A former Brisbane priest’s claim that indecent photos he took of a boy were ‘artistic’ rather than sexually motivated has been challenged by a judge.
Michael Ambrose Endicott, 75, offered the Brisbane District Court a range of excuses for photographing nude boys while working at Villanova College in the 1970’s and 1980’s.
The court also heard a psychologist’s report found Endicott was on the spectrum of autism, meaning he had trouble reading social cues.
Michael Ambrose Endicott, 75, offered the Brisbane District Court a range of excuses for photographing nude boys while working at Villanova College in the 1970s and 1980s
Former priest Michael Endicott (centre) arrived at the District Court in Brisbane, Monday, March 11, 2019
The report said he would have struggled to understand how his behaviour was harmful ‘but was vulnerable to intrusive sexual behaviours with students because of his inability to read appropriate social cues.’
Defence barrister Craig Eberhardt also said his client insisted victims were never coerced, nor were they sworn to secrecy after the incidents.
‘In the scheme of things, there are many, many worse photographs that he could have taken,’ Mr Eberhardt said.
‘He has always admitted an interest in photography and for taking photos of nude boys as an expression of his photographic interest.’
But Judge Leanne Clare SC questioned how an eight-year-old boy could have consented.
‘I would imagine he well understood the unequal relationship,’ she said.
‘This man was walking around the child, who was completely naked, taking photographs of him from the front and back.
Former priest Michael Endicott (second from left) leaves the District Court in Brisbane, Friday, March 8, 2019 after he was found guilty of three counts of indecently dealing with a child
‘I don’t understand how that sounds artistic.’
Endicott was last week found guilty of three counts of indecently dealing with a boy.
On Monday, the court also heard he pleaded guilty in 2010 to two counts of similar offending involving another boy.
He was given a suspended one-year jail term.
Endicott was in charge of religious education at Villanova College during the 1970s.
The victim said the abuse began on a school hiking trip in 1975.
Endicott asked the boy to accompany him to a secluded area in dense bush, where he photographed the nine-year-old student naked.
He then told the boy: ‘There’s nothing to worry about. It’s okay. You’re doing a good job.’
Mr Endicott originally pleaded not guilty to eight historical charges of indecently dealing with a child under 12 and a child under 16 while he worked at Villanova College (pictured arriving at court n March 6)
Three years later, Endicott abused him in the school tower. Again, the boy was photographed naked.
Years later, when the boy was a teenager, Endicott took him into a change room and told him to strip when photos were taken of him in the shower.
‘He went along with the defendant’s behaviour… because he was a priest,’ crown prosecutor Russell Clutterbuck said.
‘He said, ‘at school, priests ruled. They have absolute power over everything’ and he dared not speak out against them.’
Mr Eberhardt said Endicott believed the victim was consenting.
‘On each occasion, no force or threat was used to coerce,’ he said.
‘In fact, he didn’t need to be persuaded at all to the extent the complainant says that he only did so because of the position of authority Father Endicott occupied at the time.’
The sentencing will continue on Monday.