Black Collar Crime
Two families have complained to Broken Rites about Brother Luke Beltram, a teacher in the Catholic order of De La Salle Brothers.
Luke Francis Beltram was born about 1947. His teaching appointments included De La Salle schools at Dandenong VIC, Dubbo NSW, Malvern VIC, East Bentleigh VIC and (finally) Castle Hill NSW. He died on 10 March 2000, aged 53, after spending the last 10 years of his life as an invalid.
A woman ("Delia") told Broken Rites that her sibling "Joe" (not his real name) was sexually and physically abused by Brother Luke at St John's College, Dandenong, Victoria, in the early 1970s when he was 14. The abuse disrupted Joe's adolescent development and he became disturbed. At 18, he died in a car crash.
Delia asked Broken Rites to alert any other victims of Luke Beltram that they are not the only victims. Therefore, here is Delia's first letter to Broken Rites (we have omitted a few details, in order to protect the privacy of Delia and her brother):-
"What a wonderful service you offer. I am the sister of a boy who was abused both sexually and physically by a De La Salle Brother, known as Brother Luke, whilst he was my brother's teacher.
"Brother Luke would visit our home on a regular basis under the pretence of counselling my brother. My brother became extremely withdrawn during that year and he told my mother that if he was forced to go on the school camp with Brother Luke, he would kill himself. My parents were alarmed by his attitude so they decided to contact Luke for some answers. Luke told my parents that my brother (then 14 years) was having difficulty at school (he had previously been an A-grade student) and it was normal for boys of his age to experience these emotions. The next thing I knew, Brother Luke was coming to our home weekly and seeing my brother for an hour or more in his bedroom with the door closed. My parents forced my brother to go on the school camp (advised to by Brother Luke) and when he returned his body was black and blue with bruising.
"I asked him what happened and he said that 'Luke beat the shit out of me.' My mother begged him not to tell our father and unfortunately he agreed. Unbelievably, my mother continued to allow that bastard into our home for the remainder of the school year. Mum was a Catholic, Dad an atheist. Sounds familiar?
"My gorgeous brother committed suicide by drinking himself senseless and drove his car into a power pole. He was 18 years old. The realisation of what really went on all those years ago haunts me and I feel compelled to divulge this story to you in case there may be one other victim out there who may also have been preyed upon by this animal. If there is, I do hope that this story can be passed onto them if for no other reason than validation. They must know that they are not alone and above all are believed.
"My brother was not believed. Last week I contacted his old school to ask if they knew what became of Brother Luke. They confirmed that he had taught there but could not shed light on anything else. I've asked my mother but she refuses to speak about the subject. She said I was digging up old wounds, but for me the wound has just opened and I need answers to help heal it. I want to know if Brother Luke is still alive. How do I find out? Can you help? I want to find out his real name." END OF DELIA'S LETTER
Following this letter, Broken Rites did some research. We ascertained that Brother Luke Beltram had died. We found his death notice in the Sydney Morning Herald on 14 March 2000.
Broken Rites received a second complaint about Brother Luke from another family - involving a different school. A woman ("Cynthia") told us that Brother Luke had sexually abused her son ("Basil") at Oakhill College, Castle Hill, NSW.
Cynthia says that, in about 2000, Basil inquired about Brother Luke through the Catholic Church's Professional Standards Resource Group (PSRG). Basil was in a fragile mental and physical state at that time. The PSRG was not helpful. They merely posted him a Towards Healing booklet and then sent a private investigator (an ex-policeman) to his home to investigate Basil. The investigator had an abrasive and threatening manner, which alienated Basil. The Catholic Church has made no further contact with Basil.
The above two are not necessarily the only cases involving Brother Luke Beltram.