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Written by a Broken Rites Australia researcher.


Paedophile priest Peter Searson worked under various bishops in Melbourne

For years, the Melbourne Catholic Archdiocese knew that Father Peter Searson was committing sexual offences against boys, girls and women but he was allowed to continue in parishes. The Victoria Police investigated Searson for sexual offences in parishes but found it difficult to extract evidence from "loyal" church people. Eventually, after 35 years as a priest, the police managed to charge Searson with physical assault. Thus, Searson's abuse thus became public. The church authorities were forced to dump Searson from parish work. Hoping to protect the church's public image, the church also removed his name from the published list of retired priests. (Background article by a Broken Rites researcher.)

Marist Brothers admit suicides by sex-abuse victims

Broken Rites Australia is doing research about adults who have suffered a premature death while still feeling damaged by church child-abuse (and by the church's cover-up). For example, Broken Rites has discovered that two former pupils, from a prestigious Marist Brothers school, have died by suicide. Before dying, both men revealed that they had been sexually abused during their childhood by a long-serving teacher, Brother Aubrey Tobin. (By a Broken Rites researcher, updated 1 February 2019.)

A Marist Brother has been jailed for some of his victims, and another victim has died by suicide

Australian Marist Brother David Austin Christian was recruited by the Marist Brothers at the age of 15 and became a fully-fledged Brother at 18. During his career (including as a school principal), he was sexually abusing young boys. Years later, some of these victims began to speak (as adults) to child-protection detectives in the state police force. This resulted in David Christian being jailed when he was in his seventies. But how many other victims of Brother David Christian have NOT spoken to the police? For example, one of Brother David Christian's ex-students died by suicide at the age of 21, leaving a suicide note about how his life had been damaged by Brother David Christian. (By a Broken Rites researcher, article updated 1 February 2019.)

The church re-abused this victim of Marist Brother Raymond Foster

An Australian sex-abuse victim has stated that he was made to feel like he was robbing the Catholic Church when he applied for compensation for his damaged life. (By a Broken Rites researcher.)

The Marist Brothers recycled an offender to a new position of trust

The Catholic order of Marist Brothers has kept a Brother (Brother John Desmond Dyson) as a member after he was convicted of indecently assaulting vulnerable boys in a Catholic school. The Marist Brothers have continued to list "Brother" John Dyson as being concerned with "the education and welfare of school-aged children". (By a Broken Rites researcher.)

The priest and the schoolgirl — and an abortion

Broken Rites is doing further research about a Sydney Catholic priest, Father Kevin Cox, who sexually abused vulnerable girls. For example, one victim (Broken Rites will refer to her as "Mandy") has revealed that Father Cox sexually abused her for six years from the age of eleven. Furthermore, the sexual abuse resulted in a pregnancy at age 17 — and then the priest paid for an abortion. But the church continued to protect Father Cox. Church leaders and fellow-priests continued to regard Father Cox as a church hero. (Article by a Broken Rites researcher.)

Ex-priest says child-sex offences were normal among his colleagues

A convicted priest (Father David Edwin Rapson, who belonged to one of Australia's most prominent Catholic religious orders, the Salesians) has "blown the whistle" on his colleagues in this religious order, declaring that they too were committing sexual offences on schoolboys. Broken Rites has discovered Rapson's claim in some court documents. (By a Broken Rites researcher.)

This priest has been in jail, and he now faces more charges in 2019

On 24 July 2014 a Catholic priest, Father Patrick Holmes (then aged 79), was jailed for sexually abusing two young girls in Western Australia many years ago (one girl in 1969 and the other girl about 1981). The first victim eventually reported Father Holmes to the church authorities in 2000, but (according to Broken Rites research) the church continued to list "Reverend Patrick Holmes" as a priest in the annual editions of the Australian Catholic Directory. In 2014 this victim finally spoke to police, who immediately charged Holmes. In 2018, police charged Patrick Holmes (now aged 83) in court again in Perth, regarding additional child-sex offences from 40 years ago. These new charges will be heard in court in 2019. (By a Broken Rites researcher, article updated 31 January 2019.)

These victims obtained justice, supported by Broken Rites

Research by Broken Rites has revealed that a former trainee Catholic priest (Gregory Vincent Coffey) was sentenced in South Australia for a child-sex crime and then, despite this, he was given a senior teaching position in a Melbourne Catholic school, enabling him to commit sex crimes against more children. In court proceedings in Melbourne in 1994 and 1997, Coffey pleaded guilty to indecently assaulting boys who were in his custody at a Marist Brothers secondary school in Melbourne in the 1970s. The Melbourne court did not know about Coffey's earlier conviction in South Australia. Broken Rites was present in the Melbourne court, supporting the victims and taking notes. Broken Rites also conducted its own research into Gregory Coffey's past. During this research, Broken Rites discovered Coffey's earlier South Australian conviction. (By a Broken Rites researcher.)

Father David O'Hearn is in jail, facing more charges in 2019

During the 1980s and 1890s, Father David Anthony O’Hearn worked in parishes in the Maitland-Newcastle Catholic diocese, north of Sydney. Now he is in jail where he is serving a minimum nine years’ jail for sexual offences against young boys. In March 2018, police visited the jail to charge O'Hearn (then aged 56) with additional offences after one more alleged victim had spoken to detectives. In 2019, while still a prisoner, O'Hearn is due to face a trial in the NSW District Court on these new charges. He will then continue to serve his current jail sentence. (By a Broken Rites researcher, article updated 11 January 2019).

Police allege a priest assaulted 30 children during 30 years. He awaits court in 2019

For 34 years until 1995, Father David Joseph Perrett was a Catholic priest in New South Wales. In 2019 (aged 81 and retired) he is awaiting a court case, charged with committing sexual crimes against 30 children throughout his priestly career. That is, his alleged 30-year crime spree occurred under the noses of the church authorities. The charges against Perrett include buggery, carnal knowledge of a child under 10, aggravated sexual assault, aggravated indecent assault and assault occasioning actual bodily harm. The prosecutor has told a court that some of Perrett's charges are so serious that he could perhaps spend the rest of his life in jail if convicted. (By a Broken Rites researcher, article updated 11 January 2019.)

The church gave this priest easy access to young victims, and some of them got him jailed

In 2019, Broken Rites is continuing its research about a pedophile priest, Father Charles Alfred Barnett, who was harboured by the Catholic Church for twenty years in Queensland, New South Wales, Victoria, South Australia and Western Australia. In 2010, some of his South Australian victims finally got him jailed. And in 2018 some more of his South Australian victims got him convicted again. (By a Broken Rites researcher, article updated 17 January 2019.)

The church knew about this priest's crimes but gave him further victims

Broken Rites is researching Father Kevin Wright, who spent many years in the Wagga diocese which covers a large region in southern New South Wales. There is evidence that the Catholic Church authorities knew about Wright's offending but they allowed him to continue in the priesthood, thus enabling him to assault more children in more parishes. (By a Broken Rites researcher, article updated 17 January 2019)

Why did Father Daniel Lyne vanish from the Catholic priesthood?

A victim has made a submission to Australia's national Royal Commission on Institutional Responses to Child Sexual Abuse, telling how the Catholic religious order of Passionist priests covered up for a serious child-abuser, Father Daniel Lyne. (By a Broken Rites researcher.)

Three victims finally got this Jesuit convicted, 50 years after the crimes

Broken Rites is doing further research about Father David Rankin, a Catholic priest in the Jesuit religious order, who was jailed in 2014 after pleading guilty to acts of indecency committed against three young boys in Sydney. These particular offences occurred in the 1960s when Rankin was a school teacher (by 1970, he was ordained as a Jesuit priest). These three boys are not Rankin's only victims during his 50-year career; they are merely three who took the opportunity to speak with a New South Wales Police detective. This shows that, even after 50 years, it is never too late to report a child-abuse crime to the child-protection police. (By a Broken Rites researcher.)

Full story: Father Ridsdale's life of crime — and the church's cover-up

This Broken Rites article is the most comprehensive account available about how the Catholic Church shuffled a paedophile priest, Father Gerald Ridsdale, from parish to parish for three decades while he committed sexual crimes against children. Broken Rites has been researching Ridsdale since May 1993, when he famously walked to court for his first sentencing. Broken Rites began supporting Ridsdale's victims, resulting in four more court cases for Ridsdale between 1994 and 2017. (Background article, by a Broken Rites researcher.)

Victims bring ex-Brother Brian Cairns to justice, again

Brian Dennis Cairns was originally a Christian Brother. Later he worked as a lay teacher ("Mister" Cairns) in Catholic schools in Queensland. In 1985 he was jailed for sex-crimes against boys. Since then, more of his former male pupils have contacted Broken Rites, and therefore Broken Rites arranged for each of these victims to have a private chat with detectives in the Queensland Police. Brian Cairns pleaded guilty regarding all these additional victims and on 13 January 2014 he was jailed again. (By a Broken Rites researcher)

An ex-Marist Brother became a lay teacher and then a priest — now he is facing a crminal court trial in 2019

A Catholic priest (Father Carl Stafford, born in 1939) is listed for a trial in the Sydney District Court in 2019, charged with child-sex offences allegedly committed earlier in his priestly 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.) (Article updated on 30 December 2018.)

A new Melbourne priest was abusing children from Day One, now he awaits sentencing in court in 2019

Father Paul Chris Pavlou is a relatively recent recruit to Australia's Catholic priesthood. He was originally a school-teacher but, in his thirties, he began studying to become a priest. Later, in his forties, he was elevated to the priesthood and began ministering in parishes of the Melbourne archdiocese. Soon after this, he admitted in court that he was committing sexual offences against children before and after becoming a priest. Now he is awaiting his sentencing, which will be held in the Melbourne County Court in 2019. Pavlou's story raises questions about how the church selects its priests. (By a Broken Rites researcher, article updated 30 December 2018.)

The Jesuits covered up for a criminal Brother and merely moved him to more victims in another school

Jesuit priests and brothers operate some of Australia's most prominent schools, with famous ex-students such as former prime minister Tony Abbott. After Brother Victor Higgs committed sexual offences against boys at one of these schools (St Ignatius College, Adelaide), the Jesuits kept Brother Higgs as a member of the Jesuit Order and moved him to other schools, including their famous Sydney school (St Ignatius College Riverview), thus putting Sydney boys in danger. One of the Adelaide victims finally reported Brother Higgs to the South Australian police and, in 2016, Higgs was jailed for some of his Adelaide offences. In November 2018 a Sydney court jailed Higgs (aged 81) for seven and a half years for sexual offences at the Sydney school. Since then, Broken Rites has learned that Brother Higgs later worked at the Jesuits' elite Melbourne school, Xavier College, where the Jesuits used him as a "spiritual director" (wink-wink) of young boys and as a boarding-house supervisor. (By a Broken Rites researcher, article updated on 7 January 2019)

Jailed again: The Marist Brothers inflicted this criminal Brother on more victims

This Broken Rites article is the most comprehensive account available about how the Marist Brothers allowed the sex-abuse criminal Brother Ross Francis Murrin to remain in their Order, thus giving him access to more child victims. Murrin has been jailed three times (in 2008 and 2010 and 2018) for child-sex crimes committed during his teaching career in Australian Catholic schools. There is evidence that his Marist superiors were aware many years ago about his criminal behaviour but they negligently allowed him to continue teaching, until some of Murrin's victims finally began speaking to the police detectives. (By a Broken Rites researcher, article updated 17 December 2018.)

A priest, now 84, is jailed for two years for crimes committed 50 years ago

Two former schoolboys (both now aged in their sixties) have finally brought a Catholic priest to justice in Australia for crimes that he committed on them more than 50 years ago. On 19 December 2018, Father Thomas Fulcher (now aged 84) was jailed for a minimum of two years after pleading guilty to these crimes. After committing a sexual assault, Father Fulcher would even force a child to undergo the sacred ritual of Confession, in which the child would be committed to "secrecy" regarding the incident. Father Fulcher, who is still officially a priest (in retirement), is a member of a Catholic religious order (the Society of Mary) which has branches around Australia. (By a Broken Rites researcher, article updated 22 December 2018.)

How the church enabled Fr Michael Glennon's life of crime

Broken Rites is continuing its research about how the Catholic Church enabled the paedophile priest Father Michael Charles Glennon to commit sexual crimes against children in Melbourne. Years later, many of his victims (and their families) are still feeling the impact of the church's negligence. (By a Broken Rites researcher, article updated 20 December 2018.)

This "chaplain" committed sexual offences in a girls’ orphanage (and his crimes were helped by the Catholic ritual of Confession)

Broken Rites is doing further research about a Catholic priest, Father Bernard Maxwell Day, who was living at a girls' orphanage in Victoria in the early 1960s. Father Day was one of a series of "chaplains" who occupied a flat at the orphanage. His "duties" including hearing each girl's Confession; this sacred ritual enabled a priest to talk to a girl about sex. A senior nun got Father Day removed after allegations that he was molesting girls at the orphanage. In a submission to a Victorian Parliamentary inquiry in 2013, the Melbourne Catholic archdiocese admitted that Fr Day committed sexual offences against children. (By a Broken Rites researcher, article updated 29 December 2018.)

Christian Brother Obbens indecently assaulted homesick boys in a boarding school

Broken Rites is continuing its research regarding Christian Brother William John Obbens (also known as Brother "Dominic" Obbens). Brother Obbens was jailed on 13 October 2016 (then aged 70) after he admitted indecently assaulting three boys (aged 11 to 13) who were under his authority in a boarding school. The offences occurred in the late 1980s at the former St Patrick's College (now called Trinity College) in Goulburn, south-western New South Wales, where Obbens was a teacher and a boarding master. According to court documents, Obbens preyed on the boarders’ homesickness to sexually abuse the boys. (By a Broken Rites researcher)

Church paid huge sums to lawyers to defend a criminal priest, Father James Fletcher: Background article

The Catholic diocese of Maitland-Newcastle in New South Wales has admitted that it paid an expensive team of lawyers to defend a paedophile priest in a child-abuse court case. The priest, Father James Patrick Fletcher, pleaded not guilty in 2004 to multiple counts of anal and oral sexual penetration of an altar boy, Daniel Feenan. The offences began in 1990, when Daniel was 12. A jury found Fletcher guilty on all charges. Legal experts have told the media that Fletcher's legal costs for the 11-day trial exceeded $200,000. The church's defence team included a Queen's Counsel, plus a second barrister and a solicitor. Fletcher had various victims, most of whom were still remaining silent. This court case in 2004 was about one victim, Daniel. (Background article by a Broken Rites researcher.)

How the paedophile Father Denis McAlinden was inflicted on Australian children

Research by Broken Rites has revealed that the Catholic Church knowingly harboured the paedophile priest Father Denis McAlinden for 40 years, thus inflicting him on young girls in parishes around Australia and also overseas. The church has been paying small out-of-court settlements to some of McAlinden's victims, thus avoiding a larger court-based settlement. In November 2016, two sisters began to sue the Catholic Church in the New South Wales Supreme Court for a proper amount to settle their abuse by McAlinden. At the last moment, the church agreed to pay these two women a confidential out-of-court financial settlement, thus preventing the church's other victims from knowing the size of a court-related settlement. This Broken Rites article explains the background about Fr Denis McAlinden and the church's cover-up. (By a Broken Rites researcher.)

Background article: The career of Archbishop Philip Wilson

This Broken Rites article is about the career of Australia's Archbishop Philip Wilson. Late in his career, police alleged that Wilson had covered up for a priest (Father James Fletcher) who indecently assaulted a ten-year-old boy (Peter Creigh). Police alleged that, when they were investigating Father Fletcher in 2003-2004 regarding a different victim (Daniel Feenan), Archbishop Wilson possessed information (about the abuse of Peter) which might help the case against Fletcher but Wilson concealed this information, thus protecting the criminal Fletcher. A court convicted Archbishop Wilson regarding his concealment of Peter's abuse. On 6 December 2018, a court quashed Wilson's conviction. This court case, however, was regarding only one of the church's victims, Peter Creigh. What did Wilson know about other criminal priests? (By a Broken Rites researcher, updated on 14 December 2018.)

The crimes of this Franciscan Brother were covered up

The Australian headquarters of the Franciscans (the Order of Friars Minor) have been forced to acknowledge that Brother Paschal Bartlett was a child-abuser. This Brother joined the Franciscan Order in the 1920s, moving through parishes in Victoria, Tasmania, New Zealand and Sydney. He supervised altar boys for almost 50 years in these parishes, exploiting his position of authority to sexually abuse them. (By a Broken Rites researcher.)

This priest was a danger to young schoolgirls

Broken Rites is doing research about Father Damian Colbourne, who has spent many years as a priest in the Catholic order of Capuchin Franciscan Friars, ministering in Sydney, Melbourne and Brisbane. In Brisbane in May 2017, Colbourne (then aged 75) was jailed for sexually abusing an eight-year-old Brisbane schoolgirl in 1974 (when he was in his thirties). Colbourne was charged by Queensland police in 2016 after the victim reported him to Australia's national child-abuse Royal Commission. In court, he pleaded guilty regarding the Brisbane girl. How many other children were victims of Father Colbourne? (By a Broken Rites researcher, article updated 8 December 2018)

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