Former Marist schoolboys allege assaults, 40 years ago, by a Brother now aged 89

  • By a Broken Rites researcher, article updated 23 March 2017

Marist Brother Lawrence Fitzpatrick (who was known in the Marists as Brother "Majella" Fitzpatrick) worked for many years as a teacher and administrator in Catholic schools in Melbourne and regional Victoria. On 10 March 2017, he appeared in the Melbourne Magistrates Court, aged 89, charged with 99 sexual offences, allegedly committed against at least 18 children between 1971 and 1976 while he was working at St Patrick's College, Sale, in eastern Victoria. The charges include 38 counts of buggery (some against children under 14) and other charges of indecent assault.

This court day was a preliminary procedure. A Broken Rites researcher has checked the charge sheets, which were filed in court.

The charge sheets gave Lawrence Fitzpatrick's date of birth as 18/09/1927,

The court was told that the offending allegedly took place in Sale and three nearby towns between 1971 and 1976.

The case involves at least 18 alleged victims, the court was told. As usually happens, the court suppressed the names of these alleged victims.

Lawrence Fitzpatrick is contesting the charges.

The magistrate scheduled a date for the next hearing. Lawrence Fitzpatrick is to appear in the Melbourne Magistrates Court later in 2017 for a committal hearing, which would determine whether he will later stand trial with a judge in a higher court, the Victorian County Court.

In the early 1970s, St Patrick's College Sale was a boys-only school, with boarders. In 1977, it merged with a Catholic girls' school (Our Lady of Sion College) to become re-named as Catholic College Sale.

Lawrence Fitzpatrick was charged by a Victoria Police unit of specialist detectives called the Sano Taskforce. The Sano Taskforce (based in Melbourne) was set up to investigate historical and new allegations of child sex abuse involving religious and non-government organisations. In 2015, the Sano Taskforce began investigating complaints from former students who had attended St Patrick's College Sale in the early 1970s. The Sano Taskforce detectives are continuing their investigations about these alleged incidents in the Sale district.

In 1979-1980, Br Majella Fitzpatrick was head of the primary school of Melbourne's Marcellin College.

The case of Lawrence Fitzpatrick was reported in an article on the website of the Gippsland Times newspaper in eastern Victoria on Thursday 16 March 2017. To see the Gippsland Times article, click HERE.

Earlier, in 2015, the Gippsland Times had published articles about the Sano Taskforce investigation beginning in Sale. To see one of those articles, click HERE.