This child-abuser had a long career as a Marist Brother, including at a "top" Sydney school

  • By a Broken Rites researcher, article updated 21 August 2018

For 67 years, the Australian Marist Brothers harboured this pedophile — Brother William BENINATI (known as Brother "Vales", in honour of an ancient Saint Vales). He committed sexual offences against boys in Marist Brothers schools in New South Wales and Queensland. His victims included boys at the Marist Brothers' "flagship" school in Sydney (St. Joseph's College Hunters Hill). Broken Rites is doing further research about Beninati.

William Raymond Beninati was born on 30 April 1928 and began training as a Marist Brother in New South Wales in January 1946, aged 17. As usual in those times, he was given a "religious" name, which was Brother "Vales" (pronounced in two syllables, like the word "palace" in "the king's palace").

Broken Rites research has ascertained Beninati's career:

  • In 1947 he began teaching at two Queensland schools (at Ashgrove and Cairns).
  • From 1955 to 1971, he taught at St. Joseph's College Hunters Hill, Sydney.
  • In 1978, he spent a year supervising disadvantaged boys who were living at St Vincent's Boys Home, Westmead, in Sydney's west.
  • His other NSW locations (from the early 1950s to 1997) included Marist schools at Randwick, Parramatta, Campbelltown, Eastwood and Pagewood

In the late 1990s, one of his victims Sydney victims (Kevin) reported "Vales" Beninati (plus Br Hugh "Oswald" McNamara who also sexually abused him) to the NSW Police child-protection detectives. Police charged McNamara and Beninati. In court, Oswald McNamara was found guilty of physically abusing Kevin but the court said there was insufficient evidence about sexual abuse. It was then decided to drop charges against Vales Beninati. Kevin later reached a civil settlement with the Marists, who paid compensation to Kevin for sexual abuse committed on him by both Oswald McNamara and Vales Beninati.

Later, other Beninati victims also spoke to the NSW police. Detectives investigated Beninati but, by then, he was in bad health. He died in 2013, aged 85, after 67 years in the Marist Brothers,

The story of Steve

One of Beninati's Sydney victims (Steve) has had a private interview with Australia's national child-abuse Royal Commission.

Steve told how he was groomed, drugged and sexually abused by Brother "Vales" at St Joseph’s College, Hunter's Hill, between 1966 and 1969. The assaults ended when Steve, then aged 15, confronted Brother Vales.

Like many thousands of child sexual abuse survivors Steve finished school, gained a job, married, raised a family and appeared to live a normal life for decades. He qualified as a Catholic school teacher and taught at several Catholic schools, becoming a school principal.

For three decades, Steve tried to put the Marist crimes behind him but eventually he realised that the abuse (and the Church's culture of cover-up) had damaged his life and his career.

By 1999 he sought professional help, By 2000 he took extended sick leave, and by 2002, aged 49, he resigned from the Catholic school system and has not worked as a teacher again.

In 2003 he made a complaint about Brother Vales to the Marist Brothers under the Catholic Church’s Towards Healing process. but he found the church officials evasive. He was offered a tiny amount of "compensation". He accepted the money out of need and exhaustion, and because the Towards Healing process offered little emotional support.

The establishment of the Royal Commission in 2013 gave Steve new hope. He was one of the 6,000 Australian victims who had a private interview with one of the commissioners.

At the suggestion of Broken Rites, Steve also made a signed statement for the NSW Police detectives, who then attempted to charge "Vales" Beninati in 2013 with the assault of Steve, but Beninati was terminally ill and died a few months later.

The Royal Commission had given Steve some motivation. He again tackled the Marist Brothers for proper compensation, and this time he says he is satisfied with the amount.