Former Catholic priest found guilty of child sexual abuse dating back 30 years
A jury has convicted former Salesian College vice-principal David Rapson over the rape and abuse of eight students.
Rapson, 60, was member of the Salesians of Don Bosco religious order, which operated the Salesian College “Rupertswood”, a boarding school in Sunbury, north-west of Melbourne.
He pleaded not guilty to eight charges of indecent assault and five counts of rape relating to the abuse of eight students, who were between 12 and 17 years of age, between the mid-1970s and 1990.
The court heard he would use computer games, soft drinks, alcohol and cigarettes to lure the young boys into his office, where he would sexually abuse them.
The jury was told on one occasion, a 12-year-old boy was given a glass of lemonade that made him feel sleepy.
When he regained consciousness he had been raped.
In another case, a 16-year-old boy was given three-quarters of a bottle of scotch before he was indecently assaulted by Rapson.
One of the former students alleged he was raped by Rapson on four separate occasions in 1990.
Defence lawyer, Shaun Ginsbourg, said while Rapson had crossed the line by plying the children with cigarettes and alcohol, it did not make him a sex abuser.
The jury verdicts were unanimous on all charges, despite the defence arguing the charges were too old to prove.
Witness statements tendered in a previous court hearing revealed Rapson blamed God for his crimes.
One complainant recalled a number of boys being drugged with hot drinks and then assaulted in the infirmary in the 1970s.
He told police when another priest interrupted and told Rapson to restrain himself, he replied: “God made us this way and it’s his fault.”
It is not the first time the former priest has been convicted of child sex abuse under similar circumstances.
In 1992, he was sentenced to two years’ jail after pleading guilty to abusing a 15-year-old boy at the Sunbury College in 1987.
The boy was a boarder in a dormitory that was supervised by Rapson and was offered alcohol and cigarettes before he was assaulted.
At the time of the 1992 court case, Rapson was still a member of the religious order.
It is understood he was stripped of his priesthood in 2004, 12 years after he was jailed as a convicted child molester.