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Written by a Broken Rites Australia researcher.


A Christian Brother, now 80, is facing charges in Melbourne from 55 years ago

Christian Brother John Laidlaw has had a lifelong career, teaching in Catholic schools around Australia, especially in the state of Victoria. In 2019, aged 80, he is facing court in Melbourne charged with having committed sexual offences against some of his Victorian students from 1963 onwards. Brother Laidlaw has also taught in Adelaide and Perth but this court case is confined to Victorian complaints. (By a Broken Rites researcher, article updated 20 June 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, the archdiocese removed him from parish work. 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 offices 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 has ordered Waters to undergo a trial with a judge in a higher court, the Victorian County Court. (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.)

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

A Catholic priest has appeared in court in Sydney 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 24 May 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 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 2 June 2019)

Secrets of the Confessional (wink, wink): A priest raped a boy, then used Confession to conceal the crime

In Australia the Catholic Church is publicly defending the "secrecy of the Confessional". This Broken Rites article is about a Melbourne priest, Father James Scannell, who raped a 12-year-old boy. After the rape (in the early 1970s), the priest subjected the boy to the Catholic ritual of "Confession" and ordered the boy never to tell anybody about what had happened. Intimidated by the church's authority, the boy obediently kept this "secret of the Confessional". The church's code of secrecv damaged the victim's life and it took him forty years to bring the priest to justice. (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.)

Victims of Fr Paul "Rex" Brown were re-abused by Towards Healing

Broken Rites is researching how the Catholic Church harboured a paedophile priest, Father Paul Rex Brown, allowing him to commit sexual crimes against boys and girls in northern New South Wales. 

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.)

The church concealed the crimes of Father Vincent Ryan, helping him to commit more crimes on more children

This Broken Rites article is the most comprehensive account available about how Catholic Church leaders knowingly protected a pedophile priest, 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. On 22 May 2019, a court sentenced Ryan (aged 81) to additional jail time for two more of his victims. (By a Broken Rites researcher, article updated 22 May 2019.)

Does the public have a right to know?

In court in late 2012, a Catholic religious Brother (Br Martin Harmata, of the Patrician Brothers order) was charged with sexually abusing children at a school in Sydney's west (Patrician Brothers College, Blacktown). The question arose about whether Brother Harmata could be granted a media-suppression order. (This would prevent the public — and any other victims — from learning Harmata's name and the name of the school.) However, the suppression order was removed. Thus, the people of Sydney have been allowed to learn about this case. (Article by a Broken Rites researcher.)

This priest, now in jail, is facing another court case regarding an additional alleged victim

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. Meanwhile, another alleged victim has contacted the New South Wales Police, and therefore O'Hearn is scheduled to face another trial in 2019 concerting this additional boy, who was allegedly abused in 1994, (By a Broken Rites researcher, article updated 19 May 2019).

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.)

How Christian Brother Daniel McMahon became "Father" Daniel McMahon

Broken Rites has discovered that the Catholic Church has made settlements with several former pupils who encountered Brother Daniel John Virgil McMahon while he was teaching with the Christian Brothers in Catholic boys' schools in Western Australia (from the 1960s to the 1980s). In the early 1990s, the church elevated Brother McMahon to the rank of "Father" McMahon and allowed him to minister as a priest in parishes on the other side of Australia — in Tasmania, 3500 kilometres away.

The priest and the schoolgirl — and an abortion

Broken Rites is doing further research about a Sydney Catholic priest, Father Kevin Cox, who sexually abused vulnerable girls. For example, one victim (Broken Rites will refer to her as "Mandy") has revealed that Father Cox sexually abused her for six years from the age of eleven. Furthermore, the sexual abuse resulted in a pregnancy at age 17 — and then the priest paid for an abortion. But the church continued to protect Father Cox. Church leaders and fellow-priests continued to regard Father Cox as a church hero. (Article 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, updated 13 May 2019.)

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

The Catholic Church advertises its priests as being "celibate", 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 daughters. These girls have grown up into adulthood, knowing that they are the offspring of Father John O'Callaghan. The private life of Fr John O' Callaghan is no secret among the Melbourne clergy of his generation but the public did not know about it. (By a Broken Rites researcher.)

These victims, now in their fifties, bring an offender to justice after 36 years

A former teacher, Kevin Wilmore Myers, now aged 73, appeared in the Melbourne Magistrates Court on 11 June 2019, charged with having committed sexual offences against a number of boys at a Catholic secondary college in south-western Victoria in the early 1960s. Myers is pleading guilty. The magistrate placed a non-publication order on the name of the school in order to protect the privacy of the victims, who are now aged in their fifties. This order can be reviewed when Myers returns to court for sentencing. Former students allege that, in the 1960s, the school covered up the Myers problem. (By a Broken Rites researcher, article posted 12 June 2019.)

Christian Brother Peter Toomey pleads guilty regarding child-sex offences

Brother Peter John Toomey has been a member of the Christian Brothers Order since joining it in 1967 at the age of 18. He began a long career, teaching boys in various Catholic schools in Melbourne and regional towns. Many years later, after they became adults, some of these former students reported Toomey to the Victoria Police sex-crime detectives for committing indecent assaults. In 2005, Toomey was jailed regarding ten of his victims. In 2017, Australia's child-abuse Royal Commission received further complaints from Toomey's former students; and the Royal Commission advised these victims to speak to the detectives. In May 2019, Toomey was convicted again after pleading guilty regarding two more of his victims. . (Article by a Broken Rites researcher, updated on 8 May 2019)

A priest is charged regarding alleged incidents in Sydney in 1993

On 19 March 2019, New South Wales police 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 posted 23 March 2019.)

Police allege a priest assaulted 37 children during 30 years. He is to face a court trial

For three decades until 1995, Father David Joseph Perrett was a Catholic priest in New South Wales. In 2019 (aged 81) 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. A magistrate has ordered Perrett to stand trial with a judge in a higher court, the NSW District Court, with the preliminary steps scheduled for mid-2019. (By a Broken Rites researcher, article updated 9 May 2019.)

A classic cover-up, putting more children in danger

Research by Broken Rites Australia has found how the Catholic Church covered up sexual abuse by a religious Brother at a church school in Queensland. The cover-up enabled the offender to attack more victims.

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 3 June 2019)

Victims of this priest obtained justice after 36 years

Victims of this priest were intimidated into silence but now they obtain justice after 36 years. Father Gregory Laurence Ferguson, of the Marist Fathers, who was jailed on 15 May 2007 for offences against two boys aged 13 at a Tasmanian boarding school, was given an additional jail sentence on 13 December 2007 for offences against a third boy. (By a Broken Rites researcher, article updated 14 April 2019.)

The church covered up for Father Frank Klep but failed, now he must spend more time in jail

This Broken Rites article is the most comprehensive account available about how the large Catholic order of Salesian Fathers harboured an Australian paedophile priest, Father Frank Klep, for many years — allowing him to commit sexual crimes against defenceless boys. Gradually, with help from Broken Rites, some of his victims managed to expose Klep and the Salesians during four court cases. He is already jail. On 9 April 2019, Klep (aged 75) had his jail time increased after he admitted abusing more youngsters including a four-year-old. (By a Broken Rites researcher, article 9 April 2019.)

This priest committed child-abuse at Melbourne's Xavier College but he went on to have a long career as a priest

A former student from Melbourne's Xavier College (we will refer to him as "Boris") has finally complained to the church authorities that in 1972, aged about 13, he was sexually abused by a Jesuit priest, Father Peter Quin. Boris could not complain during his childhood because he knew that this revelation would hurt his "loyal Catholic" family. Boris had to suffer in silence until he was in his fifties. Then the Jesuits made a settlement with Boris, thus protecting the public image of this elite Jesuit school. (By a Broken Rites researcher, article posted on 8 April 2019.)

The church selected this child-rape criminal to become a priest, thus giving him more victims

This Broken Rites article is about Father Paul Pavlou, who was recruited in his forties to become a trainee priest for the Melbourne Catholic archdiocese. During his priestly training, he committed child-sex crimes. Later, as a priest in parishes, he committed more of these crimes. In recent years he has been convicted (with a non-custodial sentence) regarding some of his crimes, and on 1 April 2019 he was jailed for the sexual penetration of another victim. Father Pavlou's story raises questions about how the church selects its priests. (By a Broken Rites researcher, article updated 1 April 2019.)

A Christian Brother is jailed in 2019 for offences he committed 40 years ago

For several decades, Christian Brother Peter Nicholas Lennox worked in various Catholic schools in Sydney and in regional New South Wales. In a Sydney court on 29 March 2019, he was jailed for sexual crimes which he committed against boys at two of those schools in the 1970s — at Christian Brothers in Manly (now known as St Paul's Catholic College) and at St Patrick's College in Goulburn (now known as Trinity Catholic College). After Lennox finishes this jail term, the prosecutors intend to bring him to court again regarding some additional charges. (By a Broken Rites researcher, article updated 29 March 2019)

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