An ex-Marist Brother became a lay teacher and then a priest — now he is facing child-sex charges

  • By a Broken Rites researcher, article updated 28 June 2019

A Catholic priest (Father Carl Stafford, born in 1939) is listed for proceedings in the Sydney District Court, charged with child-sex abuse allegedly committed earlier in his working career. Bishop Peter A Comensoli (formerly of the Broken Bay diocese, in Sydney's north) stated publicly in 2017: "Originally a Marist Brother, Fr Stafford left this Order [the Marists] and took up a lay teaching position with St Gregory’s College Campbelltown before entering the seminary in 1989. Ordained as a priest for the Diocese of Broken Bay in 1994, Fr Stafford held appointments in Mona Vale, Gosford, Toukley/Lake Munmorah and Kincumber parishes." (According to church sources, Father Carl Stafford is still a priest and he is merely retired from parish appointments.)

An official document in the Marist Brothers head-office archive confirms that "Carl STAFFORD (born 8 July 1939)" was originally a Marist Brother but this document does not indicate what year he left the Marist Order.

On 16 October 2017, following an extensive investigation by detectives, police arrested Carl Stafford who was living in retirement at a town in north-west NSW. The police charged him with child-sex offences allegedly committed some years ago.

Stafford was granted conditional bail pending his court proceedings. On the court schedule, the defendant's full name is given as Carl Edward Stafford. The case had preliminary procedures with a magistrate in the Gosford Local Court in late 2017 and during 2018. Stafford is pleading Not Guilty.

Now the case is scheduled for a trial, with a judge, in the Sydney District Court.

In June 2019, the Stafford case had an administrative procedure in the District Court. The main proceedings are scheduled to be held on a later date.

FOOTNOTE: After Father Carl Stafford retired from parish work in 2010, the Broken Bay Diocese section in the annual printed edition of the Australian Catholic Directory continued to include "Rev. Carl Stafford" among the Broken Bay Diocese's list of "Retired Clergy".