Marist Brother Greg Sutton fled from Australia but was later captured

  • This is an earlier article, drafted BEFORE Australia's national child-abuse Royal Commission began examining the matter of this Marist Brother on 10 June 2014. For a more up-to-date article, about the Royal Commission evidence, click HERE.

Broken Rites has researched the background of Marist Brother Gregory Sutton, who fled from Australia to Canada and the United States. He was eventually extradited back to Australia, where he was jailed for child-sex crimes committed in Catholic schools in New South Wales. Sutton also taught primary-school classes in Queensland and Canberra but the criminal charges were confined to his New South Wales crimes. In 2014, the Sutton case is being examined by Australia's national child-abuse Royal Commission.

Broken Rites has ascertained that Brother Gregory Joseph Sutton was born in Australia on 19 March 1951. After his schooling, he became a trainee Marist Brother, living in a Marist residential centre with other Marist trainees, absorbing the Marist culture. It is believed that a second son from the same family also became a Marist Brother.

Until around that time, each new Marist Brother normally discarded his birth-name and adopted a "religious" forename (for example, Fred Smith might become "Brother Alphonsus"). From around Gregory Sutton's time, the younger Marists started using their birth name (in Sutton's case, he became "Brother Greg").

The Marists in Australia were divided into two provinces. Sutton belonged to the Sydney-based province, which supplied Marist Brothers to schools in New South Wales, Queensland, the Northern Territory and the Australian Capital Territory. A Melbourne-based province covered Victoria, Tasmania, South Australia and Western Australia.

After doing his religious training in New South Wales, Brother Greg Sutton began teaching in the early 1970s at a parish school at Innisfail in North Queensland.

He was a danger to children from Day One. There were complaints about him at his very first school, in North Queensland in 1973, but the Marist administration in Sydney merely transferred him to new schools, thus providing him with more victims.

Another one of his schools was St  Carthage's primary school in Lismore, northern New South Wales.

He also taught in Sydney schools, plus Marist College in Canberra.

When Brother Sutton was finally caught by police, the criminal charges were laid by NSW police, not Queensland or Australian Capital Territory police, and therefore the charges do not include any of his offences in Queensland or Canberra.

Sutton eventually admitted to police that he had committed numerous sexual assaults on boys and girls, aged between 9 and 11, who were under his supervision at Catholic primary schools. The offences ranged from touching and rubbing genitals to full sexual intercourse with a 10-year-old girl. The assaults took place in classrooms, in his monastery bedroom, in the playground, in cars, a caravan, bushland and in the children's homes.

Sutton often assaulted two children at once, forcing them to engage in sex acts with each other. He indecently mauled some pupils in front of their classmates.

He assaulted one boy on his eleventh birthday as "a present".

The NSW Police brief in the Sutton case stated: "In all these matters, the accused had the complete trust of the family of the young victims and took advantage of his position as a teacher and a Marist Brother."

Broken Rites has learned that Sutton's schools in New South Wales included):

  • a Marist primary school (later re-named Marist Sacred Heart) in Mosman, Sydney, in 1976;
  • Marist Brothers, Eastwood, Sydney in 1978;
  • St Thomas More primary school in Campbelltown, Sydney, in 1984; and
  • St Carthage’s primary school in Lismore (northern NSW) from early 1985 until Easter 1987. His Lismore pupils were in Years 5 or 6, aged about 10-12. This school had become co-educational, with an equal number of girls and boys. It was staffed by lay teachers, plus two nuns and two Marist Brothers.

This raises some questions: Why did the Marist culture allow all this to happen? Why did the Marist administration ignore his offending? If the Marist administration received any complaints about Sutton's offences at the time, why did the Marist administraton not notify the police?

Instead of reporting Sutton's crimes to the police, the Marist administration gave him a trip to Canada. He did not return to Australia but ended up settling in the United States, where he stayed for seven years.

In 1989, one of Brother Sutton's victims (a girl) reported his offences to NSW Police but the police discovered that Sutton (then aged 38) was in the U.S.

Sutton's Marist background in Australia helped him to obtain employment in Catholic education in the US. He was now a lay teacher ("Mister" Greg Sutton), as distinct from a Marist Brother. He eventually became principal of a Catholic school (St Dismas School in Florissant, Missouri), holding this job for two years. While in the USA, he married an ex-nun.

After Australian police issued arrest warrants for Sutton in 1992 and 1993, they asked the U.S. authorities to find him. U.S. deputies learned in February 1994 that he was living in St Louis, Missouri. He was arrested there and, after a court battle in the US, was extradited to Australia.

The extradition made news in Missouri (e.g., in the St Louis Post Despatch, 16 August 1995). He was named in metropolitan daily papers throughout Australia and also in the newspapers of the towns where he had taught. For example, the Northern Star at Lismore in northern New South Wales published frequent reports on the Sutton case, as well as photographs of Sutton.

Because Sutton was no longer a member of the Marist order, these media reports described him as a FORMER Marist Brother. However, he was certainly a Marist Brother while he was committing the crimes. And his status as a Marist Brother was protecting him from exposure at the time of the crimes.

By late 1996, aged 45, Gregory Joseph Sutton was in jail in New South Wales, serving a sentence of 15 years maximum (with the minimum term eventually fixed at 12 years, after which he would become eligible for parole).

To see read about the Brother Gregory Sutton case at Australia's national child-abuse Royal Commission in June 2014, click HERE.