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Written by a Broken Rites Australia researcher.


Church paid huge sums to lawyers to defend a criminal priest, Father James Fletcher: Background article

The Catholic diocese of Maitland-Newcastle in New South Wales has admitted that it paid an expensive team of lawyers to defend a paedophile priest in a child-abuse court case. The priest, Father James Patrick Fletcher, pleaded not guilty in 2004 to multiple counts of anal and oral sexual penetration of an altar boy, Daniel Feenan. The offences began in 1990, when Daniel was 12. A jury found Fletcher guilty on all charges. Legal experts have told the media that Fletcher's legal costs for the 11-day trial exceeded $200,000. The church's defence team included a Queen's Counsel, plus a second barrister and a solicitor. Fletcher had various victims, most of whom were still remaining silent. This court case in 2004 was about one victim, Daniel. (Background article by a Broken Rites researcher.)

How the paedophile Father Denis McAlinden was inflicted on Australian children

Research by Broken Rites has revealed that the Catholic Church knowingly harboured the paedophile priest Father Denis McAlinden for 40 years, thus inflicting him on young girls in parishes around Australia and also overseas. The church has been paying small out-of-court settlements to some of McAlinden's victims, thus avoiding a larger court-based settlement. In November 2016, two sisters began to sue the Catholic Church in the New South Wales Supreme Court for a proper amount to settle their abuse by McAlinden. At the last moment, the church agreed to pay these two women a confidential out-of-court financial settlement, thus preventing the church's other victims from knowing the size of a court-related settlement. This Broken Rites article explains the background about Fr Denis McAlinden and the church's cover-up. (By a Broken Rites researcher.)

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

For 34 years until 1995, Father David Joseph Perrett was a Catholic priest in New South Wales. In 2018 (aged 81 and retired) he has been charged by police with committing sexual crimes against 30 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 prosecutor has previously told a court that some of Perrett's charges are so serious that he could perhaps spend the rest of his life in jail if convicted. In court on 29 October 2018, additional charges were filed in Perrett's case. A court has ordered that Perrett must remain in custody while prosecutors continue compiling the documentation for his charges. He will face court again in 2019. (By a Broken Rites researcher, article updated 14 December 2018.)

Background article: The career of Archbishop Philip Wilson

This Broken Rites article is about the career of Australia's Archbishop Philip Wilson. Late in his career, police alleged that Wilson had covered up for a priest (Father James Fletcher) who indecently assaulted a ten-year-old boy (Peter Creigh). Police alleged that, when they were investigating Father Fletcher in 2003-2004 regarding a different victim (Daniel Feenan), Archbishop Wilson possessed information (about the abuse of Peter) which might help the case against Fletcher but Wilson concealed this information, thus protecting the criminal Fletcher. A court convicted Archbishop Wilson regarding his concealment of Peter's abuse. On 6 December 2018, a court quashed Wilson's conviction. This court case, however, was regarding only one of the church's victims, Peter Creigh. What did Wilson know about other criminal priests? (By a Broken Rites researcher, updated on 14 December 2018.)

The church finally admits the child-sex crimes of Father Tony Bongiorno

According to Broken Rites research, the Melbourne Catholic archdiocese has been forced to admit that Father Anthony Bongiorno committed sexual crimes against children during his 30 years working in Melbourne parishes. Anthony (Tony) Bongiorno began training for the priesthood about 1960, aged 25. Anthony Bongiorno's child-sex crimes were covered up until some of his victims exposed him in the mid-1990s. The total number of Father Bongiorno's victims is unknown. For example, in 1980, a woman (named Maria James) learned that her son (aged 11) was a Bongiorno victim but this woman was murdered before she could expose Bongiorno about her son's abuse. (By a Broken Rites researcher, article updated on 1 December 2018.)

A new Melbourne priest was abusing children from Day One, now he awaits sentencing in court

Father Paul Chris Pavlou is a relatively recent recruit to Australia's Catholic priesthood. He was originally a school-teacher but, in his thirties, he began studying to become a priest. Later, in his forties, he was elevated to the priesthood and began ministering in parishes of the Melbourne archdiocese. Soon after this, he admitted in court that he was committing sexual offences against children before and after becoming a priest. Now he is awaiting his sentencing, which will be held in the Melbourne County Court in 2019. Pavlou's story raises questions about how the church selects its priests. (By a Broken Rites researcher, article updated 2 December 2018.)

Jailed again: A "reverend" Brother damaged many boys at two elite Catholic schools

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 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 (aged 81) was jailed for some of his Adelaide offences. And on 23 November 2018 a Sydney court jailed Higgs (aged 81) for seven and a half years for sexual offences at the Sydney school. (By a Broken Rites researcher, article updated on 1 December 2018.)

A convicted priest appears on TV but is still ignorant about how the church's cover-up can damage the victims and their families

In the early 1970s, a boy complained to the Catholic Church about being sexually abused by a Sydney priest (Father Robert Flaherty) but the church merely transferred the priest to a new parish, thus giving him easy access to more children, a Sydney court has been told. This victim then reported Flaherty to the police. Years later, another victim contacted the police, followed later by a third boy (all from different parishes). In court in 2016, Father Flaherty (then aged 72) was jailed regarding the three boys. In July 2018, a television program ("A Current Affair" on the Nine Network) interviewed Father Flaherty (after his release from jail) and also interviewed one of his victims. On TV, Flaherty is still ignorant about how the church's culture of cover-up can damage the lives (and family relationships) of the church's victims many years later. If you click a link at the end of this article, you can watch the interviews. (By a Broken Rites researcher, article updated 2 December 2018.)

This priest became the deputy to a bishop, then was jailed and now is in court again

In the 1970s and 1980s, Father Richard Cattell was a Catholic priest in western Sydney. 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. In 2015, Cattell was jailed for sexual crimes committed against boys during his time in western Sydney. Since then, detectives have received additional information about Cattell's career. Therefore, in late 2018, police filed additional charges against Cattell in a magistrates court. Next, the new charges will go to a judge in a higher court, the New South Wales District Court (see details towards the end of this article). (By a Broken Rites researcher, article updated 23 November 2018.)

A Marist Brother has been jailed for some of his victims, but another ex-student has died by suicide

Australian Marist Brother David Christian was recruited by the Marist Brothers at the age of 15 and became a fully-fledged Brother at 18. By the age of 40 (in the 1980s), he was a school principal — and he was sexually abusing young boys. Years later, some of these victims began to speak (as adults) to child-protection detectives in the state police force. This resulted in David Christian being jailed when he was in his seventies. But how many other victims of Brother David Christian have NOT spoken to the police? For example, one of Brother David Christian's ex-students died by suicide at the age of 21, leaving a suicide note about how his life had been damaged by Brother David Christian. (By a Broken Rites researcher, article updated 21 November 2018.)

The church concealed Christian Brother Neil Richards' crimes from the police but more victims now are speaking to police

Catholic Church authorities knew for years about Christian Brother Desmond Eric ("Neil") Richards' sexual crimes against schoolboys in New South Wales but the crimes were concealed from the police (and from the public). Eventually, Richards was transferred to Rome (away from the NSW police) but NSW detectives arrested him when he returned to Australia in 2013. Richards was jailed in Sydney in 2014 for some of his crimes. On 16 December 2016 (aged in his mid-seventies), he was sentenced to additional time in jail after more of his victims contacted the NSW detectives. Richards pleaded guilty regarding all these victims. On 17 October 2018, he was sentenced again to more jail time for more of his crimes. Other victims of Richards have remained silent but it is still possible for them to speak to the detectives; therefore, the investigation will continue. (By a Broken Rites researcher, article updated on 1 December 2018)

An ex-priest, 75, is charged with raping a 10-year-old boy in a public toilet during a picnic more than 50 years ago

In the 1960s, Brian Spillane began training towards a career in the Catholic priesthood. In 2018, he is in jail in New South Wales for sexual crimes which he committed against boys (and also some girls) during his religious career. While he is in jail, police have investigated some additional allegations about Spillane. Now, in late 2018, he is being charged in court (aged 75) with having raped a ten-year-old boy in Sydney in 1964. He is to face a committal hearing on a future date.(By a Broken Rites researcher, article updated 20 November 2018.)

The church protected Father John Farrell for 30 years but now he is in jail, and his jail time is being increased

This Broken Rites article is the most comprehensive account available about how Catholic Church leaders remained silent for 30 years about the child-sex crimes of Father John Joseph Farrell (also known as "Father F"). In 1993, Broken Rites began researching the Farrell cover-up. In 2012, our research helped to create a "Four Corners" television program about the Farrell cover-up, thus bringing this cover-up to nationwide attention. And this helped to encourage the Federal Government to establish its national child-abuse Royal Commission. Gradually, Broken Rites (but not the church officials) encouraged some of Farrell's victims to talk with child-protection police, resulting in the jailing of Farrell in 2016. Meanwhile, more of his victims were speaking to the detectives, and therefore on 2 November 2018 Farrell (now aged 65) was sentenced to more time in jail for these additional crimes. (By a Broken Rites researcher, article updated 8 November 2018.)

The church covered up for this priest but failed, now he is pleading guilty again on more charges

This Broken Rites article is the most comprehensive account available about how the large Catholic order of Salesian Fathers harboured an Australian paedophile priest, Father Frank Klep, for many years — allowing him to commit sexual crimes against defenceless boys. Gradually, with help from Broken Rites, some of his victims managed to expose Klep and the Salesians during three court cases. Now he is in jail. In a fourth court case on 26 October 2018, Klep has pleaded guilty regarding three more of his victims. He will be sentenced again in early 2019. (By a Broken Rites researcher, article updated 1 November 2018.)

Marist Brother 'Romuald' Cable, already jailed, pleads guilty again regarding more of his crimes

For many years, Marist Brother Francis William Cable (also known as "Brother Romuald") was committing sexual crimes against Catholic schoolboys in New South Wales. His Marist colleagues and superiors looked the other way, protecting him from the police and giving him access to more victims. Eventually, some of his victims (acting separately) began to contact Broken Rites and/or the New South Wales Police, instead of merely telling Romuald Cable's church colleagues. NSW Police detectives then found some more of his victims. As a result, "Rom" Cable was jailed in 2015 regarding 19 of his victims. The police investigation continued. In court in October 2018, he pleaded guilty regarding five more of his victims. (By a Broken Rites researcher, article updated 1 November 2018.)

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)

Part-time "celibacy": How Jane was left holding a priest's baby

The Catholic Church in Australia has apologized to a vulnerable woman who was a victim of "nine-to-five" priestly celibacy. The Melbourne Catholic archdiocese has accepted the woman's complaint that one of its priests had fathered her child. This priest allegedly had been living with the woman and her child in a de facto relationship but he later abandoned the woman and the child. (By a Broken Rites researcher.)

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

This article explains why Broken Rites Australia advises church-abuse victims to have a chat with child-protection detectives in the victim's 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.)

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 1 November 2018.)

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 1 November 2018.)

The church covered up for Father Paul David Ryan for many years, but Broken Rites supported the victims

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 a jail sentence for Ryan in 2006. Now, Paul David Ryan is facing court again in 2018 after more of his alleged victims have spoken to the detectives. The 2018 case is referred to at the end of this article. (By a Broken Rites researcher)

The church concealed the crimes of Father Vincent Ryan. Now he faces more charges

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. In 2018, he appeared in court again regarding additional offences involving more alleged victims; and he will a face trial on these additional charges on a future date. (By a Broken Rites researcher, article updated 12 November 2018.)

Broken Rites helped victims of Father John Denham to gain justice, and now Denham is in jail awaiting a further sentence

Broken Rites has helped to obtain justice for victims 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, 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 in 2015 made scathing comments about how this criminal priest had been protected by the Catholic Church. Now, in 2018, Denham has been convicted again, after another of his victims contacted the police. He will be sentenced in early 2019. Meanwhile, he remains in jail. (By a Broken Rites researcher, article updated 28 October 2018)

The church covered up a reverend Brother’s crimes but now he is in jail with more charges still to come

When Frank Keating became a De La Salle Brother in his late teens, he was given the religious name "Brother Ibar", in honour of an ancient Irish saint. But Brother "Ibar" Keating was no saint — he was committing sexual crimes against his pupils. His superiors knew this but they allowed him to continue offending in Catholic schools around Australia for many years more. Eventually, some of Keating's victims reported him to the police, and he was jailed in Victoria in 1998. Since his jailing, additional victims from the 1970s have spoken to police, and therefore Keating was jailed again in Victoria on 20 April 2018, aged 75. Now, in late 2018, he is being prosecuted again by Queensland police. This Broken Rites article gives the full story of the church's cover-up of Brother "Ibar" Keating. (By a Broken Rites researcher, article updated 21 October 2018.)

Full story: The church harboured this pedophile Marist Brother and now he is finally jailed

This Broken Rites article reveals how the Catholic Church harboured a child-sex abuser, Marist Brother Gerard Joseph McNamara, teaching in Catholic schools, for four decades until eventually some of his victims began speaking (separately) to the Victoria Police child-protection detectives. When the police finally charged McNamara regarding the first batch of these victims, the Marists enthusiastically supported McNamara and ignored the victims. But Broken Rites supported the victims — and in 2004-2005 McNamara pleaded guilty to this first batch of victims and was convicted. This prompted more of McNamara's former students to contact the detectives. In 2016, McNamara pleaded guilty to indecently assaulting two more of his victims, resulting in another conviction. For each of these convictions (to 2016), he was given a suspended sentence. But on 3 September 2018, McNamara (aged 80) was jailed after he pleaded guilty to sexual offences against five more of his former schoolboys. The 2018 court case is reported towards the end of this Broken Rites article. Meanwhile, after his life of crime, McNamara is officially still a Marist Brother, even while he is in jail. (By a Broken Rites researcher, article updated 8 September 2018.)

Pedophile priest Finian Egan is fighting deportation — and he has support from Archbishop Peter Comensoli

Irish-born Catholic priest Finian Egan was transferred to Australia in 1959, and he soon began committing sexual crimes against Australian children. The Catholic Church protected him in Australia for the next five decades until some of his victims (with help from Broken Rites) succeeded in getting him convicted. A Sydney court sentenced Egan to a minimum of four years in jail, and this sentence expired on 19 December 2017, when Egan was released, aged 82. According to church law, Father Egan still retains his priestly status (but is retired from parish work). In 2018, the Australian immigration authorities tried to deport Father Egan back to Ireland but Egan contested this order with support from church sources, including support from his previous superior in Sydney, Bishop Peter Comensoli. In 2018, Bishop Comensoli has become the new archbishop of Melbourne. (Article updated on 4 September 2018.)

Father Jack Gubbels died while police were seeking to interview him

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.

A "celibate" priest was jailed for internet child-sex offences

This Broken Rites article is an interesting case-study in the Catholic Church's notion of priestly "celibacy". A Sydney priest, Father Robert Fuller, was jailed on 24 February 2010 (then aged 54) after he admitted seeking a 13-year-old girl, through the internet, for sexual purposes. (By a Broken Rites researcher, article updated 7 September 2018.).

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

In Australia in 2018, 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, article updated 1 September 2018.)

This "chaplain" committed sexual offences in a girls’ orphanage (and his crimes were helped by the Catholic ritual of Confession)

Broken Rites is doing further research about a Catholic 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. His "duties" including hearing each girl's Confession; this sacred ritual enabled a priest to talk to a girl about sex. A senior nun got Father Day 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. (By a Broken Rites researcher, article updated 7 September 2018.)

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