Latest stories

Written by a Broken Rites Australia researcher.


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)

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 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 )

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 Catholic priest in court over alleged child sex abuse at a NSW 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 five 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 at Bowral, in the NSW Southern Highlands. (Article updated 1 August 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 1 August 2019.)

This priest (the deputy to a bishop) has been jailed three times

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)

A "priest without a parish" is scheduled for a criminal court trial on child-sex charges

For 25 years, Father Peter Maurice Waters ministered in a series of parishes of the Melbourne Catholic archdiocese. In 1999, when he was aged in his fifties, he ceased having any more parish postings. Since 1999, according to church law, Peter Waters has retained his priestly qualification — but without a parish (and without any other official role in the church). In 2017, when Waters was aged 72, police charged him with child-sex offences relating to his time in parishes. In early 2018, Waters underwent a four-day committal (i.e., preliminary) hearing in the Melbourne Magistrates Court. After hearing the evidence, the magistrate ordered Waters to undergo a trial with a judge in a higher court, the Victorian County Court, to be held in 2019. (By a Broken Rites researcher, article updated 26 July 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)

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.)

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.)

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.)

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.)

A priest is charged regarding alleged incidents in Sydney in 1993

In 2019, New South Wales police have charged a Catholic priest (Father Ron Peters) with having indecently assaulted a schoolboy in Sydney in 1993 (this was before Ron Peters became a priest). Ronald Peters (born in 1958) has written about how he was originally a Brother in the Catholic teaching order of Patrician Brothers in NSW (in the 1980s and 1990s). Early in the 2000s, he was accepted by the Wollongong diocese (south of Sydney) as a trainee priest and, after training as a deacon in parishes, he was finally ordained as a priest for this diocese in 2005. The indecent-assault charge is due to have a preliminary mention in court in mid-2019. (Article updated 10 July 2019.)

A Sydney priest is serving a five-year jail sentence for child-sex crimes

Broken Rites is doing further research about Father Robert James Hickman, who 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 (these disadvantaged people were especially in danger of being abused). In Sydney's Parramatta District Court on 9 December 2016, Hickman (then aged 71) was jailed for a minimum of five years for child-sex offences. Since then, Broken Rites has found additional victims of Father Hickman. (By a Broken Rites researcher, article updated 8 August 2019,.)

A priest is convicted in 2019 for a crime committed 54 years ago

A 2019 court case has proved that, under Australian law, it is never to late for any child-assault victim to report the crime to the child-protection police.  In 1965, Catholic priest Allan John Mithen (then aged 25) twice indecently assaulted an Aboriginal girl while he was in charge of a West Australian institution for Aboriginal children who had been taken from their families. In the West Australian District Court on 15 January 2019, Father Mithen (by then aged 80) pleaded guilty to these two assaults and was convicted. Mithen had also worked as a priest in Sydney and Melbourne and possibly elsewhere. (By a Broken Rites researcher, article updated on 29 July 2019.)

One of Australia's leading Christian Brothers has been jailed after pleading guilty

Christian Brother Terence Patrick Aquinas Kingston had a 40-year career as a teacher and administrator in Australian Catholic boys' schools — and he became one of the leaders of the Christian Brothers in Australia. Meanwhile, he was committing sexual offences against schoolboys. As usual in Catholic Church crimes, his victims suffered in silence throughout their childhood but eventually (when aged in their fifties) several of them spoke to police investigators, and this resulted in Kingston being sentenced to jail in two states (in Queensland in 2017 and in New South Wales in 2019). The charges involved a total of eight victims, and Kingston pleaded guilty regarding all of these. These eight victims were not necessarily his only victims; the eight were merely those who helped the police. (By a Broken Rites researcher, article updated 2 July 2019)

GUILTY: A Catholic religious Brother committed buggery on a schoolboy

In May 2019, a Sydney court convicted a retired Catholic religious Brother (Brother Peter Higgins, now aged 80) for committing sexual offences (including buggery) on an 11-year-old schoolboy in the mid-1970s. The offences occurred on several days (after school had finished for the day) at Patrician Brothers Catholic School (formerly called St Mary's school, now called All Saints) in Liverpool, a suburb in Sydney's south-west. Higgins is now in custody, and the court will sentence him later in 2019. (By a Broken Rites researcher, article updated 1 June 2019.)

This "celibate" priest 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 27 June 2019.)

The church has made payments to settle these complaints about abuse of disadvantaged boys

The Catholic Church has paid settlements to men who allege that they were abused many years ago by Father Roger Mount while he was a Brother in the Catholic St John of God Order, running children's homes (for disadvantaged boys) in Australia. The church allowed Father Mount to continue ministering as priest for many years in Papua New Guinea until the Australian media published articles about him in 2014. (By a Broken Rites researcher, article updated 1 June 2019.)

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.)

A sexually abusive Christian Brother became a university lecturer who trained new teachers

Christian Brother Terence Anthony Simpson originally worked in Catholic schools in Queensland and New South Wales. At St Joseph's College in Gregory Terrace in Brisbane in the 1960s, he was behaving indecently against his pupils. When victims complained, Simpson's superiors merely moved him to Christian Brothers schools in New South Wales, thereby putting more students in danger. Later, Simpson became a university lecturer in Queensland, training a new generation of teachers. Gradually, many years later, some of his Brisbane victims spoke (separately) to the police. On 8 June 2019, Simpson appeared in court, where another victim submitted an impact statement describing how this abuse has damaged his life. This victim's statement appears towards the end of this Broken Rites article. (By a Broken Rites researcher, article updated 19 June 2019.)

Church victims should report church crimes to the police detectives, as shown in the Father Gannon case

This article explains why Broken Rites Australia advises church-abuse victims to have a chat with child-protection detectives in the state police force. The Melbourne Catholic archdiocese ignored the child-sex crimes of Father Desmond Gannon throughout his long career. This cover-up ended in 1993 when the newly-formed Broken Rites began encouraging church-victims to consult the child-protection detectives. In 1995 this resulted in a jail sentence for Gannon. Altogether, Gannon has been sentenced five times (in 1995, 1997, 2000, 2003 and 2009) for sexual crimes against children. But the Catholic Church did not totally strip Gannon of his priestly status until 2012, when the church hierarchy became alarmed about the launching of Victoria's parliamentary investigation into church-related child sex-abuse. (By a Broken Rites researcher, article updated 14 June 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.)

This priest is in jail for at least nine years

During the 1980s and 1980s, Father David Anthony O’Hearn worked in parishes in the Maitland-Newcastle Catholic diocese, north of Sydney. Now he is in jail where he is serving a minimum nine-years sentence for sexual offences against young boys. (By a Broken Rites researcher, article updated 20 May 2019).

The church keeps a priest after a payout to a victim

A former Australian Catholic bishop has confirmed that he appointed a priest (Father Guy Hartcher) to administer a parish after the church had paid a $40,000 settlement involving the priest. The payout went to a former pupil, on condition that he did not tell the police about the alleged abuse. (By a Broken Rites researcher.)

Pages

Subscribe to Broken Rites Australia RSS