Marist Brother "Kostka" Chute (aged 84) in court again, as a result of the Royal Commission

By a Broken Rites researcher (article updated 14 January 2017)

This Broken Rites article tells how the Marist Brothers harboured a child-sex offender (Brother John William Chute) throughout his long career, giving him wide access to Australian Catholic schoolchildren. Broken Rites has ascertained that the Marist Brothers appointed Chute (whose religious name is "Brother Kostka") to at least 12 Catholic schools in Australia between 1952 and 1993, ranging from Lismore in northern New South Wales to Marcellin College in Randwick, Sydney, as well as at least one school in Queensland. His final school was Marist College in Canberra, and it was some Canberra pupils who finally got him convicted and jailed in 2008. However, this Canberra court case was confined to crimes committed within the Australian Capital Territory. Since then, more of Chute's former Canberra students have spoken to Australia's national child-abuse Royal Commission (and also to the A.C.T. police), alleging more offences by "Kostka" Chute in Canberra; and therefore a Canberra magistrate has ordered Chute to face a trial in 2017 on these additional charges. The Marists' lawyers are trying to cancel the 2017 trial, claiming that Brother Chute (now aged 84) is too unfit to enter a plea.

The new charges (laid in 2016 for the 2017 trial) are mentioned at the end of this article.

"Kostka" Chute's background

According to court documents in 2008, Kostka Chute (real name John William Chute) was born on 13 June 1932, the youngest of 10 children, along with his twin sister. He grew up in Coraki, a small farming town in northern New South Wales, near the city of Lismore. He attended a local Catholic primary school. When he was about 10 or 11, he was befriended by a Marist Brother.

At age 11-12, John Chute left his family to attend a Marist Brothers "juniorate" (a secondary boarding school where boys were preparing to become Brothers) at Mittagong, in the NSW Southern Highlands. It was there — within the Marist Brothers culture — that Chute became introduced to the Marist practice of sexual abuse in his teens, the court was told.

At the age of seventeen, John Chute took his first vows as a Marist Brother. He then adopted the "religious" alias "Kostka". This re-naming practice was customary in the Marist order. (There was a "Saint Stanislaus Kostka" in the 16th century.)

At age 18, armed with his "saintly" new name, Brother Kostka was teaching children in primary classes in Marist Brothers schools in New South Wales and Queensland. For example, Broken Rites has been told that, about 1956-57, Brother Kostka was teaching primary grade 6 at Marist Brothers Rosalie in Brisbane.

"Brother Kostka" in Lismore, NSW

In the late 1960s, Brother Kostka was teaching with the Marist Brothers in Lismore (in the region where he had grown up). The Marists supplied Brothers to two schools in Lismore in the 1960s - a primary school which is now called St Carthage's and a secondary school (then called St Joseph's) which is now called Trinity Catholic College.

Complaints surfaced in Lismore about Kostka. In 1969, Marist headquarters solved this by moving Kostka to a different school, thus putting more children in danger.

A former student ("Melvyn", born 1958), who was at Marist Brothers Lismore in the 1960s, has told Broken Rites:

"It was common knowledge among the Lismore boys AND STAFF that Kostka and others were touching the students.

"Would this have not been a good time for the Marist administration to take some action, rather than moving him onto new pickings?

"While Kostka did not touch me (my turn was to come at the hands of a different offender), I often saw him with a boy in his office at Lismore. Amazingly he would have a boy sitting on his lap. This is in the 1960s, so his pattern was well established before the 1970s and Canberra."

In 2009, a former Lismore pupil began a civil action against the Marist Brothers, claiming compensation for damage done to his life after he allegedly suffered abuse by Kostka Chute in Lismore in 1967. The former pupil alleged that Chute molested him several times in that year by touching the boy's genitals, and making the boy touch Kostka's genitals. In 2009 the Marists, through their lawyers, fought against this compensation claim.

Kostka Chute was not the only Marist offender who spent time in Lismore. Others included Brother Peter "Bartholomew" Spratt and, later, Brother Gregory Joseph Sutton.

Preparing for the Royal Commission

In June 2014, Australia's national child-abuse Royal Commission held public hearings to examine why the church authorities sheltered Brother Kostka Chute (and other abusers) from the police for so long. More information about Marist Brothers Lismore emerged at the Commission's hearings.

The Royal Commission became a public-relations problem for the Marist Brothers, who engaged a Sydney legal firm to help them to prepare for the June 2014 hearings. In May 2014, after the Royal Commission announced these proposed public hearings (about Brother Kostka Chute plus Marist Brother Gregory Sutton), this Sydney legal firm made inquiries in Lismore, seeking to find out exactly which people have made statements to the Royal Commission investigators and also what the statements might contain.

The legal firm stated that it was "acting on behalf of the Catholic Church and the Marist Brothers".

Judging from the Lismore contacts of this legal firm, the Marist Brothers seemed to be concerned by what might emerge at the Royal Commission about Brother Gregory Sutton as well as about Brother Kostka Chute.

The Royal Commission begins

When the Royal Commission began its hearings about the Marist Brothers on 10 June 2014, the counsel assisting the Commission (Mr Simeon Beckett) gave a summary of Brother Kostka Chute's career.

He said that allegations of sexual abuse were made against Chute as early as 1960 and that he had admitted to "inappropriate touching" while at Marcellin College in Randwick, in Sydney.

Chute was transferred to St Anne's Primary School at Bondi (in Sydney) and was again the subject of allegations of sexual abuse in 1961 and 1962.

When a boy complained, the superior of the Randwick Marist community, Brother Desmond Xavier Phillips, met the boy's father. Chute again admitted to "inappropriate touching".

Mr Beckett said that the primary response was that Brother Chute agreed to see a priest (Father Cox) for "spiritual" advice. He left the school at the end of 1962 and began work at the Marist Primary School in Queanbeyan (in southern NSW, near Canberra) in 1963, before being transferred to Villa Maria at Hunters Hill (in Sydney) for 1964, 1965 and 1966.

He was appointed principal of St Josephs School, Lismore in 1967. After a complaint, he admitted to the Marist superiors that he had sexually abused a student at the school. The then provincial head of the Marist Brothers, Brother "Othmar" Weldon, considered it a "good idea" to move Chute to another school (thereby giving him access to a different set of boys).

Brother Kostka's case was considered by the provincial council of the Marist order in 1969 and the minutes record: "It was thought advisable to give Brother Chute a canonical warning." Mr Beckett said that on "the same day Brother Chute was transferred to teach primary school and be the principal at Marist College Penshurst (in Sydney).".

He was again accused of sexual abuse and, once again, admitted (to his Marist superiors) what he had done.

Leaving Penshurst in late 1972, Chute taught at Marcellin Junior College in Coogee (Sydney) and Marist Brothers School in Parramatta (western Sydney), before leaving for to attend a Marist Brothers centre in Switzerland in 1975, possibly because of concerns over his chronic history of sexually abusing children.

He was transferred to Marist College Canberra in 1976, where he continued to offend during the next 17 years.

Kostka  Chute's offences were fairly similar in nature. Most involved Brother Chute reaching into a boy's underpants and touching the boy's penis, Mr Beckett told the Royal Commission.

The Marist Brothers in Canberra

In Canberra, Kostka Chute joined a community of more than a dozen Marist Brothers. For example, a document examined by the Royal Commission gave this list of 17 Marist Brothers in Canberra in 1980:

  1. Alfred Chaplin
  2. Kostka Chute
  3. Francis Fahey
  4. Kevin Herlihy
  5. Jerome Hickman
  6. Joseph McCabe
  7. Joseph McMahon
  8. Karl Muller
  9. Bernard Murphy
  10. Robert Pereira
  11. Martin Peters
  12. William Seldon
  13. Maurice Shaw
  14. Cecil Sheil
  15. Peter Spratt
  16. Gregory Sutton
  17. Hubert Williams

Kostka Chute in the 1990s

Numerous complaints were lodged to the Marists about Brother Kostka Chute over the years but these were tolerated by the Marists.

In September or October 1993, a boy reported to the then Canberra principal, Brother Christopher Wade, that Chute had indecently assaulted him. The Marist Brothers province head, Brother Alexis Turton, flew to Canberra to investigate but Chute was allowed to continue teaching there for the remainder of 1993.

In late November 1993, a second boy told school counsellor Janine Mahoney that Chute had indecently assaulted him.

Ms Mahoney took the matter directly to Brother Turton and Chute was finally withdrawn from the school as of January 1, 1994. This was his last appointment as a teacher.

He was transferred to the Marists' training centre in Dundas, Sydney and then, in 1997, to the Marist Farmhouse at Mittagong, in southern NSW.

The Marist authorities managed to prevent these complaints from reaching the police.

Eventually, a former student made (and signed) a sworn statement for the Australian Capital Territory police. In Canberra in January 2008, Chute was charged with 19 counts of child abuse (all committed within the Australian Capital Territory) and, after pleading guilty, was sentenced to six years' imprisonment with the third year to be spent in weekend detention and the last three years suspended. At this stage (in 2008), Chute had never been charged by New South Wales or Queensland police regarding any complaints in those two states.

After serving his jail sentence for the Canberra crimes, the Marist Brothers allowed Kostka  Chute to continue as a member of the Marist community, and he resumed living in Marist accommodation with fellow-Marists. He continued to be "Brother Kostka Chute".

Brother Kostka's crimes in Canberra

This article will now refer to some statements and documents relating to Brother Kostka Chute's criminal court case in Canberra in 2008.

In the Supreme Court of the Australian Capital Territory on 9 May 2008, Kostka Chute pleaded guilty to 19 incidents of indecently touching six teenage boys from Marist College Canberra between 1985 and 1989 when they were aged 13 and 14.

The 19 admitted incidents represented only a fraction of the sexual encounters he had had with the six boys, according to the agreed statement of facts. [The charges were representative of Kostka molesting some victims on a daily basis.]

The offences happened in various places around the school, including: in Kostka's office; in his on-campus residence; in the theatrette where Kostka hosted movie nights; in a gardening shed; and even in a food van that sold pies at football games on weekends.

How the Canberra case began in 2008

Kostka was represented in court by a Sydney lawyer who frequently represents Catholic Church personnel in sex-abuse court cases. The Marist Brothers were paying for Kostka's legal costs.

Originally, in the A.C.T. Magistrates Court on 17 January 2008, Kostka was charged with incidents of indecency extending back to 1981. However, at a second hearing on 21 February 2008, the A.C.T. Director of Public Prosecutions dropped some of the earliest charged incidents because these incidents had allegedly happened before 1985, when charges relating to sexual indecency had to be made within a year.

The Canberra school ignored complaints

Documents tendered in court on 21 February 2008 revealed that a teacher and one headmaster at the school were told by victims that Brother Kostka had molested them, but the school allowed him to teach for several more years.

One alleged victim, whose complaint was dropped in the 21 February 2008 hearing because it related to an incident in 1981, told police in August 2007 that he had reported Kostka's assault on him to a teacher in 1986 because he was concerned that Brother Kostka was spending a lot of time with another young student. However, the teacher, John Doyle, told him the next day that "nothing was going to be done regarding his allegation and concerns".

Several years later, in the early 1990s, the alleged victim went to the school and told the then-headmaster of the assault. But when he spoke to the headmaster soon after, he was told that Brother Kostka had denied assaulting him and the investigation had been passed on to Kostka's "superiors" [that is, to fellow Marist Brothers]. The alleged victim told police he had been intent in preventing Kostka from having further contact with children. He had a meeting with a senior Marist brother, Brother "Alexis" Turton (real name Keith Turton), who was the Australian head of the Marist Brothers from 1989 to 1995. However, the alleged victim was merely asked "what he wanted" from the Marist Brothers, and was offered counselling.

Brother "Alexis" Turton later informed the alleged victim that Kostka had been moved to a Mittagong farmhouse in southern New South Wales for retired Marist brothers, the Hermitage, where he remained until his arrest in January 2008.

The alleged victim's brother went to the farmhouse in 2002 to visit another Brother, where he discovered that Brother Kostka was running a youth drop-in centre for boys.

[By 2008, Brother "Alexis" Turton had become the Marists' professional standards officer, with the responsibility for dealing with complaints about sexual abuse. He accompanied Kostka to court during the 2008 proceedings.]

More details in 2008 about the Canberra offences

According to court documents in the 2008 case, victims told police that Brother Kostka would win their trust and confidence before developing a pattern of systemic abuse. Some boys were molested on a daily basis over more than a year. Kostka would often put his hands down the boys' pants, sometimes in classrooms with other students in the room. Other times, he would expose himself and force the boys to touch his penis, with two victims recalling vividly the expression that came over Kostka's face when he was molesting them "He would raise the outer edges of his eyebrows and his tongue would be out the side of his mouth," one boy recalled.

The victims told police that Brother Kostka befriended lots of boys through a movie club he ran, in which a film would be screened at the school's theatrette on a weekly or bi-weekly basis.

One victim, who was molested in 1986 in the theatrette, recalled how Kostka sat next to him and put his hand on his groin. When the boy moved away, Kostka followed, and did so about three times before finally giving up.

The boy told his parents the next day and they made an appointment to see the headmaster, Brother Terence Heinrich. However, police were not notified, and the Marist authorities handled the matter "in-house". Kostka taught for a further seven years. [After being the headmaster in Canberra, Brother Terence Heinrich moved to Marist College, Ashgrove, in Brisbane, where he was the headmaster in 1990-96.]

Another victim, to whom six of the admitted 11 offences relate, said Kostka abused him between 1985 and 1987 "almost daily" and sometimes in the classroom while other students were present. In turn, Kostka "showered him with kindness". On one occasion, he threatened another victim to whom another four of the offences relate with expulsion if he told anyone.

After Kostka's guilty plea on 21 February 2008, the magistrate released Kostka on bail pending sentencing proceedings in the ACT Supreme Court on a later date. While on bail, he was to live with Brother "Alexis" Turton in Sydney.

Parents were kept in the dark

After Brother Kostka's guilty plea in February 2008, the Canberra Times uncovered further information about the Brother Kostka affair, which was published in the newspaper on 1 March 2008.

The Canberra Times said that, after a former student reported having been abused, Kostka was told to leave the school by his superior in 1993 but parents and students were never told why.

The former head of the Marist Brothers province, Brother "Alexis" Turton, confirmed that he met an alleged victim at Canberra Airport in September 1993..

However, it is understood that neither the school nor Marist Brothers made efforts to identify any other potential victims, and they did not refer the matter to police.

Students and parents were not told at the time why Kostka had been removed from the school. Instead, the 1994 college year book suggested that Kostka had accepted an invitation to transfer to Sydney, and he was praised for his invaluable contribution to the school during his 18 years of teaching.

"During the holidays last Christmas, in a belated transfer which is usual enough in religious congregations, Brother [Kostka] accepted the invitation to bring to a close his long ministry in Canberra and moved to Sydney," the entry said.

"The lateness of the transfer meant we could not pay tribute to him in the 1993 Blue and Blue [year book], so here it is one year later, but no less genuine or sincere because of that."

The alleged victim who met Brother Alexis Turton at the airport told the Canberra Times that he had approached the school's headmaster more than a decade after the assault because of concerns that Kostka was allegedly grooming other children.

By 2008, Brother "Alexis" Turton had become the "professional standards" officer for the Marist Brothers in New South Wales, Queensland and the ACT. Kostka was not removed from the school until three months after he met the alleged victim.

Another alleged victim said he had reported an allegation of sexual abuse to the school in December 1993, days before Kostka was removed. On that occasion, the school again allegedly arranged for Brother Alexis to meet the boy's parents in Canberra. He assured them Kostka would never work with children again. Brother Alexis has denied any recollection of this meeting.

The admissions come on the back of allegations contained in civil and criminal court documents that various headmasters and teachers knew of allegations of sexual abuse against Kostka as early as 1979, and against other brothers and teachers at the school as early as 1970, but failed to act.

Pre-sentence hearing, May 2008

Following his guilty plea, Kostka Chute appeared in the A.C.T. Supreme Court again on 9 May 2008 for pre-sentence submissions.

At the pre-sentence hearing, Kostka pleaded guilty to 19 counts of indecently touching the six teenage boys between 1985 and 1989. This included 11 counts, relating to four boys between 1986 and 1987, to which he had pleaded guilty in February 2008. It did not include seven other charges the prosecution was forced to drop because they had allegedly happened before 1985, when a statute of limitations of one year applied in the Australian Capital Territory for such offences.

When Kostka appeared in court again on 5 June 2008 for further pre-sentence submissions, the Marist Brothers' lawyer  asked for a non-custodial sentence.

Kostka sentenced, June 2008

Sentencing Kostka on 22 June 2008, Justice Malcolm Gray condemned the abuse as a gross breach of trust.

The judge said several character references from friends and former colleagues had to be viewed in the context of Kostka's offences.

"Such testimonials are not irrelevant to my approach but must be weighed against the gross breach of trust that you perpetrated," Justice Gray said.

"That trust which was reposed in you as a teacher of young children and as their custodian in place of their parents as well as that trust reposed in you as a representative of your religious order."

Justice Gray sentenced Kostka to a total of six years jail, with the first two years in full-time prison. The third year would be served by weekend detention, and the remaining three years were fully suspended.

Although Kostka pleaded guilty to 19 individual incidents, most of the charges were representative of years of daily abuse. Justice Gray said he had taken into consideration that the admitted charges were not isolated offences.

Civil actions against the Marist Brothers

After the conviction of Brother Kostka in 2008, a number of Kostka's ex-students initiated a civil action, through a Canberra solicitor, Jason Parkinson (of the legal firm Porters Lawyers), seeking compensation from the Marist Brothers and the school authorities for breach of the school's duty of care. Some of the ex-students in the civil action allege that Kostka was abusing them as early as the 1970s. They say that various lay teachers, as well as religious brothers, knew about what the offenders were doing to boys but did nothing about it.

The Marist Brothers indicated in 2008 that they wished to use a legal loophole to escape liability in this compensation case. On 23 June 2008, immediately after Brother Kostka Chute was jailed, a press release was issued by Brother Alexis Turton for the Marist order. Turton apologised to victims but he encouraged victims to go through the Catholic Church's private mediation process, known as Towards Healing, rather than legal action. Turton said: "What is at issue in the current [civil] actions in the ACT Supreme Court is whether it is appropriate to sue the particular legal entity named in the suit, given earlier court decisions involving other church bodies." After Turton's statement, the Marist Brothers' solicitor (Howard Harrison) confirmed to the media that the Marists planned to rely on a NSW Court of Appeal decision known as the Ellis case in a bid to avoid legal liability. The Catholic Church successfully fought the Ellis case, obtaining a judgment that priests were not agents of the church and therefore it could not be sued for their actions.

More about Kostka in Canberra

After the jailing of Marist Brother Kostka Chute, the Canberra Times published an interesting feature article on 28 June 2008, giving more background about sexual abuse at Canberra's Catholic boys' schools. Here are some extracts from the Canberra Times article:-

Kostka's trail of child abuse appears to have extended well beyond the six boys he pleaded guilty to molesting. Three civil claims have already been lodged in the ACT Supreme Court against the school, represented by the Marist Brothers Trustees, and an additional 22 are ready to be filed. Most of these relate to Kostka. Two relate to a former colleague of his, lay teacher Paul Lyons, who committed suicide in 2000 shortly after he was charged with molesting a student in 1989 at Daramalan College, in Dickson, Canberra, where he taught next (three claims relating to Lyons' time at Daramalan have already been filed). Five of the 22 claims relate to alleged victims who say they were molested by both Kostka and Lyons...

[Daramalan College was operated not by the Marist Brothers but by a different Catholic religious order, called the Missionaries of the Sacred Heart.]

One victim, that Kostka pleaded guilty to molesting throughout 1986, when he [the victim] was in Year 8, says he had also been molested by Lyons that same year. He never reported it to the school because Kostka had threatened him with expulsion if he did, and later in life he [the victim] tried unsuccessfully to forget it...

It was only in July 2007, when a story in the Canberra Times called for Lyons' Marist victims to come forward, that he [this victim] went to police. "I saw Lyons on the front page, and it was like 20 years of my life just flew back at my face, and I thought, 'Now is the time to talk about it'."

Back in 1986 Kostka taught Year 7 and Lyons Year 8. It's tempting to conclude that Kostka would feed victims to Lyons as they progressed to the next grade, but this victim says he never heard one talk about the other in that context. Looking back, though, he suspects the paedophile pair did cooperate to some degree.

"It was Kostka at the start, Lyons in the middle part of the year, and Lyons at the end again. Reading about things now it seems that they were quite close as well, they did a lot of stuff together."

The victim is convinced some staff and Brothers at the school knew about Kostka's molesting. It was too indiscrete not to notice, and many of the students even saw him fondling fellow students in class.

"He would come up behind someone in the class and put his hand down there, and only a few students would see, but it was quite obvious. Nobody would say anything, but then at the break people would start talking about it. And I guess that's when rumours started to fly of 'Be careful of Brother Kostka, don't get caught in his office because he'll touch you up'. At the time I didn't know it was wrong, that's just how it was."

Victims say that towards Kostka's later years [in Canberra] his abuse was more brazen and frequent. His office was a popular place to abuse the children, luring them in with the promise of warmth on a cold winter's day, or a video they could watch in the lunch break.

By the early 1990s, Kostka's molesting was "common knowledge" among most students, especially the older boys. One teacher, who does not wish to be named, says she was frequently asked by students, "Does Brother Kostka bum-f--k?"

Lyons, similarly, became more indiscrete the longer he got away with abusing boys. While several former students now allege they were molested by Lyons at Marist College during his 12 years there that ended in 1987, many more alleged victims from Daramalan have emerged. At Daramalan, Lyons allegedly ran rampant for more than a decade, luring students to his home and on shooting trips with the promise of food, alcohol and guns until his arrest, confession and suicide in late 2000.

Conspiracy theories abound about whether Marist College knew or suspected Lyons was molesting students. One of his alleged Daramalan victims suspects Marist did know, and is angry the school did nothing more than off-load him [Lyons] to Daramalan. He says he was molested in 1989 during what he thought was going to be a shooting trip with Lyons one weekend. After Lyons had fondled him, he took him to McDonald's and then they went back to Lyons's flat in Queanbeyan. Although an isolated incident, the wounds of the betrayal are still fresh in his mind...

Kostka's admission of guilt, and Lyons' admission to Queanbeyan police in November 2000 during a recorded interview that he had molested a 15-year-old student in 1989, are but one hurdle that has been cleared in the path towards compensation for their alleged Marist College victims. As solicitor Jason Parkinson, who is representing the alleged victims, says, it needs to be shown that the school knew or ought to have known about Kostka's and Lyons' abuse...

Even without the civil claims there is already substantial material to support inferences that all was not right at Marist College in the 1970s and 1980s. Kostka was not the first Marist College brother to be convicted of molesting a student. A little-known fact is that in 1996 Brother Peter Spratt pleaded guilty in Cooma Local Court to two counts of molesting a 14-year-old boy from the school. The incidents occurred in 1979 at a Marist Brothers residence at Wategoes Beach, Byron Bay, and at a holiday centre in Jindabyne, NSW.

Spratt was placed on a $2000, two-year good-behaviour bond. It's unclear when he left the school, but he was long gone [from Marist College Canberra] by the time he was charged.

When combined with what we know about Kostka and Lyons, there would have been three child molesters at the Canberra school working side by side in 1979.

Among the allegations in the statements of claim is that in about 1979, the mother of a child at the school complained to the headmaster that Kostka was showing pornography to students in class, taking children into his office and having them sit on his lap, and masturbating under his cassock in class. The mother asked that Kostka be removed from the school, but was allegedly told by the headmaster at the time that ''he was aware of Brother Kostka's behaviour as [she] described'', and he had informed the provincial (the head of the Marist Brothers organisation in the region) of Brother Kostka's behaviour.

Another claim is that in 1970 the parents of an alleged victim informed the school headmaster that another brother had forced their son to sit on his lap and touched the child's genitals.

The road to compensation won't be a smooth one. Parkinson would be well served by the golden bullet that enabled him to settle two civil claims a couple of years ago against Daramalan College relating to Lyons: former teachers willing to testify that they knew Lyons was behaving inappropriately, and that they had reported it to the principal without any action taken.

One such teacher, Terry O'Brien, says that he and another teacher, Peter Cuzner, told one principal that they believed Lyons's practices of taking students home was inappropriate. The principal, Father Bob Irwin, called a staff meeting and told staff that the school did not allow unauthorised extracurricular activities with students, but when Irwin left for another school the following year, it's believed Lyons reverted to his old ways, if indeed he had ever stopped.

[Broken Rites understands that Terry O'Brien (born in 1936) was originally a Marist Brother. Terry O'Brien, whose religious name was Brother Sylvester, ceased being a Brother about 1977 after 25 years.]

O'Brien says he regrets not doing more, but had no knowledge of Lyons molesting boys to justify anything more than bringing what he perceived to be unprofessional conduct to the principal's attention.

"My disappointment is that I was concerned, I passed it on and the authorities [at the school] did not act quick enough for my satisfaction," O'Brien, who retired from teaching in 1999, says. "I wish I had done something more at the time, but at the time it was not criminal, if it had been criminal I would have gone to the police directly."

The Marist College victims are crying out for staff and Brothers at the school to come clean with what they know, so that they can get at least financial compensation for what they endured.

For others, it is believed to be too late, with at least five suicides of boys in the past 15 years attributed by family, friends or former classmates to suspected sex abuse by Kostka and Lyons.

[This ends the above extracts from the Canberra Times article of 28 June 2008.]

Footnote by Broken Rites

Kostka Chute was not the only sexually-abusive Marist Brother whose career included time spent at Marist College Canberra. Others include:

  1. Brother Gregory Joseph SUTTON (born on 19 March 1951): Brother Greg Sutton became a staff member of several Catholic schools (including St Carthage's primary school in Lismore NSW and Marist College primary school in Canberra). He eventually left the Marists and is therefore now described as a "former" Marist Brother. He fled to the United States but was captured there and was extradited back to Australia to be jailed in New South Wales for crimes committed in that state. To read a Broken Rites article about Sutton, click HERE.
  2. Brother Gregory James CARTER (born on 4 July 1957): After offending while working as a Marist Brother in Queensland, Carter was appointed as head of the junior school at Marist College Canberra, where he worked in the early 1990s. He was jailed in 1996 for the Queensland offences. To read a Broken Rites article about Carter, click HERE.
  3. Brother Peter Richard SPRATT (born on 2 August 1937, also known as "Brother Bartholomew"): He sexually abused a Marist College Canberra boy in 1979 and was eventually convicted for this in 1996. In the 1960s, Spratt taught at the Marist Brothers schools in Lismore NSW, as did Brother Kostka Chute and Brother Greg Sutton. To read a Broken Rites article about Brother "Bartholomew" Spratt, click HERE.

These three, plus Kostka Chute, are not the only sexually-abusive Marists who spent time at Marist College, Canberra. These are merely four who were brought to justice - that is, they were convicted in a criminal court. Various other Marist Brothers were child-sex offenders but escaped justice because their victims (and the victims' families) did not report these crimes to the police.

  • To see another article by Broken Rites (on the question of compensation for "Kostka" Chute victims), click HERE.
  • The Royal Commission public hearing in 2014 also examined how the church authorities responded to the crimes of Marist Brother Gegory Joseph Sutton. To see a Broken Rites article about Brother Gregory Sutton, click HERE.

"Kostka" Chute in court again in 2016

In early 2016, Australian Capital Territory police charged John William Chute with additional offences, allegedly committed in the A.C.T. in the 1980s.

The charges were laid after a year-long police investigation, resulting from information received by Australia's national Royal Commission into Institutional Responses to Child Sexual Abuse.

On 9 August 2016, John William Chute appeared in the A.C.T. Magistrates Court, facing six charges of indecent assault and two acts of indecency for offences allegedly committed against two students over several years from 1980.

Police documents, tabled in court, said that Chute taught at numerous Marist Brothers high schools in Australia before he moved to Marist College Canberra in 1976.

The documents said the abuse against one of the alleged victims began when Chute touched the boy's genitals from behind as the child patted the teacher's Labrador at school one day in 1980.

Another time, later that year, Chute allegedly touched the same boy's genitals over his pants as they sat in chapel. On another occasion he inappropriately touched the child beneath his underwear in the monastery, court documents said.

A second alleged victim claimed Chute had fondled his genitals after giving him a bear hug when he returned a borrowed cassette tape to his office in 1985. That same year he allegedly touched the same boy inappropriately during class on dozens of occasions.

Chute's defence lawyer claimed that Chute, now aged 84, is too unfit to enter a plea.

The magistrate committed John William Chute for trial in the A.C.T. Supreme Court.

The hearing in 2017

According to the schedule of the A.C.T. Supreme Court, the case of John William Chute is listed for a preliminary procedure in early 2017. The case number is CR16/00178.

An early task of the court will be to decide whether Chute is fit to enter a plea.