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Written by a Broken Rites Australia researcher.


Background article: How the church handles its victims in order to protect its wealth

Cardinal George Pell is claiming now that he has "helped" the Catholic Church's sex-abuse victims. Therefore, let's look at how Pell's lawyers treated one of the church's victims — a former altar boy, John Ellis. Cardinal Pell (as head of the Sydney Catholic archdiocese) instigated the archdiocese's legal battle against John Ellis, according to evidence and documents presented to Australia's child-abuse Royal Commission. Pell's legal victory in 2007 (known as the "Ellis defence") now forces church-victims to accept a discounted in-house "Towards Healing" settlement instead of suing for proper compensation, the Commission was told. (By a Broken Rites researcher, article updated 24 February 2018.)

This Catholic school was staffed by child-sex criminals

Christian Brother Stephen Francis Farrell was one of the child-abusers who committed sexual crimes against young boys at Australia's now-notorious St Alipius parish school in Ballarat in the 1970s. Church leaders ignored the activities of these criminals. Later, Farrell left his religious order and was rewarded with a job as a teacher in other Catholic schools (as "Mister" Farrell). He married three times. Meanwhile, the Catholic culture forced Farrell's victims to remain silent about his crimes. Eventually, his damaged victims began to report their experience to Victoria Police detectives. Thus, in 1997 and again in 2013, Farrell was convicted in court regarding these particular victims. On 22 February 2018, Farrell (now aged 66) was convicted again regarding more of his victims and was ordered to spend a part of this sentence behind bars. (By a Broken Rites researcher, article updated 23 February 2018.)

The church covered up a Reverend Brother’s crimes but his victims have got him in court again in 2018

When Frank Keating became a De La Salle Brother in his late teens, he was given the religious name "Brother Ibar", in honour of an ancient Irish saint. But Brother "Ibar" Keating was no saint — he was committing sexual crimes against his pupils. His superiors knew this but they allowed him to continue offending in Catholic schools around Australia for many years more. Eventually, some of Keating's victims reported him to the police, and he was jailed. In March 2018, Keating is due in court again because more of his victims have spoken to the police. Broken Rites will continue its research about Frank "Ibar" Keating and about the church's cover-up of his crimes. (By a Broken Rites researcher, article updated 24 February 2018.)

George Pell returns to Australia: Some background

After he moved from Australia to Rome in 2014 for a senior role in the Vatican, Cardinal George Pell became reluctant to re-visit Australia. When he was asked (in 2014-2017) to give evidence at Australia's Royal Commission into Institutional Responses to Child Sexual Abuse, Pell preferred to appear from Rome by video-link. He said health problems were preventing him from travelling to Australia. But in mid-2017 he finally returned to Australia, where police have charged him with "multiple" sexual offences allegedly committed some years ago in the state of Victoria, involving "multiple" complainants. (By a Broken Rites researcher, article updated 24 February 2018.)

The Christian Brothers sheltered Brother Dave Standen while he damaged these vulnerable young lives

Broken Rites is doing further research about how the Catholic order of Christian Brothers enabled Brother William Peter ("Dave") Standen to commit sexual crimes against boys in a southern New South Wales boarding school between 1977 and 1981. The boys (aged 10, 11 12) were feeling isolated and homesick in their first year as boarders, away from their rural families. Overwhelmed by the church's "holy" image, the boys were forced to remain silent about the crimes for many years. Thirty years later, one of these victims spoke to a NSW Police detective, who then located some more of Brother Standen's victims from this school. These victims have each told how the church's culture of cover-up damaged their later lives, ending up in family break-ups and/or life-long struggles with drug and/or alcohol abuse and disrupted careers. Meanwhile, Brother Standen rose to senior positions in the Christian Brothers, including as a school principal in Sydney. In 2016, a judge sentenced Brother Standen to jail, and now his victims are still trying to repair their lives. (By a Broken Rites researcher, article updated 14 February 2018.)

The church ignored this Marist Brother's crimes but now he is in court again in 2018

This Broken Rites article reveals how the Catholic Church harboured a child-sex abuser, Marist Brother Gerard Joseph McNamara, teaching in Catholic schools, for four decades until some of his victims began speaking (separately) to the Victoria Police child-protection detectives. When the police charged McNamara regarding the first batch of these victims, the Marists enthusiastically supported McNamara and ignored the victims. But Broken Rites supported the victims — and in 2004-2005 McNamara finally pleaded guilty and was convicted. This prompted more of McNamara's former students to contact the detectives. In 2016, McNamara pleaded guilty to indecently assaulting two more of his victims, resulting in another conviction. In January 2018, McNamara appeared in the Melbourne Magistrates Court on a separate matter — case number G13387455 — in which he was charged with sexually abusing another young boy (who was not a student of his). McNamara pleaded "Guilty" on this new charge and was given a jail sentence (but he is appealing against the jailing). In March 2018, McNamara is scheduled to appear in Melbourne Magistrates Court, regarding five more of his former schoolboys — case number H10859605. The 2018 court cases are reported at the end of this Broken Rites article. (By a Broken Rites researcher, article updated 4 February 2018.)

The priest and the schoolgirl — and an abortion

Broken Rites is doing further research about a Sydney Catholic priest, Father Kevin Cox, who sexually abused vulnerable girls. For example, one victim (Broken Rites will refer to her as "Mandy") has revealed that Father Cox sexually abused her for six years from the age of eleven. Furthermore, the sexual abuse resulted in a pregnancy at age 17 — and then the priest paid for an abortion. But the church continued to protect Father Cox. Church leaders and fellow-priests continued to regard Father Cox as a church hero. (Article by a Broken Rites researcher.)

A priest raped a boy, then ordered the boy to "confess" the rape & conceal it

This Broken Rites article is the most comprehensive account available about a Melbourne Catholic priest, Father James Scannell, who has been jailed for raping a 12-year-old boy.  After the rape (in the early 1970s), the priest subjected the boy to the Catholic ritual of "Confession" and ordered  the boy never to tell anybody about what had happened. Intimidated by the church's authority, the boy obediently kept this "secret of the Confessional". The church's code of silence damaged the victim's life and it took him forty years to bring the priest to justice — in 2014.

A church report contains allegations about George Pell abusing an altar boy in 1961-62

Australia's Catholic Church hierarchy received a complaint in 2002 that a trainee priest (George Pell) had sexually abused a twelve-year-old altar boy (named Phil) in 1961-62 at a holiday camp for boys on Phillip Island, south-east of Melbourne. According to a church document, Phil has alleged that, on several occasions, the trainee priest George Pell (then about 20) thrust his hand down the inside of Phil's pants and got "a good handful" of the boy's penis and testicles; and, on other occasions, George Pell allegedly tried to guide the boy's hand into the front of Pell's pants. By the year 2000, when Phil was aged 50, he realised that the trainee priest George Pell had risen to become an Archbishop. Phil was shocked — "he did not think it right that someone who had behaved indecently towards children should lead the church," the church document says. So, beginning in 2000, Phil tried to alert the church authorities. Phil emphasised that he was not seeking compensation. And he was not reporting this matter to the police (therefore there is no police investigation into Phil's complaint). Rather, Phil was concerned about the safety of children in the church's care; and he merely wanted the church authorities to be aware of the offences that were allegedly committed upon him (Phil) at the altar boys' camp. In 2002, the hierarchy paid a senior barrister, Mr Alec Southwell QC, to examine (and report on) Phil's complaint. Archbishop George Pell (who was indeed at the altar boys' camp) denied committing any abuse. Mr Southwell's report concluded that the former altar boy "appeared to speak honestly from an actual recollection". Mr Southwell said he was not persuaded that the former altar boy was a liar as alleged by Pell.

We expose Ronald Conway, the church's "hands-on" psychologist

For thirty years a prominent Australian Catholic psychologist, Ronald Conway, had a part-time role in assessing and helping trainee priests in the church's Melbourne seminary. Conway also worked as a consulting psychologist in psychiatric hospitals and in private practice, and some of his male patients say that Conway touched them sexually when they consulted him for professional help. (By a Broken Rites researcher, article updated 21 January 2018.)

Background article: The church's 50-year cover-up of Father Finian Egan's crimes

Irish-born Catholic priest Finian Egan was transferred to Australia in 1959, and he soon began committing sexual crimes against Australian children. The Catholic Church protected him in Australia for the next five decades until some of his victims (with help from Broken Rites) succeeded in getting him convicted. A Sydney court sentenced Egan to a minimum of four years in jail, and this sentence expired on 19 December 2017, when Egan was released, aged 82. According to church law, Father Egan still retains his priestly status (but is retired from parish work). In 2018, his Australian victims would like to see Father Egan deported back to Ireland but, so far, the Australian government has not succeeded in doing this. This Broken Rites article describes how the church covered up for Egan during his life of crime. (Article updated on 1 February 2018.)

This bishop protected the church's holy image, instead of protecting children

Broken Rites research has discovered how an Australian Catholic leader (Bishop William Brennan) covered up allegations of clergy sex-abuse in his diocese. Police charged one of Brennan's priests (Father Bernard Connell) with allegedly abusing two boys in different parishes but Bishop Brennan hired an expert legal team to defeat the charges. One of these victims then asked Bishop Brennan for help but the bishop shunned him. The bishop's main aim was protecting the church's holy image, instead of protecting children. (By a Broken Rites researcher.)

Father Paul David Ryan was protected by the church, but victims got him jailed and now he faces more charges in 2018

This Broken Rites article reveals how Catholic Church authorities covered up the child-sex crimes of an Australian priest, Father Paul David Ryan, during his career in the state of Victoria (and also during seven visits by Ryan to the United States). This enabled Ryan to endanger more children in more parishes in TWO countries. Eventually, helped by Broken Rites, some victims began reporting Ryan to the Victoria Police, resulting in a jail sentence for Ryan in 2006. Now, Paul David Ryan is scheduled to face a committal hearing in 2018 in the Melbourne Magistrates Court (case number H12143748), relating to more boys who he allegedly assaulted during his priestly career in Victoria.(By a Broken Rites researcher, article updated 24 January 2018.)

Marist Brothers admit suicides by sex-abuse victims

Broken Rites Australia is doing research about adults who have suffered a premature death while still feeling damaged by church child-abuse (and by the church's cover-up). For example, Broken Rites has discovered that two former pupils, from a prestigious Marist Brothers school, have died by suicide. Before dying, both men revealed that they had been sexually abused during their childhood by a long-serving teacher, Brother Aubrey Tobin. (By a Broken Rites researcher, updated 14 January 2018.)

Background article: Disabled boys were abused in a Catholic institution in NSW

One of Australia’s Catholic religious orders – the St John of God Brothers – has specialised in accommodating boys who have an educational (or intellectual) disability. One of these institutions was the "Kendall Grange" boys' home in Morriset, near Newcastle in New South Wales. This Broken Rites article is about Brother Bernard Kevin McGrath, who committed crimes against disabled victims in Australia and New Zealand. McGrath has already served jail terms in both countries, and in 2018 he will be sentenced again for more of his Australian crimes. (By a Broken Rites researcher, article updated 1 January 2018.)

How Christian Brother Daniel McMahon became "Father" Daniel McMahon

Broken Rites has discovered that the Catholic Church has made settlements with several former pupils who encountered Brother Daniel John Virgil McMahon while he was teaching with the Christian Brothers in Catholic boys' schools in Western Australia (from the 1960s to the 1980s). In the early 1990s, the church elevated Brother McMahon to the rank of "Father" McMahon and allowed him to minister as a priest in parishes on the other side of Australia — in Tasmania, 3500 kilometres away.

A female victim was later re-victimised by the church authorities

A schoolgirl (named Joan) was sexually abused by a Catholic priest, Father Francis Edward (Frank) Derriman when she was aged 14 and 15. Later (when she was an adult) she was victimised again by the church's controversial Towards Healing system. Meanwhile, this priest left his parish job and eventually gained a university position, supervising Social Work students whose careers might include (of all things!) child protection. In December 2013, aged 60, Joan gave evidence at a public hearing of Australia's national Royal Commission into Institutional Responses to Child Sexual Abuse. Joan explained how Towards Healing acted as a "front" for the church-owned insurance business, Catholic Church Insurances Limited. (Article by a Broken Rites researcher.)

This "celibate" priest fathered two children, his colleagues say

The Catholic Church advertises its priests as being "celibate", but priests can have private relationships (either "gay" or "straight") if this is hidden from the public. For example, Father John O'Callaghan, of Melbourne, had a relationship with a woman, who gave birth to Father O'Callaghan's two daughters. These girls have grown up into adulthood, knowing that they are the offspring of Father John O'Callaghan. The private life of Fr John O' Callaghan is no secret among the Melbourne clergy of his generation but the public did not know about it. (By a Broken Rites researcher, article updated 1 January 2018.)

This priest was committing indecent acts against children from Day One, a court is told

A Catholic priest, Father Bryan Desmond Coffey, was indecently touching young children immediately after being ordained, an Australian court has been told. During Coffey's 37 years in the priesthood, church leaders kept hearing about his criminal behaviour but they always concealed this information from the police, thus protecting the church's holy image of priestly "celibacy". Finally, one victim reported Father Coffey crimes to the police, instead of merely to the church. Coffey was convicted in court, and the media publicity forced the church authorities to realise that they could no longer merely transfer Coffey to another parish. He continued to be a priest, but a priest without a parish. Broken Rites has researched the court transcript to compile the following account of how the church covered up the crimes of Father Bryan Coffey. (By a Broken Rites researcher, article updated on 1 January 2018.)

Archbishop George Pell hired a publicity firm to paint him as a pioneer in "helping" victims

This Broken Rites article gives some background to George Pell's claim that he was a pioneer in "helping" church-abuse victims. In 1996, Broken Rites informed the Australian public that the Catholic Church had been harbouring Father Nazareno Fasciale (pronounced "Fah-SHAH-lay") while he was committing crimes against children. Police charged Fasciale but he suddenly died. Then church leaders, including George Pell, gave this pedophile a grand funeral, demonstrating the church's high regard for this pedophile priest. When Broken Rites exposed this (and other) church cover-ups, George Pell's diocese (Melbourne) rushed into damage control, hiring a public relations firm to announce Pell's "Melbourne Response" strategy, instead of waiting for the church's Australia-wide "Towards Healing" scheme which was due to start a few months later. (By a Broken Rites researcher,)

How the church helped this criminal priest, Father Ron Pickering

The Melbourne Catholic archdiocese protected Father Ronald Pickering for many years while he committed crimes against children in his parishes. Eventually he fled from Australia, evading justice. The Melbourne archdiocese then began sending retirement payments to Pickering at his new address in England. The Pickering cover-up was eventually exposed in the media by Broken Rites. (Article by a Broken Rites researcher.)

Background article: The church gave the paedophile priest Robert Claffey a new parish, putting more children in danger

This Broken Rites article gives some background about how a Catholic priest, Father Robert Claffey, committed sexual offences against children (mostly boys) while the Catholic Church transferred him around parishes in western Victoria for 14 years between 1969 and 1992. Some of Claffey's victims began contacting Broken Rites in 1993, and Broken Rites gave each victim a Victoria Police phone number where the victim could have a chat with child-protection detectives. In 1998, Claffey was convicted regarding two of his victims, and in October 2016 he was jailed regarding 12 more of his victims (Claffey's offences included buggery, indecent assault and sexual penetration of a child). The 2016 court case brought the court's total to 14 children. Since then, two more alleged victims have contacted police and, as a result, Claffey (still in jail) will face preliminary proceedings in Geelong Magistrates Court in early 2018 regarding these new charges. (By a Broken Rites researcher, article updated 1 January 2018.)

The church versus Anthony and Chrissie Foster: Some background

One of Australia's most notorious paedophile priests, Father Kevin O'Donnell, committed sexual crimes against children throughout his 50-year career in Melbourne Catholic parishes while his superiors and colleagues looked the other way. In his final years, he even received public praise from one of his superiors, Bishop (later Cardinal) George Pell (see further down in this article, under the sub-heading "Praise from George Pell"). Eventually some of O'Donnell's victims (with help from Broken Rites) contacted the police and got O'Donnell convicted and jailed. Later, more people came forward with complaints about Father O'Donnell (including Anthony and Chrissie Foster, whose two young daughters encountered O'Donnell in his final parish). After all this exposure about Father O'Donnell, Archbishop George Pell hired a public relations firm to paint Pell as a pioneer in "helping" victims. Therefore, Anthony and Chrissie Foster asked Pell to grant proper compensation to help their two damaged daughters, but Pell's lawyers tried to defeat the Fosters (instead of "helping" them). The story of the Fosters is told in the second half of this Broken Rites article. (By a Broken Rites researcher, article updated 12  December2017.)

This criminal priest, Monsignor John Day, was helped by the church's cover-up

Broken Rites has forced the Catholic Church to admit that it protected one of Australia's worst paedophile priests, Monsignor John Day, for many years while he was committing sexual crimes against children. One church leader — Bishop Ronald Mulkearns, of the Ballarat diocese — spoke in defence of Monsignor Day. At one stage, Monsignor Day had another criminal priest, Father Gerald Ridsdale, working under him — two criminal priests in the one parish. And later a eulogy of Monsignor Day was published in the diocese's magazine (about this time, Father George Pell became editor of this magazine). (By a Broken Rites researcher, article updated 12 December 2017.)

After 30 years, the church was forced to say 'sorry' for the rape of a 13-year-old schoolboy

The Catholic order of Vincentian Fathers has finally apologised to a Victorian man ("Peter"), who was raped by a priest (Father Murray Joseph Wilson) in the 1970s when Peter was 13. This was a crime and Wilson was risking jail but, as so often happens in church-abuse cases, Wilson knew that the church culture would intimidate his victims into remaining silent. In 1979, Wilson died mysteriously at the age of 44 before any of his victims felt able to report Wilson's crimes to the police. (By a Broken Rites researcher, article updated 1 January 2018.)

Full story: Father Ridsdale's life of crime — and the church's cover-up

This Broken Rites article is the most comprehensive account available about how the Catholic Church shuffled a paedophile priest, Father Gerald Ridsdale, from parish to parish for three decades while he committed sexual crimes against children. Broken Rites has been researching Ridsdale since May 1993, when he famously walked to court for his first sentencing, accompanied by his support person, Bishop George Pell. Broken Rites began supporting Ridsdale's victims, resulting in four more court cases for Ridsdale between 1994 and 2017 (without the presence of George Pell). (Background article, by a Broken Rites researcher.)

BACKGROUND: An archbishop has delayed facing court, charged with cover-up

For more than two years, Adelaide's Archbishop Philip Wilson has delayed turning up in court, where he is to be charged with allegedly concealing a colleague's child-sex abuse 40 years ago. Police allege that Wilson knew about (but kept quiet about) offences committed by pedophile priest James Fletcher in New South Wales. Archbishop Wilson was supposed to attend Newcastle Local Court in New South Wales on Tuesday 28 November 2017, to begin a two-weeks hearing about the alleged concealment, but his lawyer told the court that Wilson is "too unwell" to attend court because he has recently (at the age of 67) developed dementia which (Wilson says) is affecting his memory and his cognitive ability, making him unfit to stand trial. However, Wilson also said (in a message to Adelaide parishes on 29 November 2017) that, despite his dementia, he intends keep his job as the archbishop of Adelaide until he reaches the retirement age for bishops in eight years time when he will be 75. The Wilson case is listed again for court on 6 December 2017. (By a Broken Rites researcher, article updated 5 December 2017.)

Paedophile priest Peter Searson worked under various bishops, including George Pell

For years, the Melbourne Catholic Archdiocese knew that Father Peter Searson was committing sexual offences against boys, girls and women but he was allowed to continue in parishes, including at the Doveton parish (in Melbourne's south-east), where he survived for years under the supervision of the regional bishop for the south-eastern suburbs, Auxiliary Bishop George Pell. The Victoria Police investigated Searson for sexual offences in parishes but found it difficult to extract evidence from "loyal" church people. Eventually, after 35 years as a priest, the police managed to charge Searson with physical assault. Thus, Searson's abuse thus became public. The church authorities were forced to dump Searson from parish work. Hoping to protect the church's public image, the church also removed his name from the published list of retired priests. (Background article by a Broken Rites researcher, article updated 5 December 2017.)

After 30 years, these female victims finally succeed in exposing a priest's crimes

Several women have told Broken Rites Australia how they were sexually abused, when they were teenage girls, by Father John Ignatius O'Callaghan, who was a "chaplain" for the girls' section of the Catholic Church's Australia-wide "Young Christian Workers" organisation. According to colleagues, Father O'Callaghan also had a long-time sexual partner, with whom he fathered two children. (By a Broken Rites researcher.)

These victims obtained justice, supported by Broken Rites

Research by Broken Rites has revealed that a former trainee Catholic priest (Gregory Vincent Coffey) was sentenced in South Australia for a child-sex crime and then, despite this, he was given a senior teaching position in a Melbourne Catholic school, enabling him to commit sex crimes against more children. In court proceedings in Melbourne in 1994 and 1997, Coffey pleaded guilty to indecently assaulting boys who were in his custody at a Marist Brothers secondary school in Melbourne in the 1970s. The Melbourne court did not know about Coffey's earlier conviction in South Australia. Broken Rites was present in the Melbourne court, supporting the victims and taking notes. Broken Rites also conducted its own research into Gregory Coffey's past. During this research, Broken Rites discovered Coffey's earlier South Australian conviction. (By a Broken Rites researcher, article updated on 3 December 2017.)

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