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Written by a Broken Rites Australia researcher.


An American Brother is convicted in Australia for crimes against Melbourne children

In 2015, an American Catholic Brother (Brother Bernard Hartman, 75) has been convicted in Australia for committing a series of sexual crimes against Australian children while he worked at a Melbourne school more than 30 years ago. He is believed to be the first Catholic clergy member extradited from the United States to face court in Australia. (Article by a Broken Rites researcher, posted 22 May 2015)

A former Christian Brother is brought to justice - again

After committing sexual crimes against boys, Christian Brother Stephen Francis Farrell left his religious order. He then taught in other Catholic schools as "Mister" Farrell and he married three times. But, by December 2013, three of his earlier pupils had got him convicted for his crimes. In one of the court hearings (in 1997), Farrell was supported in court by Jesuit priest Michael McGirr (this made Farrell's victims feel that they were being abused again). In May 2015, several of Farrell's victims gave evidence at a public hearing of Australia's national child-abuse Royal Commission. (Article updated 21 May 2015.)

A Christian Brother molested students in public in their classroom

A Christian Brother, Peter John Toomey, had a habit of indecently assaulting students at a Melbourne Catholic secondary school in the presence of other students, a court has been told. Toomey also taught in other schools including in Ballarat, in regional Victoria. In May 2015, Brother Toomey was mentioned by a Ballarat victim at a public hearing of Australia's national child-abuse Royal Commission. (Article by a Broken Rites researcher, updated on 21 May 2015.)

A Sydney priest abused children, police allege

A retired Catholic priest, Father Robert James Hickman (now aged 70), was listed for Sydney's Parramatta Local Court on Thursday 14 May 2015, where he was being charged with multiple offences relating to the sexual and indecent assault of children while he was ministering (in parish work or, at one stage, as a full-time chaplain for some disadvantaged people) in the Sydney archdiocese during the 1970s and 1980s and 1990s. Father Hickman was listed in the annual printed editions of the Australian Catholic Directory until the year 2000 but he has not been listed in any edition since then. The case number in the court is 2015/00126145. (Article updated 14 May 2015)

Father David Rapson's crimes were covered up by his colleagues and superiors

While Father David Rapson was committing sexual crimes (including rape) against boys at a Victorian Catholic boarding school, his religious order promoted him to be the vice-principal of the school at one stage, the Melbourne County Court has been told. On 11 May 2015, the court sentenced Rapson (aged 61) to a maximum of twelve-and-a-half years jail (with parole possible after nine years and four months) regarding six of his victims. (Article updated 12 May 2015)

A Christian Brother pleads guilty to some of the charges in court

Christian Brother William Peter Standen (known as Brother "David" Standen), who has taught at Catholic schools in Sydney and regional New South Wales, appeared in court on 13 May 2015 to answer 32 charges of indecent assault, allegedly committed against 18 schoolboys. Standen pleaded Guilty to 11 charges and Not Guilty to 15 charges, while the remaining six charges were withdrawn.  (Article updated 13 May 2015)

The church compensates some victims at Melbourne's elite Xavier College

Broken Rites research has uncovered some examples of sex-abuse settlements involving clergy at one of Australia's most "prestigious" Catholic schools — Melbourne's Xavier College. This Broken Rites article contains four examples of Xavier cases.

This "know-nothing" archbishop was put in charge of managing the church's response to child-abuse crimes

A prominent Australian Catholic Church leader, Archbishop Philip Wilson, has claimed (in 2010) that during his rise from junior priest to church administrator, he "knew nothing" about the sexually-abusive behaviour of fellow-priests — even though he lived and worked with some of these criminals. Does Wilson's "know-nothing" attitude help us to understand his rise to the top of the Australian church hierarchy? Wilson's senior roles eventually included the managing of the church's response to clergy sexual abuse.

Full story: How the church concealed Father Ridsdale's crimes

This Broken Rites article is the most comprehensive account available about how the Catholic Church harboured this child-abuser - Father Gerald Francis Ridsdale - for 30 years while his superiors and fellow-priests remained silent to protect the church's public image. Gradually some of his victims (encouraged by Broken Rites and other investigators) have spoken to detectives in the Victoria Police sex-crimes squad. In his four court cases between 1993 and 2014, Ridsdale has been jailed for a minimum of 24 years for assaulting 54 of his victims, but other victims of his have not yet contacted the detectives. The Father Ridsdale cover-up is one of the topics on the agenda for a public hearing of Australia's national child-abuse Royal Commission, in Ballarat in May 2015. This Broken Rites article gives the full background. (Article updated 18 May 2015.)

Now in jail for his crimes, Brother Robert Best is still officially a "reverend" Brother

This Broken Rites article explains how the Catholic Church harboured Brother Robert Charles Best while he committed crimes (including buggery) against young schoolboys. Colleagues of Brother Best knew about his behaviour but covered up for him, a court has been told. The Brother Best cover-up has been described in May 2015 in a public hearing of Australia's national child-abuse Royal Commission. In the witness box, the Australian leader of the Christian Brothers admitted that Robert Best (now in jail) is still being accepted by the Christian Brothers as a member of their Order. That is, this convicted criminal is still officially "Brother Best" [whereas perhaps he would be more appropriately described as "Brother worst", as this Broken Rites article demonstrates]. (Article updated 22 May 2015.)

The church hid the crimes of Brother Ted Dowlan (alias Ted Bales) — but Broken Rites helped to expose this cover-up

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 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), but their lives have been damaged by the Christian Brothers — and several of Brother Dowlan's victims ended up in suicide. Some other Dowlan victims have not yet contacted the detectives. The Dowlan cover-up will be mentioned in a public hearing of Australia's national child-abuse Royal Commission, which begins on 19 May 2015. (Article updated 9 May 2015.)

The church concealed the crimes of Father Paul David Ryan

Broken Rites Australia is doing further research about how the Catholic Church authorities continually harboured a criminal priest, Father Paul David Ryan, thus enabling him to commit more crimes on more children in more parishes. The church authorities continually concealed Ryan's crimes from the police. Under Australian criminal law, this concealment can itself be a crime — and perhaps, some day, certain powerful people in the church could be prosecuted by the police for this cover-up. 

This priest was touching children from Day One, a court is told

West Victorian Catholic priest Father Bryan Desmond Coffey was indecently touching young children soon after taking his vows of celibacy, a court has been told. Broken Rites has researched the following account from statements and submissions made in court. (Article updated 9 May 2014.)

This priest assaulted boys in Wollongong NSW, police allege

A former Catholic priest, Father Peter Lewis Comensoli, now aged 76, will stand trial in the New South Wales District Court accused of molesting two boys in separate incidents while this priest was working in the Wollongong diocese, south of Sydney, in the 1960s.

Christian Brother John Coswello in court regarding an orphanage

In April 2015, after a committal hearing, the Melbourne Magistrates Court ordered Christian Brother John Francis Coswello (now aged 76) to stand trial. He is charged with child-sexual abuse, which allegedly occurred at St Vincent's Boys Home in South Melbourne during an early stage in Coswello's career as a Christian Brother. The trial has been placed on a waiting list for the Melbourne County Court in 2016.

Christian Brother Bill Houston worked in an orphanage at Geelong

Christian Brother William Stuart Houston (born 18 February 1939) worked at St Augustine's boys orphanage, Geelong, Victoria, in the 1960s. In 2015 in the Melbourne Magistrates Court, Houston has been charged with sexual offences allegedly committed against boys. (Article posted on 14 May 2015)

A victim of this Christian Brother receives an apology, at last

This Broken Rites article exposes the activities of Christian Brother Maurice Howard during his long teaching career in Victoria and Tasmania. Now the Christian Brothers have been forced to give a written apology (and a settlement) to at least one of Brother Howard's many victims. (Article updated 7 May 2015).

A former Marist Brother, who was later appointed as a "director of child safety", has appeared in court on child-sex charges re two Sydney schools

When he was a Marist Brother in his mid-twenties, Brother Brett Anthony O'Connor was at two prominent Sydney schools. Then he left the Marist Order and began a new career, eventually (in 2012) becoming the Director of Child Safety in the Queensland Government's Department of Education and Training. In 2015, New South Wales police have charged O'Connor with alleged child-sex offences, relating to his earlier career as a Marist Brother in Sydney — at St Joseph's College in Hunters Hill and St Gregory's College in Campbelltown. O'Connor, now aged 52, appeared in a NSW court on Monday 13 April 2015. The case's next mention in court is scheduled for 10 June 2015. (Article updated on 16 April 2015.)

The Marist Brothers ignored the behaviour of this Brother. Now they face public scrutiny

This Broken Rites article tells how the Marist Brothers harboured a child-sex offender (Brother John William Chute) for more than 40 years, giving him access to Australian Catholic schoolchildren. Broken Rites has ascertained that the Marist Brothers appointed Chute (whose religious name is "Brother Kostka") to at least 12 Catholic schools in Australia between 1952 and 1993, ranging from Lismore in northern New South Wales to Marcellin College in Randwick, Sydney, as well as at least one school in Queensland. His final school was Marist College in Canberra, and it was some Canberra pupils who finally got him convicted and jailed in 2008. However, this Canberra court case was confined to crimes committed within the Australian Capital Territory. Now, in 2015, John William Chute has been charged in New South Wales, regarding an alleged offence at Lismore. The official number for Chute's case in the New South Wales court system is 2015/00082050. (Article updated 16 May2015.)

Broken Rites supported these orphanage victims but a bishop supported the offender

When Broken Rites launched its national telephone hotline in September 1993, our first callers included former inmates of a Catholic orphanage (St Joseph's Home, at Neerkol, near Rockhampton, Queensland). Some of these callers said they were sexually assaulted by Father Reginald Basil Durham, who was the "chaplain" at this orphanage. Broken Rites advised these victims how to obtain justice. In 1996 the church authorities were still protecting Durham and denying the crimes. The church's cover-up in the 1990s has been revealed again in 2015 at a public hearing of Australia's national child-abuse Royal Commission. (By a Broken Rites researcher, article updated 21 April 2015.)

A Marist Brother is being sentenced after pleading guilty

Marist Brother Peter Pemble (aged 67), who has been a school principal in Sydney and elsewhere, is scheduled to appear in the Newcastle District Court on 23 July 2015 for sentencing (case number 2014/00238932). Brother Pemble has admitted that he molested a schoolboy while working at a Catholic boys' school in New South Wales early in his career, more than 40 years ago. The incident occurred at Maitland (in the Hunter region, north of Sydney) in 1971-1972, when Brother Pemble was in his twenties. Later in his career, Brother Peter Pemble became the principal of several Catholic schools in Sydney. (Article updated 10 April 2015.)

A bishop's deputy comes under scrutiny at Royal Commission

Australia's child-abuse Royal Commission has become interested in how the Catholic Church's "Towards Healing" process is handling (or mis-handling) complaints about a senior Australian cleric, the "Right Reverend" Monsignor Maurice Tully, who had a long career (until 1975) in northern New South Wales. Broken Rites research has found that Tully was an abuser of young girls, and these victims are now mature-age women who are still feeling hurt by the Catholic Church's protection of Tully (and by the church's evasive attitude towards the complaints by Tully's victims).

How the church helped this criminal, Father Ron Pickering, to avoid the police

This Broken Rites article is the most comprehensive account available about how the Melbourne Catholic archdiocese harboured a paedophile priest, Father Ronald Pickering, for many years while he committed sexual crimes against children in Melbourne parishes. The archdiocese has admitted that Pickering was an offender. Some Pickering victims have died by suicide. Australia's current national Royal Commission into institutional responses to child-abuse should investigate how the Melbourne archdiocese covered up for criminals such as Pickering. (Article updated 1 April 2015.)

The Catholic Church protected Fr Kevin O'Donnell for 50 years during his life of crime

One of Australia's most notorious paedophile priests, Father Kevin O'Donnell, committed sexual crimes against children throughout his 50-year career in Melbourne Catholic parishes while his superors and colleagues looked the other way. In his final years, he even received public praise from one of his superiors, Bishop (later Cardinal) George Pell. Eventually some of his victims got O'Donnell convicted and jailed. (Article updated 1 April 2015.)

A Marist Brother is jailed for child-sex crimes at a "top" Sydney school — and there are also complaints about him in Queensland

For years, the Marist Brothers tolerated a child-abuser (Brother John Dennis Maguire) as a teacher and dormitory master at their high-profile St Joseph's College boys' boarding school in Hunters Hill, Sydney. Maguire allegedly would target the youngest boarders (perhaps eleven years old) who were homesick – comforting them and then sexually assaulting them. In 2002,  police charged Maguire with assaulting six of these boys but the Marist Brothers defeated each of these charges. In 2014, after a total of nine jury trials, a seventh ex-student succeeded in getting Maguire convicted in court. Finally, on 20 March 2015, Maguire (now aged 71) was sentenced to at least 21 months in prison. There have also been complaints about Maguire in Queensland, which would need to be handled by the Queensland police. Maguire was a danger to girls as well as boys. (Article updated 3 April 2015.)

A Marist Brother is brought to justice for old crimes, including buggery

A Marist Brother, Francis William Cable (known as Brother "Romuald"), was found guilty on 17 March 2015 of 13 serious child sex offences against two schoolboys after a jury trial in Sydney. Two days later, on March 19, he entered guilty pleas to offences against another 17 schoolboys. He was remanded in custody and is scheduled for sentence proceedings at Sydney's Downing Centre District Court on 12 June 2015 (case number 2012/393036). The offences occurred in the 1960s and 1970s, when Brother "Romuald" was aged in his thirties and forties. The offences include buggery, plus multiple counts of indecent assault. (Article updated 1 May 2015)

A Jesuit priest is jailed for child-porn but still gets church support

Father Stanislaus Hogan, a senior Jesuit priest who has been based at some of Australia's most prominent Catholic schools, was sentenced on 20 March 2015 to at least 10 months jail after he admitted accessing and possessing child pornography. His schools have included Xavier College in Melbourne, St Aloysius College in Sydney and St Ignatius College in Adelaide. A church spokesman has indicated that, after finishing his jail sentence, Hogan will welcome to live in retirement in a Jesuit community in Australia, and the Jesuits will continue to give him financial support. (Article updated 20 March 2015.)

VIDEO: Christian Brother Chris Rafferty, now in Sydney, is facing charges in Goulburn

Christian Brother Christopher Rafferty, now aged 63, from Sydney, has been charged by police with child-sex offences allegedly committed in the 1980s while he was working at St Patrick's College in Goulburn, in south-western New South Wales, when he was aged in his thirties. In recent years, until his arrest, Brother Rafferty has been working (and residing) at a Catholic boys' school (St Pius X College) in Chatswood, on Sydney's North Shore. Before joining St Pius X College, Br Rafferty had been deputy headmaster of St Mary’s Cathedral College in central Sydney.

This Broken Rites article tells you how to see to some video footage of the police taking a man into custody. (Article updated on 6 May 2015.)

A priest is charged with a child-sex offence in NSW

A Catholic priest, Father Patrick Kervin, 58, is facing court in New South Wales, charged with an indecent assault of a schoolboy, allegedly committed 27 years ago. Father Kervin is a member of an Australia-wide religious order, the Society of Mary (also known as the Marist Fathers). Father Kervin has worked at Catholic schools near Wollongong and Lismore (New South Wales) and also in Tasmania. The charge relates to Holy Spirit College, at Bellambi, near Wollongong, in the 1980s. More recently, he ministered at St Patrick's Presbytery (Church Hill) in the Rocks area in central Sydney. (Article updated on 26 March 2015.)

Christian Brother Obbens is facing more charges

Christian Brother William John Obbens (also known as Brother "Dominic" Obbens), now aged 69 and living in Sydney, will face four charges of indecent assault of two "persons under 16 under authority" when his case has another mention in court in 2015. Police allege that the offences were committed on two boys, then aged 13 and 12, in the late 1980s, while Brother Obbens was a teacher at St Patrick's Christian Brothers College in Goulburn, south-western New South Wales. (Article updated 6 May 2015.)

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