Diocesan Tribunal of the Diocese of Sydney, October 2001
The promoter Philip Charles Gerber, who was appointed by the Archbishop of Sydney, promoted charges before the Diocesan Tribunal against the respondent Rev Robert Ellmore, who was a priest resident in the Diocese. The respondent was charged with offences under clause 3(1) of the Offences Ordinance 1962-1968 of a conviction in New South Wales of an offence which is punishable by penal servitude or imprisonment for 12 months or upwards. In December 1999 the respondent had been convicted of two counts of indecent assault against a female under the age of 16 years under s 76 of the Crimes Act 1900 (NSW). The Tribunal found that the ordinary civil standard of proof of the balance of probabilities was applicable. The Tribunal applied the principle in Briginshaw v Briginshaw (1938) 60 CLR 336 at 362 that the seriousness of the allegations made or the gravity of the consequences flowing from a particular finding were circumstances which must affect the answer to the question of whether the issue had been proved to its reasonable satisfaction. The Tribunal found the respondent guilty of two offences. The Tribunal found that these offences were of such seriousness as to disqualify the respondent from holding the office of priest and recommended to the Archbishop that the sentence of deposition from holy orders be imposed upon the respondent. On 23 October 2001 the Archbishop gave effect to the recommendation of the Tribunal and imposed the sentence of deposition from holy orders on the respondent.
Note: The Diocesan Tribunal is the court of the Archbishop and has jurisdiction to hear and determine charges of breaches of faith, ritual, ceremonial and discipline and ecclesiastical offences against persons licensed by the Archbishop or any other person in holy orders resident in the Diocese. See Constitution of the Anglican Church of Australia, Chapter IX, s.54.
[This case note was kindly supplied by Garth Blake of Wentworth Chambers, Sydney, Australia.]
(2002) 6 Ecc LJ 413