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Written by a Broken Rites Australia researcher.


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)

Victims of Father Gannon defeated a cover-up, with help from Broken Rites

The Melbourne Catholic archdiocese ignored the child-sex crimes of Father Desmond 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). Altogether, Gannon has been sentenced five times (in 1995, 1997, 2000, 2003 and 2009) for sexual crimes against children. 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 into church-related child sex-abuse. (By a Broken Rites researcher.)

The church ordained a child-abuser — and knowingly retained him in the ministry

A Catholic priest, Father David Daniel, repeatedly committed sexual crimes on children throughout his 20-year career as a priest, the Melbourne County Court was told. Parents complained to the church authorities but the church ignored the crimes until some of the victims finally began to speak to detectives in the Victoria Police sex crime squad. Finally, Father Daniel was brought to justice, by the police, not by the church. Thus, the church's cover-up was exposed. This article is the most comprehensive account available about the Father David Daniel cover-up. (By a Broken Rites researcher.)

A Sydney priest is jailed for at least five years for child-sex crimes

Father Robert James Hickman 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. In Sydney's Parramatta District Court on 9 December 2016, Hickman (now aged 71) was jailed for a minimum of five years for child-sex offences. (Article updated 6 January 2017)

This priest, jailed in 2003, is now facing court on new charges

Catholic priest Father Adrian van Klooster started his priestly career in New South Wales but was transferred to Western Australia, where he was jailed in 2003 for sexual crimes against W.A. children. After van Klooster's bad publicity, the Catholic Church chose not to appoint him to any more parishes. In 2017, Adrian van Klooster is due to appear in court again in W.A., charged with recent child pornography offences. (By a Broken Rites researcher, article updated 6 January 2017.)

The church is forced to apologise to a woman victim

An Australian "celibate" Catholic priest, Father Thomas Knowles, sexually targeted a vulnerable 19-year-old woman (Jennifer) who was suffering from a physical disability - and he entangled her in a secret sexual relationship for next 14 years. Now, in 2016, the church has been forced to offer Jennifer a written apology for this sexual abuse. On Sunday 4 December 2016, this apology was publicly read out to the congregation by a church leader during Mass at the prominent St Francis's church in central Melbourne. Thomas Knowles was formerly a priest at this parish. (By a Broken Rites researcher, 4 December 2016.)

Why did Father Daniel Lyne vanish from the Catholic priesthood?

A victim has made a submission to Australia's national Royal Commission on Institutional Responses to Child Sexual Abuse, telling how the Catholic religious order of Passionist priests covered up for a serious child-abuser, Father Daniel Lyne. (By a Broken Rites researcher.)

These three victims forced the Marist Brothers to apologise

The leaders of Australia's Marist Brothers have apologised to three ex-pupils of a very senior Marist, who was known as Brother Bertinus. These three ex-pupils went to different schools (in different Australian states) and they do not know each other. In a co-incidence, two of the three have each written a book in which each describes his encounter with Brother Bertinus. (By a Broken Rites researcher, article updated 23 December 2016.)

How the church authorities tried to protect a child-abuser, Brother Rodger Moloney

This Broken Rites article shows how a Catholic religious order, the St John of God Brothers, has paid big money to lawyers, trying to defend an Australian child-abuser, Brother Rodger William Moloney. And the order has said that it will continue protecting him permanently. (By a Broken Rites researcher.)

What did George Pell know about these paedophiles when he was climbing the career ladder as the archbishop of Melbourne?

Since 1993, Broken Rites has been doing research about how Melbourne's Catholic bishops harboured a number of sexually-abusive priests. In the mid-1990s, Broken Rites began exposing these priests. Now some of these priests, from the Broken Rites list, are being investigated by Australia's national child-abuse Royal Commission. The Royal Commission is examining what Cardinal George Pell knew about these priests when he was a member of the church leadership in Melbourne from 1987 to 2001. This article points you to the original Broken Rites research about each of these priests. (By a Broken Rites researcher.)

Christian Brother L.C. McAllen abused Sydney schoolboys

Some Australian men, now advancing in age, are still feeling the injustice of having been abused by Christian Brother L.C. McAllen when they were primary-school pupils in Sydney many years ago. McAllen died in 1965, but he has not been forgotten (or forgiven) by his victims. (By a Broken Rites researcher, article updated 21 October 2016.)

Christian Brother Obbens is jailed — he abused homesick boys in a boarding school

Christian Brother William John Obbens (also known as Brother "Dominic" Obbens), aged 70, was jailed on 13 October 2016 after he admitted indecently assaulting three boys (aged 11 to 13) who were under his authority in a boarding school. The offences occurred in the late 1980s at the former St Patrick's College (now called Trinity College) in Goulburn, south-western New South Wales, where Obbens was a teacher and a boarding master. According to court documents, Obbens preyed on the boarders’ homesickness to sexually abuse the boys. (By a Broken Rites researcher, article updated 14 October 2016)

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.)

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.

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.

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.)

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.

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. 

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.

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