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Written by a Broken Rites Australia researcher.


The church gave this priest easy access to young victims, and some of them got him jailed

In 2019, Broken Rites is continuing its research about a pedophile priest, Father Charles Alfred Barnett, who was harboured by the Catholic Church for twenty years in Queensland, New South Wales, Victoria, South Australia and Western Australia. In 2010, some of his South Australian victims finally got him jailed. And in 2018 some more of his South Australian victims got him convicted again. (By a Broken Rites researcher, article updated 17 January 2019.)

A priest is convicted in 2019 for a crime committed 54 years ago

A 2019 court case has proved that, under Australian law, it is never to late for any child-assault victim to report the crime to the child-protection police.  In 1965, Catholic priest Allan John Mithen (then aged 25) twice indecently assaulted an Aboriginal girl while he was in charge of a West Australian institution for Aboriginal children who had been taken from their families. In the West Australian District Court on 15 January 2019, Father Mithen (now aged 80) pleaded guilty to these two assaults and was convicted. Mithen has also worked as a priest in Sydney and Melbourne and possibly elsewhere. (By a Broken Rites researcher, article posted on 16 January 2019.)

The church knew about this priest's crimes but gave him further victims

Broken Rites is researching Father Kevin Wright, who spent many years in the Wagga diocese which covers a large region in southern New South Wales. There is evidence that the Catholic Church authorities knew about Wright's offending but they allowed him to continue in the priesthood, thus enabling him to assault more children in more parishes. (By a Broken Rites researcher, article updated 17 January 2019)

The church concealed the crimes of Father Vincent Ryan. Now he faces more charges in 2019

This Broken Rites article is the most comprehensive account available about how Catholic Church leaders knowingly protected a pedophile priest, Father Vincent Gerard Ryan. Ryan's superiors (in the Maitland-Newcastle diocese in New South Wales) knew that he was sexually assaulting boys in his parishes. But the church concealed Ryan's crimes from the police and kept him in the ministry for twenty years, giving him access to new victims. He has already been jailed for some of his crimes. In 2019, he is awaiting a further court case regarding some additional alleged victims. (By a Broken Rites researcher, article updated 12 January 2019.)

Broken Rites helped victims of Father John Denham to gain justice, and now Denham is in jail awaiting a further sentence in 2019

Broken Rites has helped to obtain justice for victims of one of Australia's most notorious Catholic priests, Father John Sidney Denham. Father Denham's superiors and colleagues knew about his child-sex crimes but this information was concealed from the police. Finally, with advice from Broken Rites, some victims began to contact the police, so Denham was convicted in court in the year 2000 and again in 2010 and 2015 (and jailed). The sentencing judge in 2015 made scathing comments about how this criminal priest had been protected by the Catholic Church. In 2018, Denham was convicted again after another of his victims contacted the police. He will be sentenced in early 2019. Meanwhile, he remains in jail. (By a Broken Rites researcher, article updated 13 January 2019)

Father David O'Hearn is in jail, facing more charges in 2019

During the 1980s and 1890s, Father David Anthony O’Hearn worked in parishes in the Maitland-Newcastle Catholic diocese, north of Sydney. Now he is in jail where he is serving a minimum nine years’ jail for sexual offences against young boys. In March 2018, police visited the jail to charge O'Hearn (then aged 56) with additional offences after one more alleged victim had spoken to detectives. In 2019, while still a prisoner, O'Hearn is due to face a trial in the NSW District Court on these new charges. He will then continue to serve his current jail sentence. (By a Broken Rites researcher, article updated 11 January 2019).

Police allege a priest assaulted 30 children during 30 years. He awaits court in 2019

For 34 years until 1995, Father David Joseph Perrett was a Catholic priest in New South Wales. In 2019 (aged 81 and retired) he is awaiting a court case, charged with committing sexual crimes against 30 children throughout his priestly career. That is, his alleged 30-year crime spree occurred under the noses of the church authorities. The charges against Perrett include buggery, carnal knowledge of a child under 10, aggravated sexual assault, aggravated indecent assault and assault occasioning actual bodily harm. The prosecutor has told a court that some of Perrett's charges are so serious that he could perhaps spend the rest of his life in jail if convicted. (By a Broken Rites researcher, article updated 11 January 2019.)

An ex-priest, 75, is charged with raping a 10-year-old boy in a public toilet during a picnic more than 50 years ago

In the 1960s, Brian Spillane began training towards a career in the Catholic priesthood. In 2019, he is in jail in New South Wales for sexual crimes which he committed against boys (and also some girls) during his religious career. While he is in jail, police have investigated some additional allegations about Spillane. Now, in 2019 (aged 75), he is awaiting another court appearance, where he is to charged with having raped a ten-year-old boy in Sydney in 1964. (By a Broken Rites researcher, article updated 5 January 2019.)

Marist Brother 'Romuald' Cable, already jailed, awaits sentencing again regarding more of his crimes

For many years, Marist Brother Francis William Cable (also known as "Brother Romuald") was committing sexual crimes against Catholic schoolboys in New South Wales. His Marist colleagues and superiors looked the other way, protecting him from the police and giving him access to more victims. Eventually, some of his victims (acting separately) began to contact Broken Rites and/or the New South Wales Police, instead of merely telling Romuald Cable's church colleagues. NSW Police detectives then found some more of his victims. As a result, "Rom" Cable was jailed in 2015 regarding 19 of his victims. The police investigation continued. In court in October 2018, he pleaded guilty regarding five more of his victims; and he is expected to be sentenced regarding these victims in 2019. (By a Broken Rites researcher, article updated 7 January 2019.)

An ex-Marist Brother became a lay teacher and then a priest — now he is facing a crminal court trial in 2019

A Catholic priest (Father Carl Stafford, born in 1939) is listed for a trial in the Sydney District Court in 2019, charged with child-sex offences allegedly committed earlier in his priestly career. Bishop Peter A Comensoli (formerly of the Broken Bay diocese, in Sydney's north) stated publicly in 2017: "Originally a Marist Brother, Fr Stafford left this Order [the Marists] and took up a lay teaching position with St Gregory’s College Campbelltown before entering the seminary in 1989. Ordained as a priest for the Diocese of Broken Bay in 1994, Fr Stafford held appointments in Mona Vale, Gosford, Toukley/Lake Munmorah and Kincumber parishes." (According to church sources, Father Carl Stafford is still a priest and he is merely retired from parish appointments.) (Article updated on 30 December 2018.)

A new Melbourne priest was abusing children from Day One, now he awaits sentencing in court in 2019

Father Paul Chris Pavlou is a relatively recent recruit to Australia's Catholic priesthood. He was originally a school-teacher but, in his thirties, he began studying to become a priest. Later, in his forties, he was elevated to the priesthood and began ministering in parishes of the Melbourne archdiocese. Soon after this, he admitted in court that he was committing sexual offences against children before and after becoming a priest. Now he is awaiting his sentencing, which will be held in the Melbourne County Court in 2019. Pavlou's story raises questions about how the church selects its priests. (By a Broken Rites researcher, article updated 30 December 2018.)

A Catholic Brother facing court in 2019 regarding Monivae College, western Victoria

Police detectives have charged an elderly Catholic religious Brother (John David Frith) with offences allegedly committed some years ago against boys at a Catholic secondary school — Monivae College, situated at Hamilton in western Victoria, 290 kilometres from Melbourne. The case had its first mention in the Melbourne Magistrates Court on 14 September 2018, and it is scheduled to have its next step in court early in 2019.

A Christian Brother is awaiting a court trial in NSW in 2019

Christian Brother David Michael Curtin, who has been awaiting a court trial in New South Wales, charged with offences against boys at a boarding school thirty years ago, is scheduled now to begin his trial in Sydney in 2019. (By a Broken Rites researcher, article updated 10 January 2019.)

An ex-priest in NSW facing a court trial in 2019 on sex charges from 30 years ago

A former Catholic priest, James Joseph Cunneen, aged 59, is facing a court trial in New South Wales in 2019, charged with sexual offences which were allegedly committed thirty years ago against a number of young males who were associated with the "Holy Name of Mary" Parish Rydalmere in Sydney's north-west. (By a Broken Rites researcher, article updated 10 January 2019)

The Jesuits covered up for a criminal Brother and merely moved him to more victims in another school

Jesuit priests and brothers operate some of Australia's most prominent schools, with famous ex-students such as former prime minister Tony Abbott. After Brother Victor Higgs committed sexual offences against boys at one of these schools (St Ignatius College, Adelaide), the Jesuits kept Brother Higgs as a member of the Jesuit Order and moved him to other schools, including their famous Sydney school (St Ignatius College Riverview), thus putting Sydney boys in danger. One of the Adelaide victims finally reported Brother Higgs to the South Australian police and, in 2016, Higgs was jailed for some of his Adelaide offences. In November 2018 a Sydney court jailed Higgs (aged 81) for seven and a half years for sexual offences at the Sydney school. Since then, Broken Rites has learned that Brother Higgs later worked at the Jesuits' elite Melbourne school, Xavier College, where the Jesuits used him as a "spiritual director" (wink-wink) of young boys and as a boarding-house supervisor. (By a Broken Rites researcher, article updated on 7 January 2019)

The church protected Father John Farrell for 30 years but now he is in jail, and his jail time is being increased

This Broken Rites article is the most comprehensive account available about how Catholic Church leaders remained silent for 30 years about the child-sex crimes of Father John Joseph Farrell (also known as "Father F"). In 1993, Broken Rites began researching the Farrell cover-up. In 2012, our research helped to create a "Four Corners" television program about the Farrell cover-up, thus bringing this cover-up to nationwide attention. And this helped to encourage the Federal Government to establish its national child-abuse Royal Commission. Gradually, Broken Rites (but not the church officials) encouraged some of Farrell's victims to talk with child-protection police, resulting in the jailing of Farrell in 2016. Meanwhile, more of his victims were speaking to the detectives, and therefore on 2 November 2018 Farrell (then aged 65) was sentenced to more time in jail for these additional crimes. (By a Broken Rites researcher, article updated 8 January 2019.)

Jailed again: The Marist Brothers inflicted this criminal Brother on more victims

This Broken Rites article is the most comprehensive account available about how the Marist Brothers allowed the sex-abuse criminal Brother Ross Francis Murrin to remain in their Order, thus giving him access to more child victims. Murrin has been jailed three times (in 2008 and 2010 and 2018) for child-sex crimes committed during his teaching career in Australian Catholic schools. There is evidence that his Marist superiors were aware many years ago about his criminal behaviour but they negligently allowed him to continue teaching, until some of Murrin's victims finally began speaking to the police detectives. (By a Broken Rites researcher, article updated 17 December 2018.)

A priest, now 84, is jailed for two years for crimes committed 50 years ago

Two former schoolboys (both now aged in their sixties) have finally brought a Catholic priest to justice in Australia for crimes that he committed on them more than 50 years ago. On 19 December 2018, Father Thomas Fulcher (now aged 84) was jailed for a minimum of two years after pleading guilty to these crimes. After committing a sexual assault, Father Fulcher would even force a child to undergo the sacred ritual of Confession, in which the child would be committed to "secrecy" regarding the incident. Father Fulcher, who is still officially a priest (in retirement), is a member of a Catholic religious order (the Society of Mary) which has branches around Australia. (By a Broken Rites researcher, article updated 22 December 2018.)

How the church enabled Fr Michael Glennon's life of crime

Broken Rites is continuing its research about how the Catholic Church enabled the paedophile priest Father Michael Charles Glennon to commit sexual crimes against children in Melbourne. Years later, many of his victims (and their families) are still feeling the impact of the church's negligence. (By a Broken Rites researcher, article updated 20 December 2018.)

This "chaplain" committed sexual offences in a girls’ orphanage (and his crimes were helped by the Catholic ritual of Confession)

Broken Rites is doing further research about a Catholic priest, Father Bernard Maxwell Day, who was living at a girls' orphanage in Victoria in the early 1960s. Father Day was one of a series of "chaplains" who occupied a flat at the orphanage. His "duties" including hearing each girl's Confession; this sacred ritual enabled a priest to talk to a girl about sex. A senior nun got Father Day removed after allegations that he was molesting girls at the orphanage. In a submission to a Victorian Parliamentary inquiry in 2013, the Melbourne Catholic archdiocese admitted that Fr Day committed sexual offences against children. (By a Broken Rites researcher, article updated 29 December 2018.)

Christian Brother Obbens indecently assaulted homesick boys in a boarding school

Broken Rites is continuing its research regarding Christian Brother William John Obbens (also known as Brother "Dominic" Obbens). Brother Obbens was jailed on 13 October 2016 (then aged 70) after he admitted indecently assaulting three boys (aged 11 to 13) who were under his authority in a boarding school. The offences occurred in the late 1980s at the former St Patrick's College (now called Trinity College) in Goulburn, south-western New South Wales, where Obbens was a teacher and a boarding master. According to court documents, Obbens preyed on the boarders’ homesickness to sexually abuse the boys. (By a Broken Rites researcher)

Church paid huge sums to lawyers to defend a criminal priest, Father James Fletcher: Background article

The Catholic diocese of Maitland-Newcastle in New South Wales has admitted that it paid an expensive team of lawyers to defend a paedophile priest in a child-abuse court case. The priest, Father James Patrick Fletcher, pleaded not guilty in 2004 to multiple counts of anal and oral sexual penetration of an altar boy, Daniel Feenan. The offences began in 1990, when Daniel was 12. A jury found Fletcher guilty on all charges. Legal experts have told the media that Fletcher's legal costs for the 11-day trial exceeded $200,000. The church's defence team included a Queen's Counsel, plus a second barrister and a solicitor. Fletcher had various victims, most of whom were still remaining silent. This court case in 2004 was about one victim, Daniel. (Background article by a Broken Rites researcher.)

How the paedophile Father Denis McAlinden was inflicted on Australian children

Research by Broken Rites has revealed that the Catholic Church knowingly harboured the paedophile priest Father Denis McAlinden for 40 years, thus inflicting him on young girls in parishes around Australia and also overseas. The church has been paying small out-of-court settlements to some of McAlinden's victims, thus avoiding a larger court-based settlement. In November 2016, two sisters began to sue the Catholic Church in the New South Wales Supreme Court for a proper amount to settle their abuse by McAlinden. At the last moment, the church agreed to pay these two women a confidential out-of-court financial settlement, thus preventing the church's other victims from knowing the size of a court-related settlement. This Broken Rites article explains the background about Fr Denis McAlinden and the church's cover-up. (By a Broken Rites researcher.)

Background article: The career of Archbishop Philip Wilson

This Broken Rites article is about the career of Australia's Archbishop Philip Wilson. Late in his career, police alleged that Wilson had covered up for a priest (Father James Fletcher) who indecently assaulted a ten-year-old boy (Peter Creigh). Police alleged that, when they were investigating Father Fletcher in 2003-2004 regarding a different victim (Daniel Feenan), Archbishop Wilson possessed information (about the abuse of Peter) which might help the case against Fletcher but Wilson concealed this information, thus protecting the criminal Fletcher. A court convicted Archbishop Wilson regarding his concealment of Peter's abuse. On 6 December 2018, a court quashed Wilson's conviction. This court case, however, was regarding only one of the church's victims, Peter Creigh. What did Wilson know about other criminal priests? (By a Broken Rites researcher, updated on 14 December 2018.)

The crimes of this Franciscan Brother were covered up

The Australian headquarters of the Franciscans (the Order of Friars Minor) have been forced to acknowledge that Brother Paschal Bartlett was a child-abuser. This Brother joined the Franciscan Order in the 1920s, moving through parishes in Victoria, Tasmania, New Zealand and Sydney. He supervised altar boys for almost 50 years in these parishes, exploiting his position of authority to sexually abuse them. (By a Broken Rites researcher.)

This priest was a danger to young schoolgirls

Broken Rites is doing research about Father Damian Colbourne, who has spent many years as a priest in the Catholic order of Capuchin Franciscan Friars, ministering in Sydney, Melbourne and Brisbane. In Brisbane in May 2017, Colbourne (then aged 75) was jailed for sexually abusing an eight-year-old Brisbane schoolgirl in 1974 (when he was in his thirties). Colbourne was charged by Queensland police in 2016 after the victim reported him to Australia's national child-abuse Royal Commission. In court, he pleaded guilty regarding the Brisbane girl. How many other children were victims of Father Colbourne? (By a Broken Rites researcher, article updated 8 December 2018)

The church finally admits the child-sex crimes of Father Tony Bongiorno

According to Broken Rites research, the Melbourne Catholic archdiocese has been forced to admit that Father Anthony Bongiorno committed sexual crimes against children during his 30 years working in Melbourne parishes. Anthony (Tony) Bongiorno began training for the priesthood about 1960, aged 25. Anthony Bongiorno's child-sex crimes were covered up until some of his victims exposed him in the mid-1990s. The total number of Father Bongiorno's victims is unknown. For example, in 1980, a woman (named Maria James) learned that her son (aged 11) was a Bongiorno victim but this woman was murdered before she could expose Bongiorno about her son's abuse. (By a Broken Rites researcher, article updated on 1 December 2018.)

A convicted priest appears on TV but is still ignorant about how the church's cover-up can damage the victims and their families

In the early 1970s, a boy complained to the Catholic Church about being sexually abused by a Sydney priest (Father Robert Flaherty) but the church merely transferred the priest to a new parish, thus giving him easy access to more children, a Sydney court has been told. This victim then reported Flaherty to the police. Years later, another victim contacted the police, followed later by a third boy (all from different parishes). In court in 2016, Father Flaherty (then aged 72) was jailed regarding the three boys. In July 2018, a television program ("A Current Affair" on the Nine Network) interviewed Father Flaherty (after his release from jail) and also interviewed one of his victims. On TV, Flaherty is still ignorant about how the church's culture of cover-up can damage the lives (and family relationships) of the church's victims many years later. If you click a link at the end of this article, you can watch the interviews. (By a Broken Rites researcher, article updated 2 December 2018.)

This priest became the deputy to a bishop, then was jailed and now is in court again

In the 1970s and 1980s, Father Richard Cattell was a Catholic priest in western Sydney. In the early 1990s, the Catholic Church promoted Cattell to become the Vicar-General of the Parramatta diocese, supervising 48 parishes in western Sydney on behalf of the bishop. In 2015, Cattell was jailed for sexual crimes committed against boys during his time in western Sydney. Since then, detectives have received additional information about Cattell's career. Therefore, in late 2018, police filed additional charges against Cattell in a magistrates court. Next, the new charges will go to a judge in a higher court, the New South Wales District Court (see details towards the end of this article). (By a Broken Rites researcher, article updated 23 November 2018.)

A Marist Brother has been jailed for some of his victims, but another ex-student has died by suicide

Australian Marist Brother David Austin Christian was recruited by the Marist Brothers at the age of 15 and became a fully-fledged Brother at 18. By the age of 40 (in the 1980s), he was a school principal — and he was sexually abusing young boys. Years later, some of these victims began to speak (as adults) to child-protection detectives in the state police force. This resulted in David Christian being jailed when he was in his seventies. But how many other victims of Brother David Christian have NOT spoken to the police? For example, one of Brother David Christian's ex-students died by suicide at the age of 21, leaving a suicide note about how his life had been damaged by Brother David Christian. (By a Broken Rites researcher, article updated 10 January 2019.)

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