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Written by a Broken Rites Australia researcher.


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.)

The church versus Anthony and Chrissie Foster: Some background

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. In his final years, he even received public praise from one of his superiors, Bishop (later Cardinal) George Pell (see further down in this article, under the sub-heading "Praise from George Pell"). 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). After all this exposure about Father O'Donnell, Archbishop George Pell hired a public relations firm to paint Pell as a pioneer in "helping" victims. Therefore, Anthony and Chrissie Foster asked Pell to grant proper compensation to help their two damaged daughters, but Pell's lawyers tried to defeat the Fosters (instead of "helping" them). The story of the Fosters is told in the second half of this Broken Rites article. (By a Broken Rites researcher, article updated 12  December 2017.)

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.(Article updated 11 February 2018.)

The church tells these victims "Oops, sorry, folks" — but the apology is 30 years too late

A Catholic bishop has had to apologise “unreservedly” to former pupils of a school in Sydney's south-west who were sexually abused by a Marist Brother thirty years ago. In a public statement on 5 February 2018, Bishop Peter Ingham admitted that Philip Slattery (a Marist Brother who was the principal of Mary Immaculate Catholic Parish Primary School at Eaglevale between 1986 and 1992) pleaded guilty in a court in December 2017 to committing child-sex offences while he was the principal at the school and he is now serving a prison sentence. (By a Broken Rites researcher, article updated on 11 February 2018.)

How 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 protected Father Terry Pidoto for 25 years while he committed crimes against boys in his parishes. (By a Broken Rites researcher.)

A 92-year-old Sydney priest in court regarding alleged offences from 40 years ago

An elderly Catholic priest, Father Theodore Arrivoli, who has ministered in many parishes around the Sydney region during the past 60 years, was charged in court on 15 January 2015 (when he was aged 92) regarding alleged sexual assaults (including buggery) against two children near Sydney in the 1970s. However, at a later hearing, the case did not proceed any further at this stage because of the elderly priest's health issues. (Article by a Broken Rites researcher.)

How the church helped this criminal priest, Father Ron Pickering

The Melbourne Catholic archdiocese protected Father Ronald Pickering for many years while he committed crimes against children in his parishes. Eventually he fled from Australia, evading justice. The Melbourne archdiocese then began sending retirement payments to Pickering at his new address in England. The Pickering cover-up was eventually exposed in the media by Broken Rites. (Article 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, accompanied by his support person, Bishop George Pell. Broken Rites began supporting Ridsdale's victims, resulting in four more court cases for Ridsdale between 1994 and 2017 (without the presence of George Pell). (Background article, by a Broken Rites researcher.)

The church has made payments to settle these complaints about abuse of disadvantaged boys

The Catholic Church has paid settlements to men who allege that they were abused many years ago by Father Roger Mount while he was a Brother in the Catholic St John of God Order, running children's homes (for disadvantaged boys) in Australia. The church allowed Father Mount to continue ministering as priest for many years in Papua New Guinea until the Australian media published articles about him in 2014. (By a Broken Rites researcher, article updated 7 July 2018.)

The Marist Brothers covered up Brother Gerard Rush's crimes but some victims got him convicted

Broken Rites is doing further research about how the Marist Brothers leadership in Australia covered up for Brother Gerard Rush who committed sexual offences against young boys in Catholic boarding schools. For many years, these crimes were successfully concealed from the police but eventually a former student exercised his right to speak to police detectives who soon found more of Brother Rush's victims. On 2 December 2016, Brother Rush was jailed (at the age of 76) after pleading guilty to indecently assaulting seven boys (aged between 11 and 14) while they were boarders at two prominent Catholic schools in regional Victoria. (By a Broken Rites researcher, article updated 11 February 2018.)

Broken Rites helped Australia's child-abuse Royal Commission

On 14 December 2017, Australia's Royal Commission into Institutional Responses to Child Sexual Abuse concluded its five-year-long inquiry for the Australian government. The Commission investigated how organisations, such as churches, have handled the issue of child sexual abuse. The Commission has made recommendations about how Australia could improve child safety. Many community bodies, including Broken Rites, have supported and helped the Commission's work. (By a Broken Rites researcher, updated on 1 February 2018)

Fr Damian Colbourne is jailed for abusing a schoolgirl, aged 8

Fr Anthony Francis Colbourne (also known by his "religious" name, Father "Damian" Colbourne) has spent many years as a priest in the Catholic order of Capuchin Franciscan Friars. In Brisbane District Court on 23 May 2017, Colbourne was jailed for sexually abusing an eight-year-old girl who was attending a Brisbane Catholic school. Father Colbourne, now aged 75, committed the assaults in 1974 when he was in his thirties. Colbourne was charged by police in 2016 after the victim reported him to Australia's national child-abuse Royal Commission. In court, Colbourne pleaded guilty. (By a Broken Rites researcher, article posted on 24 May 2017.)

The church helped Father Peter Chalk to evade the police

Catholic Church authorities helped an Australian priest, Father Peter Chalk, to stay overseas, out of the reach of Australian police. The church eventually gave a written apology to some of Chalk's Melbourne victims. (Article by a Broken Rites researcher)

Church acknowledges abuse at St Augustine's orphanage, Geelong

The Catholic order of Christian Brothers has made settlements with sex-abuse victims of Brother Donald Pascal Alford at St Augustine's boys' home, Geelong, Victoria.

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, article updated 5 January 2018.)

A priest admitted abusing a child but the church covered up this offence for 50 years

One way in which the Catholic Church has traditionally covered up its sex-abuse crimes is by not revealing any written record about complaints. But in 2013, prominent Australian journalist Geraldine Willesee forced the Perth archdiocese to release a 1963 letter which reveals that a priest (Father Brian Gerard Harris) admitted abusing her when she was a pupil in his custody, aged 14, at a Catholic school in Perth. The priest's admission indicates that he was committing a possible criminal offence but the church managed to conceal this information from the police. The church allowed Father Harris to continue as a priest and it successfully concealed Father Harris's admission for 50 years until 2013. (By a Broken Rites researcher)

A Marist Brother is charged regarding a prominent Sydney school

New South Wales police have charged Marist Brother John O'Brien, now aged 77, over child-sex offences allegedly committed about 50 years ago at St Joseph's College, a prominent boarding school in Hunters Hill, Sydney. The case was listed to have its first mention in court in 2018. The court's case number is 2017/00375969. (By a Broken Rites researcher, article updated on 26 January 2018.)

Part-time celibacy: The story of Zelda

Broken Rites has uncovered the story of "Zelda", a Melbourne girl who had two children fathered by a Catholic priest.

The Marists evaded the police by sending this criminal Brother on an overseas trip

The Marist Brothers headquarters in Sydney put a child-sex criminal, Brother Gregory Joseph Sutton, on a plane to Canada after learning that he was being investigated by New South Wales police, Australia's national child-abuse Royal Commission has been told. The police extradited him back to Australia, where he was jailed for sexual crimes against girls and boys in New South Wales. Questioned at the Royal Commission, senior Marists down-played Sutton's crimes as merely "improper conduct" or "moral lapses", rather than as crimes. This strategy helps to protect the Marist organisation from being sued by victims for compensation, a victim's lawyer told the Commission. This strategy can also be an attempt by senior Marists to avoid being accused of concealing a crime. Ex-Brother Sutton, who was jailed in 1996 for child-sex crimes committed in New South Wales, was convicted again on 7 February 2017 for crimes committed in the Australian Capital Territory. Regarding the February 2017 conviction, see the final paragraphs in this article. (By a Broken Rites researcher, article updated 31 March 2017)

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 14 January 2018.)

A former Marist Brother, now 79, is in court in 2018 on charges from the 1960s

A 79-year-old former Marist Brother, Kevin Joseph Jewell, is due for court proceedings in 2018 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. (Article by Broken Rites, updated 9 January 2018.)

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 female victim was later re-victimised by the church authorities

A schoolgirl (named Joan) was sexually abused by a Catholic priest, Father Francis Edward (Frank) Derriman when she was aged 14 and 15. Later (when she was an adult) she was victimised again by the church's controversial Towards Healing system. Meanwhile, this priest left his parish job and eventually gained a university position, supervising Social Work students whose careers might include (of all things!) child protection. In December 2013, aged 60, Joan gave evidence at a public hearing of Australia's national Royal Commission into Institutional Responses to Child Sexual Abuse. Joan explained how Towards Healing acted as a "front" for the church-owned insurance business, Catholic Church Insurances Limited. (Article by a Broken Rites researcher.)

This priest was committing indecent acts against children from Day One, a court is told

A Catholic priest, Father Bryan Desmond Coffey, was indecently touching young children immediately after being ordained, an Australian court has been told. During Coffey's 37 years in the priesthood, church leaders kept hearing about his criminal behaviour but they always concealed this information from the police, thus protecting the church's holy image of priestly "celibacy". Finally, one victim reported Father Coffey crimes to the police, instead of merely to the church. Coffey was convicted in court, and the media publicity forced the church authorities to realise that they could no longer merely transfer Coffey to another parish. He continued to be a priest, but a priest without a parish. Broken Rites has researched the court transcript to compile the following account of how the church covered up the crimes of Father Bryan Coffey. (By a Broken Rites researcher, article updated on 1 January 2018.)

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, article updated on 3 December 2017.)

How Father John Farrell's crimes (and the church's cover-up) were exposed in court

This Broken Rites article summarises the court proceedings against John Joseph Farrell (also known as "Father F"). Father Farrell targeted numerous children (mostly boys, plus some girls) in northern New South Wales in the 1980s (and later in western Sydney until 1992). On 2 May 2016 he was sentenced to a minimum of 18 years jail for 62 of his crimes, committed against 12 of his victims. A further 17 incidents were taken into account at sentencing, making a total of 79 incidents. In 2018, Farrell is scheduled to face Sydney's Downing Centre District Court regarding more child-sex offences from the 1980s. (By a Broken Rites researcher, article updated 2 March 2018.).

Broken Rites exposed the St John of God Brothers in Australia — and the Royal Commission is interested

Since 1993, Broken Rites has been researching the Catholic religious order of St John of God Brothers (SJOG), which has operated in Australia for several generations, providing accommodation for boys and young men who have an educational or intellectual disability. In these SJOG institutions, sexual abuse was committed against many boys almost from Day One. Victims have told Broken Rites that the sex-offenders even included the founder of the order's Australian institutions, Brother Kilian Herbert. On 6 February 2017, the SJOG Order was exposed at a public hearing of Australia's national child-abuse Royal Commission. (By a Broken Rites researcher.)

After 30 years, the church was forced to say 'sorry' for the rape of a 13-year-old schoolboy

The Catholic order of Vincentian Fathers has finally apologised to a Victorian man ("Peter"), who was raped by a priest (Father Murray Joseph Wilson) in the 1970s when Peter was 13. This was a crime and Wilson was risking jail but, as so often happens in church-abuse cases, Wilson knew that the church culture would intimidate his victims into remaining silent. In 1979, Wilson died mysteriously at the age of 44 before any of his victims felt able to report Wilson's crimes to the police. (By a Broken Rites researcher, article updated 1 January 2018.)

Paedophile priest Peter Searson worked under various bishops, including George Pell

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, including at the Doveton parish (in Melbourne's south-east), where he survived for years under the supervision of the regional bishop for the south-eastern suburbs, Auxiliary Bishop George Pell. 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, article updated 5 December 2017.)

A former priest on child-sex charges regarding boys at a Marist Brothers school

A former Catholic priest, James Joseph Cunneen, aged 58. is due to face court proceedings in 2018, charged with multiple sexual offences which were allegedly committed thirty years ago against boys from a Marist Brothers school at Dundas in Sydney's west. (By a Broken Rites researcher, article updated 18 December 2017.)

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