An ex-Marist Brother became a lay teacher and then a priest — now he is facing court charges in 2018

  • By a Broken Rites researcher, article updated 11 March 2018

A retired Catholic priest (now aged 78) is listed to appear in a magistrates court in 2018, charged with child-sex offences allegedly committed in New South Wales earlier in his working career. The Catholic Diocese of Broken Bay (in Sydney's north) has announced that the retired priest is Father Carl Stafford. And Broken Bay bishop Peter A Comensoli has stated publicly: "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 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 the 78-year-old retired priest at a town in north-west NSW.

The police charged him with sexual offences against three boys:

  • two boys while he was a priest based in a parish in East Gosford (north of Sydney, in the Broken Bay diocese) in the 1990s;
  • and another boy in the 1980s, while working as lay a teacher (known as "Mister" Stafford) at the Campbelltown school (in Sydney's south). St Gregory's College was an agricultural boarding school, with boarders from various regional areas in NSW.

Carl Stafford was charged with a total of 13 sex-related offences against these three boys.

He was granted conditional bail until his court proceedings begin. The case was listed (on the NSW courts website) to have its first mention in a courtroom at Gosford Local Court on 30 October 2017 (for the matter to be officially filed in a brief administrative procedure). It was later listed for further preliminary mentions in the same court on in January 2018 and March 2018, with the next steps expected to be held later in 2018.

On the court schedule, the Stafford case-number is given as 2017/00314987, and the defendant's full name is given as Carl Edward Stafford.

Meanwhile, the Detectives Office at Gosford Police are continuing their inquiries. The Gosford detectives are also handling the other allegations regarding Carl Stafford at St Gregory's College Campbelltown. The Gosford and Cambelltown allegations are being combined in the same police investigation. The detectives wish to hear from anybody with factual information relevant to this case.

Broken Rites has been told that Mister Carl Stafford taught at St John's College, Dubbo NSW, in the 1970s. Mr Stafford told students that he had previously taught at St Gregory's College Cambeltown and that he had been a Marist Brother. He returned to Cambelltown after 1978.

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". The 2014 edition of the Directory gave Father Carl Stafford's retirement address in that year as a villa unit at Kincumber.