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Written by a Broken Rites Australia researcher.


Priest guilty of child-sex crimes in New South Wales

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.

Church leaders knew about Father Murray Alexander Moffat's abuse of a child

Australian Catholic Church authorities learned that Father Murray Alexander Moffat had sexually abused a 12-year-old girl but they allowed Moffat to continue in the priesthood for many years while the public did not know about the case, according to statements made in court. But eventually, at the age of 42, the victim went to the police, instead of merely to the church authorities. The police charged Moffat. In August 2010, he pleaded guilty in court and was jailed. Now that the church's secret is out, the public knowledge makes it difficult for the church to continue using Moffat in the ministry. (By a Broken Rites researcher, article updated 27 August 2010).

This bishop helped the careers of Cardinal George Pell and Father Gerald Ridsdale

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.

Father David Rapson's crimes were covered up by his colleagues and superiors

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)

Priest was jailed but was allowed to remain "Reverend"

Father Peter L. Comensoli: In 1989 the Wollongong Catholic diocese was warned that Father Peter Lewis Comensoli was sexually abusing boys in his parish, but the church authorities allowed him to continue in parish work. In 1993, a newspaper exposed this church scandal. Police then charged Comsensoli and he was jailed in 1994. But the church failed to laicize or defrock him and he was listed as "Reverend" for the next 16 years, until his name finally vanished from church directories in 2010 — 16 years after his conviction. This Father Comensoli is not to be confused with another clergyman — Auxiliary Bishop Peter A. Comensoli (posted 23 April 2011).

Christian Brother John Coswello in court regarding an orphanage

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.

A victim of this Christian Brother receives an apology, at last

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).

Broken Rites supported these orphanage victims but a bishop supported the offender

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 Chris Rafferty in a court trial in Sydney

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.

Catholic priest Hugh Edward Murray was a danger to young boys

The Catholic order of Vincentian priests knowingly harboured a pedophile priest, Father Hugh Edward Murray, for 50 years while he remained a danger to young boys in Australian schools and parishes. These boys were forced, by the church's holy image, to remain silent for many years -- and this silence disrupted their later lives. In recent years (with help from Broken Rites), some of Murray's victims have finally extracted settlements from the Vincentian Order to compensate them for their damaged lives. Compared with other Catholic religious orders in Australia, the Vincentian priests and brothers have included a higher-than-average number of offenders against children. (By a Broken Rites researcher, article updated 17 October 2017.)

A bishop's deputy committed crimes against young girls

Australia's child-abuse Royal Commission has become interested in how the Catholic Church's "Towards Healing" process is handling (or mis-handling) complaints about a senior Australian cleric, the "Right Reverend" Monsignor Maurice Tully, who had a long career (until 1975) in northern New South Wales. Broken Rites research has found that Tully was an abuser of young girls, and these victims are now mature-age women who are still feeling hurt by the Catholic Church's protection of Tully (and by the church's evasive attitude towards the complaints by Tully's victims).

A Marist Brother is jailed for child-sex crimes at a "top" Sydney school — and there are also complaints about him in Queensland

For years, the Marist Brothers tolerated a child-abuser (Brother John Dennis Maguire) as a teacher and dormitory master at their high-profile St Joseph's College boys' boarding school in Hunters Hill, Sydney. Maguire allegedly would target the youngest boarders (perhaps eleven years old) who were homesick – comforting them and then sexually assaulting them. In 2002,  police charged Maguire with assaulting six of these boys but the Marist Brothers defeated each of these charges. In 2014, after a total of nine jury trials, a seventh ex-student succeeded in getting Maguire convicted in court. Finally, on 20 March 2015, Maguire (now aged 71) was sentenced to at least 21 months in prison. There have also been complaints about Maguire in Queensland, which would need to be handled by the Queensland police. Maguire was a danger to girls as well as boys. (Article updated 3 April 2015.)

A Jesuit priest is jailed for child-porn but still gets church support

Father Stanislaus Hogan, a senior Jesuit priest who has been based at some of Australia's most prominent Catholic schools, was sentenced on 20 March 2015 to at least 10 months jail after he admitted accessing and possessing child pornography. His schools have included Xavier College in Melbourne, St Aloysius College in Sydney and St Ignatius College in Adelaide. A church spokesman has indicated that, after finishing his jail sentence, Hogan will welcome to live in retirement in a Jesuit community in Australia, and the Jesuits will continue to give him financial support. (Article updated 20 March 2015.)

A prominent churchman is convicted again in Bathurst NSW

Richard John McPhillamy has been a prominent layman in Catholic Church affairs in the diocese of Bathurst, in central-west New South Wales. He was formerly listed as an "acolyte", assisting in various matters at Bathurst's Cathedral of St Michael and St John. Also, he worked as an assistant dormitory master at St Stanislaus College — a Bathurst boarding school for boys. In 2011 he was jailed for committing sexual crimes against two of the boys who were under his control. In February 2015 he was convicted again regarding a third boy. (Article posted 18 February 2015.)

The church re-abused this victim of Marist Brother Raymond Foster

A sex-abuse victim has told a Royal Commission that he was made to feel like he was robbing the Catholic Church when he applied for compensation for his damaged life.

This priest assaulted two boys after their sister died in a road accident

A Catholic priest, Father Robert Claffey, indecently assaulted two boys after their sister died in a road accident, an Australian court was told in 1998. The priest started visiting the boys' house after the accident in 1978 to "comfort" them at bed-time. (Article published in 1998, updated in 2016.)

Broken Rites helped victims of Father John Denham to gain justice

Broken Rites has helped to obtain justice for victims of an Australian criminal Catholic priest, Father John Sidney Denham. His superiors and colleagues knew about his child-sex crimes but this information was concealed from the police. Finally, with advice from Broken Rites, some victims began to contact the police, so Denham was convicted in court in the year 2000 and again in 2010 and 2015 (and jailed). The sentencing judge made scathing comments about how this criminal priest had been protected by the Catholic Church. (Article updated 23 January 2015.)

The church protected Father John Sidney Denham, a judge says

An Australian judge has made scathing comments about how Father John Sidney Denham had been protected by the Catholic Church. Denham was jailed in 2010 after some of his victims contacted the New South Wales police. On 23 January 2015, he received additional jail time after some more of his victims contacted the police. According to research by Broken Rites, these are not necessarily Denham's only victims. (Article updated 23 January 2015.)

Marist Brothers head office receives a complaint about a Brother

A man has complained to the Marist Brothers headquarters in Sydney that while he was a student at Maitland Marist Brothers school in the late 1970s he was sexually abused by Marist Brother Donald Brodie Newton during a camping trip. (Article updated 16 January 2015.)

Three victims reveal their story, although church lawyers tried to stop them

Father Roger Michael Bellemore had a long career, ministering in New South Wales, Tasmania and Western Australia. Finally, some Tasmanian victims succeeded in publicly revealing his Tasmanian crimes. This Broken Rites article demonstrates how church victims can triumph over a powerful institution through determination and persistence.

De La Salle Brothers provided a job-reference for a child-abuser

The Catholic religious order of De La Salle Brothers knew that Brother Robert John N***** was a danger to children but they gave him a job-reference, enabling him to continue working in Catholic schools as a lay teacher, the Sydney District Court was told

After 30 years, these female victims finally succeed in telling the public

Several women have told Broken Rites Australia how they were sexually abused, when they were teenage girls, by Father John Ignatius O'Callaghan, who was a "chaplain" for  the girls' section of the Catholic Church's national "Young Christian Workers" organisation. According to colleagues, Father O'Callaghan also had a long-time sexual partner, with whom he fathered two children. (By a Broken Rites researcher, article updated 10 July 2017.)

Four victims achieved justice after 40 years, but others missed out

A member of the Catholic order of Christian Brothers, Keith William Gonzales Weston pleaded guilty in the Melbourne County Court on 29 November 2004 (when he was aged 81) to indecently assaulting male pupils, aged 11 to 14, forty years earlier. Broken Rites helped these victims to obtain justice. Ten years later, in 2014, police were about to charge Weston regarding more of his earlier victims but he died (aged 91), thus evading another conviction. (Article, by a Broken Rites researcher.)

This "chaplain" committed sexual offences in a girls’ orphanage

A senior Catholic nun has confirmed that she sought the removal of a priest, Father Bernard Maxwell Day, who was living at a girls' orphanage in Victoria in the early 1960s. Father Day was one of a series of "chaplains" who occupied a flat at the orphanage. Father Day was removed after allegations that he was molesting girls at the orphanage. In a submission to a Victorian Parliamentary inquiry in 2013, the Melbourne Catholic archdiocese admitted that Fr Day committed sexual offences against children. (Article updated 29 January 2015.)

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)

A lay teacher is jailed for crimes at two Catholic schools in Sydney

Alan James Pollock originally was a trainee Brother in the Catholic religious order of Patrician Brothers but later he left the brotherhood and then worked as a lay teacher in Sydney Catholic schools, where he committed sexual crimes against children. Years later, eleven of his victims reported his crimes to the police. Finally, on 12 December 2014 he was jailed. (Article updated 10 December 2014.)

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 updated 15 March 2016.)

Ex-priest acquitted of charges regarding St Stanislaus College, Bathurst, NSW

In Sydney's Downing Centre District Court on 4 March 2016, a former Catholic priest (now aged 73) was acquitted on charges of indecently assaulting a male. The alleged victim was a student at St Stanislaus College boys' school in Bathurst, New South Wales, in the 1970s. The defence lawyer has obtained a court order, prohibiting the publication of the ex-priest's name. (Article updated 14 March 2016.)

The Marist Brothers covered up these crimes and helped the offender's career

The Marist Brothers covered up the crimes of Brother Brian Robert Gordon and enabled him to continue working, as a lay teacher, in the Catholic education system. According to evidence given in court, Brian Gordon eventually become one of the top officials in Australia's Catholic education system, while his former Marist colleagues continued their silence. But one of his former pupils eventually reported the crimes to the police, thus ending the cover-up. (Article updated 11 January 2015.)

A priest raped a boy, then ordered the boy to "confess" the rape & conceal it

This Broken Rites article is the most comprehensive account available about a Melbourne Catholic priest, Father James Scannell, who has been jailed in 2014 for raping a 12-year-old boy.  After the rape (in the early 1970s), the priest subjected the boy to the Catholic ritual of "Confession" and ordered  the boy never to tell anybody about what had happened. Intimidated by the church's authority, the boy obediently kept this "secret of the Confessional". The church's code of silence damaged the victim's life and it took him forty years to bring the priest to justice — in 2014. (Article updated 10 August 2014.)

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