Boys were abused at a Catholic orphanage in Queensland

  • By a Broken Rites researcher

A Catholic religious Brother who inflicted “sheer terror” on vulnerable boys at a Queensland orphanage, sexually abusing nine of them, has been jailed for his crimes. Francis David Brophy (also known by his "religious" name, Brother Cormac) had a long career as a member of the Catholic order of De La Salle Brothers. In Brisbane District Court in 2017, Brophy was found guilty by a jury of multiple offences committed at BoysTown Queensland (situated near Beaudesert) between 1978 and 1983. When sentenced in August 2017, Brophy was aged 87.

During the sentencing procedure, Brisbane District Court Judge William Everson told Brophy: “Your legacy disgusts me and every right-minded member of society."

Judge Everson denounced Brophy as “a cowardly, evil paedophile” who masqueraded as a follower of God while inflicting lifelong damage on the children who were meant to be in his care.

He said Brophy presided over a “Gulag right in our midst” that left some of his victims ravaged by nightmares and post-traumatic stress disorder as adults.

“The combination of your depraved sexual offending and the terrifying violence you meted out makes your conduct particularly heinous,” Judge Everson told him.

“It is the sheer terror that you presented to the victims in the context of their complete and utter helplessness that places your conduct in a special category of seriousness.”

Judge Everson sentenced Brophy to a maximum of eight years behind bars but set a parole eligibility date for two years’ time.

Broken Rites understands that the charges againist Brophy were laid by detectives in the Child Trauma and Sexual Crime Unit, Queensland Police Headquarters, 200 Roma Street Brisbane 4000.

Some background

BoysTown Queensland, to which disadvantaged boys were sent in their early teens, was established at Beaudesert in 1961. The institution was staffed by De La Salle Brothers, assisted by some lay employees. BoysTown received State funding.

The Beaudesert residential accommodation closed in 2001. More than 1,000 boys passed through it during those 40 years. This Queensland "Boys Town" is not to be confused with another Catholic "Boys Town" at Engadine, New South Wales.

BoysTown "Limited"

The De La Salle Brothers still own the prominent "BoysTown" revenue-raising organisation, which was incorporated in 2002 as a public company called "BoysTown Limited". BoysTown Limited operates throughout Australia, with headquarters in Brisbane.

In its media statement on 8 October 2013 (referred to above), the De La Salle national office sought to make a distinction between the now-defunct BoysTown Beaudesert and the on-going "BoysTown Limited". The statement said:

"The individual [who has been charged] does not and has not worked at BoysTown Ltd. It is important to note that BoysTown Ltd is an independent organisation, operating as a public company limited by guarantee with an independent Board of Directors. The Trustees of the De La Salle Brothers are the owners of the company.  BoysTown Ltd was incorporated in 2002."

BoysTown Limited has a website which says that this organisation raises funds by conducting "art unions". The website says:

"BoysTown runs 15 Art Unions each year - 10 Prize Home Draws and five Prestige Car Draws. For only $15 a ticket, each Prize Home Draw gives the chance to win a home in inner Sydney or Melbourne, the Gold Coast or Sunshine Coast. First prize is always in excess of $1 million. A $10 ticket gives Prestige Car Draw supporters the chance to win luxury vehicles such as Mercedes-Benz, BMW or Audi."

De La Salle College

In its media statement on 8 October 2013, the De La Salle head office in Sydney was also keen to protect the brand-name "De La Salle". Australia has several secondary schools in Australia using the name "De La Salle", including De La Salle College Ashfield in Sydney's inner-west and De La Salle College Malvern in Melbourne's inner south-east. These schools, which had unpretentious origins many years ago, are now booming as "private" schools for aspiring families.

When Broken Rites first discovered the media statement by De La Salle headquarters on 8 October 2013, the statement was on a website called "Burwood Scene", which caters for the Burwood/Ashfield area in Sydney - that is, in the vicinity of De La Salle College Ashfield.

Broken Rites has been told (by a former student in Melbourne) that Brother "Cormac" Brophy also taught in Melbourne - at De La Salle College Malvern. On 9 October 2013, the Melbourne Herald Sun newspaper published a brief statement from De La Salle headquarters in Sydney, saying that the police charges against a De La Salle Brother in Queensland are not related to "De La Salle College Malvern" in Melbourne. [This merely meant that the Queensland courts can deal only with Queensland incidents, and any allegations concerning Melbourne would need to be handled by a Victorian court.]

There was formerly a De La Salle College at Scarborough in Queensland, which has been absorbed into a co-educational school now called Southern Cross College.

The De La Salle Brothers own another "prestigious" Melbourne school - St Bede's College on a valuable seaside frontage at Mentone in Melbourne's south. But Broken Rites expects that any forthcoming adverse publicity about De La Salle Brothers in Queensland would affect those schools that are called "De La Salle College", rather than one with a name such as St Bede's College.

  • To see a background article about the De La Salle Brothers religious order in Australia, click HERE.