This priest conducted pastoral care and religious education at a Catholic school

  • By a Broken Rites researcher, article updated 17 April 2019

An Australian Catholic priest — Father Michael Ambrose Endicott — was convicted in 2010 for offences allegedly committed in the 1970s against Brisbane schoolboys. According to statements in court, Father Endicott was in charge of "pastoral care" and "religious education" at Brisbane's Villanova Catholic College during the 1970s. Using his priestly authority, Father Endicott would order a boy to pose for a naked photograph while on an excursion in bushland..Endicott faced a similar charge in 2019 but he successfully appealed against the 2019 charge.

Father Endicott (born in 1944) was a member of the Catholic order of Augustinian priests. Brisbane's Villanova College was established by the Augustinian Fathers in 1948 and has been situated on its present site in Coorparoo since 1954. .

The 2010 court case

On 24 June 2010, Endicott appeared in Brisbane Magistrates Court in Queensland and pleaded guilty to two counts of indecent treatment of a child.

In the late 1970s he was working as a priest and teacher at Villanova College (a boys-only Catholic school which catered for pupils in years 5 to 12) in Brisbane's south.

The court was told of two occasions on which Father Endicott told the boy to take off his clothes before photographing him.

  • On one occasion in 1977 Father Endicott took the boy out of class and took him to bushland for photographing.
  • On another occasion in 1978 Father Endicott took the boy to the school's bell tower for photographing.

On 25 June 2010, Chief Magistrate Brendan Butler gave Endicott a one-year jail sentence (wholly suspended).

Background

Michael Endicott was born in Queensland in 1944. He was a pupil at St Joachim's primary at Holland Park and Villanova secondary. In 1962 he entered the Augustinian novitiate at Rochester, Victoria, to train for the priesthood.

The Augustinan Order then arranged for him to do further studies in the United States. He studied at Villanova University, Pennsylvania, from 1963 to 1965 where he gained a Bachelor of Arts degree. In 1968 after two years at the Augustinian College in Washington DC, he graduated with a Master of Arts in Theology. He was ordained by Bishop G. McDevitt at St Denis's Chapel in Ardmore, Pennsylvania, on 7 September 1968.

In the 1979 directory of directory of the National Council of Priests of Australia, Father Michael Endicott was one of nine Augustinian priests listed at Brisbane's Villanova College.

In the 1988 edition of the Australian Catholic directory, he was listed at St Augustine's College (a boys-only school) in Brookvale, in Sydney's north.

In the 2003 directory Father Michael Endicott was listed in Brisbane in the Goodna/Springfield parish (St Francis Xavier's), which the Augustinians were staffing for the Brisbane archdiocese. In that district in 2003, a new primary and secondary college was opened, called St Augustine's College. An Augustinian website stated:

  • "Fr Michael Endicott O.S.A. is the priest within the Goodna Parish who is assigned to concentrate on the Springfield district. He was a foundation member of the college's local steering committee that in mid-1999 joined in planning the college. At the Foundation Day ceremony, Fr Endicott was called to bless the religious artifacts that adorn the classrooms, the staff, the students and the families involved with the college."

In the Catholic directories from 2007 to 2009 (including the period of the World Youth Day celebrations), Fr Michael Endicott was listed at St Augustine's Priory in Sydney's Brookvale (the priory is situated in the same street as St Augustine's boys' school).

Another court case in 2019

On 8 March 2019, a Brisbane District Court jury found Michael Ambrose Endicott guilty of indecently dealing with a schoolboy while he has a teacher at Brisbane's Villanova College. The former student said he was first abused by Enidcott on a school hiking trip in 1975. Endicott asked the boy to accompany him alone to a secluded area along a creek to collect water, where he photographed the nine-year-old student naked in a variety of poses. The former student said Enidcott took similar photographs of him on later occasions.

After the jury's verdict, Judge Leanne Clare Judge Clare sentenced Endicott to 18 months in jail, with the sentence to be suspended after he serves six months behind bars.

Endicott appealed against this conviction and this sentence. His lawyer argued that, at the time of the offences, Queensland law did not consider taking nude photographs of a child to be indecent dealing.

On 17 April 2019 the Queensland Court of Appeal ruled in Michael Ambrose Endicott's favour, overturning his conviction and his prison sentence.

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