Latest stories

Written by a Broken Rites Australia researcher.


A bishop's deputy committed crimes against young girls

The Catholic Church's "Towards Healing" process has received complaints about a senior Australian cleric, Monsignor Maurice Tully, who had a long career (until 1975) in northern New South Wales. Broken Rites research has found that Tully was an abuser of young girls, and these victims are now mature-age women who are still feeling hurt by the Catholic Church's protection of Tully. (By a Broken Rites researcher, article updated 24 October 2019.)

This priest fathered two children, his colleagues say

The Catholic Church advertises its priests as being "celibate", but priests can have private relationships (either "gay" or "straight") if this is hidden from the public. For example, Father John O'Callaghan, of Melbourne, had a relationship with a woman, who gave birth to Father O'Callaghan's two daughters. These girls have grown up into adulthood, knowing that they are the offspring of Father John O'Callaghan. The private life of Fr John O' Callaghan is no secret among the Melbourne clergy of his generation but the public did not know about it. (By a Broken Rites researcher.)

A church report in 2002 contains a complaint about George Pell abusing an altar boy in 1961-62

Australia's Catholic Church hierarchy received a complaint in 2002 that a trainee priest (George Pell) had sexually abused a twelve-year-old altar boy (named Phil) in 1961-1962 at a holiday camp for boys on Phillip Island, south-east of Melbourne. According to a church document, Phil has alleged that, on several occasions, the trainee priest George Pell (then aged about 20) thrust his hand down the inside of Phil's pants and got "a good handful" of the boy's penis and testicles; and, on other occasions, George Pell allegedly tried to guide the boy's hand into the front of Pell's pants. By the year 2000, when Phil was aged 50, he realised that the trainee priest George Pell had risen to become an Archbishop. Phil was shocked — "he did not think it right that someone who had behaved indecently towards children should lead the church," the church document says. So, beginning in 2000, Phil tried to alert the church authorities. Phil emphasised that he was not seeking compensation. And he was not reporting this matter to the police (therefore there is no police investigation into Phil's complaint). Rather, Phil was concerned about the safety of children in the church's care; and he merely wanted the church authorities to be aware of the offences that were allegedly committed upon him (Phil) at the altar boys' camp. In 2002, the hierarchy paid a senior barrister, Mr Alec Southwell QC, to examine (and report on) Phil's complaint. Archbishop George Pell (who was indeed at the altar boys' camp) denied committing any abuse. Mr Southwell's report concluded that the former altar boy "appeared to speak honestly from an actual recollection". Mr Southwell said he was not persuaded that the former altar boy was a liar as alleged by Pell. [The incident in 1960-1961 is not included in the criminal charges that Pell faced in court in 2018 because the former altar boy Phil has not reported this matter to the police — and Phil says he does not want to re-open his 1960-1961 matter now because he is still feeling hurt by the manner in which he says Pell's defence team brutalised him when he tried to report it to the church authorities in 2002.]

This long-deceased Marist Brother is still remembered with disgust

The effects of church sex-abuse can still be felt by the victims and their families even half a century after the abuse. This was demonstrated by complaints about Marist Brother Norbert Mathieson. (By a Broken Rites researcher.)

This priest is in jail for at least nine years

During the 1980s and 1980s, 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 sentence for sexual offences against young boys. (By a Broken Rites researcher.)

A priest died after being charged in court with a sexual offence

Broken Rites is doing further research about a Queensland Catholic priest, Fr Michael Joseph McKeaten, who was charged by police in court in May 2017 regarding a sexual offence that allegedly occurred earlier in his priestly career. Court documents alleged that, in 1991-1992, a male altar-server had asked Father McKeaten for counselling regarding a personal matter. During this "counseling", Fr McKeaten allegedly persuaded the victim to engage in a naked wrestle with the priest, in order (the priest said) to "relieve stress". Fr McKeaten was charged with procuring a sexual act by false pretext. The May 2017 hearing was a brief one in which the magistrate ordered Fr McKeaten to appear in court later in 2017 for the next step in the court process. However, Fr McKeaten died before the next hearing could be held. The Brisbane archdiocese then honoured Fr McKeaten with a priestly funeral. In 2019, Broken Rites has learned that this altar-server was not McKeaten's only victim. And, furthermore, McKeaten was a danger to girls as well as boys. (By a Broken Rites researcher, article updated on 16 August 2019 )

Victims of Fr Paul "Rex" Brown were re-abused by Towards Healing

Broken Rites is researching how the Catholic Church harboured a paedophile priest, Father Paul Rex Brown, allowing him to commit sexual crimes against boys and girls in northern New South Wales. 

An ex-Marist Brother in court on child-sex charges from the 1960s

In 1960 at the age of 17, Joseph William Weygood began training in Victoria to become a Marist Brother. In those years, the Marists gave each new recruit a religious name, so Joseph Weygood became known to pupils as "Brother Cyril", although he later changed his name to "Brother Joseph". He taught during the 1960s (as a Brother) at Catholic schools in Victoria and South Australia. In the 1970s, he ceased being a Marist Brother and later worked as a lay teacher (Mister Weygood) in schools elsewhere in Australia and overseas. In 2019, aged 77, Joseph Weygood faced court in Adelaide, charged with child-sexual abuse relating to his time in South Australia in the 1960s. He contested the charges.On 24 January 2020, a judge ruled that, despite evidence about brutality and cruelty, there was not sufficient to convict Weygood on sexual charges. (By a Broken Rites researcher, article updated 24 January 2020.)

This priest (the deputy to a bishop) is jailed for the third time

In the 1970s and 1980s, Father Richard Cattell was a Catholic priest in western Sydney, where he committed sexual crimes against boys. In the early 1990s, the Catholic Church promoted Cattell to become the Vicar-General of the Parramatta diocese, supervising 48 parishes in western Sydney on behalf of the bishop. Eventually, several of Cattell's victims spoke (separately) to the police, so Cattell was jailed in 1994 and again in 2015 and again on 26 July 2019. (By a Broken Rites researcher, article updated 1 August 2019.)

Church documents show that this priest was an abuser. But the church kept giving him access to children

Broken Rites has inspected some church documents which show that Father Kevin Wright committed sexual crimes against children during his 42 years as a Catholic priest in New South Wales parishes. The documents indicate that Wright's bishop knew about Wright being a danger to children but, despite this, Wright was allowed to continue in the ministry, giving him priestly access to more children in more parishes. His victims included girls and boys; these children were as young as nine years. His victims (now adults) indicate that, using his church status, Fr Wright would invasively handle the genital area of a boy or a girl; and sometimes he would insert his penis into a child's mouth or anus. Victims of Fr Wright now say (as adults) that they are still feeling hurt by the church abuse which has damaged their lives. (By a Broken Rites researcher, article updated 17 July 2019)

This bishop protected the church's "holy" image, instead of protecting children

Broken Rites research has discovered how an Australian Catholic leader (Bishop William Brennan) covered up allegations of clergy sex-abuse in his diocese. Police charged one of Brennan's priests (Father Bernard Connell) with allegedly abusing two boys in different parishes but Bishop Brennan hired an expert legal team to defeat the charges. One of these victims then asked Bishop Brennan for help but the bishop shunned him. The bishop's main aim was protecting the church's holy image, instead of protecting children. (By a Broken Rites researcher.)

It is never too late to have a chat with the detectives, as this case proves

This court case is an example of how it is possible for victims of church child-abuse to get their perpetrator convicted many years after the abuse. In the 1970s, Marist Brother John Skehan had multiple victims in Catholic schools in New South Wales and Victoria. Forty years later, one victim got Brother Skehan convicted in a New South Wales court in 2010 and another victim scored a similar victory over Skehan (aged 75) in a Victorian court in 2014. (By a Broken Rites researcher.)

A young female victim defeats the church's lawyers, with help from Broken Rites

If a victim of clergy sexual abuse wishes to sue the Catholic Church for damages, the victim’s chances of success are much greater if he/she can demonstrate that the church knew previously that the offender was a sexual abuser. It is usually difficult for the victim to prove this. This Broken Rites article is an example of a case in which the church could not evade its liability. In early 2007, a 23-year-old woman ("Emily") won a victory over the Catholic Church’s lawyers. Emily forced the church to pay her a substantial civil settlement for having had her life damaged by a Catholic priest, Father Kevin Howarth, in Victoria. (By a Broken Rites researcher.)

A priest is charged regarding alleged incidents in Sydney in 1993

In 2019, New South Wales police have charged a Catholic priest (Father Ron Peters) with having indecently assaulted a schoolboy in Sydney in 1993 (this was before Ron Peters became a priest). Ronald Peters (born in 1958) has written about how he was originally a Brother in the Catholic teaching order of Patrician Brothers in NSW (in the 1980s and 1990s). Early in the 2000s, he was accepted by the Wollongong diocese (south of Sydney) as a trainee priest and, after training as a deacon in parishes, he was finally ordained as a priest for this diocese in 2005. The indecent-assault charge is due to have a preliminary mention in court in mid-2019. (Article updated 10 July 2019.)

A Sydney priest is serving a five-year jail sentence for child-sex crimes

Broken Rites is doing further research about Father Robert James Hickman, who became a Catholic priest in Sydney in the 1970s. As well as working in parishes, he was also a "chaplain" for Sydney's deaf community (these disadvantaged people were especially in danger of being abused). In Sydney's Parramatta District Court on 9 December 2016, Hickman (then aged 71) was jailed for a minimum of five years for child-sex offences. Since then, Broken Rites has found additional victims of Father Hickman. (By a Broken Rites researcher, article updated 8 August 2019,.)

One of Australia's leading Christian Brothers has been jailed after pleading guilty

Christian Brother Terence Patrick Aquinas Kingston had a 40-year career as a teacher and administrator in Australian Catholic boys' schools — and he became one of the leaders of the Christian Brothers in Australia. Meanwhile, he was committing sexual offences against schoolboys. As usual in Catholic Church crimes, his victims suffered in silence throughout their childhood but eventually (when aged in their fifties) several of them spoke to police investigators, and this resulted in Kingston being sentenced to jail in two states (in Queensland in 2017 and in New South Wales in 2019). The charges involved a total of eight victims, and Kingston pleaded guilty regarding all of these. These eight victims were not necessarily his only victims; the eight were merely those who helped the police. (By a Broken Rites researcher, article updated 2 July 2019)

The church keeps a priest after a payout to a victim

A former Australian Catholic bishop has confirmed that he appointed a priest (Father Guy Hartcher) to administer a parish after the church had paid a $40,000 settlement involving the priest. The payout went to a former pupil, on condition that he did not tell the police about the alleged abuse. (By a Broken Rites researcher.)

The church covered up the crimes of Father Daniel Lyne

The Catholic religious order of Passionist priests covered up for a serious child-abuser, Father Daniel Lyne, while he committed sexual crimes against teenage boys who were aspiring to become a Catholic priest. In 2002, while Daniel Lyne was facing the likelihood of a criminal prosecution, he suddenly died — just in time, before court proceedings could begin. Thus, he evaded a possible jail sentence. Daniel Lyne's fellow-priests are remaining silent about his crimes. (By a Broken Rites researcher.)

The Marist Brothers harboured this criminal while he abused children

Brother Colgan Taylor had an exalted role as a "spiritual director" for the Catholic order of Marist Brothers in Australia while he was committing sexual crimes against young children. The reverend brother's Catholic status gave him access to children and it protected him from exposure until 2002, when police finally learned of sexual crimes that Taylor had committed, more than 20 years earlier, against two very young girls. It is possible that he also had male victims. (By a Broken Rites researcher.)

Fr Emanuel Spiteri left Australia but continued to be a priest in Malta

The Catholic Church in Australia has settled a sex-abuse complaint involving a Maltese-born priest, Father Emanuel Joseph Spiteri, who spent 35 years ministering in the Sale diocese in south-eastern Australia. In 1997, while this complaint was being made, Fr Spiteri returned to Malta, where he continued to be regarded as a priest. (By a Broken Rites researcher.)

Does the public have a right to know?

In court in late 2012, a Catholic religious Brother (Br Martin Harmata, of the Patrician Brothers order) was charged with sexually abusing children at a school in Sydney's west (Patrician Brothers College, Blacktown). The question arose about whether Brother Harmata could be granted a media-suppression order. (This would prevent the public — and any other victims — from learning Harmata's name and the name of the school.) However, the suppression order was removed. Thus, the people of Sydney have been allowed to learn about this case. (Article by a Broken Rites researcher.)

These victims, now in their fifties, bring an offender to justice after 36 years

A former teacher, Kevin Wilmore Myers, now aged 73, appeared in the Melbourne Magistrates Court on 11 June 2019, charged with having committed sexual offences against a number of boys at a Catholic secondary college in south-western Victoria in the early 1960s. Myers is pleading guilty. The magistrate placed a non-publication order on the name of the school in order to protect the privacy of the victims, who are now aged in their fifties. This order can be reviewed when Myers returns to court for sentencing. Former students allege that, in the 1960s, the school covered up the Myers problem. (By a Broken Rites researcher, article posted 12 June 2019.)

Marist Brother Malcolm Hall died during prosecution for child-sex crimes

In the 1950s and 1960s, prominent Marist Brother Malcolm Hall was sexually abusing boys and girls in four country towns around Australia. Today, half a century later, his victims still feel hurt by the offences and by the Catholic Church's cover-up. (By a Broken Rites researcher.)

A priest is convicted in 2019 for a crime committed 54 years ago

A 2019 court case has proved that, under Australian law, it is never to late for any child-assault victim to report the crime to the child-protection police.  In 1965, Catholic priest Allan John Mithen (then aged 25) twice indecently assaulted an Aboriginal girl while he was in charge of a West Australian institution for Aboriginal children who had been taken from their families. In the West Australian District Court on 15 January 2019, Father Mithen (by then aged 80) pleaded guilty to these two assaults and was convicted. Mithen had also worked as a priest in Sydney and Melbourne and possibly elsewhere. (By a Broken Rites researcher, article updated on 29 July 2019.)

Christian Brother Peter Toomey pleads guilty regarding child-sex offences

Brother Peter John Toomey has been a member of the Christian Brothers Order since joining it in 1967 at the age of 18. He began a long career, teaching boys in various Catholic schools in Melbourne and regional towns. Many years later, after they became adults, some of these former students reported Toomey to the Victoria Police sex-crime detectives for committing indecent assaults. In 2005, Toomey was jailed regarding ten of his victims. In 2017, Australia's child-abuse Royal Commission received further complaints from Toomey's former students; and the Royal Commission advised these victims to speak to the detectives. In May 2019, Toomey was convicted again after pleading guilty regarding two more of his victims. . (Article by a Broken Rites researcher, updated on 8 May 2019)

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.)

Inside story: Broken Rites knew about these two abusive priests

In 1993, Broken Rites Australia began researching sexually-abusive Catholic priests, including Fr Ronald Pickering and Fr John Stockdale. Eighteen years later, in September 2011, another clergyman (Archbishop John Hepworth) revealed in the media that Pickering and Stockdale were among three priests who sexually abused him, beginning in 1960 when he was aged 15. (By a Broken Rites researcher.)

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.

A Christian Brother is jailed in 2019 for offences he committed 40 years ago

For several decades, Christian Brother Peter Nicholas Lennox worked in various Catholic schools in Sydney and in regional New South Wales. In a Sydney court on 29 March 2019, he was jailed for sexual crimes which he committed against boys at two of those schools in the 1970s — at Christian Brothers in Manly (now known as St Paul's Catholic College) and at St Patrick's College in Goulburn (now known as Trinity Catholic College). After Lennox finishes this jail term, the prosecutors intend to bring him to court again regarding some additional charges. (By a Broken Rites researcher, article updated 29 March 2019)

A classic cover-up, putting more children in danger

Research by Broken Rites Australia has found how the Catholic Church covered up sexual abuse by a religious Brother at a church school in Queensland. The cover-up enabled the offender to attack more victims.

Pages

Subscribe to Broken Rites Australia RSS