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By a Broken Rites researcher
In the 1950s and 1960s, prominent Marist Brother Malcolm Hall was sexually abusing boys and girls in four country towns around Australia. Today, half a century later, his victims still feel hurt by the offences and by the Catholic Church's cover-up.
According to police, Brother Malcolm's birth name was Philip Stanley Hall and he was born on 12 November 1925. (On becoming a Marist Brother, he adopted the religious name "Brother Malcolm".)
Research by Broken Rites indicates that he taught in four Australian schools:
But, shortly before the court day, Malcolm Hall suddenly died. Therefore the police case automatically lapsed — and the Marist Brothers were saved from some unpleasant publicity which otherwise would have damaged their corporate image.
How the police case beganIn 1996, a former Marist Brothers pupil (let's call him "Robert" heard about a police campaign against child-sex abusers. Robert telephoned Broken Rites, stating that he had been sexually abused by Brother Malcolm in Warragul about 1962, beginning when the boy was aged nine. Broken Rites encouraged Robert to have a chat with specialist police officers at the Sexual Offences and Child-Abuse (SOCA) unit.
In the 1960s Brother Malcolm was the principal of St Joseph's Marist Brothers College in Warragul. This was then a boys-only school (but the secondary section amalgamated with a Catholic girls' school in 1975 to become Marist-Sion College Warragul). In the 1960s Brother Malcolm's secondary school was closely associated with the nearby St Joseph's primary school (for boys and girls), where "Robert" was a pupil. Brother Malcolm frequented the primary school campus and was acquainted with the boys and girls there.
Robert's police statementIn his interview with the SOCA police unit in November 1996, "Robert" explained that for three years from 1962 (when Robert was aged from nine to eleven), Brother Malcolm used to detain him in a locked classroom during lunch recess and then fondle the boy's genitals and anus for about 20 minutes. This happened on at least 40 occasions and the offences developed into digital penetration. Meanwhile, Brother Malcolm's other hand was under the Brother's long Marist robes (evidently masturbating himself).
Robert's police statement said: "I was taught to respect anybody that was connected with the Catholic Church because they treated them like idols".
After Robert's police statement was signed and sworn, the SOCA police sent it to detectives at Warragul for investigation.
Robert has given a copy of his nine-page police statement to Broken Rites.
Girl victims, aged 9-10Meanwhile, in 1996-7, a Warragul woman (Lorraine) telephoned Broken Rites, stating that she was a victim of Brother Malcolm. Broken Rites, who encouraged her to contact the police SOCA unit.
Through Lorraine, the SOCA police found another female victim (Diane) at Warragul.
In their signed sworn police statements, Lorraine and Diane explained that Brother Malcolm used to loiter around their St Joseph's primary school and he sexually abused them many times (including digital penetration) when they were aged 9 or 10.
Sudden deathIn 1997, the Warragul detectives ascertained that Philip Stanley Hall, alias Brother Malcolm, was still living in Australia. He was still a Marist Brother (although retired from school teaching) and was in a Marist community in Melbourne. By late 1998, the detectives had interviewed and charged him and had scheduled a court appearance for him. The detectives expected to have obtained statements from six Warragul victims.
Then, on 28 October 1998, a brief notice appeared in the death-and-funerals page in the Melbourne Herald Sun for "Philip Stanley Hall, Brother Malcolm". It said the death occurred at Mount Gambier, South Australia (where Malcolm Hall had taught in the 1950s).
Two days later, the above-mentioned female victims Lorraine and Dianne inserted another death notice in the same newspaper:
HALL, Br. Malcolm . . . Gone to meet his judgement. Never forgotten.
Lorraine and Diane and the silent many.
Because of the death, the police file was automatically closed. Malcolm Hall's doctor completed the legally-required death certificate. The cause of death was listed as a "probable" heart attack. No autopsy was held regarding the cause of death.
Later events"Robert" said in his 1996 police statement that he told his parents in the early 1960s about Brother Malcolm. His mother suggested notifying the police but his father, who did not believe Robert's complaint, refused to contact the police.
However, Robert's best friend was also being abused by Hall. This boy's father heard about the abuse and spoke to a local police officer (a Catholic). Instead of instigating a police investigation, the policeman tipped off a senior priest at the Warragul church. It is not known whether the priest passed this tip on to the Marist Brothers headquarters in Melbourne but the Marists soon removed Malcolm Hall from Warragul, replacing him with a new principal.
The Marist Brothers then transferred Brother Malcolm out of Australia — beyond the reach of the Australian police. Thereafter (according to details given in his death notice in the Herald Sun) Brother Hall worked in church institutions in Peshawar (in Pakistan) and in Papua New Guinea and the Solomon Islands — places where sexual abuse by church personnel is more difficult to expose. There is no way of knowing about his behaviour in those countries.
Thus, the Marist Brothers protected their brand name in Australia.
Brother Malcolm eventually returned to Australia, although not to teach in schools. He attended the 40th anniversary re-union of the opening of the Red Bend College in Forbes, NSW, in August 1996, aged seventy.
Complaint in New South WalesSince 1998, more former pupils of Brother Malcolm Hall have contacted Broken Rites regarding their experiences with this man.
On 3 February 2010, a former Marist Brothers pupil (let us call him "Percy") asked Broken Rites to publish his account of his experience of Brother Malcolm Hall. Percy was a boarder at Marist Brothers Red Bend Catholic College in Forbes, in western New South Wales, in the late 1950s, from the age of eight to eleven.
Percy told us:
"There were two occasions, when Brother Malcolm, who was the headmaster at the time, got me by myself and came very close to me while appearing to be very excited. At the time I was too young to understand what he was doing but I know that I felt very scared and very insecure after these incidents. After all, it was the Headmaster doing this.
"The first incident occurred in a dingy, tiny room under the main staircase which was used as a storage room for old books, I think. I will never forget the look on Brother's face and his heavy breathing as he grabbed me and pulled me towards him.
"The other occasion is when I was playing in the quad one night and Brother Malcolm ordered me to get in the car and go to Forbes with him while he did some business. There was absolutely no reason for me to go with him, but you do not say 'No' to the headmaster. On the way back to the college, Brother suddenly stopped the car on a very isolated stretch of road. He moved towards me and said, 'I have had reports that you and B***** [my best friend] have been touching each other.'
"I said, 'No, Brother, we have only been playing cricket together'.
"He then went on to demonstrate where we had been touching each other. I was absolutely petrified at this stage and I just didn't know what was going to happen. We were in the pitch dark in the middle of nowhere.
"On both occasions Brother Malcolm was able to stop himself from committing the kind of crimes which he allegedly committed on children in Victoria in the 1960s and for which he was eventually charged by the Victorian police. I was one of Brother Malcolm's early victims. Perhaps he had less control of acting on his desires as time went on. I consider his actions most inappropriate and no way a Brother/teacher/headmaster should treat a very young child.
"I did not tell my parents, siblings or anyone about these incidents. It was many, many years before I told anyone about what had happened.
"I have learnt to live with these and other things which happened at boarding school, but I believe they have had an affect on my life, particularly in the area of relating to other people."
Another complaint in Victoria"Mary", who was once a pupil at St Joseph's Catholic primary school in Warragul, Victoria, told Broken Rites on 21 August 2006:
"When I was a young girl, Brother Malcolm used to hang around outside our school. He took me out to the country 'for a ride', and he touched me indecently.
"Also, I learned that Brother Malcolm touched my brother indecently inside an empty classroom.
"In my family, our dear mother and father were devout Catholics and they devoted all of their spare time to the church. When we kids told mum and dad about Brother Malcolm, they did not believe us — they just thought we were naughty and cheeky little kids.
"I left Warragul in 1967. I have always thought about searching for this dreadful man, but never did, as it was too upsetting. Some years ago, I went to a 40-year re-union of old friends in Warragul and at least four other women at the party told us about similar situations with Brother Malcolm that occurred all those years ago.
"My oldest brother went to the Marist Brothers college in Sale [Victoria] but he left school prematurely, due to similar sexual abuse there involving a different offender."
"Now none of us - none of my brothers and sisters - goes to church any more. We are so angry that the church enabled these things to happen while covering it all up."
Cruelty"Basil", who was a pupil at St Joseph's Marist Brothers College, Warragul, Victoria, in the 1960s, told Broken Rites on 30 July 2002:
"I was never sexually abused by Brother Malcolm Hall but I am not surprised to hear that others were.
"Brother Malcolm Hall (the principal) was a particularly cruel man who delighted in beating children, usually with a cane, and drawing out the punishment to extract maximum enjoyment. It seemed as though he derived perverse sexual pleasure from inflicting pain and humiliation on little boys. It comes as no surprise that allegations of serious sexual abuse have been made against him. I only regret that he died before having to answer those charges in a court of law.
"Hall was without doubt the most loathsome person I have ever met. He would strut about with an air of smugness about him as if he was immensely proud of himself and safe in the knowledge that he could get away with anything. In those days no one dared speak out against the church. Yet all the time, there was widespread sexual abuse going on which was deliberately covered up by the church authorities."
Another commentOn 6 February 2010 Broken Rites showed Basil's remarks about cruelty to the above-mentioned "Percy" (who encountered Brother Malcolm at Red Bend Catholic College in the late 1950s).
Percy commented: "I agree he was a cruel and loathsome man. He was actually at the 40th anniversary reunion of the opening of the College at Red Bend held in Forbes in August 1996. I just couldn’t bring myself to go anywhere near him. At the time I thought ‘You’ve got a hide turning up here again’.
FootnoteOn 3 July 2006, Broken Rites received a query from a man, "Terry", who said his father attended the Marist Brothers school at Parkes, western New South Wales, in the late 1950s. This was an intermediate school (called St Dominic's) for Parkes boys who could then complete their secondary education at Forbes.
"I am researching the life of my late father. In his unpublished memoirs which he penned before his death, Dad mentions briefly his time at Marist Brothers Parkes but he doesn't go into a lot of detail. He does mention, however, being caned by a Brother Malcolm, the head master at Parkes."
Terry contacted the Marist Brothers headquarters in Melbourne, seeking information about Brother Malcolm's career, including his time at Parkes. Terry spoke to several Brothers there, including the archivist, but they provided no information about Brother Malcolm and they appeared to discourage the research.
So, for a man who left such an indelible impression on a generation of Australian pupils, it is significant that the Marist Brothers are so unforthcoming about Brother Malcolm Hall.
It is therefore left to Broken Rites to join the dots together. We will continue our research about Brother Malcolm Hall.