The Catholic Church had "extensive knowledge" of Denis McAlinden's numerous assaults on children dating back to the 1950's, but decided to transfer him to the Geraldton diocese to "afford a good cover-up for his resigning the parish", an inquiry has heard.
The inquiry heard of numerous reports of abuse by the priest, including a story of one boy who was a victim of McAlinden between the ages of five and nine at Singleton, and was required to do penance for his sin of being abused.
The reports of abuse span over four decades, on children as young as four. McAlinden spent time in Wickham , in the Pilbara region, where it is alleged he continued to abuse children.
A warrant was issued for McAlinden's arrest in 1999 when a woman reported sexual assaults to police, who were then advised by the church that the priest was not in Australia. Maitland-Newcastle diocese paid the woman more than $130,000 in compensation in 2002. Another McAlinden victim was paid compensation the following year.
Although Catholic church representatives advised repeatedly that they did not know where McAlinden was living from the time the arrest warrant was issued, he died in a church-run facility in Western Australia in late 2005.