An ex-Marist Brother became a lay teacher and then a priest — now he is facing a crminal court trial

  • By a Broken Rites researcher, article updated 14 November 2018

A Catholic priest (Father Carl Stafford, now aged 79) is listed for proceedings in the Sydney District Court, charged with child-sex offences 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 sexual offences against a number of boys:

  • One part of the case is related to when Father Stafford was a priest based in a parish in East Gosford (north of Sydney, in the Broken Bay diocese) in the 1990s;
  • Another part of the case is related to the 1980s, when Stafford was 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.

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 in 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, to be held in late 2019 (there is a long queue for hearings in the NSW district courts).

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.

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.