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Learning that a priest accused of sexually abusing boys in his care has died will reopen lasting emotional wounds for his alleged victims, a sexual abuse counsellor says.
"It will retraumatise them, that's for sure ... They have been on a horrendous journey," Male Survivors of Sexual Abuse Trust manager Ken Clearwater, of Christchurch, says.
Dunedin-born Fr Raymond John Garchow (64), who had lived in Australia for many years, died in Sydney this month.
He was one of five Catholic brothers or priests accused of sexually abusing boys at the St John of God Order's Marylands school at Halswell, on the outskirts of Christchurch.
The school was a live-in facility for intellectually and physically disabled boys, as well as those with behavioural problems.
Fr Garchow was a dormitory supervisor at the school before he was ordained as a priest in 1987.
He faced eight charges involving boys under the age of 16 following alleged incidents between 1969 and 1980.
In 2005, the New Zealand authorities ordered Fr Garchow and Br Rodger Moloney, who was wanted on associated charges, to be extradited from Australia to appear in court in this country.
The men won an appeal against extradition but the New Zealand authorities successfully appealed that decision.
However, in July 2008, Fr Garchow was given his freedom after an application for a permanent stay of proceedings was granted because of his ill health, and the ill health of two of the complainants.
Br Moloney and former priest Bernard Kevin McGrath were convicted of a total of 28 charges.
Two other brothers were considered too elderly to be extradited from Australia and never faced charges.
Mr Clearwater said the complainants, one of whom lives in Mataura, would have mixed reactions to news of Fr Garchow's death.
"Some will be happy he is dead, but in reality there is still unfinished business for them. Because of the stay of proceedings, justice hasn't been done and they can't get on with their healing. Fr Garchow is neither innocent nor guilty."
The complainants had been "sickened" by the stay of proceedings, he said.
"This will revive feelings for them, and for all the other boys who were at the school."