A legal firm is tackling the Christian Brothers re Brother J.G. Gladwin

  • By a Broken Rites researcher

An Australian legal firm is taking civil action against the Christian Brothers. The lawyers are acting on behalf of a former student who alleges that he was sexually abused by Christian Brother John Gerard Gladwin in a Catholic school in Queensland in the 1970s.

The legal action is aimed at several defendants, including:

  • the trustees of the Christian Brothers;
  • two former managers and operators of the school which the student attended; and
  • a former headmaster who was in the school administration when the alleged incidents occurred.

The alleged offender, J.G. Gladwin, is not a defendant in the legal action as he died in 1998.

The legal firm expects that, in view of this civil action, other victims of Brother Gladwin might come forward to obtain justice. As Gladwin is dead, the only avenue for victims to obtain justice now is through civil action.

Brother J.G. Gladwin belonged to the Queensland province of the Christian Brothers but left the Order by the late 1970s.

A school magazine from one of his schools has a staff photograph that includes "Brother J.G. Gladwin". According to one source, his first initial, J, stands for John Gladwin. On joining the Order, Christian Brothers used to adopt a new middle name (and a new middle initial). Thus, he became "Brother Gerard Gladwin".

In 1998, Queensland detectives were ready to prosecute Gladwin for committing sexual offences against schoolboys while he worked as a Christian Brother in Queensland in the 1960s and '70s. But in November 1998, before criminal court proceedings could begin, Gladwin (aged 65) was found dead, gassed in his car on an isolated bush road on the edge of Brisbane Forest Park (on Brisbane's northern outskirts). He left a suicide note. Thus, he avoided the criminal justice process.

In 1998, police sources told the media that Gladwin had recently been interviewed by detectives from Taskforce Argos (which investigates child-sex offenders) concerning offences allegedly committed in the 1960s.

During his time in the Christian Brothers, Brother J.G. Gladwin's schools in Queensland included (this may not be a complete list):

  • St Brendan's College, Yeppoon, 1956;
  • a Christian Brothers school in Gympie, between 1957 and 1962;
  • St Mary's College, Toowoomba, in the 1960s;
  • St Joseph's, Gregory Terrace, Brisbane, in the late 1960s;
  • St Joseph's, Nudgee, Brisbane, in the early 1970s; and
  • St Columban's boys' school, Brisbane, in the mid 1970s.

Broken Rites has been contacted by several victims of Brother Gladwin.

One former student ("Drew", who encountered Brother Gladwin at Brisbane's Nudgee College) has told Broken Rites that his life was badly damaged by Gladwin and by the fact that the Catholic culture prohibited children from saying anything negative to their parents about a Christian Brother or a priest. Drew said that, because of Gladwin, he finished his education prematurely. Therefore, Drew had no career and he experienced much unemployment. This situation damaged his relationships and he never married. He moved around the country, having no permanent home.

Broken Rites does not know whether "Drew" is involved in the current civil action.

Broken Rites has also been contacted by another ex-pupil of Nudgee College and in 2010 by a family whose son attended St Mary's College, Toowoomba.