A "priest without a parish" is facing a criminal court trial on child-sex charges

  • By a Broken Rites researcher

For 25 years, Father Peter Maurice Waters ministered in a series of parishes of the Melbourne Catholic archdiocese. In 1999, when he was aged in his fifties, the archdiocese removed him from parish work. Since 1999, according to church law, Peter Waters has retained his priestly qualification — but without a parish (and without any other official role in the church). In 2017, when Waters was aged 72, police charged him with child-sex offices relating to his time in parishes. In early 2018, Waters underwent a four-day committal (i.e., preliminary) hearing in the Melbourne Magistrates Court. After hearing the evidence, the magistrate has ordered Waters to undergo a trial with a judge in a higher court, the Victorian County Court.

Peter Maurice Waters is listed in court as being located now in his private residence on Phillip Island (140 km south-east of Melbourne).

When the Peter Waters case had its first mention in the Melbourne Magistrates Court in 2017, police charged him with more than 30 historical child sexual abuse offences, including indecent assault on males aged 12 to 19 and carnal knowledge of a girl aged 10 to 16 years old. Police alleged that the offences occurred between 1974 and 1987.

At the committal hearing in the same court in January 2018, prosecutors withdrew some of the charges. Waters pleaded not guilty to 20 charges, including multiple counts of indecent assault, one of carnal knowledge of a girl aged between 10 and 16 and one of committing an act of gross indecency in the presence of a child. Police alleged that these 20 offences took place in the Melbourne suburbs of Montrose, Croydon, East Malvern, East Oakleigh and Camberwell and in some country areas.

The charges were laid by detectives from the Sano Taskforce of the Victoria Police sexual crimes squad, located in Spencer Street, Docklands, Melbourne.

The County Court case is listed for an administrative mention in late 2018 and a one-day directions hearing in February 2019. If Waters continues with his not guilty plea, a jury trial (lasting several weeks) would be held in mid-2019 (at present, the trial is listed to begin on 29 July 2019). Until then, he is on bail.

The County Court's case number for Peter Maurice Waters is CR-18-00056.

Foootnote

The Melbourne archdiocese (in the state of Victoria) covers the Melbourne metropolitan area and some nearby towns such as Kyneton, plus the city of Geelong. The remainder of the state of Victoria is divided into three other dioceses.

According to research by Broken Rites, Father Peter Maurice Waters was first listed (as "newly ordained") in the annual Australian Catholic Directories in 1973. He then ministered in various parishes of the Melbourne archdiocese including Croydon, Strathmore, Dandenong, Oakleigh, East Malvern, Camberwell, Aspendale, Blackburn, Bell Park (a suburb of Geelong) and (finally, until 1999) Kyneton. Interspersed among these parishes he had several periods of being listed as "on leave", plus a year or so as a hospital chaplain. After 1999, the Melbourne archdiocese did not appoint Peter Maurice Waters to any more parishes.