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Written by a Broken Rites Australia researcher.


A guilty priest dies while waiting to be sentenced, but the jury's guilty verdict still stands

Father James Joseph Cunneen committed sexual crimes against boys in two parishes of the Parramatta Catholic Diocese (in Sydney's western suburbs) in the 1980s. His priestly status gave him access to young people. Prosecutors regard Cunneen's crimes as serious. In 2019, a jury found him guilty regarding six of his victims (four from one parish and two from an earlier parish). Cunneen, aged 60, was remanded in custody to await a pre-sentence hearing (scheduled for 14 February 2020) when the judge would hear submissions about what kind of sentence should be imposed. Each victim intended to tell the court (at the pre-sentence hearing) how these church-crimes had impacted this victim's life. But on 28 December 2019 Cunneen died in hospital as the result of a heart condition; and evidently his body was cremated. Therefore, when the case came up in court on 14 February 2020, the judge was unable to sentence Cunneen; and now the judge will seek a formal statement from police confirming that Cunneen is dead. Meanwhile, the jury's guilty verdict still stands. (By a Broken Rites researcher, article updated 15 February 2020)

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. Australia's Jesuit administration has asked retired Victorian Supreme Court chief justice Marilyn Warren to write a review about Higgs and other Jesuit offenders, and her printed report was submitted to the Jesuits in February 2020. (By a Broken Rites researcher, article updated on 6 February 2020.)

The church covered up for Father Frank Klep but failed, now he is spending more time in jail

This Broken Rites article is the most comprehensive account available about how the large Catholic order of Salesian Fathers harboured an Australian paedophile priest, Father Frank Klep, for many years — allowing him to commit sexual crimes against defenceless boys. Gradually, some of his victims managed to expose Klep and the Salesians, resulting in the jailing of Klep. In 2019, Klep (aged 75) had his jail time increased after he admitted abusing more youngsters including a four-year-old. (By a Broken Rites researcher, article updated 1 February 2020.)

Families disrupted by a Catholic religious Brother

Several families have complained to Broken Rites about Brother Luke Beltram, a teacher in the Catholic order of De La Salle Brothers. Luke Francis Beltram was born about 1947. His teaching appointments included De La Salle schools at Dandenong VIC, Dubbo NSW, Malvern VIC, East Bentleigh VIC and (finally) Castle Hill NSW. He died on 10 March 2000, aged 53.

Church victims should report church crimes to the police detectives, as shown in the Father Gannon case

This article explains why Broken Rites Australia advises church-abuse victims to have a chat with child-protection detectives in the state police force. The Melbourne Catholic archdiocese ignored the child-sex crimes of Father Desmond Gannon throughout his long career. This cover-up ended in 1993 when the newly-formed Broken Rites began encouraging church-victims to consult the child-protection detectives. In 1995 this resulted in a jail sentence for Gannon. Altogether, Gannon has been sentenced five times (in 1995, 1997, 2000, 2003 and 2009) for sexual crimes against children. But the Catholic Church did not totally strip Gannon of his priestly status until 2012, when the church hierarchy became alarmed about the launching of Victoria's parliamentary investigation into church-related child sex-abuse. (By a Broken Rites researcher, article updated 6 April 2020.)

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

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. In 2019, another former student told Broken Rites that he, too, is contacting the sexual-crimes detectives in South Australia. (By a Broken Rites researcher, article updated 30 November 2019.)

A former Marist Brother, now 81, is facing charges of child-sex abuse from 50 years ago

A former Marist Brother, Kevin Joseph Jewell, now aged 81, is involved in court proceedings regarding indecent assaults allegedly committed against boys 50 years ago during one of his earliest Sydney teaching posts (now known as Marist College Eastwood). In those years, each new Marist Brother would adopt a "religious" first-name. Court documents don't mention Kevin Jewell's "religious" first-name but another Sydney Marist school (Marcellin College in Randwick) says (in its official history) that a Brother "Dacian" Jewell spent some time teaching at the Randwick school. (By a Broken Rites researcher, article updated 1 January 2020.)

A Marist Brother eventually became a priest — and now he is jailed for child-sex crimes

Originally, "Brother" Carl Edward Stafford was teaching in Marist Brothers schools in New South Wales. Then he left the Marists and worked as a lay teacher ("Mister" Stafford), still in Catholic schools. Eventually the church recruited him to become a priest (making him "Father" Stafford) in parishes in Sydney's outer-north. In 2019, he appeared in Sydney District Court (aged 80), charged with committing sexual offences against four boys during his forties and fifties. Stafford, who had previously pleaded "Not Guilty", changed his plea to "Guilty" regarding these four boys. On 6 December 2019 he was sentenced to five years jail (with the right to apply for release on parole after three years). (Article updated on 7 January 2020.)

How the church pays LESS compensation to victims by using the "Ellis Defence" tactic

Any Australian victim of church child-sex abuse can demand compensation from the church for any damage that has been done to the victim's later life. To gain a proper amount of compensation, the victim would threaten to sue the church in a civil-court action but the Catholic Church would try to evade this compensation by using a legal strategy (known as the "Ellis Defence"), with the church then offering a much smaller settlement (through the church's in-house "Towards Healing" strategy). The "Ellis Defence" originated when the Catholic Church fought a former altar boy (John Ellis) who was seeking proper compensation for his damaged life. This article is based on statements and documents presented to Australia's national child-abuse Royal Commission in 2013-2015. (By a Broken Rites researcher.)

How Christian Brother Daniel McMahon became "Father" Daniel McMahon

Broken Rites has discovered that the Catholic Church has made settlements with several former pupils who encountered Brother Daniel John Virgil McMahon while he was teaching with the Christian Brothers in Catholic boys' schools in Western Australia (from the 1960s to the 1980s). In the early 1990s, the church elevated Brother McMahon to the rank of "Father" McMahon and allowed him to minister as a priest in parishes on the other side of Australia — in Tasmania, 3500 kilometres away.

A priest (previously jailed regarding three boys) is in court again re a fourth boy

In the early 1970s, a boy complained to the Catholic Church about being sexually abused by a Sydney priest (Father Robert Flaherty) but the church merely transferred the priest to a new parish, thus giving him easy access to more children, a Sydney court has been told. This victim then reported Flaherty to the police. Years later, another victim contacted the police, followed later by a third boy (all from different parishes). In court in 2016, Father Flaherty was jailed regarding these three boys. This prompted another boy to speak to the police and therefore on 28 November 2019, Flaherty (aged 76) appeared in court again, charged regarding the fourth boy (this new case will continue in court on a later date). (By a Broken Rites researcher, article updated 1 February 2020.)

A sexually abusive Christian Brother became a university lecturer who trained new teachers

Christian Brother Terence Anthony Simpson originally worked in Catholic schools in Queensland and New South Wales. At St Joseph's College in Gregory Terrace in Brisbane in the 1960s, he was behaving indecently against his pupils. When victims complained, Simpson's superiors merely moved him to Christian Brothers schools in New South Wales, thereby putting more students in danger. Later, Simpson became a university lecturer in Queensland, training a new generation of teachers. Gradually, many years later, some of his Brisbane victims spoke (separately) to the police. In 2019, Simpson appeared in court, where another victim submitted an impact statement describing how this abuse has damaged his life. This victim's statement appears towards the end of this Broken Rites article. (By a Broken Rites researcher, article updated 1 December 2019.)

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.)

JAILED: A Melbourne priest sexually abused five boys in the 1970s and 1980s

For 25 years until 1999, Father Peter Maurice Waters ministered in parishes of the Melbourne Catholic archdiocese. This priestly role enabled him to sexually abuse young persons. In 1999, some victims began to report Waters' crimes to the police. Eventually, the matter was investigated by detectives from the Sano Taskforce of the Victoria Police sexual crimes squad, located in central Melbourne. In 2019, a criminal court sentenced Waters (aged 74) to jail for offences against five boys. (By a Broken Rites researcher, 17 November 2019.)

The church apologises for a priest's behaviour towards a girl aged 15

The Independent Commissioner for the Melbourne Catholic archdiocese has upheld a complaint by a Melbourne woman about sexually abusive behaviour by Fr Anthony (Tony) Hicks in the 1970s when she was 15 years old. The Archbishop of Melbourne, Peter Comensoli, has issued a written apology to her in 2019 in relation to this matter.

The church has been forced to admit the crimes of Fr Patrick Cusack

Broken Rites is continuing its research about Father Patrick Cusack, a "highly respected" priest who committed sexual crimes against primary school girls in the Canberra-Goulburn archdiocese during many years. During his priestly career, Cusack was protected by the church's code of silence about clergy sexual abuse. But, after his death, so many Cusack victims came forward that the church finally had to acknowledge the priest's crimes. (By a Broken Rites researcher, article updated 15 December 2019.)

A priest gets more jail time after yet another victim speaks to the police

The Australia-wide Salesian religious order operates Catholic schools in several Australian states, and it is notorious for tolerating sexually-abusive priests and brothers on its teaching staff, often transferring them from school to school around Australia and overseas. For example, the Salesian leadership knew that Father Michael Aulsebrook committed child-sex crimes in Victoria but, despite knowing this, the leadership retained him in the priesthood and promoted him to a higher position — in South Australia. Eventually, a Victorian victim got Aulsebrook jailed. This prompted more of Aulsebook's victims to speak (separately) to Victoria Police detectives, and therefore in 2019 Aulsebrook has received additional Victorian jail sentences. (By a Broken Rites researcher, article updated 8 November 2019.).

Yet another Catholic priest is convicted in New South Wales

Father Dennis Byrnes had a long career as a Catholic priest in parishes on the New South Wales north coast. Between 2016 and 2019, Byrnes underwent a court process in which he was charged with having committed sexual crimes against a boy (these crimes began in 1999 when the boy was aged 12). For legal reasons, there was no media reporting of the case before the court proceedings finished. In 2019, Byrnes (aged 72) was sentenced to jail and the Byrnes case got its first mention on a town's local news website on 7 November 2019. (By a Broken Rites researcher, article posted 14 November 2019.)

A former student is suing the Jesuits, alleging sexual abuse at age 12

A former student of Melbourne's Xavier College is suing the Catholic religious order of Jesuit priests and brothers, seeking compensation for sexual and physical abuse which he allegedly suffered when he was a 12-year-old boarder at this school in the 1960s. (By a Broken Rites researcher, article posted on 17 December 2019.)

A priest suddently died after police charged him — and now one of his victims has died by suicide

Broken Rites is doing further research about how the Catholic Church harboured Father Daniel Dominic Hourigan, who committed sexual offences against children in the Sale diocese in eastern Victoria. Hourigan was recruited into the priesthood in his forties. He died three days after police charged him with sexual offences against a boy. Now, many years later, some of his victims are still feeling hurt by the church's cover-up. In 2019, one of Hourigan's victims died by suicide — a slow death lasting forty years. This victim's death is mentioned at the end of this article. (By a Broken Rites researcher, article updated 20 January 2020.)

The church finally admits the crimes of Father Lloyd Reynolds

The Catholic Church has been forced to admit the crimes of Father Lloyd Reynolds (now deceased), who (the church authorities say) was one of the worst child-sex offenders in Australia's capital city, Canberra. Father Reynolds, who was a priest for 40 years until 1983, belonged to the diocese of Canberra-Goulburn which covers the Australian Capital Territory plus a large region of southern New South Wales. One victim has told Broken Rites about abuse committed by Father Reynolds around 1960, and this victim is still feeling hurt. (By a Broken Rites researcher, article posted 15 December 2019.)

The church covered up for Father Paul David Ryan for many years but now he is jailed again

This Broken Rites article reveals how Catholic Church authorities covered up the child-sex crimes of an Australian priest, Father Paul David Ryan, during his career in the state of Victoria (and also during seven visits by Ryan to the United States). This enabled Ryan to endanger more children in more parishes in TWO countries. Eventually, helped by Broken Rites, some victims began reporting Ryan to Victoria Police detectives, resulting in Ryan being jailed in 2006. Since then, the detectives have received further information about Ryan's priestly career in Victoria. In 2019, after Ryan (aged 70) pleaded guilty regarding three more of his victims, he was jailed again. (By a Broken Rites researcher, article updated 8 November 2019.)

A Catholic priest says he was abused by a pedophile priest at age 12 — and now he seeks justice

An Australian legal firm is demanding compensation from the Catholic Church on behalf of eleven victims who say they were sexually abused in the 1960s by a priest (Fr Clarence David Anderson, usually known by his middle name David). One victim, who was aged 12 at the time of the abuse, eventually became a priest. This is believed to be the first Australian case of a serving Catholic priest seeking compensation as a childhood victim of another priest. (By a Broken Rites researcher, article updated 17 February 2020.)

The church harboured this sex-abuser in Catholic schools for 50 years — and one victim has died by suicide

Brother Pius Bernard” (real name Raymond Hugh Logan) was originally a member of the Catholic order of De La Salle Brothers, teaching in Catholic boys' schools around Australia and committing sexual offences against his pupils. Eventually, one of his victims reported him to the police. Therefore, Brother Pius Bernard left the De La Salle order but, despite his previous offences, he was allowed to spend the rest of his career working in Christian Brothers schools as a lay teacher, known as “Mister Logan", still committing more crimes against boys. After his 50 years as a Catholic teacher, three of his victims (from separate schools) got him convicted in court for his crimes. Logan is deceased now but his victims still feel hurt and damaged by the abuse and by the church's cover-up. One damaged victim (let us call him "William") died in 2017 by suicide, as explained later in this article. (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.)

This criminal priest, Monsignor John Day, was helped by the church's cover-up

Broken Rites has forced the Catholic Church to admit that it protected one of Australia's worst paedophile priests, Monsignor John Day, for many years while he was committing sexual crimes against children in western Victoria. One church leader — Bishop Ronald Mulkearns — spoke in defence of Monsignor Day. At one stage, Monsignor Day had another criminal priest, Father Gerald Ridsdale, working under him — two criminal priests in the one parish. And later a eulogy of Monsignor Day was published in the diocese's magazine. A police officer, Detective Denis Ryan, began investigating Monsignor Day's crimes but this resulted in Detective Ryan losing his job in the police force. In 2018, the Victoria Police finally apologized to Denis Ryan. (By a Broken Rites researcher.)

How Broken Rites helped to reveal the church's cover-up of Father Kevin O'Donnell

One of Australia's most notorious paedophile priests, Father Kevin O'Donnell, committed sexual crimes against children throughout his 50-year career in Melbourne Catholic parishes while his superiors and colleagues looked the other way. Eventually some of O'Donnell's victims (with help from Broken Rites) contacted the police and got O'Donnell convicted and jailed. Later, more people came forward with complaints about Father O'Donnell (including Anthony and Chrissie Foster, whose two young daughters encountered O'Donnell in his final parish). (By a Broken Rites researcher.)

Broken Rites has researched Ronald Conway, the church's "hands-on" psychologist

For thirty years a prominent Australian Catholic psychologist, Ronald Conway, had a part-time role in assessing and helping trainee priests in the church's Melbourne seminary. Conway also worked as a consulting psychologist in psychiatric hospitals and in private practice, and some of his male patients say that Conway touched them sexually when they consulted him for professional help. (By a Broken Rites researcher, article updated 4 December 2019.)

Church leaders gave this pedophile priest a grand funeral

This Broken Rites article gives the full story of Father Nazareno Fasciale (pronounced "Fah-SHAH-lay") who committed crimes against children in Melbourne for 44 years while church leaders ignored any complaints from the victims. Finally, some of his victims (with help from Broken Rites) contacted the police. In a police interview, Fasciale admitted indecently assaulting children. Police charged Fasciale. He said he would plead guilty but he suddenly died during the court process. Then church leaders gave this pedophile a grand funeral, demonstrating the church's tolerance of his crimes. (By a Broken Rites researcher,)

The church concealed Father Terry Pidoto's life of crime: FULL STORY

This Broken Rites article is the most comprehensive account available about how the Catholic Church in Australia protected Father Terry Pidoto for 25 years while he committed crimes against boys in his parishes. (By a Broken Rites researcher.)

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