'Brazen' child abusing church minister won't go to jail

Retired Uniting Church Minister Barry Dangerfield (right) will not spend a day behind bars for sexually abusing a boy in Toogoolawah.
Retired Uniting Church Minister Barry Dangerfield (right) will not spend a day behind bars for sexually abusing a boy in Toogoolawah. DAN PELED/AAP

A FORMER Toogoolawah Uniting Church minister will not spend a day behind bars for the "brazen” sexual abuse of a 12-year-old boy in the 1960s.

In his late 20s and early 30s minister Barry Dangerfield forced a young boy to engage in sexual acts when taking him for driving lessons.

The Brisbane District Court heard the offences occurred in "broad daylight” on country roads.

On Thursday Dangerfield, 83, pleaded guilty to five counts of indecent treatment of a boy under 14 and five counts of indecent acts between males.

The court heard Dangerfield had officiated at the victim's wedding years after the offending because there were no other ministers available.

In a statement to the court the victim said he did not report the crimes at the time because of Dangerfield's position in the church.

The court heard the victim felt "very alone and vulnerable” and considered suicide. He still suffers flashbacks and has psychological scars from the abuse.

Defence lawyer Julian Noud said Dangerfield was a "spiritual man” who had lived a "blameless life”.

Mr Noud said in the more than 50 years since the offences Dangerfield had never committed another crime.

Dangerfield served as the Roma Uniting Church superintendent after he left Toogoolawah.

Chief Judge Kerry O'Brien agreed that since offending Dangerfield had rehabilitated himself and lived an otherwise "exemplary life”.

Dangerfield was sentenced to three years jail, wholly suspended.

Judge O'Brien said if the offending had occurred today, or as recently as 20 years ago, Dangerfield would have spent time behind bars.

The victim's family now lives on the Sunshine Coast. Maroochydore Child Protection Investigation Unit's Phil Hurst said he wanted to thank the victim for coming forward.

Detective Senior Sergeant Hurst said police could not secure convictions without the courage of victims.

"The victims are the most powerful people because they know who the offenders are,” he said.

"We would like to thank them for the bravery in coming forward.

"It's the only way we can protect the community from those people.”

If you need help phone Lifeline on 13 11 14.


Topics:  child sex abuse court suspended sentence uniting church

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