A Catholic priest is jailed for indecent assaults against Melbourne schoolboys

  • By a Broken Rites researcher, article updated 7 August 2017

In the Melbourne County Court on 7 August 2017, Catholic priest Frank De Dood (aged 64) was sentenced to jail for indecently assaulting five young boys while he was teaching and ministering at two Catholic schools in Melbourne between 1978 and 1983. Father De Dood told one boy that no one would believe him if he told anyone about being touched by a priest, and if he did, the boy would be expelled from the school.

Judge Susan Cohen jailed De Dood for three years, with a non-parole period of 20 months.

Frank Peter De Dood (his surname is of Dutch origin) is a member of the Catholic order of Salesian priests and brothers.

The victims were:

  • Four boys at Salesian College Sunbury in Melbourne's north-west (this school building was known as "Rupertswood"); and
  • One boy at Salesian College Chadstone (in Melbourne's south-east).

Broken Rites has ascertained that Frank Peter De Dood was originally a schoolboy at Salesian College Sunbury. After finishing his schooling, he became a member of the Salesian religious order, working in Salesian schools. First, he became a Brother and then, in 1979, he was ordained as a priest.

For this court case, Father De Dood was charged by detectives from the Sano Taskforce (in the Victoria Police sex-crime squad), Melbourne. This court case was confined to the five victims who (separately) contacted the Sano Taskforce. It is not known whether any other boys merely reported the offences to De Dood's colleagues in the Salesion order (instead of reporting him to the police).

The Sunbury school included boarders as well as day students. For a while, De Dood was responsible for monitoring the dormitory where the boys slept. In 1983 one boy awoke in the dormitory to find De Dood molesting him.

In 1982, a 13-year-old was dressed in altar boy robes when assaulted by De Dood.

In 1981 De Dood indecently assaulted a 13-year-old boy in a classroom. De Dood then asked the student to stay behind, urging him to engage in a sex game using biscuits. De Dood told the boy: "Come on son, I have a lot of faith in you, you can do this."

At a pre-sentence hearing, De Dood's victims had the right to submit an impact statement, showing how their lives have been affected by this church-related abuse. One of the students, now in his fifties, told the court he was still affected after all these years. As often happens in church-related abuse, this victim did not tell anyone about the abuse until 2002. This life-long silence contributed to his marriage breakdown, alcoholism, and a suicide attempt.

The Salesian priests and brothers have also run schools in other states, including the "Boys Town" school at Engadine, New South Wales, but the Melbourne County Court case is confined to alleged incidents in Victoria.