The church makes payments to settle complaints about abuse of disadvantaged boys

By a Broken Rites researcher, article updated 3 October 2017

The Catholic Church has paid settlements to men who allege that they were abused many years ago by Father Roger Mount while he was a Brother in the Catholic St John of God Order, running children's homes (for disadvantaged boys) in Australia. Later, the Catholic Church allowed Father Mount to continue ministering as priest for many years in Papua New Guinea until the Australian media published articles about him in 2014.

The St John of God Brothers provided accommodation in New South Wales and Victoria for boys and young men who have an educational or intellectual disability. Many SJOG boys were wards of state and never saw a relative. If they were sexually abused at a SJOG boarding institution, they had nobody to whom they could complain. Many were not sufficiently articulate or assertive or did not know their rights.

In the 1990s, Broken Rites began researching St John of God priests and brothers, including Roger Melville Mount.

Broken Rites research has ascertained that, early in his church career (in the 1960s and 1970s), Roger Melville Mount was listed in the annual editions of the Australian Catholic Directory as Brother "Gabriel" Mount. (When men joined the St John of God religious order, they normally adopted an ancient "saintly" name — hence Brother "Gabriel".)

In Melbourne, the St John of God Brothers ran a home called "Churinga", for disadvantaged and vulnerable boys, situated in Greensborough in Melbourne's east. Broken Rites research found that, in the 1971 edition of the Australian Catholic Directory, Brother Gabriel Mount was listed as the Prior (i.e., the superior) at "Churinga", where there were also five other Brothers.

Later (according to the Broken Rites research), Brother "Gabriel" Mount transferred to Papua New Guinea, where he left the St John of God order and became a priest in the Port Moresby diocese. He reverted to his birth name, becoming Father Roger Mount. He reached a senior rank in this diocese. His most recent parish, Sogeri, is on the southern end of PNG's famous Kokoda Track.

Eventually, two Australian men complained (separately) to the Catholic Church authorities in Australia that they had been sexually abused by Brother "Gabriel" Mount during their childhood while under the "care" of the St John of God Brothers in Australia. The St John of God leadership then made a payment to each of these men to settle their complaints.

Police investigation

Allegations about Roger Melville Mount then came to the notice of the Victoria Police, concerning Mount's time in Australia. The Victoria Police obtained a court order to extradite Mount from Papua New Guinea back to Victoria.

In October 2014, Father Roger Melville Mount (then aged 72) arrived back in Victoria under police custody. The matter was handled by detectives from the Sano Taskforce in the Victoria Police sex crime squad. This taskforce was established to investigate allegations regarding religious organisations.

The Victoria Police were investigating certain incidents that allegedly occurred between 1968 and 1974 while Brother "Gabriel" Mount was working with the St John of God Brothers at Greensborough (in Melbourne's north-east).

Court proceedings in Victoria

On 20 October 2014, Roger Melville Mount appeared in the Melbourne Magistrates Court. He was charged with multiple sexual offences, allegedly committed between 1968 and 1974 in Victoria. The prosecutor told the court that one of the alleged victims had a cognitive impairment while the others might have some form of mild disability.

Later (from 2015 to 2017) Mount faced a series of complex court proceedings in Melbourne. In the first court case (regarding one of the disabled alleged victims), the court decided that there was not sufficient evidence to record a conviction regarding this particular alleged victim. One of the later cases resulted in a conviction (concerning a different victim) and Mount received a custodial sentence regarding this victim.

New South Wales

As well as working in Victoria, Brother Roger "Gabriel" Mount also worked in New South Wales at another St John of God boys' home, called "Kendall Grange", situated at Morisset (between Sydney and Newcastle). The Lake Macquarie Detectives Office (in the NSW Police) has received information about certain matters relating to the Morriset institution.

  • To read another Broken Rites article about the St John of God Brothers, click HERE.