A Catholic Brother awaits a jury trial but this is being delayed by the COVID-19 virus

  • By a Broken Rites researcher, article updated 21 April 2020

An elderly Catholic religious Brother (John David Frith) has been ordered to undergo a criminal trial, with a jury, in the Australian state of Victoria. He is charged with offences allegedly committed some years ago against boys at a Catholic secondary school — Monivae College, situated at Hamilton, 290 kilometres west of Melbourne. But now the trial date is being delayed because of the Coronavirus pandemic. (By a Broken Rites reporter, article updated 21 April 2020.)

The case of John David Frith was investigated by detectives from a specialist unit (the Sano Taskforce) in the Victoria Police, Melbourne. The investigation was concerned with the 1970s and 1980s.

The case had its first mention in the Melbourne Magistrates Court on 14 September 2018. A preliminary (committal) hearing was held in February 2019. This magistrate ordered Frith to stand trial with a judge in the Victorian County Court.

A jury trial for Frith was due to begin in the County Court in March 2020, and the trial was expected to continue for several weeks. However, the onset of the Coronavirus pandemic (about this time) made it risky for a significant number of people to sit together in such a courtroom. Therefore the trial was postponed. The court will later consider fixing a new date for the Frith trial.

Monivae College was established by a Catholic religious order, the Missionaries of the Sacred Heart. For many years, it was a boarding school for boys only.