The church tells these victims "Oops, sorry, folks" — but the apology is 30 years too late

  • By a Broken Rites researcher, article updated on 11 February 2018

A Catholic bishop has had to apologise “unreservedly” to former pupils of a school in Sydney's south-west who were sexually abused by a Marist Brother thirty years ago. In a public statement on 5 February 2018, Bishop Peter Ingham admitted that Philip Slattery (a Marist Brother who was the principal of Mary Immaculate Catholic Parish Primary School at Eaglevale between 1986 and 1992) pleaded guilty in a court in December 2017 to committing child-sex offences while he was the principal at the school and he is now serving a jail sentence.

New South Wales Police charged Slattery after interviewing two of his former students. The charges comprised a total of four incidents of indecent assault against these two children. Slattery was sentenced in the New South Wales District Court on 18 December 2017.

According to an official document from the Marist Brothers, Philip David Slattery was born on 10 February 1948. This indicates that Brother Philip was in his early forties while he was the principal at the Eaglevale school.

Eaglevale, situated 56 kilometres south-west of central Sydney (in the Campbelltown region), comes within the Catholic diocese of Wollongong.

In his February 2018 statement, Bishop Ingham (the head of the Wollongong diocese) said: “It is my understanding that the offences were committed between 1989 and 1992 against two students whilst Mr Slattery, then known as Brother Philip, was the principal of the school.”

“Since becoming aware of the conviction, the Diocese has been in contact with them [the two former students] to offer our support.

"The trauma and pain endured by victims and survivors of child sexual abuse and their families is real and is acknowledged.

“I further offer a heartfelt apology to all those who have suffered abuse by any person who was associated with the Diocese of Wollongong.”