Common Roots: Ancient Evangelical Future Conference

Friar defrocked by Brisbane archbishop

An 88 year old priest has been defrocked by the Archbishop of Brisbane following his conviction of making and possessing indecent photographs of children. Andrew Johns (88) plead guilty in February to two counts of possessing over 1000 child exploitation images found on his laptop when he took the computer to a shop to be repaired. Johns was sentenced to 15 months imprisonment, suspended for two years. The Johns case was unusual in that while three images found on the computer were of naked boys, the majority of photographs were “innocent” images of children that had been captioned or edited by Johns “in such a way as to make them child exploitation material,” prosecutor Matt Hynes said at the time of his trial. A native of England, Johns emigrated to Australia and joined the Society of St Francis, helping found the order’s Brisbane priory. He was later ordained to the priesthood in 1968. Since 1996 he has lived at the order’s friary of St Philip at Annerley, Queensland (pictured). In sentencing Johns, the court said it would not impose a custodial sentence. “The circumstances of your conduct are unusual, it stands apart from the other cases because there was no corruption of children and your conduct did not in any sense feed the industry of child exploitation,” Judge Leanne Clare said. Following his conviction, Johns’ case was handed over to the Anglican Church of Australia’s professional standards board. Upon their recommendation Archbishop Phillip Aspinall deposed Johns from the ordained ministry on 23 Oct 2015.

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