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Written by a Broken Rites Australia researcher.


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. In 2019, a judge jailed Brother Laidlaw for sexually assaulting six boys at Catholic schools in Victoria between 1963 and 1984. These six boys were not Laidlaw's only victims; these are merely the six who exercised their right to speak to police detectives. (By a Broken Rites researcher, article updated 10 December 2019)

A priest (previously jailed regarding three boys) is in court again re a fourth boy

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 was jailed regarding these three boys. This prompted another boy to speak to the police and therefore on 28 November 2019, Flaherty (aged 76) appeared in court again, charged regarding the fourth boy (this new case will continue in court on a later date). (By a Broken Rites researcher, article updated 3 December 2019.)

A Catholic priest in court regarding eleven children at a NSW boarding school

A Catholic priest, Father Anthony Caruana, aged 77, has appeared in a New South Wales magistrates court during 2019, charged with indecently assaulting eleven boys, aged 12 to 15, in the 1980s when Father Caruana was on the staff of Chevalier College, a Catholic boarding school at Burradoo (near Bowral) in the NSW Southern Highlands. Chevalier College was established by a Catholic religious order of priests, known as the Missionaries of the Sacred Heart. The Caruana case had another administrative mention in court on 3 December 2019; and the next steps will be in 2020. (Article updated 11 December 2019.)

This reverend Brother (now aged 72) is jailed until he will be aged 97

One of Australia’s Catholic religious orders – the St John of God Brothers – has specialised in accommodating boys who have an educational (or intellectual) disability. One of these institutions was the "Kendall Grange" boys' home in Morriset, near Newcastle in New South Wales. This Broken Rites article is about Brother Bernard Kevin McGrath, who committed sexual crimes against many of these disabled victims. McGrath has already served several jail terms regarding some of his victims. On 18 November 2019, McGrath (aged 72) was sentenced to additional time in jail regarding some more of his victims. According to his sentence, Brother McGrath would be aged 97 before his earliest release date. (By a Broken Rites researcher, article updated 1 December 2019.)

A Catholic religious Brother, now 81, is jailed for a rape committed 45 years ago

In November 2019, a Sydney court jailed a retired Catholic religious Brother (Brother Peter Higgins, now aged 81) 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 will remain in jail until at least November 2022. (By a Broken Rites researcher, article updated 1 December 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. In 2019, Denham (aged 76) was sentenced to additional jail time for his 59th victim. (By a Broken Rites researcher, article updated 12 November 2019)

The church covered up for Father Frank Klep but failed, now he is spending more time in jail

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, some of his victims managed to expose Klep and the Salesians, resulting in the jailing of Klep. In 2019, Klep (aged 75) had his jail time increased after he admitted abusing more youngsters including a four-year-old. (By a Broken Rites researcher, article updated 15 November 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, article updated 15 December 2019.)

This reverend Brother (already in jail in Victoria) now pleads guilty to more crimes in Queensland

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 began 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 in two states — Victoria and Queensland. As a result, he is now in jail in Victoria; and on 13 September 2019 (aged 77) he pleaded guilty in a Brisbane court to a number of Queensland offences. He will be sentenced on these Queensland charges on a later date. 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 8 November 2019.)

UPDATE: Police allege a priest assaulted 40 children during 30 years — now he is pleading not guilty

For three decades until 1995, Father David Joseph Perrett worked in Catholic parishes in north-western New South Wales. Now aged 82 (and retired from parish work), he is in a court process, charged with committing sexual crimes against 40 children throughout his priestly career. A court has been told that the offences allegedly took place in eight parishes from the 1960s to the mid-1990s. The 40 children (37 boys and three girls) were aged from three years to their mid-teens. The charges include 139 counts involving assault, acts of indecency, buggery, carnal knowledge, and maintaining an unlawful sexual relationship with a child under 16. On 1 November 2019, Perrett entered a plea of Not Guilty on each of the 139 charges. (By a Broken Rites researcher, article updated 8 November 2019.)

Fr Robert Claffey (already in jail) gets additional time behind bars in 2019

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, in 2019 Claffey (still in jail and aged 76) was sentenced to additional time in jail. (By a Broken Rites researcher, article updated 18 November 2019.)

The church protected "Father F" for 30 years but now he is in jail

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. (By a Broken Rites researcher.)

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. In 2019, after Ryan (aged 70) pleaded guilty regarding three more of his victims, he was jailed again. (By a Broken Rites researcher, article updated 8 November 2019.)

Paedophile priest Peter Searson worked under various bishops in Melbourne

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. 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 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.)

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 criminal priest, Monsignor John Day, was helped by the church's cover-up

Broken Rites has forced the Catholic Church to admit that it protected one of Australia's worst paedophile priests, Monsignor John Day, for many years while he was committing sexual crimes against children in western Victoria. One church leader — Bishop Ronald Mulkearns — spoke in defence of Monsignor Day. At one stage, Monsignor Day had another criminal priest, Father Gerald Ridsdale, working under him — two criminal priests in the one parish. And later a eulogy of Monsignor Day was published in the diocese's magazine. A police officer, Detective Denis Ryan, began investigating Monsignor Day's crimes but this resulted in Detective Ryan losing his job in the police force. In 2018, the Victoria Police finally apologized to Denis Ryan. (By a Broken Rites researcher.)

How Broken Rites helped to reveal the church's cover-up of Father Kevin O'Donnell

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. 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). (By a Broken Rites researcher.)

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, article updated 4 December 2019.)

Church leaders gave this pedophile priest a grand funeral

This Broken Rites article gives the full story of Father Nazareno Fasciale (pronounced "Fah-SHAH-lay") who committed crimes against children in Melbourne for 44 years while church leaders ignored any complaints from the victims. Finally, some of his victims (with help from Broken Rites) contacted the police. In a police interview, Fasciale admitted indecently assaulting children. Police charged Fasciale. He said he would plead guilty but he suddenly died during the court process. Then church leaders gave this pedophile a grand funeral, demonstrating the church's tolerance of his crimes. (By a Broken Rites researcher,)

The church concealed Father Terry Pidoto's life of crime: FULL STORY

This Broken Rites article is the most comprehensive account available about how the Catholic Church in Australia protected Father Terry Pidoto for 25 years while he committed crimes against boys in his parishes. (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.)

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.)

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 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.)

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)

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 22 September 2019.)

Father Peter L. Comensoli was jailed but was allowed to remain "reverend"

This Broken Rites article gives another Australian example of a Catholic priest who was not laicized, even after being jailed for child-sex crimes. In 1989, the Wollongong Catholic diocese (south of Sydney) 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 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. As explained at the end of this article, this Father Peter Lewis Comensoli should not be mistaken for another Catholic clergyman — his cousin, Bishop Peter Andrew Comensoli who has been appointed (in 2018) as the new Archbishop of Melbourne. (By a Broken Rites researcher, article updated 3 September 2019.)

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.)

The church protected Father Vic Rubeo but Broken Rites has exposed this cover-up

Research by Broken Rites has revealed how the Catholic Church harboured this abusive priest, Father Victor Gabriel Rubeo, for three decades while he committed child-sex crimes in the Melbourne archdiocese. His victims included girls and boys. Broken Rites first exposed Rubeo in the 1990s, prompting some more of Rubeo's victims to some forward. Rubeo (pronounced "roo-BAY-oh") was born in 1933 and was ordained as a priest in 1959; he died in 2011. Lawyers for Rubeo's victims say that in 2019 the Melbourne archdiocese is still traumatising survivors by fighting compensating claims. (Article updated on 11 September 19.)

Father Vincent Kiss and his life of crime

An Australian Catholic priest, Father Vincent Kiss, has admitted that he committed sexual crimes on boys while he was working as the Director of Youth for his diocese. He plied the boys with alcohol, drove them around in fast cars and took them on holidays, where he sexually abused them. Later he became prominent in Australian social circles. Broken Rites is doing further research about Vincent Kiss and his priestly mates.

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