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Catholic priest charged, taken to hospital

A retired Catholic priest and friend of the NSW attorney general was taken to hospital after being charged with a raft of child sexual offences dating back to the 1970s.
Finian Egan, 77, left a Sydney police station in an ambulance after being questioned and charged with 17 offences on Tuesday.
Attorney-General Greg Smith has been a long-time friend of Egan, who drove himself to Ryde police station on Tuesday morning (AEST), where detectives escorted him inside.
He was arrested and questioned over alleged sexual offences against four children, police said in a statement.
The offences allegedly occurred between 1972 and 1987 while Egan was serving as a priest to parishes in Sydney and on the Central Coast.
He was granted strict conditional bail before an ambulance arrived at the police station about 1.15pm and transported him to Ryde hospital where he was treated for heart problems.
Two of his alleged victims waited outside Ryde police station.
"I think I'm in shock," Nikki Wells, 43, told AAP.
"It's quite surreal because it's been such a long process. Really, it's been 30 years in the making."
Kellie Roche, 41, said her family emigrated from Ireland to Australia in 1981 and bypassed their local parish to attend a parish with a priest with an Irish background.
"And he was welcomed into our family as if he was a family member because we're all Irish," Ms Roche told AAP.
"We needed somewhere in a new country where we could fit in and we felt like we fit in better in a parish where there's an Irish priest."
Both Ms Wells and Ms Roche brought complaints to the church and settled in 2010 for six and five-figure sums respectively, they said.
In NSW Parliament's question time on Tuesday, Mr Smith was asked if he told a priest in a meeting last year that an alleged victim of sexual assault had only brought a case against Egan to get $1 million out of the church.
"I understand he was charged today," Mr Smith said.
"The question relates to a possible complainant in those matters. It would therefore be inappropriate for me to make any further comment."
Opposition Leader John Robertson said Mr Smith should be sacked if his alleged comments were true.
"Mr Smith should have distanced himself and his office from his good friend Finian Egan," Mr Robertson said in a statement.
Ms Wells questioned why Egan was charged in March, eight months after police referred the matter to the DPP and one month after Ms Wells went public with her allegations.
A spokeswoman for the DPP declined to comment on the specifics of the investigation.
Egan will appear in Ryde Local Court on May 23.

news.smh.com.au (1-5-2012)
Vincent Morello

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