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Written by a Broken Rites Australia researcher.


The church versus Anthony and Chrissie Foster: Some background

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 superiors 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 (see further down in this article, under the sub-heading "Praise from George Pell"). Eventually some of O'Donnell's victims (with help from Broken Rites) contacted the police and got O'Donnell convicted and jailed. Later, more people came forward with complaints about Father O'Donnell (including Anthony and Chrissie Foster, whose two young daughters encountered O'Donnell in his final parish). After all this exposure about Father O'Donnell, Archbishop George Pell hired a public relations firm to paint Pell as a pioneer in "helping" victims. Therefore, Anthony and Chrissie Foster asked Pell to grant proper compensation to help their two damaged daughters, but Pell's lawyers tried to defeat the Fosters (instead of "helping" them). The story of the Fosters is told in the second half of this Broken Rites article. (By a Broken Rites researcher, article updated 12 December2017.)

This criminal priest, Monsignor John Day, was helped by the church's cover-up

Broken Rites has forced the Catholic Church to admit that it protected one of Australia's worst paedophile priests, Monsignor John Day, for many years while he was committing sexual crimes against children. One church leader — Bishop Ronald Mulkearns, of the Ballarat diocese — spoke in defence of Monsignor Day. At one stage, Monsignor Day had another criminal priest, Father Gerald Ridsdale, working under him — two criminal priests in the one parish. And later a eulogy of Monsignor Day was published in the diocese's magazine (about this time, Father George Pell became editor of this magazine). (By a Broken Rites researcher, article updated 12 December 2017.)

George Pell returns to Australia: Some background

After he moved from Australia to Rome in 2014 for a senior role in the Vatican, Cardinal George Pell became reluctant to re-visit Australia. When he was asked (in 2014-2017) to give evidence at Australia's Royal Commission into Institutional Responses to Child Sexual Abuse, Pell preferred to appear from Rome by video-link. He said health problems were preventing him from travelling to Australia. But in mid-2017 he finally returned to Australia, where police have charged him with "multiple" sexual offences allegedly committed some years ago in the state of Victoria, involving "multiple" complainants. This Broken Rites article gives some background about Pell's travels in the years 2014 to 2017, based largely on our research into the public hearings of the Royal Commission. (By a Broken Rites researcher, article updated 12 December 2017.)

Full story: 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 famously walked to court for his first sentencing, accompanied by his support person, Bishop George Pell. Broken Rites began supporting Ridsdale's victims, resulting in four more court cases for Ridsdale between 1994 and 2017 (without the presence of George Pell). (Background article, by a Broken Rites researcher.)

BACKGROUND: An archbishop has delayed facing court, charged with cover-up

For more than two years, Adelaide's Archbishop Philip Wilson has delayed turning up in court, where he is to be charged with allegedly concealing a colleague's child-sex abuse 40 years ago. Police allege that Wilson knew about (but kept quiet about) offences committed by pedophile priest James Fletcher in New South Wales. Archbishop Wilson was supposed to attend Newcastle Local Court in New South Wales on Tuesday 28 November 2017, to begin a two-weeks hearing about the alleged concealment, but his lawyer told the court that Wilson is "too unwell" to attend court because he has recently (at the age of 67) developed dementia which (Wilson says) is affecting his memory and his cognitive ability, making him unfit to stand trial. However, Wilson also said (in a message to Adelaide parishes on 29 November 2017) that, despite his dementia, he intends keep his job as the archbishop of Adelaide until he reaches the retirement age for bishops in eight years time when he will be 75. The Wilson case is listed again for court on 6 December 2017. (By a Broken Rites researcher, article updated 5 December 2017.)

Paedophile priest Peter Searson worked under various bishops, including George Pell

For years, the Melbourne Catholic Archdiocese knew that Father Peter Searson was committing sexual offences against boys, girls and women but he was allowed to continue in parishes, including at the Doveton parish (in Melbourne's south-east), where he survived for years under the supervision of the regional bishop for the south-eastern suburbs, Auxiliary Bishop George Pell. The Victoria Police investigated Searson for sexual offences in parishes but found it difficult to extract evidence from "loyal" church people. Eventually, after 35 years as a priest, the police managed to charge Searson with physical assault. Thus, Searson's abuse thus 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. (Background article by a Broken Rites researcher, article updated 5 December 2017.)

Broken Rites helped Australia's child-abuse Royal Commission

On 14 December 2017, Australia's Royal Commission into Institutional Responses to Child Sexual Abuse will conclude its five-year-long inquiry for the Australian government. The Commission has investigated how organisations, such as churches, have handled the issue of child sexual abuse. The Commission will make recommendations about how Australia could improve child safety. Many community bodies, including Broken Rites, have supported and helped the Commission's work. (By a Broken Rites researcher, updated on 11 December 2017.)

These victims obtained justice, supported by Broken Rites

Research by Broken Rites has revealed that a former trainee Catholic priest (Gregory Vincent Coffey) was sentenced in South Australia for a child-sex crime and then, despite this, he was given a senior teaching position in a Melbourne Catholic school, enabling him to commit sex crimes against more children. In court proceedings in Melbourne in 1994 and 1997, Coffey pleaded guilty to indecently assaulting boys who were in his custody at a Marist Brothers secondary school in Melbourne in the 1970s. The Melbourne court did not know about Coffey's earlier conviction in South Australia. Broken Rites was present in the Melbourne court, supporting the victims and taking notes. Broken Rites also conducted its own research into Gregory Coffey's past. During this research, Broken Rites discovered Coffey's earlier South Australian conviction. (By a Broken Rites researcher, article updated on 3 December 2017.)

Marist Brother Chrisopher Wade was jailed but is granted bail pending an appeal

A senior Marist Brother, William Henry Wade (known as "Brother Christopher"), has worked in Marist schools in Sydney, Newcastle, Brisbane and Canberra. On 3 November 2017 (aged 81), he was sentenced to a minimum of nine months' jail after being found guilty of indecently assaulting two schoolboys in New South Wales schools. The alleged incidents occurred 40 years ago. Wade is appealing against these convictions. (By a Broken Rites researcher, article updated 26 November 2017.)

A former priest on child-sex charges regarding boys at a Marist Brothers school

A former Catholic priest, James Joseph Cunneen, aged 58. was charged in a Sydney court on 23 November 2017 with multiple sexual offences which were allegedly committed thirty years ago against boys from a Marist Brothers school at Dundas in Sydney's west. (By a Broken Rites researcher, article posted 24 November 2017.)

This bishop protected the church's holy image, instead of protecting children

Broken Rites research has discovered how an Australian Catholic leader (Bishop William Brennan) covered up allegations of clergy sex-abuse in his diocese. Police charged one of Brennan's priests (Father Bernard Connell) with allegedly abusing two boys in different parishes but Bishop Brennan hired an expert legal team to defeat the charges. One of these victims then asked Bishop Brennan for help but the bishop shunned him. The bishop's main aim was protecting the church's holy image, instead of protecting children. (By a Broken Rites researcher, article 23 November 2017.)

Father Paul David Ryan was protected by the church, but victims got him jailed and now he faces more charges

This Broken Rites article reveals how Catholic Church authorities covered up the child-sex crimes of an Australian priest, Father Paul David Ryan, during his career in the state of Victoria (and also during seven visits by Ryan to the United States). This enabled Ryan to endanger more children in more parishes in TWO countries. Eventually, helped by Broken Rites, some victims began reporting Ryan to the Victoria Police, resulting in a jail sentence for Ryan in 2006. Now, Paul David Ryan is scheduled to face a committal hearing in early 2018 in the Melbourne Magistrates Court (case number H12143748), relating to more boys who he allegedly assaulted during his priestly career in Victoria. (By a Broken Rites researcher, article updated 20 November 2017.)

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

A senior Catholic priest from western Sydney, Father Richard Cattell, committed sexual crimes against boys in the 1970s and 1980s. Later, in the early 1990s, the Catholic Church promoted this priest to become the Vicar-General of his diocese, supervising 48 parishes in western Sydney on behalf of the bishop. In 1994, Cattell was jailed regarding one of his victims (from the 1970s). In 2015 he was jailed again regarding another victim (from the 1980s). In 2016, police charged Cattell regarding another 1970s victim (case number 2016/00101011), for which Cattell is awaiting sentence. Meanwhile, in 2017, yet another Cattell case (number 2017/00073102) has begun its preliminary procedures, with another brief mention due in Penrith Local Court on 8 December 2017. (By a Broken Rites researcher, article updated 20 November 2017.)

This Christian Brother worked at a notorious school in Ballarat in the 1970s, now he is still facing charges

Christian Brother Stephen Francis Farrell was one of the child-abusers who taught at Australia's notorious St Alipius parish school in Ballarat in the 1970s. Later he left his religious order and then taught in other Catholic schools as "Mister" Farrell. He married three times. By December 2013, three of his earlier St Alipius pupils had got him convicted for his crimes. In May 2015, several of Farrell's victims gave evidence at a public hearing of Australia's national child-abuse Royal Commission. In late 2017, Farrell (now aged 65) was charged with additional offences relating to the 1970s; this court case may extend into 2018. (By a Broken Rites researcher, article updated 20 November 2017.)

A Brisbane priest dies after being charged in court with an alleged sexual offence

A Queensland Catholic priest, Fr Michael Joseph McKeaten was charged by police in court on 31 May 2017 regarding a sexual offence that allegedly occurred earlier in his priestly career. Court documents alleged that, in 1991-1992, a male altar-server had asked Father McKeaten for counselling regarding a personal matter. During this "counseling", Fr McKeaten allegedly persuaded the victim to engage in a naked wrestle with the priest, in order (the priest said) to "relieve stress". Fr McKeaten was charged with procuring a sexual act by false pretext. The May 2017 hearing was a brief one in which the magistrate ordered Fr McKeaten to appear in court later in 2017 for the next step in the court process. However, Fr McKeaten died before the next hearing could be held. The Brisbane archdiocese then honoured Fr McKeaten with a priestly funeral. (By a Broken Rites researcher, article updated on 8 November 2017 )

A former Marist Brother, now 79, is named in court on charges from the 1960s

A 79-year-old former Marist Brother, Kevin Joseph Jewell, has been charged in court with indecent assaults allegedly committed against boys 50 years ago. The boys were students at a Sydney school (now known as Marist College Eastwood). The Kevin Jewell case had its first preliminary mention in Sydney's Burwood Local Court on 13 November 2017 — case number 2017/00324154. The next mention is listed for 17 January 2018. (Article by Broken Rites, updated on 14 November 2017.)

The church's 50-year cover-up of Father Finian Egan's life of crime

Catholic priest Finian James Egan began committing sexual crimes against numerous Australian children in 1961 but the Catholic Church protected him for the next five decades until some of his victims succeeded in getting him convicted. A court sentenced Egan to a minimum of four years in jail, and this sentence is due to expire on 19 December 2017, when Egan expects to be released, aged 82. This Broken Rites article describes how the church covered up for Egan during his life of crime. (Article updated on 1 November 2017.)

An ex-Marist Brother became a lay teacher and then a priest — now he is facing court charges

In late 2017, New South Wales police have charged a retired Catholic priest (now aged 78) with child-sex offences allegedly committed in NSW earlier in his working career. The case is listed for court in 2018. The Catholic Diocese of Broken Bay (in Sydney's north) has announced that the retired priest is Father Carl Stafford. And Broken Bay bishop Peter A Comensoli has stated publicly: "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. Fr Stafford was removed from public ministry [that is, parish work] in 2010." [However, according to church sources, Father Carl is still a priest and he is merely in retirement without any further parish appointments.] (Article updated on 1 November 2017.)

'Towards Healing' helps the church, rather than the victims

Broken Rites is pleased that Australia's national Royal Commission into Institutional Responses to Child Sexual Abuse is investigating the Catholic Church's so-called "Towards Healing" process, which claims to "help" the church's abuse-victims.  Broken Rites has been researching "Towards Healing" since 1996, and this article sums up some of our main findings so far. This Broken Rites article demonstrates how "Towards Healing" is really a business strategy, designed to protect the church from the legal liability of compensating some victims or, at least, to limit any compensation. (By a Broken Rites researcher.)

Marist Brothers admit suicides by some sex-abuse victims

Broken Rites Australia is doing research about adults who have suffered a premature death while still feeling damaged by church child-abuse (and by the church's cover-up). For example, Broken Rites has discovered that two former pupils, from a prestigious Marist Brothers school, have died by suicide. Before dying, both men revealed that they had been sexually abused during their childhood by a long-serving teacher, Brother Aubrey Tobin. (By a Broken Rites researcher, article updated 1 November 2017.)

Former Melbourne priest Peter Waters in court

Father Peter Waters was a priest in parishes of the Melbourne Catholic archdiocese until he took early retirement in 1999, when he was aged in his fifties. In 2017, aged 72, he was charged by police with child-sexual offences relating to his time in the Melbourne archdiocese. In late 2017, the charges were tabled in the Melbourne Magistrates Court, and a contested committal hearing is scheduled to be held there in 2018. The magistrate will then decide whether the case should go to a trial in a higher court, the Victorian County Court. (Article updated on 1 November 2017.)

Royal Commission receives further information about Christian Brother Peter Toomey in Victoria

In 2005, Christian Brother Peter Toomey was jailed for sexually abusing young boys at Catholic schools in Victoria earlier in his career. In 2017, Australia's child-abuse Royal Commission has received further information about other former pupils who encountered Christian Brother Peter Toomey in their schooldays. This Broken Rites article gives some background about Toomey's court case in 2005. (Article by a Broken Rites researcher, updated on 18 October 2017.)

This priest abused 14 boys in NSW, police allege

For 34 years until 1995, Father David Joseph Perrett was a priest in the Armidale Catholic diocese, which covers a large region in northern New South Wales, extending up the New England Highway to the Queensland border. In 2017, Perrett (now aged 80 and no longer working as a priest) is facing court, charged with sexual offences allegedly committed against 14 young boys between 1970 and 1982 while he was working as a priest. In May 2017, NSW police charged him regarding four of these boys. After these charges became public, more of Perrett's alleged victims contacted the police. By October 2017, police charged him in court regarding another ten boys. Police are continuing their investigation. (By a Broken Rites researcher, article updated 9 October 2017.)

The church makes payments to settle complaints about abuse of disadvantaged boys

The Catholic Church has paid settlements to men who allege that they were abused many years ago by Father Roger Mount while he was a Brother in the Catholic St John of God Order, running children's homes (for disadvantaged boys) in Australia. Later, the Catholic Church allowed Father Mount to continue ministering as priest for many years in Papua New Guinea until the Australian media published articles about him in 2014. (By a Broken Rites researcher, article updated 3 October 2017.)

A church report contains allegations about George Pell abusing an altar boy in 1961-62

Australia's Catholic Church hierarchy received a complaint in 2002 that a trainee priest (George Pell) had sexually abused a twelve-year-old altar boy (named Phil) in 1961-62 at a holiday camp for boys on Phillip Island, south-east of Melbourne. According to a church document, Phil has alleged that, on several occasions, the trainee priest George (then about 20) thrust his hand down the inside of Phil's pants and got "a good handful" of the boy's penis and testicles; and, on other occasions, George allegedly tried to guide the boy's hand into the front of George Pell's pants. By the year 2000, when Phil was aged 50, he realised (from television news footage) that the trainee priest George had risen to become an Archbishop. Phil was shocked — "he did not think it right that someone who had behaved indecently towards children should lead the church," the church document says. So, beginning in 2000, Phil tried to alert the church authorities. Phil emphasised that he was not seeking compensation. And he was not reporting this matter to the police (therefore there is no police investigation into Phil's complaint). Rather, Phil was concerned about the safety of children in the church's care; and he merely wanted the church authorities to be aware of the offences that were allegedly committed upon him (Phil) at the altar boys' camp. In 2002, the hierarchy paid a senior barrister, Mr Alex Southwell QC, to examine (and report on) Phil's complaint. Archbishop George Pell (who was indeed at the altar boys' camp) denied committing any abuse. Mr Southwell's report concluded that the former altar boy "appeared to speak honestly from an actual recollection". Mr Southwell said he was not persuaded that the former altar boy was a liar as alleged by Pell.

George Pell and Denis Hart became archbishops but Father Tony Bongiorno didn't

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, in the same trainee group as George Pell and Denis Hart, both of whom eventually became archbishops of Melbourne. In 1994, Pell (then an auxiliary bishop in Melbourne) officiated at a requiem mass for Bongiorno's brother Salvatore ("Sam"). Anthony Bongiorno's child-sex crimes were covered up until some were exposed 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 16 September 2017.)

The priest and the schoolgirl: A cover-up is revealed

Broken Rites is doing further research about a Sydney priest, Father Kevin Cox, who sexually abused vulnerable girls. For example, one victim has revealed that Father Cox sexually abused her for six years from the age of eleven. Furthermore, the sexual abuse resulted in a pregnancy at age 17 — and then the priest paid for an abortion. But the church continued to protect Father Cox. And when he died in 2008, the church gave him a hero's funeral.

The church covered up for this priest but failed, now he is in court again

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, with help from Broken Rites, some of his victims managed to expose Klep and the Salesians during three court cases. In 2017, Klep (now in jail and aged 74) is facing additional charges in a fourth court case in the Melbourne Magistrates Court — case number H11032459. The new charges have been laid by detectives from the Sano Taskforce in the Victoria Police. (Article updated 19 September 2017.)

This "celibate" priest fathered two children, his colleagues say

Catholic church leaders have recently defended the church's ban on married priests, and emphasizing the public image of priestly "celibacy". But priests can have private relationships (either "gay" or "straight") if this is hidden from the public. For example, Father John O'Callaghan, of Melbourne, had a relationship with a woman, who gave birth to Father O'Callaghan's two daughters. These girls have grown up into adulthood, knowing that they are the offspring of Father John O'Callaghan. The private life of Fr John O' Callaghan is no secret among the Melbourne clergy of his generation. (By a Broken Rites researcher)

Cardinal George Pell instructed his lawyers to crush this victim, the Royal Commission has been told

Cardinal George Pell is claiming now that he has "helped" the Catholic Church's sex-abuse victims. Therefore, let's look  at how Pell treated one of the church's victims — a former altar boy, John Ellis. Cardinal Pell (as head of the Sydney Catholic archdiocese) instigated the archdiocese's legal battle against John Ellis, according to evidence and documents presented to Australia's child-abuse Royal Commission. Pell's legal victory in 2007 (known as the "Ellis defence") now forces church-victims to accept a discounted in-house "Towards Healing" settlement instead of suing for proper compensation, the Commission was told. And this Broken Rites article demonstrates that John Ellis was not the only victim of his abuser, Sydney priest Father Aidan Duggan. (By a Broken Rites researcher.)

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