GUILTY: A Christian Brother is convicted on offences from 40 years ago

By a Broken Rites researcher (article updated 16 November 2018)

For several decades, Christian Brother Peter Nicholas Lennox worked in various Catholic schools in Sydney and in regional New South Wales. On 15 November 2018, a jury found Lennox (now aged 79) guilty of sexual offences committed against boys at two of those schools in the 1970s — at Christian Brothers in Manly (now known as St Paul's Catholic College) and at St Patrick's College in Goulburn (now known as Trinity Catholic College).

The police investigation began after a former student (from the Manly school) had a private interview with a member of Australia's national Royal Commission into Institutional Child Sexual Abuse. The Royal Commission advised this former student that he was entitled to discuss the matter with NSW Police detectives. An investigation was then begun by detectives based at Manly (within the Northern Beaches Local Area Command).

Meanwhile, a former student (from the Goulburn) school spoke to the Goulburm Detectives Office. This matter was then added to the Sydney detectives' investigation.

The police investigation was conducted by Detective Senior Constable Adam Vickery, of the Northern Beaches Local Area Command, Manly Police Station.

Detectives arrested Peter Nicholas Joseph Lennox on 10 November 2014 at a residence, where he has been living in retirement, in Cootamundra NSW. Detectives executed a search warrant of Lennox's living quarters and seized documents and computers which later underwent further examination. Lennox was then taken to a nearby police station, where he was interviewed, before being charged with indecent assaults on boys. These offences were allegedly committed between 1973 and 1976, when the boys were aged between 13 and 15.

In court documents, Lennox's date of birth is given as 14 June 1939.

On 1 December 2014, Peter Nicholas Joseph Lennox appeared in a country Local Court for a brief administrative procedure, in which charges were officially filed with a magistrate. The case was then transferred to Sydney's Downing Centre Local Court, where preliminary hearings began in 2015.

In 2016 and 2017, the church defence lawyer claimed in court that Peter Lennox was "not well enough" to face trial. The lawyer tendered medical reports to the court. However, the court dismissed these arguments and Lennox was ordered to stand trial. Lennox was granted bail pending the trial.

In October 2018, a jury trial began in Sydney's Downing Centre District Court. Lennox pleaded not guilty to 12 counts of indecent assault involving four boys at the Manly school and one boy at the Goulburn school.

On 15 November 2018, the jury decided that there is sufficient evidence to return a guilty verdict regarding two boys from Manly and one boy from Goulburn. It is possible that a re-trial could be ordered on some of the remaining charges.

Sentencing is scheduled for 15 February 2019. Meanwhile, Lennox is on bail.

Some background from Broken Rites about the two schools

1. The school at MANLY:
A website of St Paul's Catholic College, Manly, says: "St Paul’s Catholic College Manly was formerly known as Christian Brothers College, Manly. . . During the latter part of the 1970s under the supervision of the Principal, Br P Lennox, major College extensions were undertaken. In 1982 the Christian Brothers withdrew and the first lay Principal was appointed."

2. The school at GOULBURN:
St Patrick's College Goulburn was formerly a boys-only boarding school, conducted by the Christian Brothers. According to a history book about this school, the Brothers’ involvement at St Patrick’s College was winding down by the mid-1990s. In 2000, the boys' college merged with a Catholic girls school, Marian College, to become Trinity Catholic College.

This court case of Peter Nicholas Lennox will also be of interest to former students from Lennox's later schools, which included (this is not a complete list):

  • St Mary's Cathedral College, Sydney, 1970s;
  • Edmund Rice College, Wollongong, 1982-83; and
  • Trinity Senior High School (now incorporated into Kildare Catholic College), Wagga Wagga, early 1990s.
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