An Australian bishop may be defrocked for taking no action in response to a man who had been abused by a priest.

The Rt. Rev. Richard Appleby, 78, was Assistant Bishop of Newcastle from 1983 to 1992. He was referred to the Diocese of Newcastle’s Professional Standards board after the Royal Commission into Institutional Responses to Child Sexual Abuse heard evidence.

At both hearings, Appleby vigorously defended his actions, denying the victim ever told him about the abuse.

The board determined that Appleby took no action after being told by abuse survivor Steve Smith in 1984 that he had been abused as a child by the Rev. Stephen Hatley-Gray. The priest remained licensed within the diocese until 1996.

The board recommended that Appleby be defrocked, and he has 28 days to appeal the judgment.

Smith, who wept as he heard the judgment, said it was a vindication after he fought for decades to be believed.

John Martin

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