One of Australia's leading Christian Brothers was jailed after pleading guilty

  • By a Broken Rites researcher, 29 July 2020

Christian Brother Terence Patrick Aquinas Kingston had a 40-year career as a teacher and administrator in Australian Catholic boys' schools — and he became one of the leaders of the Christian Brothers in Australia. Meanwhile, he was committing sexual offences against schoolboys. As usual in Catholic Church crimes, his victims suffered in silence throughout their childhood but eventually (when aged in their fifties) several of them spoke to police investigators, and this resulted in Kingston being sentenced to jail in two states (in Queensland in 2017 and in New South Wales in 2019). The charges involved a total of eight victims, and Kingston pleaded guilty regarding all of these. In July 2020, Kingston (aged 83) is facing court again in Queensland, charged with offences allegedly committed against some additional boys.

Brother Kingstson was born on 9 August 1937 and was a schoolboy at St Brendan's College, a day and boarding school established by the Christian Brothers, at Yeppoon, Queensland. The Christian Brothers recruited him to become a Brother.

Brother Kingston's full name was given in court as "Terence Patrick Aquinas Kingston". The name "Aquinas" refers to the fact that, some decades ago, a new Christian Brother would adopt a religious "middle" name. Brother Kingston was given the saintly name "Aquinas", a name that was originally made famous by Saint Thomas Aquinas. Thus, some church documents refer to "Brother T.A. Kingston".

In the early years of Brother Kingston's career, the Christian Brothers in Australia were divided into several "provinces", and Brother Kingston worked in two of these:

  • In the 1960s and early 1970s (according to Broken Rites research), Brother Kingston worked in schools in the New South Wales province (at Wagga Wagga, Goulburn, Manly and Waverley).
  • At some time during the 1970s, he was transferred to a different province, covering Queensland and the Northern Territory. In this province (according to Broken Rites research) he worked at Abergowrie, Holland Park, Indooroopilly, Kingston, Logan in Queensland; and at Darwin and Wadeye in the Northern Territory. In 1990-1995 he was the Provincial Superior (that is, the head) of the Christian Brothers for Queensland and the Northern Territory.

The first court case (Queensland)

In the first court case (completed in 2017), the Queensland charges (officially called "indecent treatment of a child under the age of 16") involved nine offences against seven Queensland boys while they were in grade eight and nine.

The abuse occurred in the 1970s when Brother Kingston was the principal of St Teresa's College, a Catholic boys' boarding school located in Abergowrie, near Ingham (between Townsville and Cairns). Many of this school's pupils came from remote (including indigenous) families across northern Australia. This school, which was originally described as an agricultural school, was then under the jurisdiction of the Christian Brothers but nowadays it comes under the education office of the Townsville Catholic Diocese.

Queensland Police investigation

Queensland Detectives began investigating Brother Kingston in late 2014 after one complainant, who is now aged in his fifties, contacted the police. The case was handled by detectives from a Child Protection Investigation Unit in North Queensland. The detectives located six more victims of Brother Kingston in Queensland.

When detectives interviewed Kingston in 2015, he was living, with two other Christian Brothers, on an acreage property outside of Caboolture (near Brisbane). Kingston's court charges had a brief procedural mention in Caboolture Magistrates Court on 30 October 2015, with further Magistrates Court proceedings in subsequent months.

Before going to Caboolture, Terrence Kingston was associated with the Blackall district, in central Queensland, 680 km west of Rockhampton. A website of the Rockhampton Catholic Diocese stated in 2013 that Christian Brother Terry Kingston has been "living in semi-retirement in his home town of Blackall, having spent over forty years teaching and administrating in New South Wales, Queensland and the Northern Territory."

Detective Inspector Geoff Marsh, in North Queensland, told the media in 2015 that Queensland detectives were making inquiries about Terrence Patrick Kingston through police in other Australian states. (However, the Queensland police can charge Kingston only with crimes committed in Queensland; charges relating to any other State would need to be heard in a court in the other State.)

The Queensland court hearing

During Kingston's court proceedings in Queensland in 2017, the court was told that Kingston on some occasions would direct a boy to come with him to Kingston's room where he then touched the boy indecently.

In other instances, the students were taken to the science lab to try on clothes. While a boy was changing, Kingston would touch the boy's genitals.

Regarding two of the boys, he put oil on these boys and rubbed their genitals.

Crown prosecutor Russell Hood said all the victims expressed their "anger, shock and horror" at what occurred to them by someone in a position of trust. He said that while Kingston had pleaded guilty, he had never expressed remorse or apologised to his victims.

At a pre-sentence hearing, four of the seven victims each submitted an impact statement to the court, telling how the abuse (and the need to remain silent) had affected this victim's later life.

One victim said that if the abuse had not occurred, "I would never have these feelings of fear and shame, guilt, anger and loneliness."

Jailed in Queensland, 2017

In sentencing Kingston in the Queensland District Court on 31 January 2017 , Chief Judge Kerry O'Brien said the offences occurred while Kingston was in a position of authority, as headmaster, and the abuse had a lasting effect on victims.

"These boys were offended against in the formative years of their lives," the judge said. "It is not surprising to me ... these events should have had an ongoing effect upon them."

The judge acknowledged that Kingston's advanced age, his current ill-health and the lapse of time since the offending were mitigating factors in fixing a sentence. But he told Kingston: "The nature of your offending is such that the only appropriate penalty is one that sees you go to prison."

The judge sentenced Kingston (then aged 79) to three years jail. After Kingstson serves nine months behind bars, the remainder of the jail term would be suspended.

Jailed again in NSW, 2019

In New South Wales District Court on 21 June 2019, Terence Kingston (then aged 81) was sentenced to more time in jail (under New South Wales law) for offences committed against a 12-year-old boy at Waverley Christian Brothers College (in Sydney's east) in 1978. Kingston was the boy's Year Seven dormitory master.

During a pre-sentence hearing this victim (now in his fifties) submitted a victim impact statement describing how this church-related offending had had a long-term effect on the victim's life.

In sentencing Kingston, the judge noticed that the victim showed great dignity during his impact statement. The judge found that the victim had suffered substantially from what had happened.

The NSW judge sentenced Kingston to a total jail term of one year and nine months, with a non-parole period of nine months. The sentence was backdated to commence on 21 December 2018. So his release date from custody would be 20 September 2019. He would then be on parole until his sentence expires on 20 September 2020. The judge backdated the sentence to December 2018 to give effect to the principle of totality. This essentially means that the Judge had to take into account Kingston's seven Queensland offences, and what would have happened if Kingston had been sentenced for both the Queensland and NSW offences (a total of eight offences) at once.

A civil settlement

In November 2015, a Sydney legal firm forced the Christian Brothers to settle a claim by a New South Wales former student, involving sexual abuse by Brother Terence Kingston at Wagga Wagga (in southern NSW) in 1966-1967. This student from Wagga is evidently an additional victim - not the same as the one who got Kingston jailed in 2019 for the offences at Sydney's Waverley. So how many more schoolboys were targeted by Christian Brother Terence Kingston during his long career in New South Wales and Queensland?

In court again in 2020

In July 2020, Terence Patrick Aquinas (aged 83) began facing a committal hearing in Brisbane Magistrates Court, charged with sexual offences allegedly committed against additional Queensland boys. This hearing is continuing.