Father Peter Hansen possessed child pornography during his time in the priesthood, a court is told

  • By a Broken Rites researcher (article updated on 8 June 2021)

For 15 years until 2011, Father Peter Andrew Hansen was a priest belonging to the Melbourne Catholic Archdiocese. He became a priest as a mature-age adult (he says) while coping with some personal sexual issues. While he was a priest (he says) he developed a dependency on pornography. He left the priesthood in 2011 and spent the subsequent years working with Vietnamese asylum seekers. Eventually, he was arrested by Australian Federal Police at Sydney airport while returning from Asia. In court in 2021 (aged 63), he pleaded guilty to 31 charges, including one of engaging in sexual intercourse with a child under 18 in the Philippines and 15 counts of producing child abuse material. The judge sentenced Hansen to jail..

Originally, Peter Hanson studied law. Later, he obtained a Bachelor of Theology degree from the Catholic Theological College in Melbourne and a higher degree in Asian history and religious history from the Melbourne College of Divinity.

As a mature-age adult, he became a priest belonging to the Melbourne Catholic archdiocese. (A spokesperson for the Melbourne archdiocese has confirmed this in response to an inquiry from the media.)

Broken Rites has ascertained that Father Peter Hansen is listed in the annual editions of the printed Australian Catholic Directory between 1997 and 2011. As well as residing in Melbourne parishes (including Altona North, Mitcham and Fitzroy), Hansen was the founder of the Mary of the Cross Centre in Fitzroy (in inner-Melbourne) in 2000. This centre provided counselling and support for victims of drug and alcohol abuse.

After leaving the priesthood, Hansen worked as a legal advisor for Vietnamese asylum seekers in Hong Kong and the Philippines. He knows how to handle the Vietnamese language.

In October 2018 (when he was aged 61), Peter Hansen was arrested at Sydney Airport (when returning from Vietnam) and was charged with some specific child-sex offences (but, according to statements made in court, there were also other non-charged incidents). After preliminary proceedings, he pleaded guilty to the specified incidents. In February 2021, the case went to the New South Wales District Court in Sydney for sentencing.

Sentenced to jail

In the Sydney District Court on 4 June 2021, Peter Andrew Hansen pleaded guilty to 31 charges. They include producing child pornography in Vietnam and the Philippines, distributing child exploitation material and engaging in sexual activity with nine boys.

The court was told that Hansen's offending included paying sums - sometimes the equivalent of $7.50 - to boys to pose for pornographic photos in his hotel rooms, and engage in sexual activity with other boys or with him.

The court was told that Hansen had agreed he accessed child pornography when he was a priest.

More than 100,000 pornographic files were found on his devices, dating back to 2008 (while he was still in the priesthood) and as recently as 2018.

Judge Bennett jailed Hansen for 19 years with a non-parole period of 14 years. The judge gave him a 25 per cent discount for his guilty pleas, noting this meant that witnesses did not have to be called from overseas. The earliest date that Hansen would be eligible for release on parole would be in October 2032.