The Melbourne Catholic archdiocese ignored the child-sex crimes of FatherDesmond Gannon throughout his long career. This cover-up ended in 1993 when the newly-formed Broken Rites group began encouraging church-victims to consult the Victoria Police sex-crimes squad. In 1995 this resulted in a jail sentence for Gannon (and public embarrassment for Archbishop Frank Little, who was soon replaced by Archbishop George Pell). 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. (By a Broken Rites researcher.)
A Catholic priest, Father Patrick Kervin, 58, is facing court in New South Wales, charged with an indecent assault of a schoolboy, allegedly committed 27 years ago. Father Kervin is a member of an Australia-wide religious order, the Society of Mary (also known as the Marist Fathers). Father Kervin has worked at Catholic schools near Wollongong and Lismore (New South Wales) and also in Tasmania. The charge relates to Holy Spirit College, at Bellambi, near Wollongong, in the 1980s. More recently, he ministered at St Patrick's Presbytery (Church Hill) in the Rocks area in central Sydney. (Article updated on 19 October 2015.)
A former Catholic priest, Father Peter Lewis Comensoli, now aged 76, has been committed to stand trial in the New South Wales District Court accused of molesting boys while this priest was working in the Wollongong diocese, south of Sydney, in the 1960s. In October 2015, some additional charges were added to the case, which is scheduled to come before a judge in 2016.
A former Catholic Brother is in custody in New South Wales, awaiting a court trial regarding child sexual assaults. Bernard Kevin McGrath (formerly a member of the St John of God Brothers) is charged with abusing a number of disabled boys while he worked as a Brother in a Catholic institution at Morriset, near Lake Macquarie (between Sydney and Newcastle), in the 1970s and 1980s. (By a Broken Rites researcher, article updated 14 February 2015.)
An Australian Catholic archbishop is awaiting court proceedings against him for allegedly concealing a colleague's child-sex abuse. Archbishop Philip Wilson has been charged by police with concealing child-sex abuse allegedly committed by another priest during the 1970s. Archbishop Wilson is understood to be the most senior Catholic official worldwide to face court over a concealment allegation of this type. The concealment charge carries a penalty of up to two years in prison. Archbishop Wilson is contesting the charge.
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 necessarily 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. After becoming a priest, Father Rankin ministered in Melbourne and Tasmania — and in Canada. (Article updated 22 July 2015.)
For years, the Catholic Church has been harbouring a prominent Australian priest, Father Julian Fox, who indecently assaulted vulnerable schoolboys on their naked bottoms. The boys, silenced by the holy image of the priesthood, later found that their lives were damaged by this priestly breach of trust. Some of them, in adulthood, eventually contacted the police but the church authorities transferred Father Fox overseas, out of the reach of the Australian police. The police finally got Fox back to Australia, where they charged him with multiple incidents of buggery and indecent assault committed at two Melbourne schools between 1976 and 1985. In Melbourne in 2015 Fox was sentenced to jail for the indecent assaults but his defence lawyer told the court that, despite now being a convicted criminal, Father Fox is still officially a Catholic priest and still has the support of the church authorities. (By a Broken Rites researcher, article updated 5 September 2015)
Broken Rites has examined an out-of-court civil settlement, in which a Catholic religious order (the Salesian Fathers) made a payment to a former Melbourne schoolboy who complained that he was sexually abused by a priest, Father Julian Fox. Father Fox was a minister, teacher and administrator at several Salesian schools, including Salesian College, "Rupertswood", which was a boarding school at Sunbury, north-west of Melbourne. (Article posted 28 August 2015)
In 1995, Broken Rites revealed the story of Catholic priest Father Jack Gubbels, who was transferred from Melbourne to Queensland, where he died while police were seeking to interview him about child-sex allegations in Melbourne. In 2014, Broken Rites has received a report of yet another Melbourne victim who has recently come forward with a complaint about Father Gubbels. (Article updated 27 August 2014.)
In March 2015, Victorian Catholic priest Father Leslie Sheahan was jailed for three months for indecently assaulting a nine-year-old girl in one of his parishes forty years ago. After the media reported this court case, more victims contacted the Victoria Police. In July 2015, immediately after leaving jail, Sheahan was charged in court again with indecently assaulting two more girls from another of his early parishes, and the court convicted him again. On 22 August 2016, Sheahan (aged 85) was in court again, where he was convicted of indecently assaulting another girl in one of those early parishes. (By a Broken Rites researcher, article updated 24 August 2016.)
This Broken Rites article is a concise summary of the criminal career of Father Michael Charles Glennon, a priest in the Melbourne Catholic Archdiocese, who was jailed for some (but not all) of his crimes. Thanks to Broken Rites and the Victoria Police, Glennon was facing more criminal charges when he died in jail on New Year's Day in 2014. (Article updated 9 January 2017.)
Fuller: This Broken Rites article is the most comprehensive account available about Sydney Catholic priest Robert Fuller, who was jailed on 24 February 2010 after he admitted seeking a 13-year-old girl, through the internet, for sexual purposes. (By a Broken Rites researcher.).
When John Aloysius Littler became a Marist Brother, he was given the religious name of "Brother Nestor", in remembrance of an ancient saint. But Brother Nestor was no saint. He soon committed sexual crimes against boys in a Catholic orphanage in Sydney, and the Marist Brothers (as usual) harboured him during his subsequent long career as a Brother, including at St Joseph's College, Hunters Hill, in Sydney — one of the most elite Catholic schools in Australia. Some of the orphanage victims eventually got Brother Nestor charged by the police. In the latest development, in 2015, another victim has forced the Marist Brothers to apologise for sexual abuse committed by Brother Nestor at a school in Maitland, New South Wales. (By a Broken Rites researcher, article updated 8 August 2015.)
One of the Marist Brothers' most senior educators in Australia, BrotherPeter Pemble, was jailed on 23 July 2015 (aged 67) for a child-sex crime which he committed 40 years earlier when he was in his twenties. In court, Pemble pleaded guilty to the offence, which was committed against a junior boy in a Marist school at Maitland (in the Hunter region, north of Sydney) in the early 1970s. Eventually, Brother Peter Pemble became the principal of several Catholic schools in Sydney. The victim finally spoke to police, 40 years after the crime, because he still feels hurt by the sexual abuse and the cover-up. (Article updated 23 July 2015.)
The Catholic Church harboured a sexually abusive religious Brother, Bernard Hartman, throughout his long career in Australia and the United States. In Australia, the Melbourne Catholic diocese learned that Brother Hartman had committed crimes against Melbourne school-children but it did not report these crimes to the police. Finally, on 24 July 2015, some of his Melbourne victims got Brother Hartman (aged 75) jailed for his crimes. (Article by a Broken Rites researcher, updated 24 July 2015)
An Australian woman, who allegedly suffered sexual abuse by a Catholic priest when she was just six years old, has finally broken her silence after 50 years. Recently, 56-year-old Gina Swannell has exercised her right to have a private interview with Australia's national child-abuse Royal Commission. (By a Broken Rites researcher, article updated 14 August 2015)
Archbishop George Pell, who was in charge of the Melbourne Catholic archdiocese from 1996 to 2001, allowed a priest (Father Graham Redfern) to continue in the priesthood after a church investigation found that the priest had sexually abused a teenager while the youth was in a vulnerable state, grieving over his mother's death. The abuse allegedly began after the priest had performed the funeral service of the youth's mother. Evidently Archbishop Pell did not regard this breach of priestly power as serious enough to dismiss a priest.
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, article updated 20 November 2015)
A former Catholic priest (from Moree and Armidale in northern New South Wales) faced 76 sex-abuse charges in the Armidale Local Court in 2012-2014. The charges involved offences which he allegedly committed against boys and girls. For legal reasons, the Armidale magistrate imposed a media-suppression order, prohibiting publication of the ex-priest's name (at present) in relation to these Armidale Local Court charges. The ex-priest pleaded "Guilty" to 45 of these charges, and he will eventually be sentenced on those. He pleaded "Not Guilty" to 31 other charges, and these contested charges are scheduled to go to trial in a higher court, the Sydney District Court in Sydney, beginning in early 2016. The Sydney judge will decide whether the Armidale magistrate's name-suppression order should be continued, or removed, during the Sydney District Court proceedings. Later, the ex-priest will be sentenced by the Sydney District Court regarding all the relevant charges that originated in the Armidale court, including the charges to which he has already pleaded "Guilty". Meanwhile, the ex-priest has been refused bail and he remains in custody, awaiting his court proceedings. (Article updated 29 May 2015)
This Broken Rites article demonstrates how Cardinal George Pell handled TWO complaints about Father Terence Goodall in Sydney. Pell accepted one complaint (that Goodall sexualised his pastoral relationship with a 10-year-old boy) but excused Goodall for sexualising his pastoral relationship with a teacher who had consulted Goodall for religious advice.
On 1 June 2015 a Catholic priest was found guilty of 31 child sex offences committed against boys in the Hunter Region, north of Sydney, in the 1980s. The priest was remanded in custody. He will be sentenced on a later date.
Australia’s famous Cardinal George Pell has acknowledged that his early career was helped by a generous mentor — the late Bishop James Patrick O'Collins. Research by Broken Rites has shown that Bishop O’Collins also helped certain other priests — for example, the child-abuse criminal Father Gerald Ridsdale. Pell and Ridsdale eventually became two of the most widely publicised Catholics in Australia.
After committing sexual crimes against boys, Christian Brother Stephen Francis Farrell left his religious order. He then taught in other Catholic schools as "Mister" Farrell and he married three times. But, by December 2013, three of his earlier pupils had got him convicted for his crimes. In one of the court hearings (in 1997), Farrell was supported in court by Jesuit priest Michael McGirr (this made Farrell's victims feel that they were being abused again). In May 2015, several of Farrell's victims gave evidence at a public hearing of Australia's national child-abuse Royal Commission. (Article updated 21 May 2015.)
A Christian Brother, Peter John Toomey, had a habit of indecently assaulting students at a Melbourne Catholic secondary school in the presence of other students, a court has been told. Toomey also taught in other schools including in Ballarat, in regional Victoria. In May 2015, Brother Toomey was mentioned by a Ballarat victim at a public hearing of Australia's national child-abuse Royal Commission. (Article by a Broken Rites researcher, updated on 21 May 2015.)
While Father David Rapson was committing sexual crimes (including rape) against boys at a prominent Australian Catholic boarding school, his religious order promoted him to be the vice-principal of the school, a Melbourne court has been told. Rapson used computer games, soft drinks, alcohol and cigarettes to lure boys (as young as 12) into his office before he sexually abused them, the court was told. Rapson gave some of his victims a drink of drug-laced chocolate-milk or lemonade to make them sleepy before he sexually abused them, the court was told. (Article updated 22 August 2015)
In April 2015, after a committal hearing, the Melbourne Magistrates Court ordered Christian Brother John Francis Coswello (now aged 76) to stand trial. He is charged with child-sexual abuse, which allegedly occurred at St Vincent's Boys Home in South Melbourne during an early stage in Coswello's career as a Christian Brother. The trial has been placed on a waiting list for the Melbourne County Court in 2016.
This Broken Rites article exposes the activities of Christian Brother Maurice Howard during his long teaching career in Victoria and Tasmania. Now the Christian Brothers have been forced to give a written apology (and a settlement) to at least one of Brother Howard's many victims. (Article updated 7 May 2015).
When Broken Rites launched its national telephone hotline in September 1993, our first callers included former inmates of a Catholic orphanage (St Joseph's Home, at Neerkol, near Rockhampton, Queensland). Some of these callers said they were sexually assaulted by Father Reginald Basil Durham, who was the "chaplain" at this orphanage. Broken Rites advised these victims how to obtain justice. In 1996 the church authorities were still protecting Durham and denying the crimes. The church's cover-up in the 1990s has been revealed again in 2015 at a public hearing of Australia's national child-abuse Royal Commission. (By a Broken Rites researcher, article updated 21 April 2015.)
Christian Brother Christopher Rafferty has worked in Catholic boys' schools in Sydney (including St Mary’s Cathedral College and St Pius X College Chatswood). He faced court in 2016, charged with child-sex offences allegedly committed against a boy at a earlier school (St Patrick's College in Goulburn, in south-western New South Wales, in the 1980s). In court, Judge David Frearson said he believes that Brother Rafferty sexually abused this Goulburn boy. However, the evidence in court was not of a high enough standard to convict Rafferty, the judge said.
This Broken Rites article tells how the Catholic Church harboured Father David Edwin Rapson for two decades, thus endangering boys in Catholic schools in Victoria, Tasmania and New South Wales. His colleagues and superiors kept quiet about Rapson's behaviour because some of colleagues, too, were a danger to boys. If boys or parents complained about Rapson's behaviour, Rapson would be moved to another school — and he was even promoted to a more senior position. Some of his Victorian victims have succeeded in getting Rapson jailed in that State but, so far, his Tasmanian and NSW victims have not brought Rapson to justice in those two States. A significant number of Rapson's Tasmanian pupils have died prematurely. (Article updated 14 August 2015)
Since 1993, Broken Rites Australia has been researching the cover-up of sexual abuse in the Catholic Church. Too often, the church supported the offending clergy while ignoring the victims. For example, Broken Rites has shown how the church shielded the criminal priest Father Gerald Ridsdale for 32 years without reporting his crimes to the police. Finally, in 1993, some Father Ridsdale victims contacted the police. These victims also contacted the newly-formed Broken Rites.
This photo demonstrates why Broken Rites was needed. In the photo, Catholic priest Gerald Ridsdale (left, in sunglasses and hat) walks to court, accompanied by his support person (Bishop George Pell, then an auxiliary bishop in Melbourne), when Father Ridsdale was pleading guilty to his first batch of criminal charges in May 1993. But no bishop accompanied the victims, who felt deserted by the church leaders. Therefore, since 1993, Broken Rites research has supported many of the Catholic Church's victims, as shown on this website. Read More