This priest conducted "pastoral care" and "religious education" (wink-wink) at a Catholic school

  • By a Broken Rites researcher, article updated 12 March 2019

An Australian Catholic priest — Father Michael Ambrose Endicott — has been convicted in two courts (in 2010 and 2019) for offences committed in the 1970s against Brisbane schoolboys. According to statements in court, Father Endicott was in charge of "pastoral care" and "religious education" at Brisbane's Villanova Catholic College during the 1970s. Using his priestly authority, Father Endicott would order a boy to pose for a naked photograph while on an excursion in bushland. On 11 March 2019, a judge sentenced Endicott to 18 months jail, including six months behind bars with the remaining months suspended. This article includes some research done by Broken Rites in 2010.

Father Endicott (born in 1944) committed the offences while he was a member of the Catholic order of Augustinian priests.

Brisbane's Villanova College was established by the Augustinian Fathers in 1948 and has been situated on its present site in Coorparoo since 1954. The college expanded its facilities in the 1960s and '70s with help from government funds.

The 2010 court case

On 24 June 2010, Endicott appeared in Brisbane Magistrates Court in Queensland and pleaded guilty to two counts of indecent treatment of a child.

In the late 1970s he was working as a priest and teacher at Villanova College (a boys-only Catholic school which catered for pupils in years 5 to 12) in Brisbane's south.

The court was told of two occasions on which Father Endicott told the boy to take off his clothes before photographing him.

  • On one occasion in 1977 Father Endicott took the boy out of class and took him to bushland for photographing.
  • On another occasion in 1978 Father Endicott took the boy to the school's bell tower for photographing.

On 25 June 2010, Chief Magistrate Brendan Butler gave Endicott a one-year jail sentence (wholly suspended).

In addition, the magistrate ordered that Michael Ambrose Endicott was to be placed on the national register of sex offenders.

How the 2010 case began

The allegations against Father Endicott were aired by two television programs (Channel Seven News and ABC's Lateline) on 18 July 2008 while Father Endicott was attending the Catholic Church's World Youth Day celebrations in Sydney. The Channel Seven report (by journalist Chris Reason) showed footage of Father Endicottt taking photographs of World Youth Day "pilgrims".

In 2009, Queensland Police charged Father Endicott, and he appeared in court in Brisbane for the case's preliminary mention. On 18 November 2009, Seven News showed footage of Father Endicott walking from the court.

Research by Broken Rites in 2010

Michael Endicott was born in Queensland in 1944. He was a pupil at St Joachim's primary at Holland Park and Villanova secondary. In 1962 he entered the Augustinian novitiate at Rochester, Victoria, to train for the priesthood.

The Augustinan Order then arranged for him to do further studies in the United States. He studied at Villanova University, Pennsylvania, from 1963 to 1965 where he gained a Bachelor of Arts degree. In 1968 after two years at the Augustinian College in Washington DC, he graduated with a Master of Arts in Theology. He was ordained by Bishop G. McDevitt at St Denis's Chapel in Ardmore, Pennsylvania, on 7 September 1968.

In the 1979 directory of directory of the National Council of Priests of Australia, Father Michael Endicott was one of nine Augustinian priests listed at Brisbane's Villanova College.

In the 1988 edition of the Australian Catholic directory, he was listed at St Augustine's College (a boys-only school) in Brookvale, in Sydney's north.

In the 2003 directory Father Michael Endicott was listed in Brisbane in the Goodna/Springfield parish (St Francis Xavier's), which the Augustinians were staffing for the Brisbane archdiocese. In that district in 2003, a new primary and secondary college was opened, called St Augustine's College. An Augustinian website stated:

  • "Fr Michael Endicott O.S.A. is the priest within the Goodna Parish who is assigned to concentrate on the Springfield district. He was a foundation member of the college's local steering committee that in mid-1999 joined in planning the college. At the Foundation Day ceremony, Fr Endicott was called to bless the religious artifacts that adorn the classrooms, the staff, the students and the families involved with the college."

In the Catholic directories from 2007 to 2009 (including the period of the World Youth Day celebrations), Fr Michael Endicott was listed at St Augustine's Priory in Sydney's Brookvale (the priory is situated in the same street as St Augustine's boys' school).

Jailed in 2019

On 8 March 2019, a Brisbane District Court jury found Michael Ambrose Endicott guilty of indecently dealing with a schoolboy while he has a teacher at Brisbane's Villanova College. Endicott was convicted of three counts of indecently dealing with a child, after a five-day trial. The jury acquitted him of five other counts of the same charge.

Endicott's trial was told he was in charge of pastoral care and religious education at Villanova College during the 1970s.

The victim said he was first abused by Enidcott on a school hiking trip in 1975. Endicott asked the boy to accompany him alone to a secluded area along a creek to collect water, where he photographed the nine-year-old student naked in a variety of poses.

Three years later, when the boy was 12, Endicott abused him again after asking for help with something in the school tower. Again, the boy was photographed naked.

Years later, when the boy was a teenager, Endicott took him into a change room and told him to strip when photos were taken of him in the shower.

The court was told of at least two other former Villanova students, who claim that Father Endicotte took nude or semi-nude photos of them.

Crown prosecutor Russell Clutterbuck told the court that Endicott took advantage of his young victims who complied "because of who he was and because he was a priest".

Quoting the victim, Mr Clutterbuck said that, at school, priests ruled. According to the victim, the priests had "absolute power over everything", and the victim "dared not speak out against them".

Sentencing Endicott on 11 March 2019, Judge Leanne Clare said the offences were premeditated, protracted and caused lasting harm to the student.

"I have no doubt, knowing his degradation was preserved on film, [that it has] has haunted most of his life," the judge said. "The photographs have never been found and it's not known what [Endicott] did with them."

Judge Clare sentenced Endicott to 18 months in jail, with the sentence to be suspended after he serves six months behind bars.

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