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Written by a Broken Rites Australia researcher.


George Pell versus Anthony and Chrissie Foster: Some background

One of Australia's most notorious paedophile priests, Father Kevin O'Donnell, committed sexual crimes against children throughout his 50-year career in Melbourne Catholic parishes while his superiors and colleagues looked the other way. In his final years, he even received public praise from one of his superiors, Bishop (later Cardinal) George Pell (see further down in this article, under the sub-heading "Praise from George Pell"). Eventually some of O'Donnell's victims (with help from Broken Rites) contacted the police and got O'Donnell convicted and jailed. Later, more people came forward with complaints about Father O'Donnell (including Anthony and Chrissie Foster, whose two young daughters encountered O'Donnell in his final parish). After all this exposure about Father O'Donnell, Archbishop George Pell hired a public relations firm to paint Pell as a pioneer in "helping" victims. Therefore, Anthony and Chrissie Foster asked Pell to grant proper compensation to help their two damaged daughters, but Pell's lawyers tried to defeat the Fosters (instead of "helping" them). The story of the Fosters is told in the second half of this Broken Rites article. (By a Broken Rites researcher, article updated 15 June 2017.)

Cardinal George Pell "can't be FORCED to re-appear in Australia", lawyers say

According to legal experts, Australian civil authorities cannot force Cardinal George Pell to re-visit Australia to be questioned on certain matters relating to church sexual abuse. As Pell is now a senior official in the Vatican State, this can give him diplomatic immunity, protecting him from being forced back to Australia. However, it is possible that he might choose to return to Australia voluntarily. (By a Broken Rites researcher, article updated 15 May 2017.)

A church report contains allegations about George Pell abusing an altar boy in 1961-62

Australia's Catholic Church hierarchy received a complaint in 2002 that a trainee priest (George Pell) had sexually abused a twelve-year-old altar boy (named Phil) in 1961-62 at a holiday camp for boys on Phillip Island, south-east of Melbourne. According to a church document, Phil has alleged that, on several occasions, the trainee priest George (then about 20) thrust his hand down the inside of Phil's pants and got "a good handful" of the boy's penis and testicles; and, on other occasions, George allegedly tried to guide the boy's hand into the front of George Pell's pants. By the year 2000, when Phil was aged 50, he realised (from television news footage) that the trainee priest George had risen to become an Archbishop. Phil was shocked — "he did not think it right that someone who had behaved indecently towards children should lead the church," the church document says. So, beginning in 2000, Phil tried to alert the church authorities. Phil emphasised that he was not seeking compensation. And he was not reporting this matter to the police (therefore there is no police investigation into Phil's complaint). Rather, Phil was concerned about the safety of children in the church's care; and he merely wanted the church authorities to be aware of the offences that were allegedly committed upon him (Phil) at the altar boys' camp. In 2002, the hierarchy paid a senior barrister, Mr Alex Southwell QC, to examine (and report on) Phil's complaint. Archbishop George Pell (who was indeed at the altar boys' camp) denied committing any abuse. Mr Southwell's report concluded that the former altar boy "appeared to speak honestly from an actual recollection". Mr Southwell said he was not persuaded that the former altar boy was a liar as alleged by Pell.

Archbishop George Pell hired a publicity firm to paint him as a pioneer in "helping" victims

This Broken Rites article gives some background to George Pell's claim that he was a pioneer in "helping" church-abuse victims. In 1996, Broken Rites informed the Australian public that the Catholic Church had been harbouring Father Nazareno Fasciale (pronounced "Fah-SHAH-lay") while he was committing crimes against children. Police charged Fasciale but he suddenly died. Then church leaders, including George Pell, gave this pedophile a grand funeral, demonstrating the church's high regard for this pedophile priest. When Broken Rites exposed this (and other) church cover-ups, George Pell's diocese (Melbourne) rushed into damage control, hiring a public relations firm to announce Pell's "Melbourne Response" strategy, instead of waiting for the church's Australia-wide "Towards Healing" scheme which was due to start a few months later. (By a Broken Rites researcher, article updated 1 May 2017.)

Church leaders protected this criminal priest, Father Gerard Mulvale, resulting in a victim's suicide

The Catholic Church harboured a paedophile priest (Gerard Mulvale) in a Melbourne parish, enabling him to sexually target the parish's youth group. This church-abuse (and the church's culture of cover-up) disrupted the lives of these youngsters, driving one of them (Stephanie Piper) to die by suicide. In 2017 (23 years after the suicide), Stephanie's mother Eileen Piper (now aged 92) is speaking publicly (through the media), demanding an apology from church leaders for having inflicted this paedophile priest on these youngsters and for putting them in danger. (By a Broken Rites researcher.)

Catholic clergy (including George Pell) looked the other way during Father Ridsdale's life of crime: Background article

This Broken Rites article is the most comprehensive account available about how the Catholic Church harboured this child-abuse criminal — Father Gerald Francis Ridsdale — for 30 years in western Victoria while his superiors and fellow-priests remained silent to protect the church's public image. In 1982, when Father Ridsdale had been abusing children for 20 years, a clergy committee (of which Father George Pell was a member) noted that Ridsdale was being transferred away from Victoria. Eventually, some of Ridsdale's victims began to report his crimes to the Victoria Police, instead of merely to the offending organisation (the church). So, in 1993, Victorian detectives charged Ridsdale in court. He was accompanied to court by his support person, George Pell, who had become an assistant bishop in Melbourne. However, no bishop accompanied the victims. Encouraged by Broken Rites, more victims later spoke to the detectives. In his four court cases between 1993 and 2014, Ridsdale was jailed for a minimum of 24 years for assaulting 54 of his victims. On 13 April 2017, after eleven more of his victims spoke to the detectives, Ridsdale pleaded guilty again on a fifth batch of charges, including rape, buggery and indecent assault. Broken Rites is proud of its role in exposing the church's cover-up of this criminal priest. (Background article, by a Broken Rites researcher, updated on 1 May 2017.)

Paedophile priest Peter Searson worked under various bishops, including George Pell

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, including at the Doveton parish (in Melbourne's south-east), where he survived for years under the supervision of the regional bishop for the south-eastern suburbs, Auxiliary Bishop George Pell. 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.)

George Pell and Denis Hart became archbishops but Father Tony Bongiorno didn't

According to Broken Rites research, the Melbourne Catholic archdiocese has finally been forced to admit that Father Anthony Bongiorno committed sexual crimes against children during his 30 years working in Melbourne parishes. Anthony Salvatore Bongiorno began training for the priesthood about 1960, aged 25, in the same trainee group as George Pell and Denis Hart, both of whom eventually became archbishops of Melbourne. In 1994, Pell (then an auxiliary bishop in Melbourne) officiated at a requiem mass for Bongiorno's brother Sam. Anthony Bongiorno's child-sex crimes were covered up until some were exposed in the mid-1990s. The total number of Bongiorno's abused children is unknown. For example, in 1980, a woman in Bongiorno's parish 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)

This "celibate" priest (a supporter of George Pell) is facing further controversy after appearing at Australia's Royal Commission

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.)

Marist Brother 'Romuald' Cable, already jailed, is facing more charges

A few years ago, Broken Rites helped to obtain justice for schoolboys who were sexually assaulted by Marist Brother Francis William Cable (also known as "Brother Romuald") in Catholic schools in New South Wales. During Brother Romuald's life of crime, 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. On 27 April 2017, Francis Cable (now 84) appeared in court (by video-link from jail), charged with 16 additional offences (indecent assault) committed against five more victims, aged 13-14, between 1971 and 1974. These charges will come up in Newcastle Local Court again during 2017 while Cable remains in jail. (By a Broken Rites researcher, article updated 1 May 2017.)

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 one of Australia's worst sex-criminal priests, 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. Now, in 2017, he is facing new charges involving additional alleged victims. (By a Broken Rites researcher, article updated 1 May 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 5 April 2017.)

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)

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

Catholic church leaders have recently defended the church's ban on married priests. 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 children. The private life of Fr John O' Callaghan is no secret among the Melbourne clergy of his generation. (By a Broken Rites researcher)

BACKGROUND: The church helped Father Brian Spillane in his life of crime

This Broken Rites article is the most comprehensive account available about the paedophile priest Brian Joseph Spillane -- and how the Catholic Church enabled him to commit his sexual crimes against children. Father Spillane's victims were mostly boys who were assaulted while he ministered at St Stanislaus College — a Catholic day and boarding secondary school for boys, in Bathurst, New South Wales. And he assaulted girls in parishes elsewhere. Spillane (now aged 74) has recently completed a series of separate criminal trials, resulting in multiple convictions. Spillane is already in jail regarding the girls. On 16 February 2017, a court gave him an additional jail sentence regarding the boys. And it is possible that more of Spillane's victims may obtain justice later. (By a Broken Rites researcher, article updated 16 February 2017.)

Background article: The Christian Brothers ignored the crimes of Brother Robert Best, thus helping him to commit more crimes against more children

This Broken Rites article explains how the Catholic Church harboured Brother Robert Charles Best in Australia for many years while he committed crimes (including buggery) against young schoolboys. Colleagues of Brother Best knew about his crimes but covered up for him, a court has been told. Brother Best is already in jail but, despite his crimes, he is still being accepted by the Christian Brothers as a member of their Order. That is, this convicted criminal is still officially "Brother" Best. More of Brother Best's victims are still contacting Victoria's child-protection police, and on 2 March 2017 a court sentenced Best to more time in jail after he pleaded guilty to indecently assaulting a further 20 of his victims. (By a Broken Rites researcher, article updated 2 March 2017.)

Broken Rites helped the victims to end the church's cover-up of this Marist Brother

The Catholic Church harboured a child-sex abuser, Marist Brother Gerard Joseph McNamara, for four decades until some of his victims spoke (separately) to the Victoria Police child-protection detectives. When the police charged McNamara regarding these victims, the Marists enthusiastically supported McNamara and ignored the victims. But Broken Rites supported the victims — and in 2004 McNamara finally pleaded guilty and was convicted with a suspended jail sentence. This prompted more McNamara victims to contact the detectives. In 2016, McNamara pleaded guilty to indecently assaulting two more of his victims and was again convicted with another suspended jail sentence. How many more McNamara victims have not yet exercised their right to speak to the child-protection detectives? (By a Broken Rites researcher, article updated 1 March 2017.)

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

The Catholic Church in Australia has supported a priest who abandoned his own child. The priest (let us call him Father "Basil") had a long-time relationship with a woman ("Jane"), resulting in the birth of a son. But the priest eventually left the relationship and refused to see his son again. The child was grieving over the loss of his father but the church refused to reveal the priest's whereabouts. In December 1999, when the son was twelve, the church made a very small financial settlement with the abandoned mother, freeing the church of any further liability. (By s Broken Rites researcher.)

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. (By a Broken Rites researcher.)

Broken Rites exposed the St John of God Brothers in Australia — and now 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, article updated 7 February 2017.)

Cardinal George Pell instructed his lawyers to crush this victim, the Royal Commission has been told

Cardinal George Pell is claiming now that he has "helped" the Catholic Church's sex-abuse victims. Therefore, let's look  at how Pell treated one of the church's victims — a former altar boy, John Ellis. Cardinal Pell (as head of the Sydney Catholic archdiocese) instigated the archdiocese's legal battle against John Ellis, according to evidence and documents presented to Australia's child-abuse Royal Commission. Pell's legal victory in 2007 (known as the "Ellis defence") now forces church-victims to accept a discounted in-house "Towards Healing" settlement instead of suing for proper compensation, the Commission was told. And this Broken Rites article demonstrates that John Ellis was not the only victim of his abuser, Sydney priest Father Aidan Duggan. (By a Broken Rites researcher.)

The church concealed the crimes of Father Paul David Ryan

Broken Rites Australia is doing further research about how the Catholic Church authorities continually harboured a criminal priest, Father Paul David Ryan, thus enabling him to commit more crimes on more children in more parishes. The church authorities continually concealed Ryan's crimes from the police. Under Australian criminal law, this concealment can itself be a crime — and perhaps, some day, certain powerful people in the church could be prosecuted by the police for this cover-up. (By a Broken Rites researcher.)

The church concealed Christian Brother Neil Richards' crimes; now he is jailed again

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. Other victims of Richards have remained silent but it is still possible for them to speak to the detectives; therefore, the investigation is continuing in 2017. (By a Broken Rites researcher)

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.)

The church keeps a priest after a payout to an ex-pupil

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.

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. 

This priest was touching children from Day One, a court is told

West Victorian Catholic priest Father Bryan Desmond Coffey was indecently touching young children soon after taking his vows of celibacy, a court has been told. Broken Rites has researched the following account from statements and submissions made in court.

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. (By a Broken Rites researcher.)

We expose Ronald Conway, the church's "hands-on" psychologist

Broken Rites has updated its article about how the Catholic Church appointed a clinical psychologist, Ronald Conway, to "screen" its trainee priests in Melbourne for "suitability". But, in his own private clinical  practce, Conway sexually abused many young male members of the public who came to him for help.In this article, Broken Rites has added a footnote, "The story of Harry". (By a Broken Rites researcher.)

The church finally admits the crimes of Fr Patrick Cusack

After action by Broken Rites, the Catholic Church has been forced to admit that a "highly respected" priest, Father Patrick Cusack, 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.

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