The Marist Brothers covered up these crimes and helped the offender's career

By a Broken Rites researcher (article updated 11 January 2015)

The Marist Brothers covered up the crimes of Brother Brian Robert Gordon and enabled him to continue working, as a lay teacher, in the Catholic education system. According to evidence given in court, Brian Gordon eventually become one of the top officials in Australia's Catholic education system, while his former Marist colleagues continued their silence. But one of his former pupils eventually reported the crimes to the police, thus ending the cover-up.

Brian Robert Gordon (born 15 December 1942) taught, as a Marist Brother, in New South Wales from 1964 to 1972.

In the Sydney District Court on 28 September 1998, he was sentenced to 12 months' jail (minimum) for eight sexual offences committed against four boys, aged about 11, while he was teaching at a Marist Brothers primary school in Dundas, Sydney, in 1969-71. Gordon, who was aged 56 in 1998, pleaded guilty to four counts of indecent assault and two of indecency. A jury found him guilty of two further counts of indecent assault. Further charges were dropped in a plea bargain.

The court heard that several parents reported the assaults to the Marist headquarters in 1971-72 and Gordon admitted the allegations to his Marist superiors. The Marists pacified the parents by promising that Gordon would be "removed". Therefore the information was kept from the police.

Gordon told the court that his superiors advised him to change schools and "put it behind him". In  early 1972, when he was approaching 30, Gordon ceased being a Marist Brother and he later moved to Queensland where he was given lay teaching positions in Catholic schools as a lay teacher. The Marists kept quiet about Gordon's record and he eventually became the Brisbane diocese's deputy directory of Catholic Education. His record was uncovered in 1996 after one of his Sydney victims reported him to Justice Wood's NSW royal commission on corruption and paedophilia. This victim's information was examined by the NSW police, who soon found more of Gordon's victims from the Marists' Dundas school .

Gordon told the court he had never gone to Confession about the assaults. Judge Kenneth Horler said he was surprised that one of the abused boys had been taken to a priest to undergo "Confession". The priest gave the boy a "penance" of reciting three "Hail Marys" and an "Our Father" to be "forgiven" for his [the boy's] "sin". The judge said the whole trauma had affected this boy's personality and his attitude towards authority ever since.

The judge criticised the Marist Brothers over its handling of the complaints and for not alerting the Brisbane archdiocese about Gordon's record. He said the Marist Order must "bear some responsibility" in the affair.

Further research (updated 11 January 2015)

Broken Rites has discovered that the case of Marist Brother Brian Gordon has been given a discreet mention (without Gordon's name) in a thesis written in the Education Faculty of the University of Sydney by a former Marist Brother, John Braniff (who was known in the Marists as "Brother Valerian").

Braniff's thesis, completed in 2005, is entitled The Marist Brothers’ Teaching Tradition In Australia 1872-2000.

On page 196, Braniff refers to a Marist Brother who ...

"...became subject to complaints of sexual abuse of his students, by some parents. He resigned, left the order, and continued an apparently blameless career, as a layman, with an interstate Catholic Education Office: until he was brought to trial, in the late 1990s. The reason for his sudden departure seems to have been hushed up, at the time."

Broken Rites understands that this un-named Brother is Brian Gordon. According to John Braniff, this sexually abusive Brother was described by colleagues as "a great guy whom we shall all miss". [Broken Rites takes this to mean that, in other words, Brian Gordon was a typical Marist Brother, and that there were still plenty more like him in the Marist Order after he went to jail.]

John Braniff's thesis also indicates that, in the school Newsletter, Brother Brian Gordon's departure from the school was simply explained as being "for personal reasons". [Broken Rites agrees that Brother Brian Gordon was certainly being too personal with his students but, then, he wasn't the only Marist Brother doing that.]

John Braniff is very knowledgeable about the inside workings of the Marist Brothers. Born in Scotland in 1943, John Braniff taught (as "Brother Valerian") for many years (for example, in the Marist Brothers Red Bend College at Forbes NSW in 1967-73). He ceased being a Marist Brother in 1995 and taught for some years with the Marist Brothers in Sydney as a lay teacher.

Broken Rites is wondering why John Braniff's thesis in 2005 didn't mention Br Brian Gordon by name. After all, Brother Brian Gordon's name and jailing had been reported fully in the Sydney Morning Herald, Sydney Daily Telegraph and Brisbane Courier Mail, on 10 Sept and 29 Sept in 1998.