Marist Brothers admit that Brother Stephen was an abuser

By a Broken Rites researcher

The Marist Brothers leadership has been forced (reluctantly) to apologise to victims of Marist Brother Stephen Farrell, child abuser. The Marists allowed this paedophile to teach for many years in New South Wales and Queensland. Marist Brother Stephen Farrell is not to be confused with a Christian Brother of the same name, who taught in Christian Brothers' schools in Victoria and who has been convicted in Victoria for child-sex crimes committed in the 1970s.

Marist Brother Stephen Farrell was a teacher and sports coach at several schools including - for example (and this is not a complete list):

  • St Joseph's College, Hunters Hill, Sydney, in the 1940s (and again in a later year);
  • Marcellin College, Randwick, Sydney, in the early 1970s;
  • Ashgrove, Brisbane, in the mid-1970s; and
  • other schools.

Broken Rites is now researching Farrell's record. We have heard accounts from several generations of students, who encountered him from 1944 to 1975.

As a rugby and athletics coach, Farrell was notorious for giving a rub-down to boys who damaged a leg muscle at sport. Farrell liked to do the "massage" while the boy was naked.

"Joshua", a former student of St Joseph’s College, Hunters Hill, told Broken Rites: "After a leg injury at athletics when I was thirteen, Farrell ordered me to get into a bath, where he 'massaged' me. This was an indecent assault. But in those days you could not say anything against a Marist Brother.

"Farrell was also sometime a dormitory master, which gave him easy access to boys. I encountered Farrell again in my final year at St Joey's, when I was 17. That year, he was my domitory master. My dorm had about 40 beds. Farrell slept in a partitioned-off room at one end of the dorm. Fortunately, I was able to keep clear of him that year."

Farrell also accompanied boys on school sporting trips, which could involve a journey out-of-town or interstate. Some of the indecent assaults occurred during these trips.

Broken Rites has ascertained, that according to Marist records, Brother Farrell's real first name was not "Stephen". His birth name is listed as "Keith Boyd Farrell, date of birth 27 March 1922". On joining the Brothers, it was normal for Marists to adopt a "religious" name, often a name associated with a "saint". Thus Farrell adopted the religious alias of "Brother Stephen Edan". (There have been several "saints" called Stephen and there was an ancient Irish "Saint Edan".)

Victims of "Brother Stephen" say that there was nothing "saintly" about him. As well as being a sexual molester, he was also violent, they say.

A number of ex-students say that Farrell disrupted their early teenage years, causing serious ongoing psychological damage in some cases.

Marist Brother Stephen Farrell died 27 January 2004, aged 81 (according to an inscription on his grave, which is in "Row A" in the Marist Brothers section of a Catholic Cemetery at Lower Mittagong, New South Wales). A death notice, published in the Sydney Morning Herald on 28 January 2004 described his location as "late of Campbelltown" (in Sydney"s south-west), where the Marists had a presence (St Gregory's College).

"Stephen" Farrell wrote a history of the Marists' founder, Marcellin Champagnat, which was published by the Marists in Australia in 1984. He also wrote articles about the Marist Brothers for other publications. Broken Rites discovered an article about the Marists' founder, in which Farrell wrote: "The loving relationship which Marcellin inspired in his young Brothers has continued to this day."

Farrell's victims say that they would query any "loving relationship" involving Stephen Farrell.

Another former student ("Adam", who was a  secondary student at St. Joseph’s College, Hunters Hill, Sydney, in 1958 – 1960) has told Broken Rites:

"Brother Steve was in charge of athletics. One day, when I was only 13, we younger athletes were told to strip down to a towel only and line up outside the athletes' change room at the back of the footy grandstand. One at a time, we were told to enter the change room, where I was told to remove my towel. Then Brother Steve took photos of me, naked, with a flash camera.  I felt embarrassed and humiliated. Later, other kids explained that apparently the photos were for Steve to check athletic development and that further photos would be taken down the track. None ever were.
 
"I returned to school to begin fourth year but was shocked to learn that Brother Steve was to be my class master. Therefore, I packed my swag and ran away. My mother hardly spoke to me for the next six months but somehow I could not put into words my mental anguish. But I never regretted ending that school nightmare.
 
"What became of Brother Steve's collection of naked-boy photos? If they still exist, I want them destroyed.  I am impoverished now but do not seek compensation. I would like to receive an apology from the Marist Brothers organisation."

FOOTNOTE:

It is significant that Marist Brother Stephen Farrell's ex-pupils still feel hurt by the fact that the church inflicted this child-abuser upon them. This life-long impact is not unusual. For another memorable Marist child-abuser, see our article about Brother Norbert Mathieson.

As stated earlier in this article, Marist Brother Stephen Farrell is not to be confused with a Christian Brother of the same name, who taught in Christian Brothers' schools in Victoria and who was convicted in Victoria in 1997 for child-sex crimes committed in the 1970s.