Father Barry Tunks, 76, who was once the Vicar-General of the Maitland-Newcastle Catholic diocese in New South Wales, has been charged by police with child-sex offences, allegedly committed against a young boy nearly forty years ago. Barry Tunks' name is on is on the NSW Courts website, listed for the Forster Local Court (on the NSW mid-north coast) on Wednesday 5 April 2017, when the case will have a preliminary mention with a magistrate. The court case number is 2017/00089299. (By a Broken Rites researcher, article updated on 25 March 2017.)
A Catholic priest, Frank De Dood (a member of the Salesian religious order), has indicated in court that he intends to plead guilty to six child-sex offences which he allegedly committed against young boys in Melbourne between 1978 and 1983. Police allege that the offences were committed against specific students at Salesian College Chadstone (in Melbourne's south-east) and at Salesian College "Rupertswoood" in Sunbury (in Melbourne's north-west). (By a Broken Rites researcher, article updated 23 March 2017.)
Marist Brother Lawrence Fitzpatrick (who was known in the Marists as Brother "Majella" Fitzpatrick) worked for many years as a teacher and administrator in Catholic schools in Melbourne and regional Victoria. On 10 March 2017, he appeared in the Melbourne Magistrates Court, aged 89, charged with 99 sexual offences, allegedly committed against at least 18 children between 1971 and 1976 while he was working at St Patrick's College, Sale, in eastern Victoria. The charges include 38 counts of buggery (some against children under 14) and other charges of indecent assault. (By a Broken Rites researcher, article updated 23 March 2017.)
For several decades, Christian Brother Peter Nicholas Lennox worked in various Catholic schools in Sydney and in regional New South Wales. Now aged 76 (and retired), he is facing charges in court regarding sexual offences, allegedly committed against boys at two of those schools in the early 1970s. A church defence lawyer claimed in court that Lennox is "too unfit" to undergo a trial. However, the court will merely grant a delay and therefore the trial (case number 2014/00331685) is being re-scheduled to go ahead on a future date. Meanwhile, the police investigators are still interested in any further information. (Article updated 9 March 2017.)
Cardinal George Pell is a frequent flyer, travelling in comfort in Business Class. During his years as Archbishop of Sydney, he would regularly make the flight to Rome so as to keep an eye on career opportunities at the Vatican. Now he has become the third most important person in the Vatican. He now possesses a Vatican passport. He still travels from his Rome headquarters to other countries. For example. during 2016, he travelled from Rome to London, where (according to reports) he performed a religious ceremony in May and gave an oration in November. But he is reluctant to re-appear in public in Australia. This Broken Rites article is based largely on the public hearings of Australia's national child-abuse Royal Commission. In addition to the public hearings, the Royal Commission has also received certain other information in private interviews with members of the public. The Royal Commission arranges for some of these private informants to speak to police detectives — but this police information has not become available to the public. (By a Broken Rites researcher, article updated 1 March 2017)
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.)
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 has been jailed for a minimum of 24 years for assaulting 54 of his victims. In 2017, after eleven more of his victims spoke to the detectives, Ridsdale is facing court 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 10 March 2017.)
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 Thomas 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, article updated 15 March 2017.)
Christian Brother David Curtin (born 7 April 1951) appeared in Goulburn Local Court (in southern New South Wales) on 8 March 2017, charged with offences against two boys at a boarding school thirty years ago.
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)
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.
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.)
Brother Colgan Taylor had an exalted role as a "spiritual director" for the Catholic order of Marist Brothers in Australia while he was committing sexual crimes against young children. The reverend brother's Catholic status gave him access to children and it protected him from exposure until 2002, when police finally learned of sexual crimes that Taylor had committed, more than 20 years earlier, against two very young girls. It is possible that he also had male victims. (By a Broken Rites researcher.)
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.)
Broken Rites is pleased that Australia's national Royal Commission into Institutional Responses to Child Sexual Abuse is investigating the Catholic Church's so-called "Towards Healing" process, which claims to "help" the church's abuse-victims. Broken Rites has been researching "Towards Healing" since 1996, and this article sums up some of our main findings so far. This Broken Rites article demonstrates how "Towards Healing" is really a business strategy, designed to protect the church from the legal liability of compensating some victims or, at least, to limit any compensation.
In 1974, Marist Brother Luke Leslie Garfield Saker was teaching at a Marist college in Auburn in Sydney's inner-west. Forty years later, in 2014, he was charged by police with sexual offences allegedly committed in 1974 against a 16-year-old boy, who was a student at the Auburn school. However, Saker died in 2016 — before the court process finished. Police believe that this boy was not Saker's only victim, but his other victims have failed to report Saker's crimes to the police. (By a Broken Rites researcher, article updated 28 February 2017.)
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 settlement with the abandoned mother, freeing the church of any further liability. (By s Broken Rites researcher.)
Many years ago, Broken Rites began researching Brother Roger Mount (also known as "Brother Gabriel"), who had worked in Catholic children's homes (for disadvantaged boys) conducted by the St John of God Brothers in New South Wales and Victoria. We discovered that he eventually became a priest ("Father Roger Mount"), working in Papua New Guinea. In October 2014 he was brought back to Australia, where Victorian police charged him with multiple child-sex offences committed within Victoria. In late 2015 he faced a court trial which resulted in him being sent to jail for his Victorian crimes. Now the New South Wales police are receiving information about Roger Mount concerning incidents that are alleged to have occurred in NSW. (By a Broken Rites researcher, 25 February 2017.)
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.)
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). 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. Now, in 2017, Higgs is being prosecuted by New South Wales police regarding alleged offences by Brother Higgs while he was at the Sydney school. (By a Broken Rites researcher, article updated on 24 February 2017.)
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.)
Christian Brother Terence Patrick Aquinas Kingston had a 40-year career as a teacher and administrator in Australian Catholic schools — and at one stage he was the leader of the Christian Brothers for the whole of Queensland and the Northern Territory. In the 1970s he was the headmaster of a residential school for boys in north Queensland. Many of this school's pupils came from remote (including indigenous) families across northern Australia. In the Brisbane District Court on 31 January 2017, Kingston (now retired, aged 79) was jailed for sexual offences committed against seven boys at this school. He pleaded guilty. (By a Broken Rites researcher, article updated 20 February 2017)
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.)
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.)
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 7 February 2017)
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.)
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.)
A prominent Catholic educator, Christian Brother William Peter ("David") Standen, was the principal at Sydney's St Mary's Cathedral College for a decade before he retired in 2010. During his career he also spent six years as the deputy principal at St Dominic's College, Penrith, in Sydney's outer-west. On 10 June 2016, Standen was jailed for indecently assaulting vulnerable young boys at one of his earlier schools (a Catholic boarding school in south-western New South Wales between 1977 and 1981). These boys were aged 10, 11 or 12, feeling isolated and homesick in their first year away from their rural families. The Catholic Church sheltered Brother Standen during these crimes, putting the boys in danger. Overwhelmed by the church's "holy" image, the victims were forced to remain silent about the crimes for many years. Some of the victims have told the court how this cover-up damaged their later lives, ending up in family break-ups and/or life-long struggles with drug and/or alcohol abuse and damaged careers. This Broken Rites article includes a link to a video showing how this case began when detectives arrested Standen at Sydney airport in August 2014. (By a Broken Rites researcher)
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)
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)
Since 1993, Broken Rites Australia has been researching the cover-up of sexual abuse in the Catholic Church. Too often, the church supported the offending clergy while ignoring the victims. For example, Broken Rites has shown how the church shielded the criminal priest Father Gerald Ridsdale for 32 years without reporting his crimes to the police. Finally, in 1993, some Father Ridsdale victims contacted the police. These victims also contacted the newly-formed Broken Rites.
This photo demonstrates why Broken Rites was needed. In the photo, Catholic priest Gerald Ridsdale (left, in sunglasses and hat) walks to court, accompanied by his support person (Bishop George Pell, then an auxiliary bishop in Melbourne), when Father Ridsdale was pleading guilty to his first batch of criminal charges in May 1993. But no bishop accompanied the victims, who felt deserted by the church leaders. Therefore, since 1993, Broken Rites research has supported many of the Catholic Church's victims, as shown on this website. Read More