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Written by a Broken Rites Australia researcher.


Background article: Pedophile priest Brian Spillane and his life of crime

Father Brian Joseph Spillane committed sexual crimes against boys while he worked as a Catholic priest at St Stanislaus College — a Catholic day and boarding secondary school for boys, located at Bathurst, New South Wales. He also committed sexual crimes against girls while performing ministry elsewhere (that is, not at the school). Now, in December 2016, it can be revealed that Spillane (now aged 73) has recently completed a series of criminal trials resulting in multiple convictions. A Sydney judge has finally lifted a media-suppression order on the cases involving St Stanislaus College. Spillane had already been jailed after his earlier court proceedings and now he will be sentenced again in early 2017 for his most recent trials. (Article by a Broken Rites researcher, 5 December 2016.)

This senior priest became the deputy to a bishop, now he is facing another sentencing

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 February 2015 he was jailed again regarding another victim (from the 1980s). Detectives continued their investigation, and charged Cattell regarding yet another victim (from the 1970s), for which Cattell (now aged 75) is facing a sentence hearing in December 2016. (By a Broken Rites researcher, article updated on 6 December 2016.)

The church is forced to apologise to a woman victim

An Australian "celibate" Catholic priest, Father Thomas Knowles, sexually targeted a vulnerable 19-year-old woman (Jennifer) who was suffering from a physical disability - and he entangled her in a secret sexual relationship for next 14 years. Now, in 2016, the church has been forced to offer Jennifer a written apology for this sexual abuse. On Sunday 4 December 2016, this apology was publicly read out to the congregation by a church leader during Mass at the prominent St Francis's church in central Melbourne. Thomas Knowles was formerly a priest at this parish. (By a Broken Rites researcher, 4 December 2016.)

A former Marist Brother's court case is postponed

In Sydney's Downing Centre District Court in November 2016, a jury trial began for a former Marist Brother, Brett Anthony O'Connor, who is charged with committing child-sex offences while he was working as a dormitory master at two Sydney boys' schools — St Joseph's College in Hunters Hill (in 1987) and St Gregory's College in Campbelltown (in 1989). However, for legal reasons, the court has decided to postpone the trial until 2017, with a fresh jury. (By a Broken Rites researcher, article updated on 5 December 2016.)

This "celibate" priest (a supporter of George Pell) resigns from his parish after sex-abuse allegations

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 18, he was sexually targeted by Father Walshe. Melbourne's Archbishop Denis Hart gave a written apology to John Roach for the "wrongs and hurt" he suffered at the hands of Father Walshe. Therefore, throughout 2016, a number of Father Walshe's parishioners in Melbourne demanded that Father Walshe be removed from their parish. On 25 November 2016, Fr Walshe announced that he is resigning from his parish as from January 2017. (By a Broken Rites researcher, article updated 28 November 2016.)

How the paedophile Father Denis McAlinden was inflicted on Australian children

Research by Broken Rites has revealed that the Catholic Church knowingly harboured the paedophile priest Father Denis McAlinden for 40 years, thus inflicting him on young girls in parishes around Australia and also overseas. The church has been paying small out-of-court settlements to some of McAlinden's victims, thus avoiding a larger court-based settlement. In November 2016, two sisters began to sue the Catholic Church in the New South Wales Supreme Court for a proper amount to settle their abuse by McAlinden. At the last moment, the church agreed to pay these two women a confidential out-of-court financial settlement, thus preventing the church's other victims from knowing the size of a court-related settlement. This Broken Rites article explains the background about Fr Denis McAlinden and the church's cover-up. (By a Broken Rites researcher, article updated 23 November 2016.)

Broken Rites helped the victims to end this cover-up

The Catholic Church harboured a child-sex abuser, Marist Brother Gerard Joseph McNamara, for four decades until some of his victims spoke (separately) to the Victoria Police child-protection detectives. When the police charged McNamara regarding these victims, the Marists enthusiastically supported McNamara and ignored the victims. But Broken Rites supported the victims — and in 2004 McNamara finally pleaded guilty and was convicted. This prompted more McNamara victims to contact the detectives. In court on 14 November 2016, McNamara pleaded guilty to indecently assaulting two more of his victims and he will be sentenced soon regarding these additional two. How many more McNamara victims have not yet exercised their right to speak to the child-protection detectives? (By a Broken Rites researcher, article updated 16 November 2016.)

A Sydney priest committed child-abuse, police allege

Father Robert James Hickman became a Catholic priest in Sydney in the 1970s. As well as working in parishes, he was also a chaplain for Sydney's deaf community. He 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. Now, in 2016, he is waiting to appear in court to be sentenced on sex-abuse charges. (Article updated 26 November 2016)

A NSW priest is scheduled for a second trial over child-sex charges

A Catholic priest in northern New South Wales, John Patrick Casey, 68, is scheduled to face a second trial in Sydney's Downing Centre District Court, charged with child-sex offences allegedly committed against three young boys in the 1980s. (By a Broken Rites researcher, article updated on 16 November 2016.)

Background article: Why is Cardinal George Pell not re-appearing 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 travels from his Rome headquarters to other countries but is not re-appearing in Australia at present. This Broken Rites article examines the background to this situation. (By a Broken Rites researcher, article updated 1 November 2016.)

Catholic priest in court in Melbourne on allegations regarding schoolboys

Victoria Police have charged Catholic priest Frank De Dood (a member of the Salesian religious order) with child-sex offences which he allegedly committed against young boys in Melbourne between 1978 and 1983. Police have obtained written statements from several former schoolboys.

Catholic clergy (including George Pell) looked the other way while Father Ridsdale continued committing more crimes against more children in more parishes

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. Thus, he was inflicted on potential victims in New South Wales. Eventually, in 1993, Victoria Police 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 has been jailed for a minimum of 24 years for assaulting 54 of his victims. 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.)

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. Prosecutors considered Dowlan's 2015 jail sentence to be inadequate, so they lodged an appeal and gained a longer jail term. 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.)

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.

A Melbourne church man in court on child-sex charges

Paul Chris Pavlou, now aged 57, has held positions in the Melbourne Catholic Archdiocese. After experience as a teacher, he became a member of the Catholic Church's order of Salesian Brothers, working in a Catholic school in Melbourne's east. When he was aged in his forties, he was accepted by the Melbourne Catholic archdiocese as a mature-age entrant for the priesthood and did his priestly training at the church's Melbourne seminary. After being ordained as a priest during 2004, Father Paul Pavlou ministered for a while in parishes at Croydon and Healesville in Melbourne's east. He no longer holds any position in parishes. On 11 November 2016, Paul Chris Pavlou appeared in a Melbourne court, charged with child-sex offences allegedly committed between 2003 and 2004. (Article updated on 12 November 2016.)

Background article: The Christian Brothers covered up for Brother Robert Best during his life of crime

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 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 4 November 2016 Brother Best pleaded guilty regarding 15 of these. There is still time for more victims of Brother Best to exercise their right to talk to the detectives. (Article updated 4 November 2016.)

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.)

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 Royal Commission is examining what Cardinal George Pell knew about these priests when he was a member of the church leadership in Melbourne from 1987 to 2001. This article points you to the original Broken Rites research about each of these priests. (By a Broken Rites researcher.)

Archbishop George Pell hired a publicity firm to paint him as a pioneeer in "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) rushed into damage control, hiring a public relations firm to announce the "Melbourne Response", instead of waiting for the church's Australia-wide "Towards Healing" strategy which was due to start a few months later. (By a Broken Rites researcher.)

Christian Brother L.C. McAllen abused Sydney schoolboys

Some Australian men, now advancing in age, are still feeling the injustice of having been abused by Christian Brother L.C. McAllen when they were primary-school pupils in Sydney many years ago. McAllen died in 1965, but he has not been forgotten (or forgiven) by his victims. (By a Broken Rites researcher, article updated 21 October 2016.)

Christian Brother Obbens is jailed — he abused homesick boys in a boarding school

Christian Brother William John Obbens (also known as Brother "Dominic" Obbens), aged 70, was jailed on 13 October 2016 after he admitted indecently assaulting three boys (aged 11 to 13) who were under his authority in a boarding school. The offences occurred in the late 1980s at the former St Patrick's College (now called Trinity College) in Goulburn, south-western New South Wales, where Obbens was a teacher and a boarding master. According to court documents, Obbens preyed on the boarders’ homesickness to sexually abuse the boys. (By a Broken Rites researcher, article updated 14 October 2016)

The Christian Brothers covered up this 1989 case involving Brother Obbens but Broken Rites exposed it

For several years, Broken Rites has been doing 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 1989 court case. They did not tell the school's students or parents about it and did not ask if any victims needed help. "Gus" (and several other victims from the same school) went on to have a damaged adult life. Gradually, each of these families contacted Broken Rites, and this article began to take shape, with occasional updates. (By a Broken Rites researcher, article updated 13 October 2016.)

The church concealed the crimes of Father Vincent Ryan — Broken Rites research

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 on 14 October 2016 he will be sentenced on some additional charges. Other victims of Ryan are remaining silent. (By a Broken Rites researcher, article updated 13 October 2016.)

Christian Brothers harboured this criminal, Brother Chris Roberts, but now he is in jail

This Broken Rites article is about how the Christian Brothers sheltered Brother John Vincent ("Chris") Roberts while he was a danger to boys throughout his long teaching career in Sydney, Canberra and regional New South Wales. The Christian Brothers paid small amounts of compensation to silence some of Brother Roberts' early victims. Eventually, a different victim spoke to NSW Police detectives and therefore, on 30 September 2016, Roberts (aged 74) was jailed regarding this victim. Other victims of Roberts have not yet spoken to the detectives but are still entitled to do so. (By a Broken Rites researcher, article updated 8 October 2016.)

Background article: The church gave the paedophile priest Robert Claffey a new parish, putting more children in danger

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 October 2016 he was jailed regarding 12 more of his 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. But these 14 are not Claffey's only victims. Broken Rites knows of other Claffey victims who have not exercised their right to consult the detectives. (By a Broken Rites researcher, article updated 5 October 2016.)

Marist Brother "Dominic" O'Sullivan is jailed in New South Wales

A Marist Brother, Darcy John O'Sullivan (also known as "Brother Dominic"), was jailed in September 2016 after he 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). Meanwhile, Australia's national child-abuse Royal Commission held a public hearing in Newcastle in early September 2016 to examine how the Marist Brothers organisation harboured offenders such as O'Sullivan. (By a Broken Rites researcher, article updated 5 October 2016.)

A Maronite Catholic priest is jailed in Sydney regarding a 2005 alleged assault

Often, people remain silent for many years before exercising their right to contact the police regarding allegations of church sexual abuse but in January 2014 Sydney police charged a Catholic priest regarding an incident that allegedly occurred relatively recently — in 2005 (an alleged offence against a 15-year-old boy). The priest belongs to the Maronite Catholic Church under the St Maroun diocese which has several parishes in Sydney. On 4 October 2016 at Sydney's Campbelltown District Court, the priest was jailed (at the age of 40) after being convicted of indecently assaulting the 15-year-old boy. (Article updated on 10 October 2016.)

Background article: Father Farrell's crimes and the church's cover-up

This Broken Rites article is the most comprehensive account available about how Catholic Church leaders remained silent for 30 years about Father John Joseph Farrell's sex-crimes against children. In 1993, Broken Rites began researching the Farrell cover-up. In 2012, our research helped to make a "Four Corners" television program about the Farrell cover-up, thus bringing this cover-up to nationwide attention. And this has helped to encourage the Federal Government to establish its national child-abuse Royal Commission. Gradually, Broken Rites (but not the church officials) encouraged some of Farrell's victims to talk with child-protection police, resulting in the jailing of Farrell (now aged 63) in 2016. Broken Rites is proud to have exposed this cover-up. (By a Broken Rites researcher, article updated 19 September 2016).

ABC television "7.30" program examines the church cover-up of Father Farrell

The ABC television "7.30" program (on Monday 19 September 2016) had a story about the child-abuse Royal Commission's public hearing re the Father John Farrell case (and the role of church official Father Brian Lucas). The Broken Rites team helped the ABC with research for this "7.30" item. A link to the ABC video is given at the end of this Broken Rites article. (Article updated by a Broken Rites researcher, 20 September 2016.)

A retired priest is charged on NSW mid-north coast

In late September 2016, New South Wales police (from the state's mid-north coast) charged a retired Catholic priest with child-sexual assaults, allegedly committed against a boy between 1999 and 2006. Following investigations, the 69-year-old retired priest was arrested in Port Macquarie. (Article posted by a Broken Rites researcher, 1 October 2016.)

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