The church makes a private settlement with a schoolboy whose life was damaged

By a Broken Rites researcher (article posted 28 August 2015)

Broken Rites has examined an out-of-court civil settlement, in which a Catholic religious order (the Salesian Fathers) made a payment to a former Melbourne schoolboy who complained that he was sexually abused  by a priest, Father Julian Fox.  Father Fox was a minister, teacher and administrator at several Salesian schools, including Salesian College, 'Rupertswood", which was a boarding school at Sunbury, north-west of Melbourne.

In 2000, the Salesians' Australian head office signed an out-of-court settlement with a Melbourne man (Luke Quilligan). According to the settlement deed. Luke alleged that "over a period of time between 1978 and 1979, whilst a student at Salesian College, Rupertswood, Sunbury, he was unlawfully sexually and/or physically assaulted by Fr Fox". According to the deed, Luke further alleged that "as a result of the assaults he sustained loss, damage and injuries and may require counseling or therapy in the future." The deed says the Salesians were making the settlement to avoid litigation.

Luke’s story

Luke Quilligan was born in 1964. His father died and his mother sent the boy to Rupertswood College, Sunbury, as a boarder in 1979 (for Year 8). He stayed at the college for a year and a half. The mother presumed that the Salesian Fathers would be a good role model for a boy with no male parent.

It is alleged that Luke was sexually abused while at this school. According to Luke, he reported the sexual abuse to Father Terence Jennings, who was the principal (called the rector) of Rupertswood college. According to Luke, Jennings intimidated Luke into remaining silent about the abuse. That is, Jennings covered up the alleged abuse. As well as being the college principal, Jennings had also previously been the provincial superior (i.e., the head) of the Salesian order in the whole of Australia. So this story goes right to the top of the Salesian order in Australia. Jennings died in 2001.

Luke knew that he was prohibited from telling his devout Catholic family about the abuse. The boy became rebellious against adult authority and ended up engaging in anti-social and self-damaging activities. Luke's mother believes that, as it turned out, the Salesians were the worst possible role model for this boy. They disrupted his adolescent development disastrously, she says.

In the late 1990s, Broken Rites Australia took up Luke’s case with the Salesian order. The Salesians were reluctant to help at first but, when Broken Rites persisted, the Salesians eventually made an out-of-court legal settlement with Luke. The Salesians were mainly interested in getting Luke to sign a settement deed  in which Luke gave up his legal right to sue the Salesians in the Supreme Court for damages.

In 2006, six years after the settlement, Luke died, aged 42. Broken Rites continued to be in contact with Luke's mother, Margaret.

Father Julian Fox

Father Julian Benedict Fox is originally from the Australian state of Tasmania. As well as teaching at Melbourne's Rupertswood college, he also taught at Dominic College in Hobart, Tasmania, and was headmaster at St Joseph's Salesian College, Ferntree Gully (in Melbourne's east).

He also served a period as the Australian leader ("provincial") of the Salesian order in the 1980s.

By 2000, he had left Australia and worked on a Salesian project in Fiji. In 2003 he was given a position in the Salesians' international communications office in Rome.

  • See more from Broken Rites about Julian Fox HERE.