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Written by a Broken Rites Australia researcher.


The Christian Brothers covered up this 1989 case involving Brother Obbens but Broken Rites exposed it

For several years, Broken Rites has been doing research about Christian Brother William John Obbens (known as Brother "Dominic" Obbens), who was convicted in court in 1989 for sexually abusing a boy (let's call him "Gus") at St Patrick’s College, Goulburn, in south-western New South Wales. The Christian Brothers covered-up the crime and the 1989 court case. They did not tell the school's students or parents about it and did not ask if any victims needed help. "Gus" (and several other victims from the same school) went on to have a damaged adult life. Gradually, each of these families contacted Broken Rites, and this article began to take shape, with occasional updates. (By a Broken Rites researcher, article updated 13 October 2016.)

Christian Brothers harboured this criminal, Brother Chris Roberts, but now he is in jail

This Broken Rites article is about how the Christian Brothers sheltered Brother John Vincent ("Chris") Roberts while he was a danger to boys throughout his long teaching career in Sydney, Canberra and regional New South Wales. The Christian Brothers paid small amounts of compensation to silence some of Brother Roberts' early victims. Eventually, a different victim spoke to NSW Police detectives and therefore, on 30 September 2016, Roberts (aged 74) was jailed regarding this victim. Other victims of Roberts have not yet spoken to the detectives but are still entitled to do so. (By a Broken Rites researcher, article updated 8 October 2016.)

Background article: The church gave the paedophile priest Robert Claffey a new parish, putting more children in danger

This Broken Rites article gives some background about how a Catholic priest, Father Robert Claffey, committed sexual offences against children (mostly boys) while the Catholic Church transferred him around parishes in western Victoria for 14 years between 1969 and 1992. Some of Claffey's victims began contacting Broken Rites in 1993, and Broken Rites gave each victim a Victoria Police phone number where the victim could have a chat with child-protection detectives. In 1998, Claffey was convicted regarding two of his victims, and in October 2016 he was jailed regarding 12 more of his victims (Claffey's offences included buggery, indecent assault and sexual penetration of a child). The 2016 court case brought the court's total to 14 children. But these 14 are not Claffey's only victims. Broken Rites knows of other Claffey victims who have not exercised their right to consult the detectives. (By a Broken Rites researcher, article updated 5 October 2016.)

The church carefully left no "paper trail" regarding these abusive priests

One of Australia's most prominent Catholic officials, Father Brian Lucas, avoided preserving any written notes from his "in-house" interviews with a number of abusive priests, a New South Wales State Government inquiry has been told. Therefore, police have been prevented from using any such notes in charging these priests with any crimes. This tactic protected the priests from police prosecution and helped the church to avoid bad publicity.

Church used collection-plate money to defend a criminal priest

Broken Rites Australia has expanded its article about how the Catholic Church protected a criminal priest (Father James Patrick Fletcher), thus inflicting him on more and more children. Fletcher is one of the priests who were investigated in 2013 by a Special Commission of Inquiry, appointed by the New South Wales state government.

Marist Brother "Dominic" O'Sullivan is jailed in New South Wales

A Marist Brother, Darcy John O'Sullivan (also known as "Brother Dominic"), was jailed in September 2016 after he pleaded guilty to indecently assaulting boys while he was teaching in Catholic schools in northern New South Wales in the 1970s and '80s. He was a teacher at Marist Brothers in Hamilton (Newcastle) and was later a principal at St Mary's High School in Casino (on the NSW north coast). Meanwhile, Australia's national child-abuse Royal Commission held a public hearing in Newcastle in early September 2016 to examine how the Marist Brothers organisation harboured offenders such as O'Sullivan. (By a Broken Rites researcher, article updated 5 October 2016.)

A Maronite Catholic priest is jailed in Sydney regarding a 2005 alleged assault

Often, people remain silent for many years before exercising their right to contact the police regarding allegations of church sexual abuse but in January 2014 Sydney police charged a Catholic priest regarding an incident that allegedly occurred relatively recently — in 2005 (an alleged offence against a 15-year-old boy). The priest belongs to the Maronite Catholic Church under the St Maroun diocese which has several parishes in Sydney. On 4 October 2016 at Sydney's Campbelltown District Court, the priest was jailed (at the age of 40) after being convicted of indecently assaulting the 15-year-old boy. (Article updated on 10 October 2016.)

ABC television "7.30" program examines the church cover-up of Father Farrell

The ABC television "7.30" program (on Monday 19 September 2016) had a story about the child-abuse Royal Commission's public hearing re the Father John Farrell case (and the role of church official Father Brian Lucas). The Broken Rites team helped the ABC with research for this "7.30" item. A link to the ABC video is given at the end of this Broken Rites article. (Article updated by a Broken Rites researcher, 20 September 2016.)

A retired priest is charged on NSW mid-north coast

In late September 2016, New South Wales police (from the state's mid-north coast) charged a retired Catholic priest with child-sexual assaults, allegedly committed against a boy between 1999 and 2006. Following investigations, the 69-year-old retired priest was arrested in Port Macquarie. (Article posted by a Broken Rites researcher, 1 October 2016.)

Suicide #1: How the church destroyed the life of altar boy Damian Jurd in northern NSW

In the late 1990s, the Catholic Church paid a small amount to a former altar boy, Damian Jurd, to settle his complaint about having been sexually abused (at the age of 11) by a local priest, Father John Joseph Farrell (sometimes referred to as "Father F"). Damian said his life had been disrupted by this abuse and by the way the church protected Father Farrell. At the age of 28 (not long after this settlement), Damian took his own life, leaving two children of his own. This Broken Rites article gives some more information about Damian's tragic life. (By a Broken Rites researcher, article updated 9 September 2016.)

Suicide #2: The church left an ex-altar boy, Daniel Powell, to take his own life in Sydney

The Catholic Church authorities have accepted a complaint from a former altar boy, Daniel Powell, that he was sexually abused in a Sydney parish at the age of 12 by a Catholic priest, Father John Joseph Farrell (sometimes referred to as "Father F"). Daniel, who was aged 25 at the time of the settlement (in 2005), received a relatively small amount of compensation from the church. But he was still severely damaged by the abuse (and by the church's cover-up). Daniel Powell ended up dying by suicide in 2007, aged 28. (By a Broken Rites researcher, article updated 9 September 2016.)

Broken Rites helped to expose this cover-up in western Sydney

In the 1990s, Broken Rites helped to reveal sexual abuse of young people by Catholic priests in the St Gerard Majella religious order in western Sydney. Two decades later, on 15 September 2016, this religious order was mentioned at a public hearing of Australia's national child-abuse Royal Commission. This Broken Rites article gives the background of the St Gerard Majella Society.

How a vulnerable young woman became a victim

The Catholic Church in Australia has been forced to apologise to a woman ("Diana") who was sexually abused by a priest (Father Gerard Monaghan) immediately after the death of her husband.

Royal Commission investigates how the Marists sheltered Brother Patrick Butler

The Marist Brothers have been forced to acknowledge that yet another one of their members — Brother Thomas Joseph Butler (known as "Brother Patrick") — committed sexual offences against children. Former students, from several Marist schools in New South Wales and Queensland, have told Broken Rites that the Marists knew about Butler's offences but the Marists allowed him to continue teaching —  and offending — throughout his long career. (By a Broken Rites researcher.)

The church gave this Sydney paedophile priest a new parish, plus more children

In the early 1970s, a boy (this article will refer to him as "Boy A") complained to the Catholic Church about being sexually abused by a Sydney priest, but the church merely transferred the priest to a new parish, thus giving him easy access to more victims, a Sydney court has been told. Many years later, one of the later victims (we will call him "Dwayne", not his real name) contacted Broken Rites, which advised him to speak to police detectives, not to the church. Detectives then charged the priest, Father Robert Flaherty, who pleaded guilty in court in 2015 regarding two of his victims (Boy A and Boy B). A jury found Flaherty guilty of assaulting the third boy (Dwayne). In February 2016, Father Flaherty (aged 72) was sentenced to jail regarding these three victims. Flaherty appealed against the conviction regarding Dwayne. On 24 August 2016. the Appeal Court upheld this conviction, although it agreed to reduce Flaherty's time behind bars. Meanwhile, the news about Flaherty has prompted more alleged victims of Flaherty to contact the detectives. (By a Broken Rites researcher, article updated 25 August 2016.)

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, article updated on 9 September 2016.)

Background article: Father David O'Hearn is in jail but officially he is STILL a priest

Paedophile Catholic priest David Anthony O’Hearn, 55, has been in jail in New South Wales for the past four years, awaiting details of his jail sentence. In jury trials during the past four years, he has been found guilty of 44 child-sex offences against six victims. For legal reasons, those trials could not be reported in the media until the final jury completed its work in 2016. On 22 August 2016, in Sydney's Downing Centre District Court, Judge Richard Cogswell sentenced O’Hearn to 18 years and three months jail. With time already served, he will be eligible for release on parole on 17 February 2022. This article includes some Broken Rites research about O'Hearn. (By a Broken Rites researcher, article updated 22 August 2016).

Christian Brother Robert Best faces child-sex charges

An elderly Christian Brother who spent decades teaching in Victorian Catholic schools has been charged with 39 offences, including child sex abuse. Robert Charles Best, 75, now living in Ararat in western Vctoria, is alleged to have committed acts of indecent assault over a 20-year period, according to charge sheets filed with the Melbourne Magistrates' Court on 2 September 2016.

This priest has been in jail in one State and now will face court in another State

Catholic priest Father Glenn Humphreys, who has ministered in several places around Australia, has recently been in jail in Western Australia for child-sex crimes committed in that State. On 16 August 2016, he was arrested in Western Australia by New South Wales Police, to be extradited to New South Wales to face a court there on charges relating to child-sex crimes allegedly committed in NSW. (By a Broken Rites researcher, article updated 17 August 2016.)

A religious order covered up a Reverend Brother’s crimes

The Catholic order of De La Salle Brothers knew that Brother Ibar (real name Frank Keating) was committing sexual crimes against his pupils but it allowed him to continue offending for many years more, according to statements made in court. (By a Broken Rites researcher.)

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.)

The church protected Fr Len Monk while he committed sexual crimes against boys

Men have told Broken Rites that they are still feeling angry that the Catholic Church inflicted a paedophile priest, Father Leonard Monk, on them when they were young boys in western Victoria in the 1940s, 1950s  and 1960s. The church authorities covered up for Monk and protected him, thereby turning him loose on additional victims. The victims say that the church's "holy" image intimidated them into not reporting Monk's crimes. Thus, they had to suffer in silence - until now.

A victim brings Father Kelvin Sharkey to justice, with help from Broken Rites

The Catholic Church in Australia harboured this sexually-abusive priest, Father Kelvin Gerald Sharkey, for 50 years until he was brought to justice by one of his victims, with help from Broken Rites. This victim contacted Broken Rites (and then the police) in 2007, telling us how he was raped by Sharkey as a ten-year-old altar boy in 1969. In 2010, Sharkey was jailed for the rape of this boy. And when he was locked up in jail, Sharkey was still officially a priest (still "Reverend Father Sharkey"). Research by Broken Rites has shown that this boy was not Sharkey's only victim. 

The Church knew about Father Michael Aulsebrook's child-abuse, a court was told

Catholic Church authorities knew that Father Michael Aulsebrook was a child-sex offender in the 1980s and 1990s but they retained him in the priesthood and even promoted him, according to statements made in an Australian court. Aulsebrook was a member of the Australia-wide order of Salesian priests and brothers, which has operated Catholic schools in several Australian states. In the Melbourne County Court in 2011, Aulsebrook was jailed for child-sex crimes committed in the 1980s at a Catholic boarding school in Victoria. This prompted more of his victims to speak to Victoria Police detectives, and therefore he was jailed again in the same court on 21 June 2016. Despite knowing about Aulsebrook's life of crime in Victoria, the Salesian leaders promoted him in the 1990s to be in charge of another Catholic school — in South Australia. The Salesian order is notorious for having tolerated multiple child-abusers in its ranks, and several of these Salesians have been brought to justice by the Victoria Police. (By a Broken Rites researcher, article updated 22 June 2016.)

A child-abuse victim, now an adult, finally obtains justice through the police

On 15 June 2016, Catholic priest Father Leo Spicer (a member of the Servite religious order) was jailed by a Melbourne court after pleading guilty to the sexual penetration of a male (a student from a Catholic school, where Father Spicer was a chaplain). Father Spicer committed the crimes in 1982 at his Order's residence in Melbourne. The victim says his teenage and adult life was damaged by the abuse and by the church's culture of cover-up. He finally spoke to Victoria Police detectives when his life was spiralling downwards in his forties. (By a Broken Rites researcher, article posted 26 July 2016)

Police investigate alleged offences at Melbourne's cathedral

Child sex crime detectives are investigating allegations that teenage boys were abused at one of Australia's most prominent Catholic cathedrals — St Patrick's Cathedral in Melbourne. The allegations relate to 14-year-old boys who may have been abused at the cathedral between 1996 and 2001.

A BoysTown ex-pupil receives a settlement many years later

Male victims who were sexually abused at "Boys Town" (a Catholic "home" for disadvantaged youngsters at Beaudesert in Queensland) are currently going public with their story, thus exposing the church's cover-up that silenced them in the past. Broken Rites is helping these victims to obtain justice.

Research about Chevalier College (New South Wales) in the late 1980s

Some ex-pupils of Chevalier College (a Catholic high school near Bowral in southern New South Wales) are still recalling allegations that a Catholic priest behaved indecently towards young boys at the school in the late 1980s. This school is owned by a religious order, the Missionaries of the Sacred Heart (known by its Latin initials "MSC"), although today this school has fewer priests and brothers on its campus than it had in the 1980s.

Two female victims finally obtained justice by contacting the police

Two female victims eventually contacted the police after the Catholic Church allowed an abusive priest to continue working with young people, a court has been told. Father Michael Francis Reis, 66 (a member of the Missionaries of the Sacred Heart religious order), was jailed in Brisbane for offences against two young girls in the 1980s and 1990s. 

A Catholic religious Brother is charged with assaulting a Sydney schoolboy

A retired Catholic religious Brother (Brother Peter Higgins, now 77) is facing a Sydney magistrates court, charged with sexually assaulting an 11-year-old boy at a Patrician Brothers school in the mid-1970s. Police allege that the primary head teacher (Brother Basil Downey) knew about Higgins' offending at the time, and therefore Downey (now 89) is charged with having been "an accessory after the fact". Originally, lawyers for the Patrician Brothers obtained a court order prohibiting the media from referring to the Patrician Brothers or naming the two defendants but this order was later defeated by the Director of Public Prosecutions. (By a Broken Rites researcher, article updated 24 May 2016.)

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