A prominent Marist Brother is jailed — 40 years after the crime

By a Broken Rites researcher (article updated 23 July 2015)

One of the Marist Brothers' most senior educators in Australia, Brother Peter Pemble, was jailed on 23 July 2015 (aged 67) for a child-sex crime which he committed 40 years earlier when he was in his twenties. In court, Pemble pleaded guilty to the offence, which was committed against a junior boy in a Marist school at Maitland (in the Hunter region, north of Sydney) in the early 1970s. Eventually, Brother Peter Pemble became the principal of several Catholic schools in Sydney. The victim finally spoke to police, 40 years after the crime, because he still feels hurt by the sexual abuse and the cover-up.

In Newcastle District Court in New South Wales, Judge Peter Bernman sentenced Peter William Pemble to 18 months jail with a minimum of nine months behind bars, after which Pemble will become eligible to apply for release on parole.

Pemble's guilty plea relates to one count of indecent assault. Two other incidents were taken into account at the sentencing.

According to court documents, Brother Peter William Pemble was born on 6 April 1948.

Court documents stated that, at Marist Brothers High School at Maitland in 1971, Brother Pemble cultivated a relationship with this junior student. Pemble committed the indecent assault in an empty room at the school.

The victim disclosed the abuse to his wife in 2013 before reporting the matter to police. Detectives from Strike Force Georgiana met Pemble in Sydney in July 2014 and later charged him with indecent assault of a male.

The investigation was handled by the Central Hunter Detectives Office, based in Maitland. The investigator is Detective Michelle Lawson.


Br Peter William Pemble worked at various Marist schools - for example, Marcellin College, Randwick, Sydney. He eventually became the principal of several Catholic schools in Sydney before retiring in 2009.

In recent decades, the schools where he was the principal have included:

  • St Patrick's Marist college Dundas, western Sydney;
  • Marist College in North Sydney:
  • Trinity Catholic College Lismore, northern NSW; and
  • St Gregory’s College Campbelltown, south-western Sydney.

Broken Rites has examined the annual report of St Patrick's Marist school, Dundas, for 1995, when Br Peter Pemble was the principal there. Brother Pemble's report stated that his school was trying to promote "acceptable bounds of behaviour" among the students. (But Pemble did not indicate whether these standards also applied to his own behaviour.)

In the same report, Brother Pemble also praised the work of "wonderful" parish priests who were associated with the school - for example (he said) Father Finian Egan of Carlingford. (As explained in another Broken Rites article, Fr Finian Egan was jailed in 2013 for sexual crimes against children.)

After retiring from teaching in 2009, Brother Pemble began doing some study in Australia and overseas.

In mid-2014, while Brother Peter Pemble was studying in Belgium, he made a visit to Australia. Detectives contacted him in Australia and interviewed him on 22 July 2014 at a Sydney police station about a recent complaint from a male who was a pupil at Marist Brothers Maitland in 1971-72.