Priest found dead as police started probe into abuse claim

Fr Joseph Tran spent 15 years in the Whitford Catholic parish.
Fr Joseph Tran spent 15 years in the Whitford Catholic parish.

UPDATE Saturday 9.30am: Community News has re-approached the Catholic Archdiocese of Perth for comment over a report that well-known priest Fr Joseph Tran is suspected of taking his own life on Thursday.

Seven West Media is reporting Fr Tran was found dead by police after he had been confronted this week by a woman alleging he had sexually abused her daughter.

Community News contacted WA Police Friday night and was presented with the following statement this morning:

“Police commenced an investigation (on Thursday) relating to an allegation of child sexual abuse by a priest from a Catholic Church located in the southern suburbs,” police said.

“During the investigation the priest was located deceased. His death is not being treated as suspicious and a report will be prepared for the Coroner.

“Anyone who is the victim of sexual abuse, are urged to contact police on 131 444.”

One woman took to Facebook last night to dispel social media commentary that the priest had died from a heart attack.

“I found him and made the 000 call,” she said.

“I am not going to elaborate what he had done he is obviously very loved and respected and it wouldn’t be right to go into detail but it was not a heart attack.”

Community News sought comment from Archbishop Tim Costelloe Friday afternoon about Fr Tran’s death and re-approached the Archdiocese’s media manager last night with questions about the abuse allegation.

People experiencing any concerns are encouraged to call Lifeline on  13 11 14.

EARLIER Friday 5.20pm: PERTH’S Catholic Church community is mourning the sudden death of popular priest Joseph Tran.

Fr Tran (49), who made a name for himself as a hard-working parish priest of the Whitford parish in Craigie for 15 years, died yesterday.

A spokesman for Archbishop Timothy Costelloe said the priest’s death was sudden and unexpected, and now the subject of a State Coroner’s investigation. He said the Archbishop would not be making any comment.

School parents got an email notification of Fr Tran’s death.

“He was very much loved at our school,” one parent told Community News.

Fr Tran, who came to Australia with his family as refugees from Vietnam, finished at Whitford in February last year when he was appointed the parish priest of Armadale.

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