Ex-priest in court over Bendigo school assault charges

A former Catholic priest accused of fondling teens at a Bendigo boarding school decades ago also allegedly abused a boy in NSW, a court has heard on Tuesday.

James Patrick Jennings, 80, has pleaded not guilty to six counts of indecent assault that allegedly occurred at St Vincent's College in Bendigo in the 1960s.

A witness has told Jennings' trial the former priest indecently assaulted him twice at a school in NSW before he came to Victoria.

The witness' allegations are not the subject of charges before the Victorian County Court.

He told the court he had been preparing for bed at his NSW boarding school when the first incident occurred.

His pyjama cord came out of his pants, and when Jennings called him into his room to fix it, he indecently assaulted him, the witness said.

"I was too ashamed to tell anyone," he told the court on Tuesday.

"I felt there must be something wrong with me."

He said another incident occurred when he was in bed.

He kept his eyes shut throughout it because he was scared he would be "bashed" if he opened them.

Once the person stopped touching him, he opened his eyes.

"I saw Father Jennings going back to his room," the witness said.

Defence lawyer Mark Hird put it to the witnesses that it "beggars belief" the former priest and teacher would do such a thing.

The witness said it did happen.

The charges against Jennings arise from complaints from three victims who were students at St Vincent's in the 1960s.

Crown prosecutor Susan Borg said one complainant, to whom the first three charges related, was abused by Jennings during a five-year period.

The court heard the first alleged incident occurred when the boy, then 13, was called to Jennings' room at the college one night.

A second boy, aged 12, was first assaulted when he woke one night to find Jennings sitting by his bed and touching him.

That boy and the third victim were allegedly indecently assaulted at the college sick bay.

Mr Hird said Jennings would give evidence and deny the accusations.

He said Jennings had made denials to police but would subject himself to cross-examination.

"It simply didn't happen," Mr Hird told the court.

The trial continues.

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