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Written by a Broken Rites Australia researcher.


The Jesuits covered up for a criminal Brother and merely moved him to more victims in another school

Jesuit priests and brothers operate some of Australia's most prominent schools, with famous ex-students such as former prime minister Tony Abbott. After Brother Victor Higgs committed sexual offences against boys at one of these schools (St Ignatius College, Adelaide), the Jesuits kept Brother Higgs as a member of the Jesuit Order and moved him to other schools, including their famous Sydney school (St Ignatius College Riverview), thus putting Sydney boys in danger. One of the Adelaide victims finally reported Brother Higgs to the South Australian police and, in 2016, Higgs was jailed for some of his Adelaide offences. In November 2018 a Sydney court jailed Higgs (aged 81) for seven and a half years for sexual offences at the Sydney school. Since then, Broken Rites has learned that Brother Higgs later worked at the Jesuits' elite Melbourne school, Xavier College, where the Jesuits used him as a "spiritual director" (wink-wink) of young boys and as a boarding-house supervisor. (By a Broken Rites researcher, article updated on 18 August 2019)

Police allege a priest assaulted 37 children during 30 years (while church leaders looked the other way)

For three decades until 1995, Father David Joseph Perrett was a Catholic priest in New South Wales. In 2019 (aged 82) he is in a court process, charged with committing sexual crimes against 37 children throughout his priestly career. That is, his alleged 30-year crime spree occurred under the noses of the church authorities. The charges against Perrett include buggery, carnal knowledge of a child under 10, aggravated sexual assault, aggravated indecent assault and assault occasioning actual bodily harm. The prosecutors have stated that some of Perrett's charges are so serious that he could perhaps spend the rest of his life in jail if convicted. Perrett's case came up in for a mention in the NSW District Court in mid-2019 but, claiming health problems, he has obtained an adjournment until late 2019. (By a Broken Rites researcher, article updated 6 August 2019.)

A Catholic priest in court over alleged child sex abuse at a NSW school

A Catholic priest has appeared in court in New South Wales in 2019, facing charges of sex-abuse allegedly committed against multiple children at a New South Wales country boarding school during the 1980s. Police allege that Father Anthony Caruana (now 77) indecently assaulted five boys, aged 12 to 15, who were under his care when he was a dormitory manager, rugby coach and band teacher at Chevalier College, a Catholic high school at Bowral, in the NSW Southern Highlands. (Article updated 1 August 2019.)

The church covered up for Father Paul David Ryan for many years but now he is jailed again

This Broken Rites article reveals how Catholic Church authorities covered up the child-sex crimes of an Australian priest, Father Paul David Ryan, during his career in the state of Victoria (and also during seven visits by Ryan to the United States). This enabled Ryan to endanger more children in more parishes in TWO countries. Eventually, helped by Broken Rites, some victims began reporting Ryan to Victoria Police detectives, resulting in Ryan being jailed in 2006. Since then, the detectives have received further information about Ryan's priestly career in Victoria. On 29 July 2019, after Ryan (aged 70) pleaded guilty regarding three more of his victims, he was jailed again. (By a Broken Rites researcher, article updated 1 August 2019.)

This priest (the deputy to a bishop) has been jailed three times

In the 1970s and 1980s, Father Richard Cattell was a Catholic priest in western Sydney, where he committed sexual crimes against boys. In the early 1990s, the Catholic Church promoted Cattell to become the Vicar-General of the Parramatta diocese, supervising 48 parishes in western Sydney on behalf of the bishop. Eventually, several of Cattell's victims spoke (separately) to the police, so Cattell was jailed in 1994 and again in 2015 and again on 26 July 2019. (By a Broken Rites researcher, article updated 1 August 2019.)

Father John Denham's life of crime (while church leaders covered up for him): Background article

Broken Rites has researched the cover-up of one of Australia's most notorious Catholic priests, Father John Sidney Denham. Father Denham's superiors and colleagues knew about his child-sex crimes but this information was concealed from the police. Finally, some of his victims gradually began to contact the police. As a result, Denham has been convicted in court several times since 2000. He has been in jail since 2008, and his jail time has been increased as more of his victims gradually contacted the police. On 30 May 2019, Denham (aged 76) was sentenced to additional jail time for his 59th victim. (By a Broken Rites researcher, article updated 28 July 2019)

The church covered up the crimes of Brother John Laidlaw and gave him more victims. But now he is jailed

The leaders of the Christian Brothers knew that Brother John Laidlaw was committing sex crimes against boys in Catholic schools but he was allowed to continue teaching, thus putting more boys in danger, a Melbourne court has been told. Brother Laidlaw (aged 80) pleaded guilty to sex-crimes against six of his victims. And he is STILL a member of the Christian Brothers. On 18 July 2019, a judge jailed Brother Laidlaw for sexually assaulting boys at various Catholic schools in Victoria between 1963 and 1984. (By a Broken Rites researcher, article updated 20 July 2019)

Broken Rites helped the victims of Fr Robert Claffey to obtain justice

This Broken Rites article gives some background about how a Catholic priest, Father Robert Claffey, committed sexual offences against children (mostly boys) while the Catholic Church transferred him around parishes in western Victoria for 14 years between 1969 and 1992. Some of Claffey's victims began contacting Broken Rites in 1993, and Broken Rites gave each victim a Victoria Police phone number where the victim could have a chat with child-protection detectives. In 1998, Claffey was convicted regarding two of his victims, and in 2016 he was jailed regarding 12 more victims (Claffey's offences included buggery, indecent assault and sexual penetration of a child). The 2016 court case brought the court's total to 14 children. Afterwards, two more victims contacted police and, as a result, Claffey (still in jail and aged 76) was sentenced on 18 July 2019 to additional time in jail. (By a Broken Rites researcher, article updated 18 July 2019.)

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.)

How the church helped this criminal priest, Father Ron Pickering

Broken Rites is doing further research about how the Melbourne Catholic archdiocese protected Father Ronald Pickering for many years while he committed crimes against children in his parishes. Eventually Father Pickering fled from Australia, evading a possible police investigation. 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.)

The church covered up the crimes of Father Billy Baker

For many years, the Melbourne Catholic Archdiocese knew that Father Wilfred ("Billy") Baker was committing crimes against children but it allowed him to continue in the priesthood, thereby helping him to commit more crimes against more children in more parishes. Broken Rites began advising some of his victims to report Bakers' crimes to the police, and therefore in mid-1997 the archdiocese was forced to send Baker on "administrative leave" to protect the image of the church. Baker was jailed. Thus, the cover-up was finally exposed by Broken Rites. After he finished this jail term, more of his earlier victims contacted Broken Rites and/or the police but, in February 2014, Baker died before the courts could sentence him again. (Article written by a Broken Rites researcher.)

GUILTY: A Catholic religious Brother committed buggery on a schoolboy

In May 2019, a Sydney court convicted a retired Catholic religious Brother (Brother Peter Higgins, now aged 80) for committing sexual offences (including buggery) on an 11-year-old schoolboy in the mid-1970s. The offences occurred on several days (after school had finished for the day) at Patrician Brothers Catholic School (formerly called St Mary's school, now called All Saints) in Liverpool, a suburb in Sydney's south-west. Higgins is now in custody, and the court will sentence him later in 2019. (By a Broken Rites researcher, article updated 1 June 2019.)

This "celibate" priest is facing controversy

During George Pell's rise from being a priest to a cardinal, one of his supporters has been Melbourne priest John Walshe. The Melbourne Catholic archdiocese has confirmed that it paid a $75,000 settlement (the maximum amount available) to a former student (John Roach) who has alleged that, when he was 18, he was sexually targeted by Father Walshe. The archdiocese gave a written apology to John Roach for the "wrongs and hurt" he suffered at the hands of Father Walshe. By January 2017, a number of Father Walshe's parishioners (at Mentone-Parkdale in Melbourne's south-east) succeeded in getting Fr Walshe to resign from their parish. This Broken Rites article is based partly on evidence given by Father Walshe to Australia's national child-abuse Royal Commission, including a claim by Father Walshe that he supports the policy of priestly "celibacy". (By a Broken Rites researcher, article updated 27 June 2019.)

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 1 June 2019.)

Broken Rites has researched Ronald Conway, the church's "hands-on" psychologist

For thirty years a prominent Australian Catholic psychologist, Ronald Conway, had a part-time role in assessing and helping trainee priests in the church's Melbourne seminary. Conway also worked as a consulting psychologist in psychiatric hospitals and in private practice, and some of his male patients say that Conway touched them sexually when they consulted him for professional help. (By a Broken Rites researcher.)

Church victims should report church crimes to the police detectives, as shown in the Father Gannon case

This article explains why Broken Rites Australia advises church-abuse victims to have a chat with child-protection detectives in the state police force. 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 began encouraging church-victims to consult the child-protection detectives. In 1995 this resulted in a jail sentence for Gannon. 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, article updated 14 June 2019.)

The church hid the crimes of Brother Edward Dowlan — and he became "Mister Ted Bales"

This Broken Rites article is the most comprehensive account available about how the Christian Brothers organisation concealed the crimes of Brother Edward Dowlan (now known as "Mister Ted Bales"). From the start, the Christian Brothers knew that Dowlan was committing criminal sexual assaults against Australian schoolchildren but, instead of dismissing him, the Christian Brothers kept transferring him to more schools, thus giving him access to more victims. His victims were usually aged about 11 or 12 but some were as young as 8 or 9. In the 1990s, when some victims finally reported him to the police, the Christian Brothers supported Dowlan and tried to defeat the victims. The victims eventually won by getting him jailed in 1996 and again in 2015. Many of Brother Dowlan's victims have had their lives damaged by the church's cover-up — and several of his victims ended up in suicide. Some other Dowlan victims have not yet contacted the detectives. (By a Broken Rites researcher.)

This priest is in jail for at least nine years

During the 1980s and 1980s, Father David Anthony O’Hearn worked in parishes in the Maitland-Newcastle Catholic diocese, north of Sydney. Now he is in jail where he is serving a minimum nine-years sentence for sexual offences against young boys. (By a Broken Rites researcher, article updated 20 May 2019).

The church keeps a priest after a payout to a victim

A former Australian Catholic bishop has confirmed that he appointed a priest (Father Guy Hartcher) to administer a parish after the church had paid a $40,000 settlement involving the priest. The payout went to a former pupil, on condition that he did not tell the police about the alleged abuse. (By a Broken Rites researcher.)

The church covered up the crimes of Father Daniel Lyne

The Catholic religious order of Passionist priests covered up for a serious child-abuser, Father Daniel Lyne, while he committed sexual crimes against teenage boys who were aspiring to become a Catholic priest. In 2002, while Daniel Lyne was facing the likelihood of a criminal prosecution, he suddenly died — just in time, before court proceedings could begin. Thus, he evaded a possible jail sentence. Daniel Lyne's fellow-priests are remaining silent about his crimes. (By a Broken Rites researcher.)

The Marist Brothers harboured this criminal while he abused children

Brother Colgan Taylor had an exalted role as a "spiritual director" for the Catholic order of Marist Brothers in Australia while he was committing sexual crimes against young children. The reverend brother's Catholic status gave him access to children and it protected him from exposure until 2002, when police finally learned of sexual crimes that Taylor had committed, more than 20 years earlier, against two very young girls. It is possible that he also had male victims. (By a Broken Rites researcher.)

Secrets of the Confessional (wink, wink): A priest raped a boy, then used Confession to conceal the crime

In Australia the Catholic Church is publicly defending the "secrecy of the Confessional". This Broken Rites article is about a Melbourne priest, Father James Scannell, who raped 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 secrecv damaged the victim's life and it took him forty years to bring the priest to justice. (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. Broken Rites began supporting Ridsdale's victims, resulting in four more court cases for Ridsdale between 1994 and 2017. (Background article, by a Broken Rites researcher.)

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 concealed the crimes of Father Vincent Ryan, helping him to commit more crimes on more children

This Broken Rites article is the most comprehensive account available about how Catholic Church leaders knowingly protected a pedophile priest, Father Vincent Gerard Ryan. Ryan's superiors (in the Maitland-Newcastle diocese in New South Wales) knew that he was sexually assaulting boys in his parishes. But the church concealed Ryan's crimes from the police and kept him in the ministry for twenty years, giving him access to new victims. He has already been jailed for some of his crimes. On 22 May 2019, a court sentenced Ryan (aged 81) to additional jail time for two more of his victims. (By a Broken Rites researcher, article updated 22 May 2019.)

The church has been forced to admit the crimes of Fr Patrick Cusack

Broken Rites is continuing its research about Father Patrick Cusack, a "highly respected" priest who committed sexual crimes against primary school girls in the Canberra-Goulburn archdiocese during many years. During his priestly career, Cusack was protected by the church's code of silence about clergy sexual abuse. But, after his death, so many Cusack victims came forward that the church finally had to acknowledge the priest's crimes. (By a Broken Rites researcher.)

How the church enabled Fr Michael Glennon's life of crime

Broken Rites is continuing its research about how the Catholic Church enabled the paedophile priest Father Michael Charles Glennon to commit sexual crimes against children in Melbourne. Years later, many of his victims (and their families) are still feeling the impact of the church's negligence. (By a Broken Rites researcher.)

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.

The priest and the schoolgirl — and an abortion

Broken Rites is doing further research about a Sydney Catholic priest, Father Kevin Cox, who sexually abused vulnerable girls. For example, one victim (Broken Rites will refer to her as "Mandy") has revealed that Father Cox sexually abused her for six years from the age of eleven. Furthermore, the sexual abuse resulted in a pregnancy at age 17 — and then the priest paid for an abortion. But the church continued to protect Father Cox. Church leaders and fellow-priests continued to regard Father Cox as a church hero. (Article by a Broken Rites researcher.)

This "celibate" priest fathered two children, his colleagues say

The Catholic Church advertises its priests as being "celibate", but priests can have private relationships (either "gay" or "straight") if this is hidden from the public. For example, Father John O'Callaghan, of Melbourne, had a relationship with a woman, who gave birth to Father O'Callaghan's two daughters. These girls have grown up into adulthood, knowing that they are the offspring of Father John O'Callaghan. The private life of Fr John O' Callaghan is no secret among the Melbourne clergy of his generation but the public did not know about it. (By a Broken Rites researcher.)

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