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Written by a Broken Rites Australia researcher.


Full story: The church harboured this pedophile Marist Brother but eventually he was jailed

This Broken Rites article reveals how the Catholic Church harboured a child-sex abuser, Marist Brother Gerard Joseph McNamara, teaching in Catholic schools, for four decades until eventually some of his victims began speaking (separately) to the Victoria Police child-protection detectives. When the police finally charged McNamara regarding the first batch of these victims, the Marists enthusiastically supported McNamara and ignored the victims. But Broken Rites supported the victims — and in 2004-2005 McNamara pleaded guilty to this first batch of victims and was convicted. This prompted more of McNamara's former students to contact the detectives. In 2016, McNamara pleaded guilty to indecently assaulting two more of his victims, resulting in another conviction. For each of these convictions (to 2016), he was given a suspended sentence. Those court cases prompted more of his victims to contact the police; therefore, on 3 September 2018, McNamara was jailed after he pleaded guilty five more victims, and on 15 March 2020 (aged 82) he was given more jail time regarding five more of his victims. Meanwhile, despite his criminal convictions, the Marist organization still regards McNamara as a Marist Brother.(By a Broken Rites researcher, article updated 15 May 2020.)

Father Ridsdale's life of crime — and the church's cover-up

This Broken Rites article is the most comprehensive account available about how the Catholic Church shuffled a paedophile priest, Father Gerald Ridsdale, from parish to parish for three decades while he committed sexual crimes against children. Broken Rites has been researching Ridsdale since May 1993, when he went to court for his first sentencing, accompanied by a bishop as his support person. Broken Rites began supporting Ridsdale's victims, resulting in four more court cases for Ridsdale between 1994 and 2017. In court again on 14 May 2020, Ridsdale was sentenced to more time in jail after he pleaded guilty regarding four additional victims (from the 1970s). (By a Broken Rites researcher, article updated 14 May 2020.)

Paedophile priest Peter Searson worked under various bishops in Melbourne

Broken Rites has researched the career of pedophile priest Father Peter Searson who committed sexual crimes against children in the Melbourne Catholic Archdiocese. For years, the church authorities knew about Searson's crimes but he was allowed to continue in parishes. The Victoria Police investigated Searson for sexual offences in parishes but found it difficult to extract evidence from "loyal" church people. Eventually, after his 35 years as a priest, the police managed to charge Searson with physical assault. Thus, Searson's abuse became public. The church authorities were forced to dump Searson from parish work. Hoping to protect the church's public image, the church also removed his name from the published list of retired priests. (By a Broken Rites researcher, background article updated 1 May 2020.)

The church hid the crimes of Christian Brother Edward Dowlan

This Broken Rites article is the most comprehensive account available about how the Christian Brothers organisation concealed the crimes of Brother Edward Dowlan (now known as "Mister Ted Bales"). From the start, the Christian Brothers knew that Dowlan was committing criminal sexual assaults against Australian schoolchildren but, instead of dismissing him, the Christian Brothers kept transferring him to more schools, thus giving him access to more victims. His victims were usually aged about 11 or 12 but some were as young as 8 or 9. In the 1990s, when some victims finally reported him to the police, the Christian Brothers supported Dowlan and tried to defeat the victims. The victims eventually won by getting him jailed in 1996 and again in 2015. Many of Brother Dowlan's victims have had their lives damaged by the church's cover-up — and several of his victims ended up in suicide. Some other Dowlan victims have not yet contacted the detectives. (Article by a Broken Rites researcher.)

The church covered up the crimes of Father Billy Baker

For many years, the Melbourne Catholic Archdiocese knew that Father Wilfred ("Billy") Baker was committing crimes against children but it allowed him to continue in the priesthood, thereby helping him to commit more crimes against more children in more parishes. Broken Rites began advising some of his victims to report Bakers' crimes to the police, and therefore in mid-1997 the archdiocese was forced to send Baker on "administrative leave" to protect the image of the church. Baker was jailed. Thus, the cover-up was finally exposed by Broken Rites. After he finished this jail term, more of his earlier victims contacted Broken Rites and/or the police but, in February 2014, Baker died before the courts could sentence him again. (Article written by a Broken Rites researcher.)

The interesting career (wink, wink) of a Melbourne priest, Fr John Walshe

The Melbourne Catholic archdiocese has admitted that (in 2012) it paid a settlement to a former student (John Roach) who alleged that, when he was 18, he was sexually targeted by a Melbourne priest, Father John Walshe. The archdiocese gave a written apology to John Roach for the "wrongs and hurt" he suffered at the hands of Father Walshe. In 2016, after this matter became public, a number of Father Walshe's parishioners (at Mentone-Parkdale in Melbourne's south-east) succeeded in getting Fr Walshe to resign from their parish. This Broken Rites article gives some background about Fr Walshe, based on evidence which he gave to Australia's national child-abuse Royal Commission. (By a Broken Rites researcher, article updated 4 May 2020.)

Father John Denham's life of crime (while church leaders covered up for him): Background article

Broken Rites has researched the cover-up 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, some of his victims gradually began to contact the police. As a result, Denham has been convicted in court several times since 2000. He has been in jail since 2008, and his jail time has been increased as more of his victims gradually contacted the police. In 2019, Denham (aged 76) was sentenced to additional jail time for his 59th victim. (By a Broken Rites researcher, article updated 1 May 2020)

Fr Robert Claffey (already in jail) gets additional time behind bars

This Broken Rites article gives some background about how a Catholic priest, Father Robert Claffey, committed sexual offences against children (mostly boys) while the Catholic Church transferred him around parishes in western Victoria for 14 years between 1969 and 1992. Some of Claffey's victims began contacting Broken Rites in 1993, and Broken Rites gave each victim a Victoria Police phone number where the victim could have a chat with child-protection detectives. In 1998, Claffey was convicted regarding two of his victims, and in 2016 he was jailed regarding 12 more victims (Claffey's offences included buggery, indecent assault and sexual penetration of a child). The 2016 court case brought the court's total to 14 children. Afterwards, two more victims contacted police and, as a result, in 2019 Claffey (still in jail and aged 76) was sentenced in 2019 to additional time in jail. (By a Broken Rites researcher, article updated 1 May 2020.)

A Catholic Brother awaits a jury trial but this is being delayed by the COVID-19 virus

An elderly Catholic religious Brother (John David Frith) has been ordered to undergo a criminal trial, with a jury, in the Australian state of Victoria. He is charged with offences allegedly committed some years ago against boys at a Catholic secondary school — Monivae College, situated at Hamilton, 290 kilometres west of Melbourne. But now the trial date is being delayed because of the Coronavirus pandemic. (By a Broken Rites reporter, article updated 21 April 2020.)

This Christian Brother abused children in a Melbourne orphanage but was allowed to keep his career

The Catholic order of Christian Brothers knew that Brother Rex Elmer had been committing sexual crimes against boys in a Melbourne orphanage-like institution. But the Christian Brothers administrators allowed Elmer to continue his life-long career as a senior Brother in Catholic schools. His crimes were concealed from the police. The administrators also allowed him to spend time working as a Brother in Africa. Eventually, some of his Australian victims (acting separately) reported Elmer's crimes to police, resulting in him being convicted by Melbourne courts in 1998 and in 2020. He is currently awaiting sentence in the 2020 case. (By a Broken Rites researcher, article updated on 17 April 2020.)

The church concealed Christian Brother Neil Richards' crimes from the police but more victims now are speaking to police

Catholic Church authorities knew for years about Christian Brother Desmond Eric ("Neil") Richards' sexual crimes against schoolboys in New South Wales but the crimes were concealed from the police (and from the public). Eventually, Richards was transferred to Rome (away from the NSW police) but NSW detectives arrested him when he returned to Australia in 2013. Richards was jailed in Sydney in 2014 for some of his crimes. In December 2016 (aged in his mid-seventies), he was sentenced to additional time in jail after more of his victims contacted the NSW detectives. Richards pleaded guilty regarding all these victims. In October 2018, he was sentenced again to more jail time for more of his crimes. In 2020, he is facing further charges in court regarding yet another boy. Other victims of Richards have remained silent but it is still possible for them to speak to the detectives; therefore, the investigation will continue. (By a Broken Rites researcher, article updated on 17 April 2020.)

A Catholic priest in court in 2020 regarding children at a NSW boarding school

A Catholic priest, Father Anthony Caruana, aged 77, is listed for a New South Wales magistrates court during 2020, charged with indecently assaulting a number of boys, aged 12 to 15, in the 1980s when Father Caruana was on the staff of Chevalier College, a Catholic boarding school at Burradoo (near Bowral) in the NSW Southern Highlands. Chevalier College was established by a Catholic religious order of priests, known as the Missionaries of the Sacred Heart. On 8 April 2020 the case had another mention in court, stating that Caruana is being charged with additional offences – bringing the total number of child sex offences to 43. (Article updated 9 April 2020.)

The church protected "Father F" for 30 years but now he is in jail

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, some of Farrell's victims spoke (separately) to child-protection police, resulting in the jailing of Farrell. (By a Broken Rites researcher.)

The church covered up the crimes of Brother John Laidlaw, transferring him to schools around Australia

The leaders of the Catholic order of Christian Brothers knew that Brother John Laidlaw was committing sex crimes against boys in Catholic schools but he was allowed to continue his life-long career, teaching at various schools in four Australian states (including at Melbourne's elite St Kevin's College Toorak). In 2019, a judge jailed Brother Laidlaw for crimes committed at a number of Catholic schools in Melbourne and regional Victoria. Broken Rites has researched Brother Laidlaw in the archives of Australia's child-abuse Royal Commission (see later in this article). (By a Broken Rites researcher, article updated 6 April 2020)

The church covered up Father Vincent Ryan's child-sex crimes, thus giving him access to more victims

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, a court sentenced Ryan (aged 81) to additional jail time for two more of his victims. (By a Broken Rites researcher, article updated 11 April 2020.)

Brother Bernard McGrath could be in jail until aged 97 (for crimes against damaged boys)

One of Australia’s Catholic religious orders – the St John of God Brothers – has specialised in accommodating boys who have an educational (or intellectual) disability. One of these institutions was the "Kendall Grange" boys' home in Morriset, near Newcastle in New South Wales. For many years, Broken Rites has been researching Brother Bernard Kevin McGrath, who committed sexual crimes against many of these disabled victims. McGrath has already served several jail terms regarding some of his victims. In 2019, McGrath (aged 72) was sentenced to additional time in jail regarding some more of his victims, and (according to this sentence) McGrath would be aged 97 before his earliest release date. For many years, Broken Rites has been regularly updating this McGrath article. (By a Broken Rites researcher, article updated 11 April 2020.)

COVER-UP: A senior Australian Catholic pleads guilty to concealing church crimes

One of Australia's most senior Marist Brothers — William Henry Wade (known as "Brother Christopher") — has made history as the first senior Catholic in Australia to plead guilty to concealing the child-sex crimes of Catholic colleagues. In the Sydney District Court on 28 February 2020, Wade (now aged 84) submitted guilty pleas to two counts of failing to provide information to police in 2014 during child sex investigations into two other Marist criminals — Francis Cable (known as "Brother Romuald") and Darcy O'Sullivan (known as "Brother Dominic"). (By a Broken Rites researcher, article updated 1 March 2020.)

The Marist Brothers sheltered this pedophile, helping him to commit crimes against young boys

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 2019, Romuald Cable was sentenced to more jail time after pleading guilty regarding five more of his victims. (By a Broken Rites researcher, article updated 28 February 2020.)

Marist Brother "Dominic" O'Sullivan is in jail and is facing more charges as more victims speak to police

A Marist Brother, Darcy John O'Sullivan (also known as "Brother Dominic"), is in jail for indecently assaulting boys while he was teaching in Catholic schools in northern New South Wales in the 1970s and '80s. He was a teacher at Marist Brothers in Hamilton (Newcastle) and was later a principal at St Mary's High School in Casino (on the NSW north coast). In 2019, he appeared in court again (by video-link from jail) to face additional charges from the 1970s. (By a Broken Rites researcher, article updated 28 February 2020.)

A guilty priest dies while waiting to be sentenced, but the jury's guilty verdict still stands

Father James Joseph Cunneen committed sexual crimes against boys in two parishes of the Parramatta Catholic Diocese (in Sydney's western suburbs) in the 1980s. His priestly status gave him access to young people. Prosecutors regard Cunneen's crimes as serious. In 2019, a jury found him guilty regarding six of his victims (four from one parish and two from an earlier parish). Cunneen, aged 60, was remanded in custody to await a pre-sentence hearing (scheduled for 14 February 2020) when the judge would hear submissions about what kind of sentence should be imposed. Each victim intended to tell the court (at the pre-sentence hearing) how these church-crimes had impacted this victim's life. But on 28 December 2019 Cunneen died in hospital as the result of a heart condition; and evidently his body was cremated. Therefore, when the case came up in court on 14 February 2020, the judge was unable to sentence Cunneen; and now the judge will seek a formal statement from police confirming that Cunneen is dead. Meanwhile, the jury's guilty verdict still stands. (By a Broken Rites researcher, article updated 15 February 2020)

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. Australia's Jesuit administration has asked retired Victorian Supreme Court chief justice Marilyn Warren to write a review about Higgs and other Jesuit offenders, and her printed report was submitted to the Jesuits in February 2020. (By a Broken Rites researcher, article updated on 6 February 2020.)

Prosecutors allege a priest assaulted 40 children during 30 years — now he is contesting the charges

For three decades until 1995, Father David Joseph Perrett worked in Catholic parishes in north-western New South Wales. Now in 2020 (aged 82 and retired from parish work), he is in a court process, charged with committing sexual crimes against 40 children throughout his priestly career. A court has been told that the offences allegedly took place in eight parishes from the 1960s to the mid-1990s. The 40 children (37 boys and three girls) were aged from three years to their mid-teens. The charges include 139 counts involving assault, acts of indecency, buggery, carnal knowledge, and maintaining an unlawful sexual relationship with a child under 16. Perrett is pleading Not Guilty on all the charges. In February 2020, the Armidale District Court scheduled a trial for 12 months away, in late January 2021. Perrett has previously claimed that, because of bad health, he might have only a few months to live. (By a Broken Rites researcher, article updated 22 February 2020.)

The church covered up for Father Frank Klep but failed, now he is spending more time in jail

This Broken Rites article is the most comprehensive account available about how the large Catholic order of Salesian Fathers harboured an Australian paedophile priest, Father Frank Klep, for many years — allowing him to commit sexual crimes against defenceless boys. Gradually, some of his victims managed to expose Klep and the Salesians, resulting in the jailing of Klep. In 2019, Klep (aged 75) had his jail time increased after he admitted abusing more youngsters including a four-year-old. (By a Broken Rites researcher, article updated 1 February 2020.)

Church victims should report church crimes to the police detectives, as shown in the Father Gannon case

This article explains why Broken Rites Australia advises church-abuse victims to have a chat with child-protection detectives in the state police force. The Melbourne Catholic archdiocese ignored the child-sex crimes of Father Desmond Gannon throughout his long career. This cover-up ended in 1993 when the newly-formed Broken Rites began encouraging church-victims to consult the child-protection detectives. In 1995 this resulted in a jail sentence for Gannon. Altogether, Gannon has been sentenced five times (in 1995, 1997, 2000, 2003 and 2009) for sexual crimes against children. But the Catholic Church did not totally strip Gannon of his priestly status until 2012, when the church hierarchy became alarmed about the launching of Victoria's parliamentary investigation into church-related child sex-abuse. (By a Broken Rites researcher, article updated 6 April 2020.)

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

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. In 2019, another former student told Broken Rites that he, too, is contacting the sexual-crimes detectives in South Australia. (By a Broken Rites researcher, article updated 30 November 2019.)

A former Marist Brother, now 81, is facing charges of child-sex abuse from 50 years ago

A former Marist Brother, Kevin Joseph Jewell, now aged 81, is involved in court proceedings regarding indecent assaults allegedly committed against boys 50 years ago during one of his earliest Sydney teaching posts (now known as Marist College Eastwood). In those years, each new Marist Brother would adopt a "religious" first-name. Court documents don't mention Kevin Jewell's "religious" first-name but another Sydney Marist school (Marcellin College in Randwick) says (in its official history) that a Brother "Dacian" Jewell spent some time teaching at the Randwick school. (By a Broken Rites researcher, article updated 1 January 2020.)

A Marist Brother eventually became a priest — and now he is jailed for child-sex crimes

Originally, "Brother" Carl Edward Stafford was teaching in Marist Brothers schools in New South Wales. Then he left the Marists and worked as a lay teacher ("Mister" Stafford), still in Catholic schools. Eventually the church recruited him to become a priest (making him "Father" Stafford) in parishes in Sydney's outer-north. In 2019, he appeared in Sydney District Court (aged 80), charged with committing sexual offences against four boys during his forties and fifties. Stafford, who had previously pleaded "Not Guilty", changed his plea to "Guilty" regarding these four boys. On 6 December 2019 he was sentenced to five years jail (with the right to apply for release on parole after three years). (Article updated on 7 January 2020.)

How the church pays LESS compensation to victims by using the "Ellis Defence" tactic

Any Australian victim of church child-sex abuse can demand compensation from the church for any damage that has been done to the victim's later life. To gain a proper amount of compensation, the victim would threaten to sue the church in a civil-court action but the Catholic Church would try to evade this compensation by using a legal strategy (known as the "Ellis Defence"), with the church then offering a much smaller settlement (through the church's in-house "Towards Healing" strategy). The "Ellis Defence" originated when the Catholic Church fought a former altar boy (John Ellis) who was seeking proper compensation for his damaged life. This article is based on statements and documents presented to Australia's national child-abuse Royal Commission in 2013-2015. (By a Broken Rites researcher.)

How Christian Brother Daniel McMahon became "Father" Daniel McMahon

Broken Rites has discovered that the Catholic Church has made settlements with several former pupils who encountered Brother Daniel John Virgil McMahon while he was teaching with the Christian Brothers in Catholic boys' schools in Western Australia (from the 1960s to the 1980s). In the early 1990s, the church elevated Brother McMahon to the rank of "Father" McMahon and allowed him to minister as a priest in parishes on the other side of Australia — in Tasmania, 3500 kilometres away.

A priest (previously jailed regarding three boys) is in court again re a fourth boy

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 was jailed regarding these three boys. This prompted another boy to speak to the police and therefore on 28 November 2019, Flaherty (aged 76) appeared in court again, charged regarding the fourth boy (this new case will continue in court on a later date). (By a Broken Rites researcher, article updated 1 February 2020.)

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