The church covered up for "Father F" for 30 years

By a Broken Rites researcher (article updated 23 April 2014)

Research by Broken Rites has demonstrated how Catholic Church leaders kept quiet about a certain Australian priest, "Father F", for THIRTY years until the matter was finally revealed by the media (not by the church) in 2012. Church leaders now need to explain why they remained silent for so long.

According to a church document, Father F admitted to church authorities in 1992 that, during the previous ten years, he had committed sexual offences against altar boys. These boys were 10 and 11 years old at the time of the offences. The church document quoted Father F as admitting that he began doing these things to the boys in his very first parish in the early 1980s.

According to this 1992 document, the church authorities feared that "one or some of the boys involved may bring criminal charges against [Father F] with subsequent grave harm to the priesthood and the Church."

That is, according to this document, the church's priority was to protect the church's public image, rather than to protect the children. Indeed, the document made no mention of the welfare of the children. Thus, the church authorities did not help Father F's former altar boys to consult the state's child-protection police about Father F's actions. So the church's public image was protected — until 2012, when the media revealed the church's "Father F" cover-up.

Some background

At present, this priest is being referred to as "Father F" for legal reasons. But this can change at a later date.

Father F spent his priestly career in New South Wales. The Catholic Church in New South Wales is divided into eleven dioceses, with each diocese being responsible for recruiting its priests and assigning them to various parishes or other postings. Father F belonged to the Armidale diocese (comprising two dozen parishes) in north-western New South Wales, extending along the New England Highway to the Queensland border.

One of Father F's first parishes (from November 1981 to about April 1984) was the town of Moree, where he assisted the Parish Priest, Monsignor Frank Ryan. Monsignor Ryan was descended from Irish immigrants; Ryan's mother (born as Elizabeth Farrell) was a member of the large Farrell clan in northern New South Wales.

Father F's first full year in Moree was 1982 — and this is when the church's 30-year silence began. (Moree is 600 kilometres north-west of Sydney.)

Ten years later, in 1993, the newly-established Broken Rites victim support group announced its Australia-wide telephone hotline. One of the first incoming calls was from a former altar boy of Father F at Moree, reporting certain things that allegedly happened to him and other altar boys (aged about ten and eleven) in this parish in 1982-1983.

Soon, Broken Rites had similar phone chats with other Moree families, who said that, by 1983, they had spoken to Father F's immediate superior (Monsignor Frank Ryan, the senior priest in charge of the parish), expressing their concern.

Thirty years later, in 2012, some of these families spoke to the producers of the Australian television public-affairs program Four Corners. In an interview aired on 2 July 2012, one of the Moree parents (whom Broken Rites will call "Padraic" — not his real name) told Four Corners that his son ("Maximilian" — not his real name) was indecently assaulted on the genitals by Father in 1983. Immediately after the abuse occurred, Maximilian (an altar boy) told his father about it. Padraic said in the Four Corners interview:

  • "I immediately went to the presbytery, spoke to Monsignor Frank Ryan, who was the Parish Priest, told him what had happened and how I felt that it'd be best if he [Father F] was kept away from our children and so that it didn't happen again.

That is, the church received this complaint in 1983. The Four Corners program displayed a typewritten letter, from Monsignor Ryan to this parent, admitting that the church authorities knew in 1983 about the Father F complaints. Monsignor Ryan wrote in the letter:

  • "I made discreet inquiries and liaised with families known to have children involved in the matters that were brought to our attention."

That is, Monsignor Ryan knew of other victims (for example, according to Padraic, one of these was an abused boy who was a friend of Maximilian).

As well as being in charge of the Moree parish, Monsignor Ryan was the Vicar-General (that is, the bishop's deputy) for the whole of the Armidale diocese. The bishop, Most Reverend Henry ("Harry") Kennedy, was located in the town of Armidale.

Parents have told Broken Rites that, in 1983 and 1984, Bishop Henry Kennedy and Monsignor Ryan showed no surprise about these complaints regarding Father F (and they showed no concern about the welfare of the altar boys).

The church discouraged these families from lodging a complaint with the police. Two of the mothers had jobs in local Catholic schools and neither of these mothers wanted to jeopardize this employment. And some parents helped priests to serve Communion at the altar and did not want to fall out with the clergy.

Thus, the church protected Father F from any police investigation in 1983 and 1984. The church merely transferred Father F to another parish (as we will explain later in this article).

Father F admitted the offences, says a church document

So what was Father F doing to some of his altar boys in his first parish in 1981-1984? Father Wayne Peters, a priest of the Armidale diocese, wrote some answers in a church document in 1992. This document, which is a report of an interview with Father F, was quoted in a courtroom during an unrelated court case in Sydney in 2004. The court document was revealed by the Four Corners program on 2 July 2012. In the document, Father Peters alleged:

  • "He [Father F] admitted that there had been five boys around the age of ten and eleven that he had sexually interfered with in varying degrees in the years approximately 1982 to 1984 while he was the assistant priest at Moree."

The letter quotes Father F as saying that, in the case of Boy One and Boy Two, he made "advances" which both these boys resisted.

In the case of Boy Three, Father F admitted "that he fondled the boy's genitals" during a car trip to Narrabri, an outlying town in the Armidale diocese. [There will be more about Boy Three, Damian Jurd, later in this Broken Rites article.]

Regarding Boy Four and Boy Five, Father Peters alleged:

  • "The situations of boys four and five were the occasion of more serious admissions on the part of [Father F]. He admitted that over a period of approximately twelve months he fondled the genitals of each of these [two] boys and, to quote, 'sucked off their dicks'. As far as [Father F] can remember, this was done on about a monthly basis over a period of twelve months."

[Broken Rites understands that, according to the New South Wales criminal laws, it is possible that any adult could be charged by police with a crime called "indecent assault" for allegedly doing such things to a child, especially as it was allegedly done while the child was in the custody of a person of authority, such as a clergyman.]

It is significant that Bishop Henry Kennedy and Monsignor Frank Ryan seemed to ignore the concerns expressed by parents in 1982-84. And these leaders did not bother to find out what harm was suffered by the altar boys and how this harm also affected the boys' families.

The perpetrators of the cover-up in 1982-84

Father F's early protectors — Bishop Henry (or "Harry") Kennedy and Monsignor Frank Ryan — were significant figures in the Australian church.

  • Bishop Henry Kennedy, as a young priest, had been the private secretary to Cardinal Norman Gilroy in Sydney, and had eventually become vice-chancellor of the archdiocese of Sydney. After being an auxiliary bishop in Brisbane, he became bishop of the Armidale diocese in 1971, aged 56 (when Father F was aged about 18). 
  • Monsignor Francis Patrick Ryan was born in the Armidale diocese. He was a pupil at De La Salle College in Armidale city, and later served as the school's chaplain. He became one of Australia's youngest monsignors (the rank immediately below a bishop). He served as the Armidale diocese's vicar-general (that is, the bishop's deputy) throughout Bishop Kennedy's reign. As well as being vicar-general, Monsignor Frank Ryan simultaneously worked in parishes (for example, St Francis Xavier parish at Moree).

Father F's background

Born in 1953, "F" grew up (and went to primary and secondary Catholic schools) in the town of Armidale and he served as an altar boy. As Armidale is the town where the regional bishop is located (at the Cathedral of St Mary and St Joseph), young "F" grew up knowing three successive Armidale bishops: Bishop Edward Doody who was based at Armidale until "F" was 15; Bishop James Freeman who was based at Armidale briefly during F's mid-teens (Freeman later became cardinal archbishop of Sydney); and Bishop Henry Kennedy (who took over in 1971, when "F" was 18).

When he was a young adult (evidently in his twenties), "F" was endorsed by Bishop Henry Kennedy to go to Sydney to study in seminaries (doing the early years at Springwood and the later years at Manly) to be trained for the priesthood.

He was ordained as a priest on 28 September 1981 and was appointed as an assistant priest in the parish of Moree (called the St Francis Xavier parish), beginning on 11 November 1981. Father F belonged specifically to the Armidale diocese and normally he would be expected to spend his career in the various towns of this region.

Father F in 1984-87

Around April 1984, after Father F had been involved with the altar boys in the Moree parish for more than two years, Bishop Henry Kennedy took action to "solve" the problem. Father F was abruptly removed from the Moree parish and went on what was euphemistically described as "sick leave".

He spent a short period in the presbytery of another priest, Father Rex Brown, at Tweed Heads in the Lismore diocese on the New South Wales north coast. [Father Paul "Rex" Brown was a child-sex offender, who is the subject of a separate article on the Broken Rites website.]

About the end of July 1984, Father F was brought back to the Armidale diocese, where Bishop Henry Kennedy appointed him as an assistant priest at St Nicholas’s parish in Tamworth under the parish priest-in-charge, Father Gerard Hanna. (Tamworth is the biggest town in the Armidale diocese). The families in Father F's new parish were not told about the troubles of 1982-84. Tamworth's Father Gerard Hanna later gained the title of Monsignor and eventually (in 2002) he became the bishop of Wagga Wagga in southern New South Wales.

And Tamworth was not Father F's final parish. The church allowed him to continue working in other parishes until 1991, thereby giving him priestly access to more children. By the end of 1991, it was ten years since he had begun working as a priest.

The story of one altar boy, Damian Jurd

Meanwhile, in 1984-87, one of Father F's former altar boys in 1983-84 (Damian James Jurd, born on 7 March 1972) was having troubles of his own. By mid-1984 (aged 12) Damian ceased being an altar boy and refused to go to church any more. His behaviour deteriorated at home and at school. Damian's parents could not figure out what was troubling the boy.

Eventually, in 1987, Damian ended up on the streets of Sydney, homeless and in distress, aged 15. He was interviewed by child-protection workers and by a children's psychiatrist. While asking Damian about his past, these experts discovered that Damian had allegedly been sexually abused by Father F while he was in this priest's custody in 1983, when he was aged eleven.

Damian's Catholic family had presumed that the child would be safe while in the custody of a Catholic priest. Damian felt unable to tell his "very Catholic" family about what allegedly happened during his weekend with this Catholic priest.

The child-protection experts agreed that the alleged sexual abuse (plus the alleged breach of trust and the accompanying Catholic Church cover-up) had disrupted Damian's adolescence, resulting in severe personal damage.

The church shuns the police

Until mid-1987, the church authorities had successfully protected Father F from coming to the notice of the police. However, the Sydney child-protection experts referred the Father F matter to Juvenile Services detectives in the New South Wales Police Service in Sydney.

When these Sydney detectives began their investigation, they notified the police in Tamworth, where Father F was now ministering in a local parish. However, the Tamworth police did not show much enthusiasm for this case. A Tamworth police officer (a Catholic who was acquainted with Father F) was heard commenting that Father F's accuser "must be telling lies". Because of this inadequate police response in Tamworth, the Sydney detectives decided not to rely on the Tamworth police.

The Sydney detectives visited Moree and contacted some of Father F's former altar boys and their families but these families were reluctant to help the police. A note written by Bishop Kevin Manning (dated 9 October 1991 and quoted by a church-appointed barrister, Antony Whitlam QC) refers to "the silencing of witnesses in Moree by Monsignor Ryan."

Therefore, the detectives were hamstrung. They could proceed on behalf of only one of the alleged victims — Damian Jurd. The church's code of silence protected Father F and the church's reputation and assets, but it created problems for Damian Jurd and other altar boys.

Police charges re a car-trip to Narrabri

On 11 August 1987, the detectives arrested Father F in Tamworth and charged him with having committed sexual crimes on Damian Jurd. Damian's police statement alleged that these incidents occurred during a weekend car-trip to Narrabri (St Francis Xavier parish). Father F and Damian stayed in Narrabri overnight, so that Father F could conduct the weekend Mass for a priest who was away. Damian acted as the altar boy.

On the advice of the parish's Catholic solicitor, Father F refused to answer various questions (about the alleged incidents) which were put to him by the police.

Early on the evening of 11 August 1987, the arrest of Father F was reported on the Tamworth local regional commercial television news bulletin. The news item gave the priest's full name, plus the charges. But, meanwhile, on that same date, the church's lawyers obtained an injunction from a Supreme Court judge, preventing the next morning's newspapers (such as Tamworth's Northern Daily Leader) from publishing the name of the defendant or any details. Thus, the newspapers could not mention the Catholic Church or the fact that "the man charged" was a clergyman. However, many people had already heard the priest's name on the earlier TV bulletin.

Damien Jurd's court case

Supported by the church leadership, Father F indicated that he would plead "not guilty" in court. Father F's defence team was well resourced. It was headed by a Sydney barrister, Mr Chester Porter QC, who has also conducted the defence for prominent criminals in Sydney courts.

According to church documents (examined by Antony Whitlam QC), the church paid for the services of Mr Chester Porter QC.

(Where did the church obtain this money for the QC's fees? Did any of it come from money that parents had put into the collection plate at Mass on Sundays?)

A preliminary hearing (called a "committal" hearing, to decide whether the case should be passed on to a judge and jury) was held in a closed courtroom at Narrabri Local Court on 18 February 1988. The magistrate who was listed to hear the case happened to be (surprise, surprise) a Catholic magistrate who was personally acquainted with Father F.

(Why did this magistrate not step aside from hearing the case?)

When Damian's family heard the name of this magistrate, they felt pessimistic about the outcome.

In court, after Damian gave his evidence, the church's celebrity barrister cross-examined Damian about his evidence. According to another priest, Chester Porter QC "made mince-meat" of Damian in the witness box. (This is quoted by Antony Whitlam QC in his report for the church in 2012.)

On the other hand, Father F called no evidence and reserved his defence. (This sometimes happens in a preliminary hearing, when a defendant may decide to retain his/her side of the story until telling it to a judge and jury at a subsequent trial).

At the end of these preliminary proceedings, the Catholic magistrate refused to refer the case to a judge and jury. Explaining his refusal, he said that he preferred to believe "a Catholic priest" (who had pleaded not guilty and who had "no previous convictions"), rather than a troubled 15-year-old boy. This was despite the fact that Father F had not given evidence and therefore the court had not examined Father F's side of the story.

Accordingly, the magistrate discharged Father F, who then walked free from the court, continuing to enjoy the status of "a Catholic priest" with "no convictions", while Damian (having been damaged "like mince-meat") left the court feeling very hurt.

The magistrate prohibited the media from reporting the court case. Thus, the "good" reputation of the church (as of 1988) was protected.

After the Damian Jurd court case, the church authorities arranged for Father F to take a few weekend Masses in Tamworth, so that he would "be seen as vindicated". But after Easter 1988, Father F was given "leave" from parish work. He was allowed to live in Bishop Henry Kennedy's house, where (he said) he would spend his time doing some university studies.

Although Father F was never again appointed to a parish position in the Armidale diocese, the church authorities allowed him to work in another diocese (as explained later in this article).

Complaint by a female, 1998

In the late 1990s, while Father F was without a parish, a complaint emerged about him having committed a sexual offence against a 15-year-old girl.

Antony Whitlam QC says, in a report compiled for the church in 2012:

  • "In early 1988, Fr [Wayne] Peters received from another priest in Armidale a report of 'F' sexually assaulting a 15-year-old girl. The matter was handled [by the church] in accordance with the [church's] 'Towards Healing' protocols, notwithstanding that there was no allegation relevant to F's priestly status. The criminal charges that resulted were apparently dismissed by a magistrate on 4 February 1999 after a two-day hearing in Armidale." (Whitlam report, paragraph 118.)

In stating that "there was no allegation relevant to F's priestly status", Whitlam evidently means that the girl was not a parishioner.

In Sydney, 1989

By 1989, Father F was living as a guest in a parish priest's house in a suburb of Sydney. According to a letter written by Father F on 29 June 1989, he was living in the presbytery of the Carlingford parish (St Gerard Majella parish) in Sydney's north-western suburbs. Carlingford was within the new diocese of Broken Bay (which had been carved off from the Sydney archdiocese) and the priest in charge of the Carlingford parish was Father Finian Egan. Some Carlingford parishioners  say that they remember Father F being in this parish — they had presumed that Father F was officially working in this parish as a relieving priest.

Three months later, on 3 October 1989 (according to church documents), Father F wrote from this Carlingford address to Bishop Bede Heather (of the Parramatta diocese, covering Sydney's western suburbs) seeking to discuss "the possibility of going on loan for your diocese". Bishop Heather spoke to Armidale's Bishop Henry Kennedy about this on 9 October 1989, the church records state.

[Father F's host at the Carlingford parish, Father Finian Egan, was sentenced to jail in December 2013 for sexually abusing children during his 50 years as a priest in the Sydney region.]

Transferred to the Parramatta diocese

In late 1989 it was arranged that Father F would transfer (on loan) to minister in the Kenthurst parish in the Parramatta diocese, although officially he would still belong to the Armidale diocese.

The Parramatta diocese, formed in 1986 (with Bishop Bede Heather as its leader), comprised about four dozen parishes in Sydney's outer western suburbs. Parramatta proper is merely where the bishop and the cathedral are located.

Western Sydney is 500 kilometres away from Armidale.

Parishioners in the Armidale diocese were not told why Father F was no longer allowed to work in the Armidale diocese, and his new parishioners at Kenthurst in the Parramatta diocese were not told why he was arriving there.

Thus, Father F spent more than two years working in the Parramatta diocese:

  1. From late 1989 until late 1990, he was an assistant priest at Kenthurst (St Madeleine Sophie parish).
  2. Next (throughout 1991 until early 1992) he was an assistant priest in the Merrylands parish (St Margaret Mary parish). At this parish, Father F encountered another altar boy, Daniel William Powell, who is mentioned later in this Broken Rites article.

Eventually, some parishioners in the Parramatta diocese became concerned about Father F.

One parent spoke to Father Roderick Bray (who was in charge of St Margaret Mary parish in Merrylands), and threatened to "go public" about Father F. Furthermore, someone in the Parramatta diocese heard about Father F's problems in the Moree parish in northern New South Wales in 1982-84, and this information began to circulate in the Parramatta diocese.

In late 1991, while he was still on loan to the Parramatta diocese, the church authorities were finally forced to consider some damage-control regarding Father F.

After Bishop Henry Kennedy retired in 1991 (aged 76), he was succeeded as bishop of Armidale by Bishop Kevin Manning, who conferred with other church officials in Sydney about how to manage the Father F problem.

Crisis meeting in 1992

By mid-1992, Father F had finished his term at the Merrylands parish and was seeking a new parish in the Parramatta diocese.

He was summoned to a meeting at the Sydney Cathedral presbytery, on On 3 September 1992, attended by three church officials:

  • Reverend Brian Lucas (then based at the Sydney Cathedral), who was involved in the administration of the Sydney archdiocese. (According to another church document, Lucas had been a student in the seminary at the same time as Father F and he had attended Father F's ordination ceremony in Armidale.)
  • Reverend John Usher, of the Sydney archdiocese, chairperson of the Australian Catholic Welfare Commission.
  • Reverend Wayne Peters, a senior priest of the Armidale diocese, whose responsibilities then included the Armidale diocese Tribunal (Peters later became Armidale's vicar-general, the bishop's deputy).

Father Peters wrote a letter to Armidale Bishop Kevin Manning (dated 11 September 1992), giving an account of this meeting. In the letter, Peters says that Lucas and Usher were representing the "Special Issues Resource Committee" of the Australian Catholic Bishops Conference.

In the 1990s, the term "Special Issues" was a euphemism for clergy sexual abuse. The Special Issues Committee had been established in conjunction with the church's own insurance company (Catholic Church Insurances Limited), which handles "confidential" compensation payouts to victims of church sexual abuse.

In his letter, Father Peters alleges that Father F made the admissions at this meeting about how he committed sexual actions (such as "sucking off boys' dicks") upon children in his custody in 1982-84.

The church leaders explained to Father F that it would be too risky for the church to appoint Father F to a new parish because (as Fr Peters' wrote in his letter) "the possibility always remains that one or some of the boys involved may bring criminal charges against [Father F] with subsequent grave harm to the priesthood and the Church."

Thus, the church officials were worried about possible harm to the church (that is, harm to its corporate brand-name and its assets), rather than harm that may have been done to the altar boys.

The church officials showed no interest in checking among the altar boys in Father F's former parishes to find out if any of them needed help.

And the church officials did not help any of the former altar boys to have a chat with detectives in the Sexual Crime Squad of the New South Wales Police. Why not? The reason was given in the report by Father Wayne Peters — that if police laid criminal charges against Father F, this would cause "subsequent grave harm to the priesthood and the Church."

Father F in the 1990s

By late 1992, Father F was back in his home-town, Armidale, living in a private house this time (not the bishop's house). Although now living as a private citizen, in the eyes of the Catholic Church he was still a priest (a priest without a parish).

Despite his record, the Armidale diocese allowed him to continue playing an active role (as a layman) in church affairs in Armidale town.

And (according to Antony Whitlam QC) church records state that in May 1997 Father F heard confessions one weekend at a parish in the Broken Bay diocese (in Sydney's north) where a seminary classmate was parish priest. Did these parishioners realise exactly to whom they were confessing their sins?

Father F's status, as a priest without a parish, continued for another ten years while he lived as a private citizen.

Compensation for Damian Jurd

Meanwhile, during the 1990s, Damian Jurd of Moree was feeling hurt by damage which (he alleged) had been done to his life by the church's protecting of Father F. He hired a Sydney legal firm to tackle the Armidale diocese for compensation. The church resisted this application but it eventually was forced to make a confidential financial settlement with Damian (then aged 26) in 1998. Such settlements serve a business purpose — in order to end (and limit) the diocese's financial liability to the alleged victim.

Damian used his compensation as a deposit to buy a house for his partner and his two young children.

Death of Damian Jurd

Despite receiving compensation, Damian was still feeling damaged by the church's victimisation of him. At the end of 2000, his depression became particularly bad and he was feeling worn out. He had lost the will to continue living. He was found unconscious in bed. He died on New Year's Day, 2001, aged 28, leaving two children — a boy then aged nine and a girl then aged eight.

When the story of the "Father F cover up" became public in July 2012, this son and daughter were aged 20 and 19 (and they are still feeling hurt about what the Catholic Church did to their father).

Cardinal George Pell knew in 2002

Another altar boy,"Bill" (not his real name) re-surfaced in 2002. Bill had encountered Father F in the Moree parish in 1982-84. Bill's experiences with Father F began at the age of eight but the church culture intimidated Bill into remaining silent for many years. Finally, in 2002 (when he was in his late twenties with children of his own), Bill wrote a letter to Sydney's publicity-oriented new archbishop, Cardinal George Pell, complaining about how Father F (and the church's protection of Father F) had disrupted Bill's life. Pell replied that this was a matter for the Armidale diocese.

So Bill's complaint was flick-passed to the Armidale diocese, which then took an evasive attitude towards Bill. Thus, Bill felt intimidated into not pressing the matter further.

Despite Bill's complaint in 2002, none of the church leaders in 2002 gave him the telephone number of the Sex Crimes Squad of the New South Wales Police. Why not? This squad has a team of detectives to investigate such matters. It is not the role of the Catholic Church to "investigate" its own crimes.

Daniel Powell, altar boy

Meanwhile, trouble was brewing for another of Father F's altar boys. Daniel William Powell (born on 28 May 1979) was aged 12 when he encountered Father F in the Merrylands parish in the Parramatta diocese during Father F's final months there in 1991-92.

In 1997, aged 18, Daniel's life was in a mess. He contacted Father F, telling him how the priest had damaged the boy's life. According to Daniel, Father F paid money to Daniel on the understanding that Daniel would not go to the police. Unwisely, Daniel accepted this money from Father F. (Instead, Daniel ought to have asked a solicitor to tackle the Parramatta diocese, not the priest, for compensation.)

Father F arranged for the police to charge Daniel with the crime of demanding money with menaces.

The matter first went to court for a preliminary ("committal") hearing in October 2003 when Daniel was aged 24. The matter then proceeded to a jury trial in 2004.

To demonstrate that Daniel had been seeking reparation (rather than committing extortion), Daniel's defence barrister (Philip Massey) recited to the court a 24-page statement by Daniel, alleging multiple incidents of sexual abuse by Father F which had disrupted Daniel's life. Broken Rites possesses a copy of this statement.

The church in damage control in 2004

During Daniel Powell's jury trial in 2004, Daniel's defence barrister revealed (and quoted from) Father Wayne Peters' letter of 11 September 1992, in which (according to Fr Peters) Father F allegedly admitted that he had committed oral-sex actions on altar boys.

The 2004 jury found Daniel Powell not guilty of the extortion charge.

After the 2004 trial, the church authorities realised that Father Peters' letter about the 1992 meeting with Father F could become a public-relations problem for the church. Therefore, after the 2004 trial, the church authorities took steps to officially "laicise" Father F (that is, remove his priestly status). Thus, he finally became "Mister" F (merely a "former" priest). But this was done to protect the assets of the church. And this was 20 years too late for the altar boys.

And, still, no church official bothered in 2004 to help any of Father F's former altar boys to make an appointment with the NSW Police crime squad.

Compensation and death for Daniel Powell

Daniel engaged a legal firm to tackle the church for compensation for his damaged life. The church resisted this claim but a "confidential" settlement was reached in 2005 when Daniel was 26.

Daniel Powell never recovered from the disruption of his adolescence and he took his own life, by hanging, on 25 November 2007, aged 28. He was the father of two young children.

The significance of Damian and Daniel

Damian Jurd and Daniel Powell lived in different parts of New South Wales and they never knew each other. Damian was born seven years earlier than Daniel. Each of them gave up living at the age of 28.

Whereas Damian Jurd first contacted Broken Rites in 1993, Daniel Powell did not contact us until 2004, and by then Damian Jurd had already died. Broken Rites told Daniel about the trouble in the Moree parish in northern New South Wales and story of Damian Jurd. Daniel Powell's lawyer then used this information to help get Daniel acquitted from the criminal charges of "demanding money" from Father F.

Broken Rites arranged for Daniel Powell to have telephone contact with Damian Jurd's family in northern New South Wales. Damian's family expressed sympathy and encouragement to Daniel.

Both Damian and Daniel were damaged not only by the church's culture of clergy sexual abuse but also because of the church's protecting of Father F from 1981 onwards. While Father F remained at large, the lives of Damian Jurd and Daniel Powell were spiralling downwards.

Each died at the age of 28.

Neither the Armidale nor Parramatta diocese seems to show any concern for the future welfare of Damian's two children or Daniel's two.

And, judging from Father Wayne Peters' letter about the 1992 meeting, the church officials showed no interest in trying to find out the names of all the altar boys who may have been affected. In 1993, however, Broken Rites EASILY discovered the names of these altar boys — the names that the church officials in 1992 did not want to know about.

Four Corners

The story of the Father F cover-up was finally revealed by the Australian television program Four Corners on Monday, 2 July 2012 — thirty years after Bishop Henry Kennedy and his deputy (Monsignor Frank Ryan) first ignored the complaints about Father F. Four Corners displayed the letter that was written by Rev. Wayne Peters to Bishop Kevin Manning about Father F's 1982-84 activities. This letter (dated 11 September 1992) is on the Four Corners website.

Go to "a police station"

After the "Four Corners" program, many people wondered how the church had managed to keep the Father F story away from the police for 30 years.

When Broken Rites is helping any church-abuse victim, we give them a police telephone number, where  (if they wish) they can arrange to have an private interview with a Crime Squad detective who specialises in investigating crimes against children. Too often, however, the Catholic Church has been off-putting about a police interview. For example, when interviewed on ABC Radio's "AM" program on 6 July 2012, Father Brian Lucas was asked why the church had not helped each victim of Father F to arrange an interview with police investigators. Lucas replied, unhelpfully that "those men [the victims of Father F] today ought to go to a police station and report this abuse ."

Go to "a police station"? The local cop shop? And queue up at the reception counter, waiting for the person ahead of them to report a stolen bicycle?

Father Brian Lucas's attitude is discouraging.

The church leaders' 30-year silence

The church authorities have some explaining to do:

WHY did the church authorities remain silent about Father F for thirty years? Why did no church official ever arrange for any of Father F's altar boys to have an interview with the NSW Police sex crimes squad? In New South Wales law, concealing an alleged crime can itself be a crime.

WHY was it left to the television program "Four Corners" to reveal the Father F matters in July 2012?

DO the church authorities feel any responsibility towards the parents and siblings and (especially) the children of Damian Jurd and Daniel Powell? The lives of these families have been damaged by the church's behaviour in harbouring and protecting Father F. The next generation is still feeling the impact of the church's cover-up. Likewise, some of Father F's other altar boys (such as the above-mentioned "Bill") now have children of their own and the impact of the church's behaviour (in keeing quiet about Father F for 30 years) is being felt by these children, too.

The church "investigates" itself

After the Four Corners program in 2002, the bishops of Armidale and Parramatta announced that they would hire a senior barrister (Antony Whitlam QC) to write a report for the church on certain aspects of the Father F matter. The report was limited to certain terms of reference as defined by the church authorities.

It is not known how much the church paid Mr Whitlam for his work but he certainly did what the church paid him for.

The church's Whitlam report was released to the media on 17 January 2013.

The Antony Whitlam inquiry was focussed on church correspondence (that is, whatever documents church authorities  chose to make available), plus Mr Whitlam's interviews with some bishops and priests, Damian Jurd's parents and Daniel Powell's mother.

In the past, church leaders have claimed  "not knowing" the names of Father F's other altar boys, apart from Damian Jurd and Daniel Powell. But Broken Rites knows the names of some of these families - and now detectives from the New South Wales Sexual Crimes Squad, also, know those names.

The Sexual Crimes Squad has established a team of detectives (named Task Force Glenroe) to investigate the Father F affair. This is appropriate, because it is the job of the police (not the Catholic Church) to carry out an investigation of crimes, including the concealing of crimes. 

In memory of Damian Jurd and Daniel Powell

Broken Rites has a policy of not publishing the real names of victims. However, Damian Jurd told us in the 1990s that he WANTS his name to be published when his story is told. Likewise, Daniel Powell told us in 2005 that he, too, wants his name published.

Therefore Broken Rites is publishing this article in memory of Damian Jurd and Daniel Powell, two boys who did not deserve their tragic deaths.

  • To see some additional information from Broken Rites about the altar boy Damian Jurd, click HERE.
  • And, to see a detailed Broken Rites article about the altar boy Daniel Powell, click HERE.