Laurie Maher facing historical sexual abuse charges

Kariong's Mt Penang boys correction centre.

Former Gosford Mayor and founder of Coast Shelter, Laurie Maher, is facing historical sexual abuse charges, with his case heard in Penrith Local Court on April 20.

Maher, 81, faces 13 charges relating to the alleged abuse of boys at the Mt Penang Training School at Kariong in the late 1970s and the 1980s.

Strike force investigators issued a Court Attendance Notice (CAN) on March 5 for four counts of buggery, three counts of indecent assault on a male, and six counts of sexual assault knowing no consent given.

Police allege that Maher, who was employed as superintendent at the school, sexually abused six boys between 1977 and 1988.

Maher served as the Mayor of Gosford from 2007-12.

He founded Coast Shelter in 1992 and held the position of CEO until his retirement in 2018.

In 2009, he was presented with an Award for Services to the Aboriginal Community by the Darkinjung Local Aboriginal Land Council and in 2010 he was awarded with the Order of Australia for his service to the community of Gosford through social welfare and local government organisations.

He is also a recipient of the NSW Community Service Award.

Coast Shelter expressed dismay over criminal charges laid against Maher and emphasised that the charges relate to alleged historical misconduct outside the organisation.

Maher is the ninth person to be charged as part of an investigation into alleged historical abuse by Strike Force Eckersley, established by the Nepean Police Area Command in late 2016 following a series of complaints made to the Royal Commission into Institutional Responses to Child Sexual Abuse.

His case was adjourned and he will return to Penrith Local Court on June 19.

Investigations under Strike Force Eckersley are continuing.

Media release, Apr 20
NSW Police Media
Media statement, Apr 21
Coast Shelter
Wikepedia profile, Laurie Maher
NSW Online Registry, Courts and Tribunals, Apr 22