A FORMER Catholic priest accused of sexually abusing 40 children over three decades has pleaded not guilty to all charges.
David Joseph Perrett appeared in Armidale District Court for an arraignment hearing on 139 historical sex abuse charges.
The child abuse allegations stem from when Perrett was a serving Catholic priest in the Armidale, Walgett, Moree, Guyra and wider New England area, as well as Sydney and the coast, between the 1960s and 1990s.
Judge Jeffery McLennan is yet to set a date or location for the trial of the charges, which include assault; buggery; carnal knowledge of a child; and maintaining an unlawful sexual relationship with a child under the age of 16.
The trial - which could take three months - has not been set down yet, but Perrett will return to court in February next year.
The retired clergyman was released on conditional bail by the NSW Supreme Court in April, after medical evidence tendered to the Sydney court showed his treating doctor had given him between six and 12 months to live due to a number of health conditions.
The charges before the court relate to 40 complainants - 37 boys and three girls, all of whom were children at the time of the alleged acts of abuse.
Strike Force Bennett was established to investigate claims of historical abuse before Perrett was extradited by Armidale detectives from Wallangara in May 2017.
Perrett was first committed for trial in March in Armidale Local Court.