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Written by a Broken Rites Australia researcher.


Church paid huge sums to lawyers to defend a criminal priest, Father James Fletcher: Background article

The Catholic diocese of Maitland-Newcastle in New South Wales has admitted that it paid an expensive team of lawyers to defend a paedophile priest in a child-abuse court case. The priest, Father James Patrick Fletcher, pleaded not guilty in 2004 to multiple counts of anal and oral sexual penetration of an altar boy, Daniel Feenan. The offences began in 1990, when Daniel was 12. A jury found Fletcher guilty on all charges. Legal experts have told the media that Fletcher's legal costs for the 11-day trial exceeded $200,000. The church's defence team included a Queen's Counsel, plus a second barrister and a solicitor. Fletcher had various victims, most of whom were still remaining silent. This court case in 2004 was about one victim, Daniel. (Background article by a Broken Rites researcher.)

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.)

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

For 34 years until 1995, Father David Joseph Perrett was a Catholic priest in New South Wales. In 2018 (aged 81 and retired) he has been charged by police with committing sexual crimes against 30 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 prosecutor has previously told a court that some of Perrett's charges are so serious that he could perhaps spend the rest of his life in jail if convicted. In court on 29 October 2018, additional charges were filed in Perrett's case. A court has ordered that Perrett must remain in custody while prosecutors continue compiling the documentation for his charges. He will face court again in 2019. (By a Broken Rites researcher, article updated 14 December 2018.)

Background article: The career of Archbishop Philip Wilson

This Broken Rites article is about the career of Australia's Archbishop Philip Wilson. Late in his career, police alleged that Wilson had covered up for a priest (Father James Fletcher) who indecently assaulted a ten-year-old boy (Peter Creigh). Police alleged that, when they were investigating Father Fletcher in 2003-2004 regarding a different victim (Daniel Feenan), Archbishop Wilson possessed information (about the abuse of Peter) which might help the case against Fletcher but Wilson concealed this information, thus protecting the criminal Fletcher. A court convicted Archbishop Wilson regarding his concealment of Peter's abuse. On 6 December 2018, a court quashed Wilson's conviction. This court case, however, was regarding only one of the church's victims, Peter Creigh. What did Wilson know about other criminal priests? (By a Broken Rites researcher, updated on 14 December 2018.)

This priest was a danger to young schoolgirls

Broken Rites is doing research about Father Damian Colbourne, who has spent many years as a priest in the Catholic order of Capuchin Franciscan Friars, ministering in Sydney, Melbourne and Brisbane. In Brisbane in May 2017, Colbourne (then aged 75) was jailed for sexually abusing an eight-year-old Brisbane schoolgirl in 1974 (when he was in his thirties). Colbourne was charged by Queensland police in 2016 after the victim reported him to Australia's national child-abuse Royal Commission. In court, he pleaded guilty regarding the Brisbane girl. How many other children were victims of Father Colbourne? (By a Broken Rites researcher, article updated 8 December 2018)

The church finally admits the child-sex crimes of Father Tony Bongiorno

According to Broken Rites research, the Melbourne Catholic archdiocese has been forced to admit that Father Anthony Bongiorno committed sexual crimes against children during his 30 years working in Melbourne parishes. Anthony (Tony) Bongiorno began training for the priesthood about 1960, aged 25. Anthony Bongiorno's child-sex crimes were covered up until some of his victims exposed him in the mid-1990s. The total number of Father Bongiorno's victims is unknown. For example, in 1980, a woman (named Maria James) learned that her son (aged 11) was a Bongiorno victim but this woman was murdered before she could expose Bongiorno about her son's abuse. (By a Broken Rites researcher, article updated on 1 December 2018.)

A new Melbourne priest was abusing children from Day One, now he awaits sentencing in court

Father Paul Chris Pavlou is a relatively recent recruit to Australia's Catholic priesthood. He was originally a school-teacher but, in his thirties, he began studying to become a priest. Later, in his forties, he was elevated to the priesthood and began ministering in parishes of the Melbourne archdiocese. Soon after this, he admitted in court that he was committing sexual offences against children before and after becoming a priest. Now he is awaiting his sentencing, which will be held in the Melbourne County Court in 2019. Pavlou's story raises questions about how the church selects its priests. (By a Broken Rites researcher, article updated 2 December 2018.)

Jailed again: A "reverend" Brother damaged many boys at two elite Catholic schools

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 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 (aged 81) was jailed for some of his Adelaide offences. And on 23 November 2018 a Sydney court jailed Higgs (aged 81) for seven and a half years for sexual offences at the Sydney school. (By a Broken Rites researcher, article updated on 1 December 2018.)

A convicted priest appears on TV but is still ignorant about how the church's cover-up can damage the victims and their families

In the early 1970s, a boy complained to the Catholic Church about being sexually abused by a Sydney priest (Father Robert Flaherty) but the church merely transferred the priest to a new parish, thus giving him easy access to more children, a Sydney court has been told. This victim then reported Flaherty to the police. Years later, another victim contacted the police, followed later by a third boy (all from different parishes). In court in 2016, Father Flaherty (then aged 72) was jailed regarding the three boys. In July 2018, a television program ("A Current Affair" on the Nine Network) interviewed Father Flaherty (after his release from jail) and also interviewed one of his victims. On TV, Flaherty is still ignorant about how the church's culture of cover-up can damage the lives (and family relationships) of the church's victims many years later. If you click a link at the end of this article, you can watch the interviews. (By a Broken Rites researcher, article updated 2 December 2018.)

This priest became the deputy to a bishop, then was jailed and now is in court again

In the 1970s and 1980s, Father Richard Cattell was a Catholic priest in western Sydney. 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. In 2015, Cattell was jailed for sexual crimes committed against boys during his time in western Sydney. Since then, detectives have received additional information about Cattell's career. Therefore, in late 2018, police filed additional charges against Cattell in a magistrates court. Next, the new charges will go to a judge in a higher court, the New South Wales District Court (see details towards the end of this article). (By a Broken Rites researcher, article updated 23 November 2018.)

A Marist Brother has been jailed for some of his victims, but another ex-student has died by suicide

Australian Marist Brother David Christian was recruited by the Marist Brothers at the age of 15 and became a fully-fledged Brother at 18. By the age of 40 (in the 1980s), he was a school principal — and he was sexually abusing young boys. Years later, some of these victims began to speak (as adults) to child-protection detectives in the state police force. This resulted in David Christian being jailed when he was in his seventies. But how many other victims of Brother David Christian have NOT spoken to the police? For example, one of Brother David Christian's ex-students died by suicide at the age of 21, leaving a suicide note about how his life had been damaged by Brother David Christian. (By a Broken Rites researcher, article updated 21 November 2018.)

The church concealed Christian Brother Neil Richards' crimes from the police but more victims now are speaking to police

Catholic Church authorities knew for years about Christian Brother Desmond Eric ("Neil") Richards' sexual crimes against schoolboys in New South Wales but the crimes were concealed from the police (and from the public). Eventually, Richards was transferred to Rome (away from the NSW police) but NSW detectives arrested him when he returned to Australia in 2013. Richards was jailed in Sydney in 2014 for some of his crimes. On 16 December 2016 (aged in his mid-seventies), he was sentenced to additional time in jail after more of his victims contacted the NSW detectives. Richards pleaded guilty regarding all these victims. On 17 October 2018, he was sentenced again to more jail time for more of his crimes. Other victims of Richards have remained silent but it is still possible for them to speak to the detectives; therefore, the investigation will continue. (By a Broken Rites researcher, article updated on 1 December 2018)

An ex-priest, 75, is charged with raping a 10-year-old boy in a public toilet during a picnic more than 50 years ago

In the 1960s, Brian Spillane began training towards a career in the Catholic priesthood. In 2018, he is in jail in New South Wales for sexual crimes which he committed against boys (and also some girls) during his religious career. While he is in jail, police have investigated some additional allegations about Spillane. Now, in late 2018, he is being charged in court (aged 75) with having raped a ten-year-old boy in Sydney in 1964. He is to face a committal hearing on a future date.(By a Broken Rites researcher, article updated 20 November 2018.)

GUILTY: A Christian Brother is convicted on offences from 40 years ago

For several decades, Christian Brother Peter Nicholas Lennox worked in various Catholic schools in Sydney and in regional New South Wales. On 15 November 2018, a jury found Lennox (now aged 79) guilty of sexual offences 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). (By a Broken Rites researcher, article updated 16 November 2018)

An ex-Marist Brother became a lay teacher and then a priest — now he is facing a crminal court trial

A Catholic priest (Father Carl Stafford, now aged 79) is listed for a trial in the Sydney District Court, charged with child-sex offences allegedly committed earlier in his priestly career. Bishop Peter A Comensoli (formerly of the Broken Bay diocese, in Sydney's north) stated publicly in 2017: "Originally a Marist Brother, Fr Stafford left this Order [the Marists] and took up a lay teaching position with St Gregory’s College Campbelltown before entering the seminary in 1989. Ordained as a priest for the Diocese of Broken Bay in 1994, Fr Stafford held appointments in Mona Vale, Gosford, Toukley/Lake Munmorah and Kincumber parishes." (According to church sources, Father Carl Stafford is still a priest and he is merely retired from parish appointments.) (Article updated on 14 November 2018.)

Ex-priest says child-sex offences were normal among his colleagues

A convicted priest (Father David Edwin Rapson, who belonged to one of Australia's most prominent Catholic religious orders, the Salesians) has "blown the whistle" on his colleagues in this religious order, declaring that they too were committing sexual offences on schoolboys. Broken Rites has discovered Rapson's claim in some court documents. (By a Broken Rites researcher.)

This priest has been in jail, and he now faces more charges

On 24 July 2014 a Catholic priest, Father Patrick Holmes (then aged 79), was jailed for sexually abusing two young girls in Western Australia many years ago (one girl in 1969 and the other girl about 1981). The first victim eventually reported Father Holmes to the church authorities in 2000, but (according to Broken Rites research) the church continued to list "Reverend Patrick Holmes" as a priest in the annual editions of the Australian Catholic Directory. In 2014 this victim finally spoke to police, who immediately charged Holmes. In 2018, police charged Patrick Holmes (now aged 83) in court again in Perth, regarding additional child-sex offences from 40 years ago. These new charges will be heard in court in 2019. (By a Broken Rites researcher, article updated 14 November 2018.)

A priest pleads guilty in Victoria regarding two girls

Fr Bernard Mahony, aged 75, a priest in the Sale diocese (covering the Gippsland region in the state of Victoria), pleaded guilty in court on 2 November 2018 regarding indecent assaults of two girls, committed 40 years ago in one of Mahony's earlier parishes. In the Latrobe Valley Magistrates Court at Morwell, a magistrate sentenced him to a wholly suspended sentence of six months. (By a Broken Rites researcher, article posted on 4 November 2018.)

The church protected Father John Farrell for 30 years but now he is in jail, and his jail time is being increased

This Broken Rites article is the most comprehensive account available about how Catholic Church leaders remained silent for 30 years about the child-sex crimes of Father John Joseph Farrell (also known as "Father F"). In 1993, Broken Rites began researching the Farrell cover-up. In 2012, our research helped to create a "Four Corners" television program about the Farrell cover-up, thus bringing this cover-up to nationwide attention. And this 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 in 2016. Meanwhile, more of his victims were speaking to the detectives, and therefore on 2 November 2018 Farrell (now aged 65) was sentenced to more time in jail for these additional crimes. (By a Broken Rites researcher, article updated 8 November 2018.)

A Christian Brother in court in Melbourne

A Christian Brother, Rex Elmer (born in 1944), joined this religious order in 1961 when he was 16. He then began a long career teaching in Catholic schools in the Christian Brothers' Victoria-Tasmania province. In 2018 (now aged 73) he is scheduled for proceedings in the Melbourne Magistrates Court, charged with a number of child-sex offences (case number J11744998). The charges have been laid by detectives from the Victoria Police child-protection unit (the Sano Taskforce at police headquarters in Spencer Street, Melbourne).

A New South Wales priest is jailed for sexually assaulting boys in his parish house

In a Sydney court on 30 October 2018, a Catholic priest in northern New South Wales (Father John Patrick Casey, 70) was sentenced to four years and ten months jail on charges of sexually assaulting two teenage boys who stayed with him at the priest's parish-house in the 1980s. The allegations against Father Casey included performing oral sex on one of the boys, masturbating in the boy’s presence, and digitally penetrating the other boy’s anus. (By a Broken Rites researcher, article updated on 1 November 2018)

The church covered up for this priest but failed, now he is pleading guilty again on more charges

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 three court cases. Now he is in jail. In a fourth court case on 26 October 2018, Klep has pleaded guilty regarding three more of his victims. He will be sentenced again in early 2019. (By a Broken Rites researcher, article updated 1 November 2018.)

Marist Brother 'Romuald' Cable, already jailed, pleads guilty again regarding more of his crimes

For many years, Marist Brother Francis William Cable (also known as "Brother Romuald") was committing sexual crimes against Catholic schoolboys in New South Wales. His Marist colleagues and superiors looked the other way, protecting him from the police and giving him access to more victims. Eventually, some of his victims (acting separately) began to contact Broken Rites and/or the New South Wales Police, instead of merely telling Romuald Cable's church colleagues. NSW Police detectives then found some more of his victims. As a result, "Rom" Cable was jailed in 2015 regarding 19 of his victims. The police investigation continued. In court in October 2018, he pleaded guilty regarding five more of his victims. (By a Broken Rites researcher, article updated 1 November 2018.)

These three victims forced the Marist Brothers to apologise

The leaders of Australia's Marist Brothers have apologised to three ex-pupils of a very senior Marist, who was known as Brother Bertinus. These three ex-pupils went to different schools (in different Australian states) and they do not know each other. In a co-incidence, two of the three have each written a book in which each describes his encounter with Brother Bertinus. (By a Broken Rites researcher)

Part-time "celibacy": How Jane was left holding a priest's baby

The Catholic Church in Australia has apologized to a vulnerable woman who was a victim of "nine-to-five" priestly celibacy. The Melbourne Catholic archdiocese has accepted the woman's complaint that one of its priests had fathered her child. This priest allegedly had been living with the woman and her child in a de facto relationship but he later abandoned the woman and the child. (By a Broken Rites researcher.)

Victims of Father Gannon defeated a cover-up, with help from Broken Rites

This article explains why Broken Rites Australia advises church-abuse victims to have a chat with child-protection detectives in the victim's 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.)

Suicide #1: How the church destroyed the life of altar boy Damian Jurd in northern NSW

In the late 1990s, the Catholic Church paid a small amount to a former altar boy, Damian Jurd, to settle his complaint about having been sexually abused (at the age of 11) by a local priest, Father John Joseph Farrell (sometimes referred to as "Father F"). Damian said his life had been disrupted by this abuse and by the way the church protected Father Farrell. At the age of 28 (not long after this settlement), Damian took his own life, leaving two children of his own. This Broken Rites article gives some more information about Damian's tragic life. (By a Broken Rites researcher, article updated 1 November 2018.)

Suicide #2: The church left an ex-altar boy, Daniel Powell, to take his own life in Sydney

The Catholic Church authorities have accepted a complaint from a former altar boy, Daniel Powell, that he was sexually abused in a Sydney parish at the age of 12 by a Catholic priest, Father John Joseph Farrell (sometimes referred to as "Father F"). Daniel, who was aged 25 at the time of the settlement (in 2005), received a relatively small amount of compensation from the church. But he was still severely damaged by the abuse (and by the church's cover-up). Daniel Powell ended up dying by suicide in 2007, aged 28. (By a Broken Rites researcher, article updated 1 November 2018.)

The church covered up for Father Paul David Ryan for many years, but Broken Rites supported the victims

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 a jail sentence for Ryan in 2006. Now, Paul David Ryan is facing court again in 2018 after more of his alleged victims have spoken to the detectives. The 2018 case is referred to at the end of this article. (By a Broken Rites researcher)

This criminal was a "very respected" member of the Christian Brothers

The Catholic order of Christian Brothers sheltered a pedophile (Brother John Climacus Kissane) during his long teaching career while he committed sexual assaults on boys in Catholic schools in Victoria and Tasmania. The Christian Brothers have recently paid compensation to some of Kissane's victims. When Kissane died in October 2018 (aged 96), the Christian Brothers published an obituary notice in the Melbourne Herald Sun newspaper, describing him as a "highly respected" member of their Order. His victims feel hurt by this "respect" being shown to a child-abuser. (By a Broken Rites researcher, article posted on 1 November 2018)

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