Christian Brother Peter Lennox is to face a court trial on charges from 40 years ago

By a Broken Rites researcher (article updated 9 March 2017)

For several decades, Christian Brother Peter Nicholas Lennox worked in various Catholic schools in Sydney and in regional New South Wales. Now aged 76 (and retired), he is facing charges in court regarding sexual offences, allegedly committed against boys at two of those schools in the early 1970s. A church defence lawyer claimed in court that Lennox is "too unfit" to undergo a trial. However, the court will merely grant a delay and therefore the trial (case number 2014/00331685) is being re-scheduled to go ahead on a future date. Meanwhile, the police investigators are still interested in any further information.

The court case involves two schools — one at Manly (in Sydney) and one at Goulburn (in southern New South Wales).

  • The police investigation began after a former student (from a Christian Brothers school at Sydney's Manly) had a private interview with a member of Australia's national Royal Commission into Institutional Child Sexual Abuse. The Royal Commission advised this former student that he was entitled to discuss the matter with NSW Police detectives. An investigation was then begun by detectives based at Manly (within the Northern Beaches Police Command).
  • Meanwhile, a former student from the Goulburn school spoke to the Goulburm Detecrives Office. This matter was then added to the Sydney detectives' investigation.

The Sydney detectives arrested Peter Nicholas Joseph Lennox on 10 November 2014 at a residence, where he has been living in retirement, in Cootamundra NSW. Detectives from Sydney's Northern Beaches Police Command executed a search warrant of Lennox's living quarters and seized documents and computers which later underwent further examination. Lennox was then taken to a nearby police station, where he was interviewed, before being charged with indecent assaults on boys. These offences were allegedly committed between 1973 and 1976, when the boys were aged between 13 and 15.

On 1 December 2014, Peter Nicholas Joseph Lennox appeared in a country Local Court for a brief administrative procedure, in which the charges were officially filed in a hearing chaired by a magistrate.

The case was then transferred to Sydney's Downing Centre Local Court, where preliminary hearings were conducted in 2015.

The Local Court committed Lennox for trial, to be held by a judge in Sydney's Downing Centre District Court. Lennox was allowed bail.

In June 2016 the church defence lawyer stated in court that Peter Lennox was not well enough to face trial. The lawyer tendered two medical reports to the court. However, the judge dismissed the arguments and set a trial date for March 2017.

On 7 March 2017, the defence lawyer applied to vacate this date, arguing that Lennox was unwell. Judge Paul Conlon then set a new date for the trial, to begin in late 2017.

Peter Lennox has pleaded not guilty to 10 counts of indecent assault on a male; two of sexual/indecent assault on a male under 16 under his authority; two charges of gross indecency by a male on a male under 18; one of commit assault; two sexual assault charges; and one count of indecent act with a male.

Lennox is on bail.

The police investigation of the Lennox matter is being conducted by Detective Senior Constable Adam Vickery, of the Northern Beaches Local Area Command, Manly Police Station.

Some background from Broken Rites about the Christian Brothers

1. A school at MANLY:
A website of St Paul's Catholic College, Manly, says: "St Paul’s Catholic College Manly was formerly known as Christian Brothers College, Manly. . . During the latter part of the 1970s under the supervision of the Principal, Br P Lennox, major College extensions were undertaken. In 1982 the Christian Brothers withdrew and the first lay Principal was appointed."

2. A school at GOULBURN:
St Patrick's College Goulburn was formerly a boys-only boarding school, conducted by the Christian Brothers. According to a history book about this school, the Brothers’ involvement at St Patrick’s College was winding down by the mid-1990s. In 2000, the boys' college merged with a Catholic girls school, Marian College, to become Trinity Catholic College.

3. This court case of Peter N. Lennox will also be of interest to former students from Peter Lennox's later schools, which included (this is not a complete list):

  • St Mary's Cathedral College, Sydney, 1970s;
  • Edmund Rice College, Wollongong, 1982-83; and
  • Trinity Senior High School (now incorporated into Kildare Catholic College), Wagga Wagga, early 1990s.
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