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Written by a Broken Rites Australia researcher.


Broken Rites helped the victims of Marist Brother 'Romuald' Cable to obtain justice — and now the Royal Commission investigates

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 in New South Wales. 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, instead of merely telling Romuald Cable's church colleagues. NSW Police detectives then found some more of his victims. "Rom" Cable was jailed in 2015 regarding 19 of his victims. But these are not his only victims — these 19 are merely those who have spoken to the detectives. Other victims have remained silent, thereby helping Rom Cable to evade the full force of the law. Australia's national child-abuse Royal Commission is holding a public inquiry (beginning on 31 August 2016 in Newcastle) to examine how the Catholic Church handled several offenders, including Brother "Romuald" Cable. (Article updated 27 August 2016.)

A Marist Brother awaits sentence on indecent assault charges — and the Royal Commission is interested in the case

A Marist Brother, Darcy John O'Sullivan (also known as "Brother Dominic"), has pleaded guilty to 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). He entered his plea in Sydney's District Court on 14 March 2016. His sentencing is scheduled for 23 September 2016. Meanwhile, when Australia's national child-abuse Royal Commission begins a public hearing in Newcastle on 31 August 2016, it will examine how the Marist Brothers organisation harboured offenders such as O'Sullivan. (By a Broken Rites researcher, article updated 27 August 2016.)

Royal Commission investigates how the Marists sheltered Brother Patrick Butler

The Marist Brothers have been forced to acknowledge that yet another one of their members — Brother Thomas Joseph Butler (known as "Brother Patrick") — committed sexual offences against children. Former students, from several Marist schools in New South Wales and Queensland, have told Broken Rites that the Marists knew about Butler's offences but the Marists allowed him to continue teaching —  and offending — throughout his long career. Now, Australia's national child-abuse Royal Commission is holding a public hearing (commencing on 31 August 2016 in Newcastle) about how the Marist leadership handled Brother Patrick Butler plus some other offenders. (By a Broken Rites researcher, article updated 26 August 2016.)

The church concealed the crimes of Father Vincent Ryan — and the Royal Commission is interested in the cover-up

This Broken Rites article is the most comprehensive account available about how Catholic Church leaders knowingly protected one of Australia's worst sex-criminal priests, 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 was jailed in the 1990s for some of his crimes, and he is awaiting sentence in 2016 for a few more. Other victims of his are remaining silent. Australia's child-abuse Royal Commission is holding a public hearing (beginning on 31 August 2016 in Newcastle) to investigate how the church handled Fr Vincent Ryan while he was committing these offences. (By a Broken Rites researcher, article updated 26 August 2016.)

Royal Commission is investigating how the Catholic Church handled the crimes of Father John Joseph Farrell

According to a church document, Catholic Church officials knew that Father John Joseph Farrell had been committing sex-crimes against children in New South Wales but the church officials preferred to conceal these crimes, so as to protect the church's image. Many years later, some of Farrell's victims (but not the church officials) reported Farrell to child-protection police, resulting in the jailing of Farrell in 2016. Now, at a public hearing (beginning in Sydney on 12 September 2016) Australia's national child-abuse Royal Commission will examine the church's long silence about Farrell's crimes. Concealing someone else's crime can, itself, be a criminal offence. This Broken Rites article is the most comprehensive account available about the Farrell cover-up. (By a Broken Rites researcher, article updated 26 August 2016).

Background article: Father David O'Hearn is in jail but officially he is STILL a priest

Paedophile Catholic priest David Anthony O’Hearn, 55, has been in jail in New South Wales for the past four years, awaiting details of his jail sentence. In jury trials during the past four years, he has been found guilty of 44 child-sex offences against six victims. For legal reasons, those trials could not be reported in the media until the final jury completed its work in 2016. On 22 August 2016, in Sydney's Downing Centre District Court, Judge Richard Cogswell sentenced O’Hearn to 18 years and three months jail. With time already served, he will be eligible for release on parole on 17 February 2022. This article includes some Broken Rites research about O'Hearn. (By a Broken Rites researcher, article updated 22 August 2016).

The church gave this Sydney paedophile priest a new parish, plus more children

In the early 1970s, a boy (this article will refer to him as "Boy A") complained to the Catholic Church about being sexually abused by a Sydney priest, but the church merely transferred the priest to a new parish, thus giving him easy access to more victims, a Sydney court has been told. Many years later, one of the later victims (we will call him "Dwayne", not his real name) contacted Broken Rites, which advised him to speak to police detectives, not to the church. Detectives then charged the priest, Father Robert Flaherty, who pleaded guilty in court in 2015 regarding two of his victims (Boy A and Boy B). A jury found Flaherty guilty of assaulting the third boy (Dwayne). In February 2016, Father Flaherty (aged 72) was sentenced to jail regarding these three victims. Flaherty appealed against the conviction regarding Dwayne. On 24 August 2016. the Appeal Court upheld this conviction, although it agreed to reduce Flaherty's time behind bars. Meanwhile, the news about Flaherty has prompted more alleged victims of Flaherty to contact the detectives. (By a Broken Rites researcher, article updated 25 August 2016.)

This priest has been in jail in one State and now will face court in another State

Catholic priest Father Glenn Humphreys, who has ministered in several places around Australia, has recently been in jail in Western Australia for child-sex crimes committed in that State. On 16 August 2016, he was arrested in Western Australia by New South Wales Police, to be extradited to New South Wales to face a court there on charges relating to child-sex crimes allegedly committed in NSW. (By a Broken Rites researcher, article updated 17 August 2016.)

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 was not reporting the matter to the police; he was concerned about the safety of children in the church's care; and he merely wanted the church authorities to be aware of the issue. 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.

Why is Cardinal George Pell reluctant to re-appear in Australia?

Cardinal George Pell is a frequent flyer, travelling in comfort in Business Class. During his years as Archbishop of Sydney, he would regularly make the flight to Rome so as to keep an eye on career opportunities at the Vatican. Now he has become the third most important person in the Vatican. He now possesses a Vatican passport. He still goes on plane trips from his Rome headquarters but is reluctant to re-appear in Australia. (By a Broken Rites researcher, article updated 11 August 2016.)

Marist Brother "Kostka" Chute in court again, as a result of the Royal Commission

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, more of Chute's former Canberra students have spoken to the police; and therefore in 2016 a court has ordered Chute to face a trial in Canberra for these additional offences, which were allegedly committed in Canberra in the 1980s. (By a Broken Rites researcher, article updated 11 August 2016.)

The Marists evaded the police by sending this Brother overseas

The Marist Brothers headquarters in Sydney put a child-sex criminal, Brother Gregory Joseph Sutton, on a plane to Canada after learning that he was being investigated by New South Wales police, Australia's national child-abuse Royal Commission has been told. The police extradited him back to Australia, where he was jailed for sexual crimes against girls and boys. Questioned at the Royal Commission, senior Marists down-played Sutton's crimes as merely "improper conduct" or "moral lapses", rather than as crimes. This strategy helps to protect the Marist organisation from being sued by victims for compensation, a victim's lawyer told the Commission. This strategy can also be an attempt by senior Marists to avoid being accused of concealing a crime. Ex-Brother Sutton, who was jailed in 1996 for child-sex crimes committed in New South Wales, is facing additional charges in 2016 in the Australian Capital Territory. On 9 August 2016, a Canberra magistrate committed Sutton for trial. (By a Broken Rites researcher, article updated 10 August 2016.)

Archbishop George Pell hired a publicity firm to paint him as "helping victims"

In 1996, Broken Rites informed the Australian public that the Catholic Church had been harbouring Father Nazareno Fasciale (pronounced "Fah-SHAH-lay") while he was committing crimes against children. Police charged Fasciale but he suddenly died. Then church leaders, including George Pell, gave this pedophile a grand funeral. One church leader said that the church is "immensely proud" of Fasciale. When Broken Rites exposed this (and other) church cover-ups, George Pell's diocese (Melbourne) went into damage control, hiring a public relations firm to announce the "Melbourne Response", a forerunner of the church's "Towards Healing" strategy. (By a Broken Rites researcher.)

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

According to Broken Rites research, 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. Anthony Bongiorno's child-sex crimes were covered up until some were exposed in the mid-1990s. The total number of Bongiorno's abused children is unknown. For example, in 1980, a woman in Bongiorno's parish 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 25 July 2016.)

Cover-up by the Marist Brothers: Here is a case study

The Catholic Church harboured a child-sex abuser, Marist Brother Gerard Joseph McNamara, for four decades until some of his victims brought him to justice. When the police charged McNamara with child-sex crimes, the Marists enthusiastically supported McNamara and ignored the victims. But Broken Rites supported the victims — and in 2004 McNamara finally pleaded guilty. In 2016, detectives from the Sexual Offences and Child-abuse Investigation Team (SOCIT) at Morwell (in eastern Victoria) are laying additional charges against McNamara. (By a Broken Rites researcher, article updated 14 July 2016.)

The church provided a perfect cover for child-abuser Father Kevin Glover

This Broken Rites article reveals how the Catholic Church authorities in Western Australia harboured a paedophile priest (Father Kevin Glover) for many years while he committed sexual crimes against local children. When his crimes became known in one parish, the church merely transferred him to another parish. Later, the church arranged for him to transfer to a mission in the Pacific Islands (there, he was safe from any complaints by his Australian victims). (By a Broken Rites researcher, article updated 14 July 2016.)

A priest admitted abusing a child but the church covered up this offence for 50 years

One way in which the Catholic Church has traditionally covered up its sex-abuse crimes is by not revealing any written record about complaints. But in 2013, prominent Australian journalist Geraldine Willesee forced the Perth archdiocese to release a 1963 letter which reveals that a priest (Father Brian Gerard Harris) admitted abusing her when she was a pupil in his custody, aged 14, at a Catholic school in Perth. The priest's admission indicates that he was committing a possible criminal offence but the church managed to conceal this information from the police. The church allowed Father Harris to continue as a priest and it successfully concealed Father Harris's admission for 50 years until 2013. (By a Broken Rites researcher, article updated 8 July 2016.)

JAILED: The Christian Brothers sheltered Brother David Standen while he damaged these vulnerable young lives

A prominent Catholic educator, Christian Brother William Peter ("David") Standen, was the principal at Sydney's St Mary's Cathedral College for a decade before he retired in 2010. During his career he also spent six years as the deputy principal at St Dominic's College, Penrith, in Sydney's outer-west. On 10 June 2016, Standen was jailed for indecently assaulting vulnerable young boys at one of his earlier schools (a Catholic boarding school in south-western New South Wales between 1977 and 1981). These boys were aged 10, 11 or 12, feeling isolated and homesick in their first year away from their rural families. The Catholic Church sheltered Brother Standen during these crimes, putting the boys in danger. Overwhelmed by the church's "holy" image, the victims were forced to remain silent about the crimes for many years. Some of the victims have told the court how this cover-up damaged their later lives, ending up in family break-ups and/or life-long struggles with drug and/or alcohol abuse and damaged careers. This Broken Rites article includes a link to a video showing how this case began when detectives arrested Standen at Sydney airport in August 2014. (By a Broken Rites researcher, article updated 1 July 2016)

Marist Brother Michael Gerard Rush in court in Victoria

A Marist Brother (Br. Michael Gerard Rush, now aged 76) has been charged in the Melbourne Magistrates Court in 2016 with child-sex offences allegedly committed, earlier in his teaching career, while he was working at Catholic schools in Victoria. (By a Broken Rites researcher, article posted 14 July 2016.)

The Church knew about Father Michael Aulsebrook's child-abuse, a court was told

Catholic Church authorities knew that Father Michael Aulsebrook was a child-sex offender in the 1980s and 1990s but they retained him in the priesthood and even promoted him, according to statements made in an Australian court. Aulsebrook was a member of the Australia-wide order of Salesian priests and brothers, which has operated Catholic schools in several Australian states. In the Melbourne County Court in 2011, Aulsebrook was jailed for child-sex crimes committed in the 1980s at a Catholic boarding school in Victoria. This prompted more of his victims to speak to Victoria Police detectives, and therefore he was jailed again in the same court on 21 June 2016. Despite knowing about Aulsebrook's life of crime in Victoria, the Salesian leaders promoted him in the 1990s to be in charge of another Catholic school — in South Australia. The Salesian order is notorious for having tolerated multiple child-abusers in its ranks, and several of these Salesians have been brought to justice by the Victoria Police. (By a Broken Rites researcher, article updated 22 June 2016.)

This priest (a supporter of George Pell) goes "on leave" after a problem re "celibacy"

Australia's national child-abuse Royal Commission has learned how George Pell recruited supporters from among suburban priests when he began his rise to power in Melbourne in the 1980s and 1990s. Broken Rites understands that Pell was welcomed particularly by conservative (as distinct from moderate-minded) priests. One of these traditionalist supporters, Father John Walshe, has given evidence to the Royal Commission on behalf of Cardinal Pell's lawyers. Father Walshe said he supports the tradition of "celibacy" for Catholic priests. A week after his evidence, it was revealed that the Melbourne Catholic archdiocese has apologised to a former student who says he was sexually abused (at the age of 18) by Father Walshe. Therefore, some of Father Walshe's parishioners in a Melbourne suburb began demanding Fr Walshe's removal from this parish. Now, in mid-2016, Fr Walshe is having an overseas trip on "sabbatical leave". (By a Broken Rites researcher, article updated 8 June 2016.)

What did George Pell know about these paedophiles when he was climbing the career ladder as the archbishop of Melbourne?

Since 1993, Broken Rites has been doing research about how Melbourne's Catholic bishops harboured a number of sexually-abusive priests. In the mid-1990s, Broken Rites began exposing these priests. Now some of these priests, from the Broken Rites list, are being investigated by Australia's national child-abuse Royal Commission. The Commission is asking Melbourne's former archbishop George Pell about some of these priests when it is questioning him (by video-link from Rome) this week. This article points you to the original Broken Rites research about each of these priests. (By a Broken Rites researcher, article updated 2 March 2016.)

A child-abuse victim, now an adult, finally obtains justice through the police

On 15 June 2016, Catholic priest Father Leo Spicer (a member of the Servite religious order) was jailed by a Melbourne court after pleading guilty to the sexual penetration of a male (a student from a Catholic school, where Father Spicer was a chaplain). Father Spicer committed the crimes in 1982 at his Order's residence in Melbourne. The victim says his teenage and adult life was damaged by the abuse and by the church's culture of cover-up. He finally spoke to Victoria Police detectives when his life was spiralling downwards in his forties. (By a Broken Rites researcher, article posted 26 July 2016)

Police investigate alleged offences at Melbourne's cathedral

Child sex crime detectives are investigating allegations that teenage boys were abused at one of Australia's most prominent Catholic cathedrals — St Patrick's Cathedral in Melbourne. The allegations relate to 14-year-old boys who may have been abused at the cathedral between 1996 and 2001.

Church finally says 'Sorry' to victms of Fr Thomas O'Keeffe

After action by Broken Rites, the Melbourne Catholic archdiocese has apologised to children who were sexually abused by Father Thomas O'Keeffe. Broken Rites is doing further research on O'Keeffe — and how the church sheltered him during his life of crime. (By a Broken Rites researcher, article updated 8 August 2016.)

Ex-priest Robert Claffey is facing additional charges

A former Catholic priest, Robert Claffey, 72, is currently awaiting trial for allegedly assaulting nine children (eight boys and a girl) while he was a priest in western Victoria. The charges include 15 counts of indecent assault and one count of buggery. The Victorian County Court has been told that the number of charges could be increased because more alleged victims have contacted the Victoria Police. Later in 2016 the County Court will arrange a date for the next step in the judicial process. (By a Broken Rites researcher, article updated 1 July 2016.)

Christian Brother Obbens admits crimes against schoolboys in New South Wales

Christian Brother William John Obbens (also known as Brother "Dominic" Obbens), now aged 70 and living in Sydney, has pleaded guilty to indecently assaulting boys at a school in a regional town in the late 1980s. On 9 May 2016, Brother Obbens appeared in Goulburn District Court (in south-western New South Wales) on three charges of sexual assault or indecent assault on three boys (then aged 11-13) while the boys were under his authority at St Patrick's Christian Brothers College, Goulburn (this school is known now as Trinity Catholic College Goulburn). (By a Broken Rites researcher, article updated 23 June 2016)

Is this case a classic example of a church cover-up?

Broken Rites has done research about Christian Brother William John Obbens (known as Brother "Dominic" Obbens), who was convicted in court in 1989 for sexually abusing a boy (let's call him "Gus") at St Patrick’s College, Goulburn, in south-western New South Wales. The Christian Brothers covered-up the crime and the court case. They did not tell the school's students or parents about it and did not ask if any victims needed help. The victim, "Gus", went on to have a damaged adult life. (By a Broken Rites researcher, article updated 23 June.)

The Christian Brothers harboured this child-sex offender, Brother Chris Roberts

The Christian Brothers sheltered Brother John Vincent ("Chris") Roberts throughout his long teaching career in New South Wales, while he was a danger to young schoolboys. Although Catholic Church sex crimes were usually concealed from the police, the police finally charged Roberts in 2015 with multiple offences (including rape) against one of his victims, who was aged 12 when abused in the 1980s. The information about this victim reached the police via Australia's national Royal Commission on Institutional Responses to Child Sexual Abuse. The Royal Commission informs each victim that he or she is entitled to have a private interview with police detectives. In court on 15 June 2016, Roberts (aged 74) pleaded guilty regarding this boy. Now Roberts is awaiting the court's sentence. (By a Broken Rites researcher, article updated 17 June 2016.)

A Catholic religious Brother is charged with assaulting a Sydney schoolboy

A retired Catholic religious Brother (Brother Peter Higgins, now 77) is facing a Sydney magistrates court, charged with sexually assaulting an 11-year-old boy at a Patrician Brothers school in the mid-1970s. Police allege that the primary head teacher (Brother Basil Downey) knew about Higgins' offending at the time, and therefore Downey (now 89) is charged with having been "an accessory after the fact". Originally, lawyers for the Patrician Brothers obtained a court order prohibiting the media from referring to the Patrician Brothers or naming the two defendants but this order was later defeated by the Director of Public Prosecutions. (By a Broken Rites researcher, article updated 24 May 2016.)

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