Priest jailed for indecency against a boy at St Stanislaus College, Bathurst NSW

  • By a Broken Rites researcher

An Australian Catholic priest, Father Kevin Francis Phillips, was sentenced to jail in Sydney for sexually abusing a 16-year-old boy at St Stanislaus College boys' boarding school at Bathurst in central-west New South Wales.

Father Kevin Phillips, 60, had pleaded guilty on 3 December 2010 to four counts of gross indecency with a child under the age of 18. Several other charges against the priest were dropped.

In 1990, according to the prosecution, Father Phillips spent a few months as assistant chaplain at St Stanislaus College. The school was run by the Catholic order of Vincentian Fathers.

The court was told that Father Phillips began to invite students to his room to drink and smoke.

According to an agreed statement of facts (submitted in court), Phillips was assigned in April 1990 to be the boy's mentor for evening prayer sessions.

The abuse began when Phillips allowed the boy and a friend to drink whisky in his room. Phillips exposed himself and performed a sexual act in the presence of the boys.

On an evening that May, the complainant went to Phillips' room where Phillips read from a sex eduction book and asked the boy about his sexual experience.

"Thereafter. the complainant visited the offender's room several times each week," the facts to the court stated. Phillips commtted indecency during the boy's subsequent visits to the room.

Phillips disappeared from the school in November1990 after complaints were made to another teacher about Phillips's behaviour.

The court was told that a notice put up at the school said that Father Phillips had "left to take care of his seriously ill mother" and would not return.

At the time of his arrest in 2009, Phillips was in charge of several parishes in Mackay (within the Rockhampton diocese), central Queensland.

When the Kevin Francis Phillips case first came up for mention in a Sydney magistrate's court on 5 May 2009, his lawyer indicated that Fr Phillips would contest the allegations. The eventual guilty plea meant that his case did not need to go to a jury trial. A judge merely had to conduct the sentencing proceedings.

Jailed

In the Sydney District Court on 21 April 2011, Judge Penelope Hock sentenced Kevin Francis Phillips to 15 months' jail. On the first three counts he was sentenced to a concurrent term of imprisonment of nine months starting on 21 April 2011 and expiring on 20 January 2012.

On the final charge of gross indecency by a male with a male under 18 years Phillips was sentenced to a term of imprisonment of nine months to start on 21 October 2011 and expiring on 20 July 2012 with a non-parole period of three months.

This means that Phillips would spend 15 months behind bars before becoming eligible for parole.

Under Section 51 of the Crimes (Sentencing Procedure) Act Judge Hock directed Phillips's parole not to be subject to supervision, entitling him to return to Queensland on his release.

Two simultaneous cases

Judge Hock placed a media-suppression order on the Phillips case, preventing any publication about the matter until after the conclusion of a jury trial against the former headmaster of St Stanislaus College, Father Peter William Dwyer.

[The Dwyer jury trial took place in another courtroom, and, for legal reasons, the Dwyer jury was not allowed to know about the other St Stanislaus case involving Father Phillips. Police had charged Fr Peter William Dwyer with 10 offences against four boys, including indecent assault and having sexual intercourse with a person under the age of 16. Fr Dwyer contested all the charges. This jury acquitted Father Dwyer on 9 April 2011, thus permitting the media to report the conviction of Kevin Francis Phillips.]

Broken Rites research

Father Kevin Francis Phillips began his career as a priest in the Vincentian religious order (this order is officially called the Congregation of the Mission).

Broken Rites has researched Fr Phillips' address in the annual editions of the Australian Catholic directory.

In the late 1980s, he was listed at the Guardian Angels parish (which was staffed by the Vincentians) in Southport on the Queensland Gold Coast.

He worked at St Stanislaus College, Bathurst, for a few months in 1990. As well as being a chaplain, he was also a part-time teacher and sports coach.

In an edition of the Australian Catholic Directory for 1991, Fr Kevin Francis Phillips was listed at St. Joseph's Parish (staffed by the Vincentians) in Malvern, a suburb of Melbourne.

From the early 1990s onwards, he worked in parishes of the Rockhampton diocese in central Queensland:

  • He was listed at St Therese's parish at Dysart in the Rockhampton diocese, central Queensland, until 1998.
  • From 1999 onwards, Fr Kevin Francis Phillips was listed as the Parish Priest in charge of St John's parish at Walkerston, in the Rockhampton diocese.
  • By 2009, he was in charge of St Mary's parish, 46 Juliet Street, South Mackay, in the Rockhampton diocese. He was still there when he was charged by New South Wales police in May 2009. In the next edition of the Australian Catholic Directory in mid-2010, while he was awaiting the outcome of his court proceedings, he was listed as "on leave".

Footnote

In the 1980s, Phillips was listed in the Catholic directories as "Rev. Kevin Phillips, CM", identifying him as a member of the Congregation of the Mission (the Vincentians). In the 1990s, When he began working in the Rockhampton diocese after his trouble at St Stanislaus College in Bathurst, he was no longer listed as "CM".

By the time of his arrest in 2009, Kevin Francis Phillips had become one of the most senior priests in the Rockhampton diocese. This diocese is divided into five regions, each known as a "deanery" (and each headed by a senior priest known as a "Vicar Forane" — that is, ranking directly under the bishop). In the 2009 Australian Catholic directory, Reverend Kevin Francis Phillips was listed as the Vicar Forane for the Mackay Deanery.

 

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