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Written by a Broken Rites Australia researcher.


Fr Damian Colbourne is jailed for abusing a schoolgirl, aged 8

Fr Anthony Francis Colbourne (also known by his "religious" name, Father "Damian" Colbourne) has spent many years as a priest in the Catholic order of Capuchin Franciscan Friars. In Brisbane District Court on 23 May 2017, Colbourne was jailed for sexually abusing an eight-year-old girl who was attending a Brisbane Catholic school. Father Colbourne, now aged 75, committed the assaults in 1974 when he was in his thirties. Colbourne was charged by police in 2016 after the victim reported him to Australia's national child-abuse Royal Commission. In court, Colbourne pleaded guilty. (By a Broken Rites researcher, article posted on 24 May 2017.)

A Brisbane priest will face court soon

The Brisbane Catholic Archdiocese announced on 23 May 2017 that one of its priests has just been charged (in recent days) by Queensland Police regarding an alleged sexual offence that occurred in the 1990s. A media statement issued by the Archdiocese says the priest has withdrawn from his parish duties after notifying the Archdiocese about the police charge.

Cardinal George Pell "can't be FORCED to re-appear in Australia", lawyers say

According to legal experts, Australian civil authorities cannot force Cardinal George Pell to re-visit Australia to be questioned on certain matters relating to church sexual abuse. As Pell is now a senior official in the Vatican State, this can give him diplomatic immunity, protecting him from being forced back to Australia. However, it is possible that he might choose to return to Australia voluntarily. (By a Broken Rites researcher, article updated 15 May 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.

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

This Broken Rites article gives some background to George Pell's claim that he was a pioneer in "helping" church-abuse 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, demonstrating the church's high regard for this pedophile priest. When Broken Rites exposed this (and other) church cover-ups, George Pell's diocese (Melbourne) rushed into damage control, hiring a public relations firm to announce Pell's "Melbourne Response" strategy, instead of waiting for the church's Australia-wide "Towards Healing" scheme which was due to start a few months later. (By a Broken Rites researcher, article updated 1 May 2017.)

Church leaders protected this criminal priest, Father Gerard Mulvale, resulting in a victim's suicide

The Catholic Church harboured a paedophile priest (Gerard Mulvale) in a Melbourne parish, enabling him to sexually target the parish's youth group. This church-abuse (and the church's culture of cover-up) disrupted the lives of these youngsters, driving one of them (Stephanie Piper) to die by suicide. In 2017 (23 years after the suicide), Stephanie's mother Eileen Piper (now aged 92) is speaking publicly (through the media), demanding an apology from church leaders for having inflicted this paedophile priest on these youngsters and for putting them in danger. (By a Broken Rites researcher.)

Catholic clergy (including George Pell) looked the other way during Father Ridsdale's life of crime: Background article

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 in western Victoria while his superiors and fellow-priests remained silent to protect the church's public image. In 1982, when Father Ridsdale had been abusing children for 20 years, a clergy committee (of which Father George Pell was a member) noted that Ridsdale was being transferred away from Victoria. Eventually, some of Ridsdale's victims began to report his crimes to the Victoria Police, instead of merely to the offending organisation (the church). So, in 1993, Victorian detectives charged Ridsdale in court. He was accompanied to court by his support person, George Pell, who had become an assistant bishop in Melbourne. However, no bishop accompanied the victims. Encouraged by Broken Rites, more victims later spoke to the detectives. In his four court cases between 1993 and 2014, Ridsdale was jailed for a minimum of 24 years for assaulting 54 of his victims. On 13 April 2017, after eleven more of his victims spoke to the detectives, Ridsdale pleaded guilty again on a fifth batch of charges, including rape, buggery and indecent assault. Broken Rites is proud of its role in exposing the church's cover-up of this criminal priest. (Background article, by a Broken Rites researcher, updated on 1 May 2017.)

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. (By a Broken Rites researcher.)

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.)

This pedophile had a long career as a Marist Brother, including at a "top" Sydney school

For 67 years, the Australian Marist Brothers harboured this pedophile — Brother William BENINATI (known as Brother "Vales", in honour of an ancient Saint Vales). He committed sexual offences against boys in Marist Brothers schools in New South Wales and Queensland. His victims included boys at the Marist Brothers' "flagship" school in Sydney (St. Joseph's College Hunters Hill). (By a Broken Rites researcher, updated 1 May 2017.)

A Christian Brother, in court in NSW, is facing additional charges

Christian Brother David Curtin, who appeared in court in New South Wales in early 2017, charged with offences against boys at a boarding school thirty years ago, was in court again on 10 May 2017 facing additional charges. (By a Broken Rites researcher, article updated 12 May 2017.)

A Marist Brother has been convicted three times and is facing more charges

Australian Marist Brother David Austin Christian (born in 1942) joined the Marist order when he was 18) and has remained in the Order since then. Charged with child-sex offences (committed in the early 1980s), he has been convicted three times — first in 1995 and then again in 2004 and early 2017 after more of his victims spoke to child-protection detectives. The 2017 conviction resulted in him being jailed. And, later in 2017, while in jail, he is due to appear in court again regarding another victim. How many more victims did this Brother have? (By a Broken Rites researcher, article posted on 4 May 2017.)

NSW police lay charges re child-abuse allegedly committed by a priest many years ago

For 34 years until 1995, Father David Joseph Perrett was a priest in the Armidale Catholic diocese, which covers a large area in northern New South Wales. On 5 May 2017, Perrett (now aged 79 and no longer working as a priest) was charged by NSW police with nine counts of indecent assault, allegedly committed on four young boys between 1970 and 1983 while he was working as a priest. (By a Broken Rites researcher, article updated 9 May 2017.)

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)

This "celibate" priest (a supporter of George Pell) is facing further controversy after appearing at Australia's Royal Commission

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.)

Marist Brother 'Romuald' Cable, already jailed, is facing more charges

A few years ago, Broken Rites 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. As a result, "Rom" Cable was jailed in 2015 regarding 19 of his victims. On 27 April 2017, Francis Cable (now 84) appeared in court (by video-link from jail), charged with 16 additional offences (indecent assault) committed against five more victims, aged 13-14, between 1971 and 1974. These charges will come up in Newcastle Local Court again during 2017 while Cable remains in jail. (By a Broken Rites researcher, article updated 1 May 2017.)

The church concealed the crimes of Father Vincent Ryan. Now he faces more charges

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 has already been jailed for some of his crimes. Now, in 2017, he is facing new charges involving additional alleged victims. (By a Broken Rites researcher, article updated 1 May 2017.)

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

This Broken Rites article reveals how the Catholic Church a harboured a paedophile priest (Father Kevin Glover) for many years, in parishes around Australia, while he committed sexual crimes against children. When his crimes became known in one parish, the church merely transferred him to another parish. Now, in 2017, lawyers are preparing to tackle the Catholic Church authorities for compensation on behalf of three people who say they were sexually abused by Father Glover in Western Australia in the 1960s and 1970s. (By a Broken Rites researcher, article updated 5 April 2017.)

A NSW priest in court on child-sex charges from the late 1990s

Father Barry Tunks, 76, who was once the Vicar-General of the Maitland-Newcastle Catholic diocese in New South Wales, appeared in Forster Local Court (on the NSW mid-north coast) on 5 April 2017 to face historic child-sex charges. This was a brief preliminary procedure, for the charges to be officially filed with a magistrate. (By a Broken Rites researcher, article posted on 5 April 2017.)

Priest and teachers charged with abusing girls at an Aboriginal mission

Three elderly men (a priest and two teachers), who formerly worked at a Catholic Aboriginal mission in Western Australia, have been ordered to appear in court during 2017, charged with sexually abusing young girls at the mission during the 1960s. The charges were laid in May 2017 by W.A. Child-Abuse Squad detectives after Australia's national Child-Abuse Royal Commission had private interviews with several women who had lived at the mission as children. (By a Broken Rites researcher, article posted on 10 May 2017.)

The Royal Commission helps to expose the culture of cover-up: An example

Australia's child-abuse Royal Commission has been given information about a senior Marist Brother (Brother Kevin Hopson, also known as Brother "Crispin" Hopson) who taught (sometimes as the head Brother) in Marist schools in New South Wales and Canberra. The Royal Commission has been told that, at one of Hopson's schools, he harboured a paedophile Brother (Gregory Sutton) who was committing sex-crimes against young students. And another ex-student has told the Royal Commission that Brother "Crispin" Hopson himself was a danger to boys. (By a Broken Rites researcher, article updated  1 April 2017.)

The Marists evaded the police by sending this criminal Brother on an overseas trip

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 in New South Wales. 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, was convicted again on 7 February 2017 for crimes committed in the Australian Capital Territory. Regarding the February 2017 conviction, see the final paragraphs in this article. (By a Broken Rites researcher, article updated 31 March 2017)

Former Marist schoolboys allege assaults, 40 years ago, by a Brother now aged 89

Marist Brother Lawrence Fitzpatrick (who was known in the Marists as Brother "Majella" Fitzpatrick) worked for many years as a teacher and administrator in Catholic schools in Melbourne and regional Victoria. On 10 March 2017, he appeared in the Melbourne Magistrates Court, aged 89, charged with 99 sexual offences, allegedly committed against at least 18 children between 1971 and 1976 while he was working at St Patrick's College, Sale, in eastern Victoria. The charges include 38 counts of buggery (some against children under 14) and other charges of indecent assault. (By a Broken Rites researcher, article updated 23 March 2017.)

Catholic priest in court in Melbourne on charges regarding schoolboys

A Catholic priest, Frank De Dood (a member of the Salesian religious order), has indicated in court that he intends to plead guilty to six child-sex offences which he allegedly committed against young boys in Melbourne between 1978 and 1983. Police allege that the offences were committed against specific students at Salesian College Chadstone (in Melbourne's south-east) and at Salesian College "Rupertswoood" in Sunbury (in Melbourne's north-west). (By a Broken Rites researcher, article updated 23 March 2017.)

A school removes the name of a Christian Brother from one of its buildings

Some victims of Catholic Church sex abuse are forcing the church authorities to stop honouring a particular priest or religious brother because of sex-abuse allegations. In the latest example, a prominent Brisbane Catholic boys’ school (St Joseph’s College Gregory Terrace) has removed the name of a former deputy headmaster (Brother C.L. Dillon) from one of its buildings. (By a Broken Rites researcher, article posted 1 April 2017.)

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

Catholic church leaders have recently defended the church's ban on married priests. 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 children. The private life of Fr John O' Callaghan is no secret among the Melbourne clergy of his generation. (By a Broken Rites researcher)

Christian Brother Peter Lennox is to face a court trial on charges from 40 years ago

For several decades, Christian Brother Peter Nicholas Lennox worked in various Catholic schools in Sydney and in regional New South Wales. Now aged 76 (and retired), he is facing charges in court regarding sexual offences, allegedly committed against boys at two of those schools in the early 1970s. A church defence lawyer claimed in court that Lennox is "too unfit" to undergo a trial. However, the court will merely grant a delay and therefore the trial (case number 2014/00331685) is being re-scheduled to go ahead on a future date. Meanwhile, the police investigators are still interested in any further information. (Article updated 9 March 2017.)

BACKGROUND: The church helped Father Brian Spillane in his life of crime

This Broken Rites article is the most comprehensive account available about the paedophile priest Brian Joseph Spillane -- and how the Catholic Church enabled him to commit his sexual crimes against children. Father Spillane's victims were mostly boys who were assaulted while he ministered at St Stanislaus College — a Catholic day and boarding secondary school for boys, in Bathurst, New South Wales. And he assaulted girls in parishes elsewhere. Spillane (now aged 74) has recently completed a series of separate criminal trials, resulting in multiple convictions. Spillane is already in jail regarding the girls. On 16 February 2017, a court gave him an additional jail sentence regarding the boys. And it is possible that more of Spillane's victims may obtain justice later. (By a Broken Rites researcher, article updated 16 February 2017.)

Background article: The Christian Brothers ignored the crimes of Brother Robert Best, thus helping him to commit more crimes against more children

This Broken Rites article explains how the Catholic Church harboured Brother Robert Charles Best in Australia for many years while he committed crimes (including buggery) against young schoolboys. Colleagues of Brother Best knew about his crimes but covered up for him, a court has been told. Brother Best is already in jail but, despite his crimes, he is still being accepted by the Christian Brothers as a member of their Order. That is, this convicted criminal is still officially "Brother" Best. More of Brother Best's victims are still contacting Victoria's child-protection police, and on 2 March 2017 a court sentenced Best to more time in jail after he pleaded guilty to indecently assaulting a further 20 of his victims. (By a Broken Rites researcher, article updated 2 March 2017.)

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.)

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