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Written by a Broken Rites Australia researcher.


Broken Rites has researched Ronald Conway, the church's "hands-on" psychologist

For thirty years a prominent Australian Catholic psychologist, Ronald Conway, had a part-time role in assessing and helping trainee priests in the church's Melbourne seminary. Conway also worked as a consulting psychologist in psychiatric hospitals and in private practice, and some of his male patients say that Conway touched them sexually when they consulted him for professional help. (By a Broken Rites researcher, article updated 15 September 2019.)

The church covered up for Father Paul David Ryan for many years but now he is jailed again

This Broken Rites article reveals how Catholic Church authorities covered up the child-sex crimes of an Australian priest, Father Paul David Ryan, during his career in the state of Victoria (and also during seven visits by Ryan to the United States). This enabled Ryan to endanger more children in more parishes in TWO countries. Eventually, helped by Broken Rites, some victims began reporting Ryan to Victoria Police detectives, resulting in Ryan being jailed in 2006. Since then, the detectives have received further information about Ryan's priestly career in Victoria. On 29 July 2019, after Ryan (aged 70) pleaded guilty regarding three more of his victims, he was jailed again. (By a Broken Rites researcher, article updated 17 September 2019.)

How the church helped this criminal priest, Father Ron Pickering

Broken Rites is doing further research about how the Melbourne Catholic archdiocese protected Father Ronald Pickering for many years while he committed crimes against children in his parishes. Eventually Father Pickering fled from Australia, evading a possible police investigation. The Melbourne archdiocese then began sending retirement payments to Pickering at his new address in England. The Pickering cover-up was eventually exposed in the media by Broken Rites. (Article by a Broken Rites researcher.)

How the church concealed Father Terry Pidoto's life of crime: FULL STORY

This Broken Rites article is the most comprehensive account available about how the Catholic Church protected Father Terry Pidoto for 25 years while he committed crimes against boys in his parishes. (By a Broken Rites researcher.)

How the church enabled Fr Michael Glennon's life of crime

Broken Rites is continuing its research about how the Catholic Church enabled the paedophile priest Father Michael Charles Glennon to commit sexual crimes against children in Melbourne. Years later, many of his victims (and their families) are still feeling the impact of the church's negligence. (By a Broken Rites researcher.)

Full story: Father Ridsdale's life of crime — and the church's cover-up

This Broken Rites article is the most comprehensive account available about how the Catholic Church shuffled a paedophile priest, Father Gerald Ridsdale, from parish to parish for three decades while he committed sexual crimes against children. Broken Rites has been researching Ridsdale since May 1993, when he famously walked to court for his first sentencing. Broken Rites began supporting Ridsdale's victims, resulting in four more court cases for Ridsdale between 1994 and 2017. (Background article, by a Broken Rites researcher.)

This reverend Brother (already in jail in Victoria) now pleads guilty to more crimes in Queensland

When Frank Keating became a De La Salle Brother in his late teens, he was given the religious name "Brother Ibar", in honour of an ancient Irish saint. But Brother "Ibar" Keating was no saint — he began committing sexual crimes against his pupils. His superiors knew this but they allowed him to continue offending in Catholic schools around Australia for many years more. Eventually, some of Keating's victims reported him to the police in two states — Victoria and Queensland. As a result, he is now in jail in Victoria; and on 13 September 2019 (aged 77) he pleaded guilty in a Brisbane court to a number of Queensland offences. This Broken Rites article gives the full story of the church's cover-up of Brother "Ibar" Keating. (By a Broken Rites researcher, article updated 16 September 2019.)

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

This Broken Rites article is the most comprehensive account available about how the Christian Brothers organisation concealed the crimes of Brother Edward Dowlan (now known as "Mister Ted Bales"). From the start, the Christian Brothers knew that Dowlan was committing criminal sexual assaults against Australian schoolchildren but, instead of dismissing him, the Christian Brothers kept transferring him to more schools, thus giving him access to more victims. His victims were usually aged about 11 or 12 but some were as young as 8 or 9. In the 1990s, when some victims finally reported him to the police, the Christian Brothers supported Dowlan and tried to defeat the victims. The victims eventually won by getting him jailed in 1996 and again in 2015. Many of Brother Dowlan's victims have had their lives damaged by the church's cover-up — and several of his victims ended up in suicide. Some other Dowlan victims have not yet contacted the detectives. (By a Broken Rites researcher.)

LOCKED UP: A Melbourne court has ordered a priest into custody while he awaits his sentence

For 25 years until 1999, Father Peter Maurice Waters ministered in parishes of the Melbourne Catholic archdiocese. This priestly role enabled him to sexually abuse children. In 1999, some victims began to report Waters' crimes to the police. At last, in August 2019, a criminal court has convicted Waters for offences against five boys. Waters (aged 74) is remanded in custody while the judge prepares for the sentencing, which will be on 25 September 2019. (By a Broken Rites researcher, article updated 7 September 2019.)

Father Peter L. Comensoli was jailed but was allowed to remain "reverend"

This Broken Rites article gives another Australian example of a Catholic priest who was not laicized, even after being jailed for child-sex crimes. In 1989, the Wollongong Catholic diocese (south of Sydney) was warned that Father Peter Lewis Comensoli was sexually abusing boys in his parish, but the church authorities allowed him to continue in parish work. In 1993, a newspaper exposed this church scandal. Police then charged Comsensoli and he was jailed in 1994. But the church failed to laicize him and he was listed as "Reverend" for the next 16 years, until his name finally vanished from church directories in 2010 — 16 years after his conviction. As explained at the end of this article, this Father Peter Lewis Comensoli should not be mistaken for another Catholic clergyman — his cousin, Bishop Peter Andrew Comensoli who has been appointed (in 2018) as the new Archbishop of Melbourne. (By a Broken Rites researcher, article updated 3 September 2019.)

The church protected Father Vic Rubeo but Broken Rites has exposed this cover-up

Research by Broken Rites has revealed how the Catholic Church harboured this abusive priest, Father Victor Gabriel Rubeo, for three decades while he committed child-sex crimes in the Melbourne archdiocese. His victims included girls and boys. Broken Rites first exposed Rubeo in the 1990s, prompting some more of Rubeo's victims to some forward. Rubeo (pronounced "roo-BAY-oh") was born in 1933 and was ordained as a priest in 1959; he died in 2011. Lawyers for Rubeo's victims say that in 2019 the Melbourne archdiocese is still traumatising survivors by fighting compensating claims. (Article updated on 11 September 19.)

This "celibate" priest (a supporter of George Pell) is facing controversy

During George Pell's rise from being a priest to a cardinal, one of his supporters has been Melbourne priest John Walshe. The Melbourne Catholic archdiocese has confirmed that it paid a $75,000 settlement (the maximum amount available) to a former student (John Roach) who has alleged that, when he was 18, he was sexually targeted by Father Walshe. The archdiocese gave a written apology to John Roach for the "wrongs and hurt" he suffered at the hands of Father Walshe. By January 2017, a number of Father Walshe's parishioners (at Mentone-Parkdale in Melbourne's south-east) succeeded in getting Fr Walshe to resign from their parish. This Broken Rites article is based partly on evidence given by Father Walshe to Australia's national child-abuse Royal Commission, including a claim by Father Walshe that he supports the policy of priestly "celibacy". (By a Broken Rites researcher, article updated 1 September 2019.)

The church helped a pedophile Marist Brother to get easy access to young victims

Broken Rites is doing research 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. Australia's child-abuse 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 now Broken Rites has learned that Brother "Crispin" Hopson himself was committing sexual crimes against young boys. (By a Broken Rites researcher, article updated 6 September 2019.)

A church report in 2002 contains a complaint 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 1961-1962 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 Pell (then aged 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 Pell allegedly tried to guide the boy's hand into the front of Pell's pants. By the year 2000, when Phil was aged 50, he realised that the trainee priest George Pell 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 Alec 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. [The incident in 1960-1961 is not included in the criminal charges that Pell faced in court in 2018 because the former altar boy Phil has not reported this matter to the police — and Phil says he does not want to re-open his 1960-1961 matter now because he is still feeling hurt by the manner in which he says Pell's defence team brutalised him when he tried to report it to the church authorities in 2002.]

The Jesuits covered up for a criminal Brother and merely moved him to more victims in another school

Jesuit priests and brothers operate some of Australia's most prominent schools, with famous ex-students such as former prime minister Tony Abbott. After Brother Victor Higgs committed sexual offences against boys at one of these schools (St Ignatius College, Adelaide), the Jesuits kept Brother Higgs as a member of the Jesuit Order and moved him to other schools, including their famous Sydney school (St Ignatius College Riverview), thus putting Sydney boys in danger. One of the Adelaide victims finally reported Brother Higgs to the South Australian police and, in 2016, Higgs was jailed for some of his Adelaide offences. In November 2018 a Sydney court jailed Higgs (aged 81) for seven and a half years for sexual offences at the Sydney school. Since then, Broken Rites has learned that Brother Higgs later worked at the Jesuits' elite Melbourne school, Xavier College, where the Jesuits used him as a "spiritual director" (wink-wink) of young boys and as a boarding-house supervisor. (By a Broken Rites researcher, article updated on 18 August 2019)

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

This Broken Rites article gives some background about how a Catholic priest, Father Robert Claffey, committed sexual offences against children (mostly boys) while the Catholic Church transferred him around parishes in western Victoria for 14 years between 1969 and 1992. Some of Claffey's victims began contacting Broken Rites in 1993, and Broken Rites gave each victim a Victoria Police phone number where the victim could have a chat with child-protection detectives. In 1998, Claffey was convicted regarding two of his victims, and in 2016 he was jailed regarding 12 more victims (Claffey's offences included buggery, indecent assault and sexual penetration of a child). The 2016 court case brought the court's total to 14 children. Afterwards, two more victims contacted police and, as a result, Claffey (still in jail and aged 76) was sentenced on 18 July 2019 to additional time in jail. (By a Broken Rites researcher, article updated 18 July 2019.)

An ex-Marist Brother eventually became a priest — and now he admits child-sex crimes

Originally, "Brother" Carl Edward Stafford was teaching in Marist Brothers schools in New South Wales. Then he left the Marists and worked as a lay teacher ("Mister" Stafford), still in Catholic schools. Eventually the church recruited him to become a priest (making him "Father" Stafford) in parishes in Sydney's outer-north. In August 2019, he appeared in Sydney District Court (aged 80) to face a criminal trial, charged with committing sexual offences against boys during his forties and fifties. Stafford, who had previously pleaded "Not Guilty", changed his plea to "Guilty", making a trial unnecessary. The court will sentence him later in 2019. (Article updated on 14 August 2019.)

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

A Catholic priest has appeared in court in New South Wales in 2019, facing charges of sex-abuse allegedly committed against multiple children at a New South Wales country boarding school during the 1980s. Police allege that Father Anthony Caruana (now 77) indecently assaulted boys, aged 12 to 15, who were under his care when he was a dormitory manager, rugby coach and band teacher at Chevalier College, a Catholic high school near Bowral, in the NSW Southern Highlands. The case is due to have some more preliminary steps in court in late 2019. (Article updated 1 September 2019.)

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

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

Police allege a priest assaulted 37 children during 30 years (while church leaders looked the other way)

For three decades until 1995, Father David Joseph Perrett was a Catholic priest in New South Wales. In 2019 (aged 82) he is in a court process, charged with committing sexual crimes against 37 children throughout his priestly career. That is, his alleged 30-year crime spree occurred under the noses of the church authorities. The charges against Perrett include buggery, carnal knowledge of a child under 10, aggravated sexual assault, aggravated indecent assault and assault occasioning actual bodily harm. The prosecutors have stated that some of Perrett's charges are so serious that he could perhaps spend the rest of his life in jail if convicted. Perrett's case came up in for a mention in the NSW District Court in mid-2019 but, claiming health problems, he has obtained an adjournment until late 2019. (By a Broken Rites researcher, article updated 6 August 2019.)

A priest died after being charged in court with a sexual offence

Broken Rites is doing further research about a Queensland Catholic priest, Fr Michael Joseph McKeaten, who was charged by police in court in May 2017 regarding a sexual offence that allegedly occurred earlier in his priestly career. Court documents alleged that, in 1991-1992, a male altar-server had asked Father McKeaten for counselling regarding a personal matter. During this "counseling", Fr McKeaten allegedly persuaded the victim to engage in a naked wrestle with the priest, in order (the priest said) to "relieve stress". Fr McKeaten was charged with procuring a sexual act by false pretext. The May 2017 hearing was a brief one in which the magistrate ordered Fr McKeaten to appear in court later in 2017 for the next step in the court process. However, Fr McKeaten died before the next hearing could be held. The Brisbane archdiocese then honoured Fr McKeaten with a priestly funeral. In 2019, Broken Rites has learned that this altar-server was not McKeaten's only victim. And, furthermore, McKeaten was a danger to girls as well as boys. (By a Broken Rites researcher, article updated on 16 August 2019 )

This priest (the deputy to a bishop) is jailed for the third time

In the 1970s and 1980s, Father Richard Cattell was a Catholic priest in western Sydney, where he committed sexual crimes against boys. In the early 1990s, the Catholic Church promoted Cattell to become the Vicar-General of the Parramatta diocese, supervising 48 parishes in western Sydney on behalf of the bishop. Eventually, several of Cattell's victims spoke (separately) to the police, so Cattell was jailed in 1994 and again in 2015 and again on 26 July 2019. (By a Broken Rites researcher, article updated 1 August 2019.)

Father John Denham's life of crime (while church leaders covered up for him): Background article

Broken Rites has researched the cover-up of one of Australia's most notorious Catholic priests, Father John Sidney Denham. Father Denham's superiors and colleagues knew about his child-sex crimes but this information was concealed from the police. Finally, some of his victims gradually began to contact the police. As a result, Denham has been convicted in court several times since 2000. He has been in jail since 2008, and his jail time has been increased as more of his victims gradually contacted the police. On 30 May 2019, Denham (aged 76) was sentenced to additional jail time for his 59th victim. (By a Broken Rites researcher, article updated 28 July 2019)

An ex-Marist Brother in court in 2019 on child-sex charges from the 1960s

In 1960 at the age of 17, Joseph Weygood began training in Victoria to become a Marist Brother. In those years, the Marists gave each new recruit a religious name, so Joseph Weygood became known to pupils as "Brother Cyril". He then taught during the 1960s (as Brother Cyril) at Catholic schools in Victoria and South Australia. In the 1970s, he ceased being a Marist Brother and later worked as a lay teacher (Mister Weygood) in schools elsewhere in Australia and overseas. In 2019, aged 77, Joseph Weygood is involved in a court case in Adelaide, charged with child-sexual abuse relating to his time in South Australia in the 1960s. He is contesting the charges. (By a Broken Rites researcher, article updated 28 August 2019.)

The crimes of this Franciscan Brother were covered up

The Australian headquarters of the Franciscans (the Order of Friars Minor) have been forced to acknowledge that Brother Paschal Bartlett was a child-abuser. This Brother joined the Franciscan Order in the 1920s, moving through parishes in Victoria, Tasmania, New Zealand and Sydney. He supervised altar boys for almost 50 years in these parishes, exploiting his position of authority to sexually abuse them. (By a Broken Rites researcher.)

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

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

This bishop protected the church's "holy" image, instead of protecting children

Broken Rites research has discovered how an Australian Catholic leader (Bishop William Brennan) covered up allegations of clergy sex-abuse in his diocese. Police charged one of Brennan's priests (Father Bernard Connell) with allegedly abusing two boys in different parishes but Bishop Brennan hired an expert legal team to defeat the charges. One of these victims then asked Bishop Brennan for help but the bishop shunned him. The bishop's main aim was protecting the church's holy image, instead of protecting children. (By a Broken Rites researcher.)

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

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

The church covered up the crimes of Father Billy Baker

For many years, the Melbourne Catholic Archdiocese knew that Father Wilfred ("Billy") Baker was committing crimes against children but it allowed him to continue in the priesthood, thereby helping him to commit more crimes against more children in more parishes. Broken Rites began advising some of his victims to report Bakers' crimes to the police, and therefore in mid-1997 the archdiocese was forced to send Baker on "administrative leave" to protect the image of the church. Baker was jailed. Thus, the cover-up was finally exposed by Broken Rites. After he finished this jail term, more of his earlier victims contacted Broken Rites and/or the police but, in February 2014, Baker died before the courts could sentence him again. (Article written by a Broken Rites researcher.)

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

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

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