Top Stories

Written by a Broken Rites Australia researcher.


A new Melbourne priest was abusing children from Day One, now he awaits sentencing in court in 2019

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 30 December 2018.)

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 7 January 2019)

Jailed again: The Marist Brothers inflicted this criminal Brother on more victims

This Broken Rites article is the most comprehensive account available about how the Marist Brothers allowed the sex-abuse criminal Brother Ross Francis Murrin to remain in their Order, thus giving him access to more child victims. Murrin has been jailed three times (in 2008 and 2010 and 2018) for child-sex crimes committed during his teaching career in Australian Catholic schools. There is evidence that his Marist superiors were aware many years ago about his criminal behaviour but they negligently allowed him to continue teaching, until some of Murrin's victims finally began speaking to the police detectives. (By a Broken Rites researcher, article updated 17 December 2018.)

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, article updated 20 December 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 29 December 2018.)

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.)

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 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.)

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.)

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.)

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.)

FULL STORY: How the church continued covering up for this priest

A victim (John Parmeter) has spoken publicly about how he was sexually abused for years by a prominent Australian priest, Father Peter Brock, beginning at the age of nine in 1968. The Catholic Church culture of silence blocked John from complaining until 2007 when he was aged nearly 50 and, by then, the church's cover-up had damaged John's life. In 2008 John received a written apology from the priest and later a financial settlement from the church. But the church authorities still praised Father Brock and elevated him to a prominent national role, thereby making John Parmeter feel abused again by the continuing cover-up. John's public statement exposes the church's cover-up, thereby helping other church victims. (By a Broken Rites researcher)

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 4 August 2018.)

Complaints by ex-students of Chevalier College (in Bowral, New South Wales)

Some ex-pupils of Chevalier College (a Catholic high school near Bowral in southern New South Wales) are still recalling allegations that a Catholic priest behaved indecently towards young boys at the school in the late 1980s. This school is owned by a religious order, the Missionaries of the Sacred Heart (known by its Latin initials "MSC"), although today this school has fewer priests and brothers on its campus than it had in the 1980s.

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.)

This "celibate" priest (a child molester) died in a sex cubicle at a gay club

The Catholic Church sheltered Father John Stockdale for 31 years in parishes in northern Victoria, Australia, while he committed sexual crimes against boys. Parishioners complained about Father Stockdale being a danger to children but these warnings were ignored. The church "just didn't want to know" about Stockdale, victims say. Publicly, Father Stockdale upheld the strict morality which the church imposed on all lay Catholics. Privately, Father Stockdale was going to a gay club to have casual sex. On New Year's Eve in 1995, Fr Stockdale was found dead in a sex cubicle at the "Club 80" gay venue in Melbourne. The church then gave him a pious funeral, but (with help from Broken Rites) the church's hypocrisy about Stockdale was soon exposed. In 2018, Broken Rites is doing some further research on Stockdale. (By a Broken Rites researcher)

The church protected Father Paul Raymond Evans - but now his victims force the church to apologise

Broken Rites is doing further research about Father Paul Raymond Evans who molested vulnerable young teenagers while they were under his supervision at Boys Town (a residential institution for troubled youths) near Sydney between 1977 and 1988. At first, according to allegations by victims, the school administration ignored the abuse. After 1988, the church transferred Evans to suburban parishes, where he was permitted to associate with youth groups, a court has been told. Evans's new parishioners were not told about his problematic past. The full story came out when Evans was finally jailed in October 2008. (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.)

After 30 years, these female victims finally succeed in exposing a priest's crimes

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

Yet another priest is jailed for child-sex crimes at St Stanislaus College in Bathurst NSW

Father Glenn Humphreys, a priest in the Australia-wide Catholic order of Vincentian Fathers, has had a long career ministering in three Australian states. From the outset, at his first postings in New South Wales and Western Australia, Humphreys committed sexual offences against boys. He later became the priest in charge of the Townsville cathedral in North Queensland. Eventually some of his earlier victims spoke to police, resulting in Humphreys being convicted in two states: in 2014 he was jailed in Western Australia; and on 21 June 2018 he was jailed in New South Wales. His NSW case includes offences committed at St Stanislaus College (a boys' boarding school in Bathurst). This school has become notorious because of a number of convicted pedophile clergy at this school. (By a Broken Rites researcher, article updated 1 July  2018.)

A vulnerable young woman became a victim

The Catholic Church in Australia has been forced to apologise to a woman ("Diana") who was sexually abused by a priest (Father Gerard Monaghan) immediately after the death of her husband. (Article by a Broken Rites researcher.)

Pages

Subscribe to RSS - Top Stories