A Catholic Brother is jailed again for another 14 of his victims

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

A former Catholic religious Brother, Edward Mamo, who had already spent time in jail, was jailed again in Melbourne on 11 December 2015 after 14 more of his victims contacted Broken Rites and/or the Victoria Police. Mamo pleaded guilty to 21 additional indecent assaults, committed against these 14 victims while he worked as a Brother at Monivae College, a Catholic secondary school at Hamilton in western Victoria, in the late 1970s and early 1980s. Mamo has also worked at Chevalier College in Bowral, New South Wales, but this Victorian court case was only for Victorian offences.

The 14 victims were boys aged in their early teens or were as young as eleven when the assaults occurred.

Some of these 14 victims contacted Broken Rites (separately) several years ago after reading on the Broken Rites website about a previous Mamo court case.  Broken Rites gave each of these new victims the contact details for detectives in the Victoria Police. These detectives then found some additional victims for the 2015 case. The investigation for the 2015 case was completed by the Sano Taskforce in the Victoria Police sex-crimes unit.

Monivae College was established by a religious order, the Missionaries of the Sacred Heart. This order is known by its Latin initials, MSC. Monivae College was originally for boys only, including boarders as well as day boys. It has since become co-educational.

Brother Edward Mamo (born 26 September 1944) was a member of the MSC Order and was aged in his thirties when the offences occurred in the 1970s and 1980s. As a member of Monivae College's support staff, Mamo lived on the school premises, with access to the boarding pupils as well as the day pupils. He performed laundry duties, ground works, school-bus driving and sports coaching at the school.

Mamo committed the offences in the school's laundry room. He used a strap or cane to whip some boys over their bare buttocks and grabbed the genitals of others.

The court heard that Mamo would punish boys if he caught them smoking cigarettes, even though he wasn't authorised to carry out corporal punishment. He told them he would refer them to the school's principal if they didn't accept punishment from him. On one occasion, he appeared from behind bushes immediately after a boy lit a cigarette and ordered him to go to the laundry.

The 2015 court case began in the Melbourne Magistrates Court, where Mamo entered a plea of Guilty regarding the 14 new victims. The case was then transferred to a judge in a higher court, the Melbourne County Court. There, the prosecutor and the defence lawyer could present information which they wanted the judge to take into account in sentencing. Any victim could submit a victim impact statement, showing how the offence (and the breach of trust) affected the victim's life.

In their impact statements, two victims said they had attended the school as happy, confident and smart children but the offending had left them humiliated and introverted. One had dreamt of becoming a lawyer but had left the school a "shattered delinquent".

A third victim said Mamo's abuse had profoundly affected his life, which had included academic struggles, failed relationships and alcoholism. He said he felt outraged that Monivae College had never acted on the allegations against Mamo at the time, which made the school complicit in his offending.

Sentencing Mamo on 11 December 2015, Judge John Smallwood said that Mamo used the calculated physical assaults for his own sexual gratification.

"What has occurred here is a gross breach of trust," the judge said.

The judge told Mamo: "It seems extraordinary you could have continued to offend in this way, over years, without anyone doing anything about it."

Judge Smallwood sentenced Mamo to 34 months jail, with 22 months of it suspended. This means that Mamo would spend 12 months behind bars.

The remainder of this Broken Rites article gives some background about an earlier case, when Brother Edward Mamo was jailed in 2013.

Mamo's previous case in 2012-2013

In early 2012, when Mamo was living in Sydney, Victoria Police detectives charged him with having committed indecent assault on seven boys at Monivae College, Victoria, between 1976 and 1980. Brief preliminary proceedings were held by a magistrate during 2012, when Mamo entered a plea of guilty.

A pre-sentence hearing began in the County Court at Warrnambool in Victoria (before Judge Julian Leckie) on 17 December 2012. The prosecutor told the court some details of the offences. The court also heard impact statements, written by five of these victims, describing how Mamo's abuse (and the church culture of cover-up) disrupted their teenage and adult development.

The court was told how Mamo took boys into a dark basement at Monivae College and indecently assaulted them.

The court heard of one incident when Mamo had ordered one eleven-year-old victim to the laundry room for punishment. The boy was instructed to drop his shorts and underpants and to bend over an old tea chest in the middle of the room. As the boy did so, Mamo produced a thick leather strap and hit the boy 10 to 12 times. The prosecutor said that on another occasion Mamo was strapping the same victim over the tea chest when the boy turned to see Mamo had one of his hands down the front of his pants. Mamo saw the boy looking and yelled at him to face the front.

In their impact statements, the victims told of their state of fear, humiliation and disbelief that someone wanted to do this to them.

One victim said that he had lost trust in all human beings and that Mamo's behaviour bled out any respect he had for a Catholic god. He said his primary objective in coming forward now was to keep Mamo from hurting young people.

Another victim told the court he wanted to thank Mamo for pleading guilty to make it easier for those involved to move on and clearing away any doubt that some people had.

Another victim told how he had been lured at night down a dark corridor to a basement. He said he was terrified and thought he should trust Mamo, but this Brother had only cared about his selfish desire. He said for many years he tried to forget but could not and there was a ripple effect throughout his life. He said he now saw that this suffering didn't have to be carried into the future.

Another victim said the offending left deep emotional scars and he felt disgusted and angry whenever he heard about child abuse. He said that as a boy he had always been involved in the church but Mamo's behaviour created a lack of trust in the church and its hierarchy. He said Mamo was a predator whose victims were young and vulnerable children and he could never forgive Mamo and others who allowed it to happen.

Judge Leckie said the victims showed great courage and no one in the court could be anything but moved as their victim impact statements were read.

Jailed in 2013

Judge Leckie sentenced Mamo in the County Court in Melbourne on 22 February 2013.

The judge said that Mamo had breached his duty of care by sexually interfering with the seven victims. He said that, as a religious Brother, Mamo had been "responsible for the welfare and safety of these boys" and the impact of his offending on his victims had been profound. It was clear that they suffered and continued to suffer emotional and psychological trauma from Mamo's actions, the judge said.

Judge Leckie sentenced Mamo to a total jail term of two years and three months, with a minimum of 18 months behind bars before becoming eligible to apply for parole. Mamo was placed on the serious sex offenders register for life.

Victims' media statement

Earlier, on 19 December 2012, after Judge Leckie's pre-sentence hearing, the Warrnambool Standard daily newspaper published a statement which it obtained from these seven Mamo victims. The victims said they want answers from Mamo's religious order about the way it dealt with their allegations of sexual abuse.

The victims said they had "grave concerns" about the way the Missionaries of the Sacred Heart managed the allegations when they were reported by students.

They also had "grave concerns" about the way the MSC order managed Mamo during the time the sexual offences occurred at the school.

"We also have serious questions that we would like the Missionaries of the Sacred Heart to answer, relating to their duty of care to us while we were under their care as young boys," the statement added.

"Although it has taken 30 years, this is a victory not only for us as survivors, but represents a victory for all who have suffered sexual abuse," the victims said.

The school forgot about the Mamo abuse

The head of Monivae in the 1970s (when Mamo was there) was Father Denis Uhr, who later shifted to other locations in the MSC religious order. In recent years, Monivae College has been headed by lay principals, not by priests.

On 19 December 2012, after reporting Judge Leckie's pre-sentence hearing, the Warrnambool Standard stated that the new head of Monivae College "yesterday apologised unreservedly to the students who were abused by Mamo while he was based at the school".

The new head said that he "first became aware of the allegations surrounding Mamo earlier this year [2012] when police visited the school and made inquiries."

  • Broken Rites, however, first heard of the allegations about Mamo in late 1993, which was 18 years before Mamo's court appearance. In September 1993 Broken Rites launched a national telephone hotline regarding church sexual abuse, and some of the first calls received were from former Monivae students, describing their encounters with certain priests and brothers (including Brother Mamo) at Monivae College. The 1993 allegations (without giving the names of the priests and brothers) were published in the Hamilton Spectator newspaper on January 8 and 15 in 1994, in articles written by reporter Brian O'Brien.

    Are these 1994 articles (and any associated correspondence) filed in the archives of the Missionaries of the Sacred Heart at their Chevalier Resource Centre in Sydney? In the 2011 edition of the annual Australian Catholic directory, two former staff members of Monivae College (Father Denis Uhr and Brother John Frith) were listed as being located at this resource centre in 2011.

Monivae is still linked with the MSC order, although the school is staffed now by lay teachers.

The MSC Order has also conducted other Catholic schools in Australia, such as Chevalier College in Bowral, New South Wales. Brother Eddie Mamo worked at Chevalier College in the early 1970s before moving to Monivae College, and Broken Rites has been contacted by Chevalier ex-students who remember him there.

A report of the Mamo's December 2012 Victorian pre-sentence hearing also appeared in a New South Wales newspaper (the Southern Highlands News, which circulates around the Bowral region). This story, which mentioned that Mamo was a former staff member of Chevalier College, carried the heading "Victims of ex-Chev Brother weep".

One of the senior administrators at Monivae College in Brother Eddie Mamo's time (in the 1970s) was Father Michael Reis, who later shifted to Downlands College, a school operated by the Missionaries of the Sacred Heart in Queensland. Reis was sentenced to jail in Queensland in 2008 after pleading guilty to offences committed in Queensland — indecent treatment of a young girl in the 1980s and another young girl in the 1990s. Broken Rites has written an article about Father Michael Reis entitled "Two female victims finally obtained justice by contacting the police".

Mamo in the 1980s and 1990s

After working at Chevalier College and Monivae College, Brother Edward Mamo eventually became associated with Nguon Song Group Homes, which provided accommodation for Indo-Chinese teenage males in Sydney's Canterbury-Bankstown area.

In 1994, Brother Edward Mamo appeared in the Bankstown Local Court, charged with two incidents of aggravated indecent assault (allegedly committed in 1993) against a 17-year-old Vietnamese youth who was under his supervision. The charges did not result in a conviction. See more about this 1994 case HERE.