4907 4200 or complete the online form before you accept payment from the National Redress Scheme.