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Written by a Broken Rites Australia researcher.


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.)

A senior Christian Brother was jailed for child-sex offences

The Australian Christian Brothers have been forced to acknowledge that one of their former leaders, Brother Damien John O'Dempsey, was a serial sex-offender, abusing children who were under his care and supervision in Catholic schools. (Article updated 4 January 2011).

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.)

Church finally admits the crimes of Fr Thomas O'Keeffe

After action by Broken Rites, the Melbourne Catholic archdiocese has been forced to admit that children were sexually abused by Father Thomas O'Keeffe. Broken Rites is doing further research on O'Keeffe — and how the church sheltered him during his life of crime. (By a Broken Rites researcher.)

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 in Melbourne

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. 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.)

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.)

A Catholic Brother is jailed again for another 14 of his victims

A former Catholic religious Brother, Edward Mamo, who had already spent time in jail, was jailed again in Melbourne on 11 December 2015 after 14 more of his victims contacted Broken Rites and/or the Victoria Police. Mamo pleaded guilty to 21 additional indecent assaults, committed against these 14 victims while he worked as a Brother at Monivae College, a Catholic secondary school at Hamilton in western Victoria in the late 1970s and early 1980s. Mamo has also worked at Chevalier College in Bowral, New South Wales, but this Victorian court case was only for Victorian offences. (By a Broken Rites researcher, article updated 11 December 2015.)

A Brisbane priest dies after being charged in court with an alleged sexual offence

A Queensland Catholic priest, Fr Michael Joseph McKeaten was charged by police in court on 31 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. (By a Broken Rites researcher, article updated on 8 November 2017 )

'Towards Healing' helps the church, rather than the victims

Broken Rites is pleased that Australia's national Royal Commission into Institutional Responses to Child Sexual Abuse has investigated the Catholic Church's so-called "Towards Healing" process, which claims to "help" the church's abuse-victims.Broken Rites has been researching "Towards Healing"since 1996, and this article sums up some of our main findings so far. This Broken Rites article demonstrates how "Towards Healing" is really a business strategy, designed to protect the church from the legal liability of compensating some victims or, at least, to limit any compensation. (By a Broken Rites researcher.)

Royal Commission receives further information about Christian Brother Peter Toomey in Victoria

In 2005, Christian Brother Peter Toomey was jailed for sexually abusing young boys at Catholic schools in Victoria earlier in his career. In 2017, Australia's child-abuse Royal Commission has received further information about other former pupils who encountered Christian Brother Peter Toomey in their schooldays. This Broken Rites article gives some background about Toomey's court case in 2005. (Article by a Broken Rites researcher, updated on 18 October 2017.)

A Catholic priest is jailed for indecent assaults against Melbourne schoolboys

In the Melbourne County Court on 7 August 2017, Catholic priest Frank De Dood (aged 64) was sentenced to jail for indecently assaulting five young boys while he was teaching and ministering at two Catholic schools in Melbourne between 1978 and 1983. Father De Dood told one boy that no one would believe him if he told anyone about being touched by a priest, and if he did, the boy would be expelled from the school. (By a Broken Rites researcher, article updated 7 August 2017.)

Priest dies while facing child-abuse charges

On half a dozen occasions during 2013 and 2014, a Queensland magistrate granted an adjournment to a retired Catholic priest, Father Dermot Casey, who had been charged with sexual offences against ten children, including girls and boys. The defence lawyers kept producing medical certificates saying that the priest (aged 78 in 2014) was not well enough to come to court. In August 2014, Father Casey died; and therefore his victims were no longer able to obtain justice. (Article updated 17 December 2017.)

The church provided a perfect cover for child-abuser Father Kevin Glover

This Broken Rites article reveals how the Catholic Church a harboured a paedophile priest (Father Kevin Glover) for many years, in parishes around Australia, while he committed sexual crimes against children. When his crimes became known in one parish, the church merely transferred him to another parish. Now, in 2017, lawyers are preparing to tackle the Catholic Church authorities for compensation on behalf of three people who say they were sexually abused by Father Glover in Western Australia in the 1960s and 1970s. (By a Broken Rites researcher, article updated 19 July 2017.)

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. 

The church was finally forced to apologise to victims of Monsignor Penn Jones

After action by Broken Rites, the Melbourne Catholic archdiocese has accepted two complaints about a prominent Australian Catholic clergyman, Monsignor Penn Jones. The archdiocese gave a written apology to two men who demonstrated that they were still feeling harmed after being sexually abused by Monsignor Jones in their school days. Broken Rites is continuing its research about Monsignor Penn Jones. (By a Broken Rites researcher.)

The Catholic Church fails to enforce its ban on Father Patrick Maye

Broken Rites has confirmed that a Catholic priest — Padraic (Patrick) Maye — conducted church services in Queensland after the church had promised to remove him from the ministry in Victoria. (By a Broken Rites researcher.)

How the church harboured Father David Rapson, putting schoolboys at risk

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.

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 legal firm is tackling the Christian Brothers re Brother J.G. Gladwin

An Australian legal firm is taking civil action against the Christian Brothers. The lawyers are acting on behalf of a former student who alleges that he was sexually abused by Christian Brother J.G. Gladwin in a Catholic school in Queensland in the 1970s. (By a Broken Rites researcher.).

A Christian Brother is convicted by a Sydney jury

After a jury trial in May 2017, Christian Brother Roger King was found guilty in Sydney's Downing Centre District Court of a number of sexual offences committed against boys at St Patrick's College, Strathfield, in Sydney's inner-west, in the 1970s and 1980s. (By a Broken Rites researcher, article posted 29 May 2017.)

Church hid a priest's sex-crimes for 30 years — and it put him in charge of sex education for children

The Catholic Archdiocese of Brisbane harboured a sex-abuse priest, Father Ronald McKeirnan, for 30 years after it first learned that he was committing criminal offences against children. And it put him in charge of sex eduction for all Brisbane Catholic schools. (By a Broken Rites researcher, article last updated in 2008.).

An archbishop was slow in taking action against his deputy who committed crimes against children

In a statement issued in June 2010, an Australian Catholic archbishop confessed that he had been too slow in taking action about a senior fellow-cleric who was facing sex-abuse complaints. Archbishop Adrian Doyle, in charge of the Hobart archdiocese in Tasmania, made this admission in a June 2010 pastoral letter to Tasmania's Catholics. The pastoral letter was about the Catholic Church's sexual abuse crisis, the exposure of which is causing a worldwide public-relations problem for the church. The pastoral letter outlined how the worldwide revelations are undermining the church's public image in Tasmania. (By a Broken Rites researcher, article updated 8 September 2017.)

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