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Written by a Broken Rites Australia researcher.


The church covered up the crimes of Brother John Laidlaw, including at Melbourne's elite St Kevin's College

The leaders of the Catholic order of Christian Brothers knew that Brother John Laidlaw was committing sex crimes against boys in Catholic schools but he was allowed to continue his life-long career, teaching at various schools including Melbourne's elite St Kevin's College, Toorak. In 2019, a judge jailed Brother Laidlaw for crimes committed at a number of Catholic schools in Melbourne and regional Victoria between 1963 and 1984. (By a Broken Rites researcher, article updated 23 February 2020)

This Christian Brother abused children in a Melbourne orphanage but was allowed to keep his career

The Catholic order of Christian Brothers knew that Brother Rex Elmer had been committing sexual crimes against boys in a Melbourne orphanage-like institution. But the Christian Brothers administrators allowed Elmer to continue his life-long career as a senior Brother in Catholic schools. His crimes were concealed from the police. The administrators also allowed him to spend time working as a Brother in Africa. Eventually, some of his Australian victims (acting separately) reported Elmer's crimes to police, resulting in him being convicted by Melbourne courts in 1998 and in 2020. He is currently awaiting sentence in the 2020 case. (By a Broken Rites researcher, article updated on 23 February 2020.)

A guilty priest dies while waiting to be sentenced, but the jury's guilty verdict still stands

Father James Joseph Cunneen committed sexual crimes against boys in two parishes of the Parramatta Catholic Diocese (in Sydney's western suburbs) in the 1980s. His priestly status gave him access to young people. Prosecutors regard Cunneen's crimes as serious. In 2019, a jury found him guilty regarding six of his victims (four from one parish and two from an earlier parish). Cunneen, aged 60, was remanded in custody to await a pre-sentence hearing (scheduled for 14 February 2020) when the judge would hear submissions about what kind of sentence should be imposed. Each victim intended to tell the court (at the pre-sentence hearing) how these church-crimes had impacted this victim's life. But on 28 December 2019 Cunneen died in hospital as the result of a heart condition; and evidently his body was cremated. Therefore, when the case came up in court on 14 February 2020, the judge was unable to sentence Cunneen; and now the judge will seek a formal statement from police confirming that Cunneen is dead. Meanwhile, the jury's guilty verdict still stands. (By a Broken Rites researcher, article updated 15 February 2020)

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. In 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. In October 2018, he was sentenced again to more jail time for more of his crimes. In 2020, he is facing further charges in court regarding yet another boy. 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 12 February 2020.)

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. Australia's Jesuit administration has asked retired Victorian Supreme Court chief justice Marilyn Warren to write a review about Higgs and other Jesuit offenders, and her printed report was submitted to the Jesuits in February 2020. (By a Broken Rites researcher, article updated on 6 February 2020.)

Prosecutors allege a priest assaulted 40 children during 30 years — now he is contesting the charges

For three decades until 1995, Father David Joseph Perrett worked in Catholic parishes in north-western New South Wales. Now in 2020 (aged 82 and retired from parish work), he is in a court process, charged with committing sexual crimes against 40 children throughout his priestly career. A court has been told that the offences allegedly took place in eight parishes from the 1960s to the mid-1990s. The 40 children (37 boys and three girls) were aged from three years to their mid-teens. The charges include 139 counts involving assault, acts of indecency, buggery, carnal knowledge, and maintaining an unlawful sexual relationship with a child under 16. Perrett is pleading Not Guilty on all the charges. In February 2020, the Armidale District Court scheduled a trial for 12 months away, in late January 2021. Perrett has previously claimed that, because of bad health, he might have only a few months to live. (By a Broken Rites researcher, article updated 22 February 2020.)

The church covered up for Father Frank Klep but failed, now he is spending 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, some of his victims managed to expose Klep and the Salesians, resulting in the jailing of Klep. In 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 updated 1 February 2020.)

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. In 2019, Denham (aged 76) was sentenced to additional jail time for his 59th victim. (By a Broken Rites researcher, article updated 1 February 2020)

A Catholic priest says he was abused by a pedophile priest at age 12 — and now he seeks justice

An Australian legal firm is demanding compensation from the Catholic Church on behalf of eleven victims who say they were sexually abused in the 1960s by a priest (Fr Clarence David Anderson, usually known by his middle name David). One victim, who was aged 12 at the time of the abuse, eventually became a priest. This is believed to be the first Australian case of a serving Catholic priest seeking compensation as a childhood victim of another priest. (By a Broken Rites researcher, article updated 17 February 2020.)

The church apologises for a priest's behaviour towards a girl aged 15

The Independent Commissioner for the Melbourne Catholic archdiocese has upheld a complaint by a Melbourne woman about sexually abusive behaviour by Fr Anthony (Tony) Hicks in the 1970s when she was 15 years old. The Archbishop of Melbourne, Peter Comensoli, has issued a written apology to her in 2019 in relation to this matter.

A former Marist Brother, now 81, is facing charges of child-sex abuse from 50 years ago

A former Marist Brother, Kevin Joseph Jewell, now aged 81, is involved in court proceedings regarding indecent assaults allegedly committed against boys 50 years ago during one of his earliest Sydney teaching posts (now known as Marist College Eastwood). In those years, each new Marist Brother would adopt a "religious" first-name. Court documents don't mention Kevin Jewell's "religious" first-name but another Sydney Marist school (Marcellin College in Randwick) says (in its official history) that a Brother "Dacian" Jewell spent some time teaching at the Randwick school. (By a Broken Rites researcher, article updated 1 January 2020.)

A Catholic priest in court in 2020 regarding eleven children at a NSW boarding school

A Catholic priest, Father Anthony Caruana, aged 77, has appeared in a New South Wales magistrates court during 2019, charged with indecently assaulting eleven boys, aged 12 to 15, in the 1980s when Father Caruana was on the staff of Chevalier College, a Catholic boarding school at Burradoo (near Bowral) in the NSW Southern Highlands. Chevalier College was established by a Catholic religious order of priests, known as the Missionaries of the Sacred Heart. The Caruana case had another administrative mention in court on 3 December 2019; and the next steps will be in 2020. (Article updated 1 January 2020.)

The Marist Brothers sheltered this pedophile, helping him to commit crimes against young boys

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 2019, Romuald Cable was sentenced to more jail time after pleading guilty regarding five more of his victims. (By a Broken Rites researcher, article updated 17 January 2020.)

A Marist Brother eventually became a priest — and now he is jailed for 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 2019, he appeared in Sydney District Court (aged 80), charged with committing sexual offences against four boys during his forties and fifties. Stafford, who had previously pleaded "Not Guilty", changed his plea to "Guilty" regarding these four boys. On 6 December 2019 he was sentenced to five years jail (with the right to apply for release on parole after three years). (Article updated on 7 January 2020.)

A priest (previously jailed regarding three boys) is in court again re a fourth boy

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 was jailed regarding these three boys. This prompted another boy to speak to the police and therefore on 28 November 2019, Flaherty (aged 76) appeared in court again, charged regarding the fourth boy (this new case will continue in court on a later date). (By a Broken Rites researcher, article updated 1 February 2020.)

This reverend Brother (now aged 72) is jailed until he will be aged 97

One of Australia’s Catholic religious orders – the St John of God Brothers – has specialised in accommodating boys who have an educational (or intellectual) disability. One of these institutions was the "Kendall Grange" boys' home in Morriset, near Newcastle in New South Wales. This Broken Rites article is about Brother Bernard Kevin McGrath, who committed sexual crimes against many of these disabled victims. McGrath has already served several jail terms regarding some of his victims. On 18 November 2019, McGrath (aged 72) was sentenced to additional time in jail regarding some more of his victims. According to his sentence, Brother McGrath would be aged 97 before his earliest release date. (By a Broken Rites researcher, article updated 1 December 2019.)

A Catholic religious Brother, now 81, is jailed for a rape committed 45 years ago

In November 2019, a Sydney court jailed a retired Catholic religious Brother (Brother Peter Higgins, now aged 81) 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 will remain in jail until at least November 2022. (By a Broken Rites researcher, article updated 1 December 2019.)

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. In 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 1 December 2019.)

JAILED: A Melbourne priest sexually abused five boys in the 1970s and 1980s

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 young persons. In 1999, some victims began to report Waters' crimes to the police. Eventually, the matter was investigated by detectives from the Sano Taskforce of the Victoria Police sexual crimes squad, located in central Melbourne. In 2019, a criminal court sentenced Waters (aged 74) to jail for offences against five boys. (By a Broken Rites researcher, 17 November 2019.)

The church gave this priest easy access to young victims, and some of them got him jailed

In 2019, Broken Rites is continuing its research about a pedophile priest, Father Charles Alfred Barnett, who was harboured by the Catholic Church for twenty years in Queensland, New South Wales, Victoria, South Australia and Western Australia. In 2010, some of his South Australian victims finally got him jailed. And in 2018 some more of his South Australian victims got him convicted again. In 2019, another former student told Broken Rites that he, too, is contacting the sexual-crimes detectives in South Australia. (By a Broken Rites researcher, article updated 30 November 2019.)

The church has been forced to admit the crimes of Fr Patrick Cusack

Broken Rites is continuing its research about Father Patrick Cusack, a "highly respected" priest who committed sexual crimes against primary school girls in the Canberra-Goulburn archdiocese during many years. During his priestly career, Cusack was protected by the church's code of silence about clergy sexual abuse. But, after his death, so many Cusack victims came forward that the church finally had to acknowledge the priest's crimes. (By a Broken Rites researcher, article updated 15 December 2019.)

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. He will be sentenced on these Queensland charges on a later date. 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 8 November 2019.)

Fr Robert Claffey (already in jail) gets additional time behind bars

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, in 2019 Claffey (still in jail and aged 76) was sentenced in 2019 to additional time in jail. (By a Broken Rites researcher, article updated 1 January 2020.)

A priest gets more jail time after yet another victim speaks to the police

The Australia-wide Salesian religious order operates Catholic schools in several Australian states, and it is notorious for tolerating sexually-abusive priests and brothers on its teaching staff, often transferring them from school to school around Australia and overseas. For example, the Salesian leadership knew that Father Michael Aulsebrook committed child-sex crimes in Victoria but, despite knowing this, the leadership retained him in the priesthood and promoted him to a higher position — in South Australia. Eventually, a Victorian victim got Aulsebrook jailed. This prompted more of Aulsebook's victims to speak (separately) to Victoria Police detectives, and therefore in 2019 Aulsebrook has received additional Victorian jail sentences. (By a Broken Rites researcher, article updated 8 November 2019.).

Yet another Catholic priest is convicted in New South Wales

Father Dennis Byrnes had a long career as a Catholic priest in parishes on the New South Wales north coast. Between 2016 and 2019, Byrnes underwent a court process in which he was charged with having committed sexual crimes against a boy (these crimes began in 1999 when the boy was aged 12). For legal reasons, there was no media reporting of the case before the court proceedings finished. In 2019, Byrnes (aged 72) was sentenced to jail and the Byrnes case got its first mention on a town's local news website on 7 November 2019. (By a Broken Rites researcher, article posted 14 November 2019.)

A former student is suing the Jesuits, alleging sexual abuse at age 12

A former student of Melbourne's Xavier College is suing the Catholic religious order of Jesuit priests and brothers, seeking compensation for sexual and physical abuse which he allegedly suffered when he was a 12-year-old boarder at this school in the 1960s. (By a Broken Rites researcher, article posted on 17 December 2019.)

A priest suddently died after police charged him — and now one of his victims has died by suicide

Broken Rites is doing further research about how the Catholic Church harboured Father Daniel Dominic Hourigan, who committed sexual offences against children in the Sale diocese in eastern Victoria. Hourigan was recruited into the priesthood in his forties. He died three days after police charged him with sexual offences against a boy. Now, many years later, some of his victims are still feeling hurt by the church's cover-up. In 2019, one of Hourigan's victims died by suicide — a slow death lasting forty years. This victim's death is mentioned at the end of this article. (By a Broken Rites researcher, article updated 20 January 2020.)

The church protected "Father F" for 30 years but now he is in jail

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. (By a Broken Rites researcher.)

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 finally admits the crimes of Father Lloyd Reynolds

The Catholic Church has been forced to admit the crimes of Father Lloyd Reynolds (now deceased), who (the church authorities say) was one of the worst child-sex offenders in Australia's capital city, Canberra. Father Reynolds, who was a priest for 40 years until 1983, belonged to the diocese of Canberra-Goulburn which covers the Australian Capital Territory plus a large region of southern New South Wales. One victim has told Broken Rites about abuse committed by Father Reynolds around 1960, and this victim is still feeling hurt. (By a Broken Rites researcher, article posted 15 December 2019.)

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