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Written by a Broken Rites Australia researcher.

Ex-priest John Farrell is named in court on 26 charges regarding five children in northern New South Wales

Former Catholic priest John Joseph Farrell appeared in Sydney's Central Local Court on 30 June 2015, charged with 26 sexual offences which were allegedly committed against five boys between 1981 and 1984 in northern New South Wales. According to court documents, some of these 26 offences allegedly occurred while Father Farrell was based at the Moree parish (within the Armidale Catholic diocese); and some allegedly occurred when Father Farrell visited a parish at Tweed Heads (in the Lismore diocese) on the NSW north coast. This court case is confined to these five children (and these 26 charges) and it does not include any charges which Farrell might face regarding any other children. (Article updated by a Broken Rites researcher, 1 July 2015)

An ex-priest from Moree/Armidale NSW has been ordered to face a higher court on 76 sex-abuse charges

A former Catholic priest (from Moree and Armidale in northern New South Wales) faced 76 sex-abuse charges in the Armidale Local Court in 2012-2014. The charges involved offences which he allegedly committed against boys and girls. For legal reasons, the Armidale magistrate imposed a media-suppression order, prohibiting publication of the ex-priest's name (at present) in relation to these Armidale Local Court charges. The ex-priest pleaded "Guilty" to 45 of these charges, and he will eventually be sentenced on those. He pleaded "Not Guilty" to 31 other charges, and these contested charges are scheduled to go to trial in a higher court, the Sydney District Court in Sydney, beginning in January 2016. The Sydney judge will decide whether the Armidale magistrate's name-suppression order should be continued, or removed, during the Sydney District Court proceedings. Later, the ex-priest will be sentenced by the Sydney District Court regarding all the relevant charges that originated in the Armidale court. (Article updated 29 May 2015)

The church covered up for "Father F" for 30 years

Research by Broken Rites has demonstrated how Catholic Church leaders kept quiet about a certain Australian priest, "Father F", for THIRTY years until the matter was finally revealed by the media (not by the church) in 2012. Church leaders now need to explain why they remained silent for so long. (Article updated 23 April 2014).

Broken Rites helped to nab Marist Brother 'Romuald' for his crimes (including buggery)

Broken Rites has helped to obtain justice for schoolboys who were sexually assaulted by Marist Brother Francis William Cable (also known as "Brother Romuald") in Catholic schools around Sydney and the Newcastle region. During Brother Romuald's life of crime, 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. Detectives from Newcastle then found more victims. On 18 June 2015 "Romuald" Cable, aged 83, was sentenced to at least eight years jail regarding 19 victims. These 19 were not Brother Romuald's only victims — these are merely those who have spoken to the detectives. Other victims have remained silent. (Article updated 21 June 2015)

He has been convicted and jailed but he is STILL a Marist Brother

A Marist Brother (Terry Gilsenan) has served time in jail for committing child-sex crimes while he was on the staff of a Catholic school in Sydney but, despite this, he is STILL a Marist Brother in 2015 and he is cited as a contact person on a church website, selling comic books and school resources for the Marist Brothers. (Article posted 13 June 2015.)

Priest guilty of child-sex crimes in New South Wales

On 1 June 2015 a Catholic priest was found guilty of 31 child sex offences committed against boys in the Hunter Region, north of Sydney, in the 1980s. The priest was remanded in custody. He will be sentenced on a later date.

Cardinal George Pell instructed his lawyers to crush this victim

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. (Article updated 8 June 2015.)

A classic case: The church protected Father Stockdale, thus putting children at risk

The Catholic Church sheltered Father John Stockdale for 31 years in parishes in northern Victoria while he committed sexual crimes against boys. Parishioners complained about Father Stockdale being a danger to children but these warnings were ignored. The church "just didn't want to know" about Stockdale, victims say. Publicly, Father Stockdale upheld the strict morality which the church imposed on all lay Catholics. Privately, Father Stockdale was going to a gay club to have casual sex. On New Year's Eve in 1995, Fr Stockdale was found dead in a sex cubicle at the "Club 80" gay venue in Melbourne. The church then gave him a pious funeral, not realising that the truth about Stockdale would eventually become public. The church then gave him a pious funeral, but (with help from Broken Rites) the church's hypocrisy about Stockdale was soon exposed. (Article updated 8 June 2015)

'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.

This paedophile, Monsignor John Day, was defended by Bishop Mulkearns

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). (Article updated 5 June 2015)

George Pell praised this paedophile priest, Fr Kevin O'Donnell

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. Cardinal George Pell has some explaining to do about how the church covered up for Father Kevin O'Donnell. (Article updated 1 June 2015.)

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, when Searson's record was about to become public, the church authorities dumped Searson from parish work. Later, hoping to protect the church's public image, the church also removed his name from the published list of retired priests. (Article by a Broken Rites researcher, updated 1 June 2015)

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

The Melbourne Catholic archdiocese has finally been forced to admit that Father Anthony Bongiorno committed sexual crimes against children during his 30 years working in Melbourne parishes. Anthony Salvatore 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 Sam. Bongiorno's crimes were covered up until the mid-1990s.

This bishop helped the careers of Cardinal George Pell and Father Gerald Ridsdale

Australia’s famous Cardinal George Pell has acknowledged that his early career was helped by a generous mentor — the late Bishop James Patrick O'Collins. Research by Broken Rites has shown that Bishop O’Collins also helped certain other priests — for example, the child-abuse criminal Father Gerald Ridsdale. Pell and Ridsdale eventually became two of the most widely publicised Catholics in Australia.

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-abuse criminal — Father Gerald Francis Ridsdale — for 30 years while his superiors and fellow-priests remained silent to protect the church's public image. Eventually some of his victims (encouraged by Broken Rites and other investigators) spoke 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. (Background article, updated on 18 May 2015.)

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. The Standen case will go to the Sydney District Court in 2016. (Article updated 17 June 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.

Now in jail for his crimes, Brother Robert Best is still officially a 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. (Article by a Broken Rites researcher.)


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.

An ex-bishop is ordered to give evidence in court about an ex-priest

A retired Australian Catholic bishop, Most Reverend Ronald Mulkearns, has been ordered by a court to give evidence in a case against a former priest, Robert Claffey. This order was made by the Geelong Magistrates Court in Victoria on 12 December 2014 when ex-priest Claffey (now aged 70), was charged with multiple incidents of indecent assault against seven children. (Article updated 12 December 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.


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