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Written by a Broken Rites Australia researcher.


The church covered up the crimes of Brother John Laidlaw and gave him more victims. But now he is jailed

The leaders of the Christian Brothers knew that Brother John Laidlaw was committing sex crimes against boys in Catholic schools but he was allowed to continue teaching, thus putting more boys in danger, a Melbourne court has been told. Brother Laidlaw (aged 80) pleaded guilty to sex-crimes against six of his victims. And he is STILL a member of the Christian Brothers. On 18 July 2019, a judge jailed Brother Laidlaw for sexually assaulting boys at various Catholic schools in Victoria between 1963 and 1984. (By a Broken Rites researcher, article updated 20 July 2019)

The church covered up for Father Paul David Ryan for many years, but he is in court again in 2019

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 Victoria Police detectives, resulting in a twelve-months jail sentence for Ryan in 2006. Since the 2006 jailing, the detectives have received further information about Ryan's priestly career in Victoria. In March 2019, Ryan pleaded guilty regarding three more of his victims, and the judge ordered him to go into custody to await his sentencing, which will be held in mid-2019. (By a Broken Rites researcher, article updated 20 July 2019.)

Broken Rites helped the victims of Fr Robert Claffey to obtain justice

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, Claffey (still in jail and aged 76) was sentenced on 18 July 2019 to additional time in jail. (By a Broken Rites researcher, article updated 18 July 2019.)

Church documents show that this priest was an abuser. But the church kept giving him access to children

Broken Rites has inspected some church documents which show that Father Kevin Wright committed sexual crimes against children during his 42 years as a Catholic priest in New South Wales parishes. The documents indicate that Wright's bishop knew about Wright being a danger to children but, despite this, Wright was allowed to continue in the ministry, giving him priestly access to more children in more parishes. His victims included girls and boys; these children were as young as nine years. His victims (now adults) indicate that, using his church status, Fr Wright would invasively handle the genital area of a boy or a girl; and sometimes he would insert his penis into a child's mouth or anus. Victims of Fr Wright now say (as adults) that they are still feeling hurt by the church abuse which has damaged their lives. (By a Broken Rites researcher, article updated 17 July 2019)

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.)

The ritual of "Confession" helped a priest to abuse a young girl

An Australian woman, who allegedly suffered sexual abuse by a Catholic priest when she was just six years old, has finally broken her silence after 50 years. At the age of 56, Gina Swannell finally exercised her right to have a private interview with Australia's national child-abuse Royal Commission. She told how the priest's tactics included using the sacrament of Confession. (By a Broken Rites researcher.)

A young female victim defeats the church's lawyers, with help from Broken Rites

If a victim of clergy sexual abuse wishes to sue the Catholic Church for damages, the victim’s chances of success are much greater if he/she can demonstrate that the church knew previously that the offender was a sexual abuser. It is usually difficult for the victim to prove this. This Broken Rites article is an example of a case in which the church could not evade its liability. In early 2007, a 23-year-old woman ("Emily") won a victory over the Catholic Church’s lawyers. Emily forced the church to pay her a substantial civil settlement for having had her life damaged by a Catholic priest, Father Kevin Howarth, in Victoria. (By a Broken Rites researcher.)

This priest became the deputy to a bishop, then was jailed and now is in court again in 2019

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. Later, police filed additional charges against Cattell and, as a result, Cattell is due to be sentenced on these charges in the Penrith District Court in mid-2019 — case number 2017/00073102. (By a Broken Rites researcher, article updated 10 July 2019.)

A priest is charged regarding alleged incidents in Sydney in 1993

In 2019, New South Wales police have charged a Catholic priest (Father Ron Peters) with having indecently assaulted a schoolboy in Sydney in 1993 (this was before Ron Peters became a priest). Ronald Peters (born in 1958) has written about how he was originally a Brother in the Catholic teaching order of Patrician Brothers in NSW (in the 1980s and 1990s). Early in the 2000s, he was accepted by the Wollongong diocese (south of Sydney) as a trainee priest and, after training as a deacon in parishes, he was finally ordained as a priest for this diocese in 2005. The indecent-assault charge is due to have a preliminary mention in court in mid-2019. (Article updated 10 July 2019.)

Inside story: Broken Rites knew about these two abusive priests

In 1993, Broken Rites Australia began researching sexually-abusive Catholic priests, including Fr Ronald Pickering and Fr John Stockdale. Eighteen years later, in September 2011, another clergyman (Archbishop John Hepworth) revealed in the media that Pickering and Stockdale were among three priests who sexually abused him, beginning in 1960 when he was aged 15. (By a Broken Rites researcher.)

One of Australia's leading Christian Brothers has been jailed after pleading guilty

Christian Brother Terence Patrick Aquinas Kingston had a 40-year career as a teacher and administrator in Australian Catholic boys' schools — and he became one of the leaders of the Christian Brothers in Australia. Meanwhile, he was committing sexual offences against schoolboys. As usual in Catholic Church crimes, his victims suffered in silence throughout their childhood but eventually (when aged in their fifties) several of them spoke to police investigators, and this resulted in Kingston being sentenced to jail in two states (in Queensland in 2017 and in New South Wales in 2019). The charges involved a total of eight victims, and Kingston pleaded guilty regarding all of these. These eight victims were not necessarily his only victims; the eight were merely those who helped the police. (By a Broken Rites researcher, article updated 2 July 2019)

This "celibate" priest is facing controversy

During George Pell's rise from being a priest to a cardinal, one of his supporters has been Melbourne priest John Walshe. The Melbourne Catholic archdiocese has confirmed that it paid a $75,000 settlement (the maximum amount available) to a former student (John Roach) who has alleged that, when he was 18, he was sexually targeted by Father Walshe. The archdiocese gave a written apology to John Roach for the "wrongs and hurt" he suffered at the hands of Father Walshe. By January 2017, 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 is based partly on evidence given by Father Walshe to Australia's national child-abuse Royal Commission, including a claim by Father Walshe that he supports the policy of priestly "celibacy". (By a Broken Rites researcher, article updated 27 June 2019.)

A "priest without a parish" is scheduled for a criminal court trial on child-sex charges

For 25 years, Father Peter Maurice Waters ministered in a series of parishes of the Melbourne Catholic archdiocese. In 1999, when he was aged in his fifties, the archdiocese removed him from parish work. Since 1999, according to church law, Peter Waters has retained his priestly qualification — but without a parish (and without any other official role in the church). In 2017, when Waters was aged 72, police charged him with child-sex offices relating to his time in parishes. In early 2018, Waters underwent a four-day committal (i.e., preliminary) hearing in the Melbourne Magistrates Court. After hearing the evidence, the magistrate has ordered Waters to undergo a trial with a judge in a higher court, the Victorian County Court. The trial could be held in 2019. (By a Broken Rites researcher.)

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

A Catholic priest (Father Carl Stafford, born in 1939) is listed for proceedings in the Sydney District Court, charged with child-sex abuse allegedly committed earlier in his 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 28 June 2019.)

A sexually abusive Christian Brother became a university lecturer who trained new teachers

Christian Brother Terence Anthony Simpson originally worked in Catholic schools in Queensland and New South Wales. At St Joseph's College in Gregory Terrace in Brisbane in the 1960s, he was behaving indecently against his pupils. When victims complained, Simpson's superiors merely moved him to Christian Brothers schools in New South Wales, thereby putting more students in danger. Later, Simpson became a university lecturer in Queensland, training a new generation of teachers. Gradually, many years later, some of his Brisbane victims spoke (separately) to the police. On 8 June 2019, Simpson appeared in court, where another victim submitted an impact statement describing how this abuse has damaged his life. This victim's statement appears towards the end of this Broken Rites article. (By a Broken Rites researcher, article updated 19 June 2019.)

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 14 June 2019.)

Marist Brother Malcolm Hall died during prosecution for child-sex crimes

In the 1950s and 1960s, prominent Marist Brother Malcolm Hall was sexually abusing boys and girls in four country towns around Australia. Today, half a century later, his victims still feel hurt by the offences and by the Catholic Church's cover-up. (By a Broken Rites researcher.)

These three victims have extracted a settlement from the Marist Brothers

The Catholic religious order of Marist Brothers in Australia have been forced to make out-of-court settlements with three former Catholic schoolchildren (two males and one female) who encountered a senior Marist Brother (Brother Kevin Callixtus Hogan) in the 1960s. (By a Broken Rites researcher.)

The church hid the crimes of Brother Edward Dowlan — and he became "Mister Ted Bales"

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. (By a Broken Rites researcher.)

This priest, now in jail, is facing another court case regarding an additional alleged victim

During the 1980s and 1980s, 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 sentence for sexual offences against young boys. Meanwhile, another alleged victim has contacted the New South Wales Police, and therefore O'Hearn is scheduled to face another trial in 2019 concerting this additional boy, who was allegedly abused in 1994, (By a Broken Rites researcher, article updated 19 May 2019).

The church keeps a priest after a payout to a victim

A former Australian Catholic bishop has confirmed that he appointed a priest (Father Guy Hartcher) to administer a parish after the church had paid a $40,000 settlement involving the priest. The payout went to a former pupil, on condition that he did not tell the police about the alleged abuse. (By a Broken Rites researcher.)

The church covered up the crimes of Father Daniel Lyne

The Catholic religious order of Passionist priests covered up for a serious child-abuser, Father Daniel Lyne, while he committed sexual crimes against teenage boys who were aspiring to become a Catholic priest. In 2002, while Daniel Lyne was facing the likelihood of a criminal prosecution, he suddenly died — just in time, before court proceedings could begin. Thus, he evaded a possible jail sentence. Daniel Lyne's fellow-priests are remaining silent about his crimes. (By a Broken Rites researcher.)

A Catholic priest appears in court over alleged child sex abuse at a NSW school

A Catholic priest has appeared in court in Sydney in 2019, facing charges of sex-abuse allegedly committed against multiple children at a New South Wales country boarding school during the 1980s. Police allege that Father Anthony Caruana (now 77) indecently assaulted five boys, aged 12 to 15, who were under his care when he was a dormitory manager, rugby coach and band teacher at Chevalier College, a Catholic high school at Bowral, in the NSW Southern Highlands. (Article updated 24 May 2019.)

The Marist Brothers harboured this criminal while he abused children

Brother Colgan Taylor had an exalted role as a "spiritual director" for the Catholic order of Marist Brothers in Australia while he was committing sexual crimes against young children. The reverend brother's Catholic status gave him access to children and it protected him from exposure until 2002, when police finally learned of sexual crimes that Taylor had committed, more than 20 years earlier, against two very young girls. It is possible that he also had male victims. (By a Broken Rites researcher.)

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 in jail since 2008, and his jail time has been increased as more of his victims gradually contacted the police. On 30 May 2019, Denham (aged 76) was sentenced to additional jail time for his 59th victim. (By a Broken Rites researcher, article updated 2 June 2019)

Secrets of the Confessional (wink, wink): A priest raped a boy, then used Confession to conceal the crime

In Australia the Catholic Church is publicly defending the "secrecy of the Confessional". This Broken Rites article is about a Melbourne priest, Father James Scannell, who raped a 12-year-old boy. After the rape (in the early 1970s), the priest subjected the boy to the Catholic ritual of "Confession" and ordered the boy never to tell anybody about what had happened. Intimidated by the church's authority, the boy obediently kept this "secret of the Confessional". The church's code of secrecv damaged the victim's life and it took him forty years to bring the priest to justice. (By a Broken Rites researcher)

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. Broken Rites began supporting Ridsdale's victims, resulting in four more court cases for Ridsdale between 1994 and 2017. (Background article, by a Broken Rites researcher.)

Fr Emanuel Spiteri left Australia but continued to be a priest in Malta

The Catholic Church in Australia has settled a sex-abuse complaint involving a Maltese-born priest, Father Emanuel Joseph Spiteri, who spent 35 years ministering in the Sale diocese in south-eastern Australia. In 1997, while this complaint was being made, Fr Spiteri returned to Malta, where he continued to be regarded as a priest. (By a Broken Rites researcher.)

Victims of Fr Paul "Rex" Brown were re-abused by Towards Healing

Broken Rites is researching how the Catholic Church harboured a paedophile priest, Father Paul Rex Brown, allowing him to commit sexual crimes against boys and girls in northern New South Wales. 

GUILTY: A Catholic religious Brother committed buggery on a schoolboy

In May 2019, a Sydney court convicted a retired Catholic religious Brother (Brother Peter Higgins, now aged 80) for committing sexual offences (including buggery) on an 11-year-old schoolboy in the mid-1970s. The offences occurred on several days (after school had finished for the day) at Patrician Brothers Catholic School (formerly called St Mary's school, now called All Saints) in Liverpool, a suburb in Sydney's south-west. Higgins is now in custody, and the court will sentence him later in 2019. (By a Broken Rites researcher, article updated 1 June 2019.)

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