National News

'Witch' Fletcher has no authority: bishop

A legally-blind, self-described "witch" who abused two teenage girls will never have authority in the alternative Catholic church he attends, the church leader says.

Robin Fletcher was jailed in 1998 for using hypnotism and mind-altering techniques to prostitute two 15-year-old girls, while working as a drug abuse and sexual guidance youth counsellor.

He was released in 2006, but lived under supervision orders for the next decade before a court this month allowed him to roam freely.

Australian Church of Antioch Archbishop Frank Bugge says he has known Fletcher for more than 30 years and allows "the very well qualified" man to teach theology once a month.

Fletcher also attends mass each Sunday at the Alphington church - a three-minute walk from a children's playground - but the archbishop strongly disputed any notion the convicted sex offender preaches or holds authority.

"Robin comes to the church, he sits through the mass, he has a cup of tea with us afterwards and he goes on his way," Archbishop Bugge told AAP on Tuesday.

"Robin Fletcher never has been and never will be a person of any authority or position in the Church of Antioch.

"Everyone says he gets up and preaches, he does not. It's a load of rubbish."

Archbishop Bugge said he knew things about Fletcher's crimes that never came out in court - but he's bound by the seal of confession.

"The jury found him guilty so that's none of my business," he said.

Archbishop Bugge said he'd been harassed by the public and media for years and labelled a pedophile because of his association with Fletcher.

"If this is the case - of guilty by association - then (respected Pentridge Prison chaplain Father John) Brosnan must be a terrible person because he knew all those crooks," he said.

Fletcher is one of a handful of convicted criminals who the archbishop said he is helping to rehabilitate.

The church on its website says it is open to all people, and does not "have the right to judge anyone".

© AAP 2017

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