17/02/2014. Father Craigh Laubscher (green top) hides his face as he leaves the Pretoria Magistrate Court accompanied by Bishop William Slattery. Picture: Oupa Mokoena

Pretoria - The Catholic priest accused of making sexual advances towards a 17-year-old boy was released on R2 000 bail on Monday.

Once known as one of Pretoria’s most-loved priests, he appeared in the Pretoria Magistrate’s Court wearing dark tracksuit pants and a bright green T-shirt.

He kept his head bowed throughout his 30-minute bail application, only looking at the magistrate when directly addressed.

The priest – who cannot be named for legal reasons – was arrested on Friday, although it appears the allegations stem from some time ago.

It is alleged he made sexual advances towards the teenager who had come to him for a confession.

It is alleged that while the boy waited for his parents to fetch him, he was offered alcohol, and shown a DVD of a pornographic nature by the priest.

It was unclear whether this incident occurred at the church where the priest had ministered before, or at his current church in the east of Pretoria.

An incomplete charge sheet was presented to the court with not much detail about the alleged crime.

However, it did state that the accused was facing several charges under the sexual offences act including indecent assault, sexual assault, grooming and exposing of genitals.

His attorney put it to the court that his client had no intention to interfere with witnesses.

Enough time had elapsed since the date of the alleged assault and the arrest, he argued, adding that the accused had not tried to make contact with the alleged victim.

It was also placed on record that the priest has been put on administrative leave by the archbishop and suspended from all pastoral duties until the conclusion of the matter.

The accused would no longer reside at his usual address but be under the care of Archbishop William Slattery at his residence in Waterkloof, the court was told.

Just after 2pm the priest walked out of court with a book, titled Faces of Holiness II, bearing the face of the crucified Jesus, covering his face.

The case was postponed.

Pretoria News