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Written by a Broken Rites Australia 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.)

Broken Rites exposed the St John of God Brothers in Australia

Since 1993, Broken Rites has been researching the Catholic religious order of St John of God Brothers (SJOG), which has operated in Australia for several generations, providing accommodation for boys and young men who have an educational or intellectual disability. In these SJOG institutions, sexual abuse was committed against many boys almost from Day One. Victims have told Broken Rites that the sex-offenders even included the founder of the order's Australian institutions, Brother Kilian Herbert. On 6 February 2017, the SJOG Order was exposed at a public hearing of Australia's national child-abuse Royal Commission. (By a Broken Rites researcher.)

Victims bring ex-Brother Brian Cairns to justice, again

Brian Dennis Cairns was originally a Christian Brother. Later he worked as a lay teacher ("Mister" Cairns) in Catholic schools in Queensland. In 1985 he was jailed for sex-crimes against boys. Since then, more of his former male pupils have contacted Broken Rites, and therefore Broken Rites arranged for each of these victims to have a private chat with detectives in the Queensland Police. Brian Cairns pleaded guilty regarding all these additional victims and on 13 January 2014 he was jailed again. (By a Broken Rites researcher)

Jailed again: The Marist Brothers inflicted this criminal Brother on more victims

This Broken Rites article is the most comprehensive account available about how the Marist Brothers allowed the sex-abuse criminal Brother Ross Francis Murrin to remain in their Order, thus giving him access to more child victims. Murrin has been jailed three times (in 2008 and 2010 and 2018) for child-sex crimes committed during his teaching career in Australian Catholic schools. There is evidence that his Marist superiors were aware many years ago about his criminal behaviour but they negligently allowed him to continue teaching, until some of Murrin's victims finally began speaking to the police detectives. (By a Broken Rites researcher, article updated 17 December 2018.)

This "chaplain" committed sexual offences in a girls’ orphanage (and his crimes were helped by the Catholic ritual of Confession)

Broken Rites is doing further research about a Catholic priest, Father Bernard Maxwell Day, who was living at a girls' orphanage in Victoria in the early 1960s. Father Day was one of a series of "chaplains" who occupied a flat at the orphanage. His "duties" including hearing each girl's Confession; this sacred ritual enabled a priest to talk to a girl about sex. A senior nun got Father Day removed after allegations that he was molesting girls at the orphanage. In a submission to a Victorian Parliamentary inquiry in 2013, the Melbourne Catholic archdiocese admitted that Fr Day committed sexual offences against children. (By a Broken Rites researcher, article updated 29 December 2018.)

Church paid huge sums to lawyers to defend a criminal priest, Father James Fletcher: Background article

The Catholic diocese of Maitland-Newcastle in New South Wales has admitted that it paid an expensive team of lawyers to defend a paedophile priest in a child-abuse court case. The priest, Father James Patrick Fletcher, pleaded not guilty in 2004 to multiple counts of anal and oral sexual penetration of an altar boy, Daniel Feenan. The offences began in 1990, when Daniel was 12. A jury found Fletcher guilty on all charges. Legal experts have told the media that Fletcher's legal costs for the 11-day trial exceeded $200,000. The church's defence team included a Queen's Counsel, plus a second barrister and a solicitor. Fletcher had various victims, most of whom were still remaining silent. This court case in 2004 was about one victim, Daniel. (Background article by a Broken Rites researcher.)

Background article: The career of Archbishop Philip Wilson

This Broken Rites article is about the career of Australia's Archbishop Philip Wilson. Late in his career, police alleged that Wilson had covered up for a priest (Father James Fletcher) who indecently assaulted a ten-year-old boy (Peter Creigh). Police alleged that, when they were investigating Father Fletcher in 2003-2004 regarding a different victim (Daniel Feenan), Archbishop Wilson possessed information (about the abuse of Peter) which might help the case against Fletcher but Wilson concealed this information, thus protecting the criminal Fletcher. A court convicted Archbishop Wilson regarding his concealment of Peter's abuse. On 6 December 2018, a court quashed Wilson's conviction. This court case, however, was regarding only one of the church's victims, Peter Creigh. What did Wilson know about other criminal priests? (By a Broken Rites researcher, updated on 14 December 2018.)

The church finally admits the child-sex crimes of Father Tony Bongiorno

According to Broken Rites research, the Melbourne Catholic archdiocese has been forced to admit that Father Anthony Bongiorno committed sexual crimes against children during his 30 years working in Melbourne parishes. Anthony (Tony) Bongiorno began training for the priesthood about 1960, aged 25. Anthony Bongiorno's child-sex crimes were covered up until some of his victims exposed him in the mid-1990s. The total number of Father Bongiorno's victims is unknown. For example, in 1980, a woman (named Maria James) learned that her son (aged 11) was a Bongiorno victim but this woman was murdered before she could expose Bongiorno about her son's abuse. (By a Broken Rites researcher, article updated on 1 December 2018.)

A convicted priest appears on TV but is still ignorant about how the church's cover-up can damage the victims and their families

In the early 1970s, a boy complained to the Catholic Church about being sexually abused by a Sydney priest (Father Robert Flaherty) but the church merely transferred the priest to a new parish, thus giving him easy access to more children, a Sydney court has been told. This victim then reported Flaherty to the police. Years later, another victim contacted the police, followed later by a third boy (all from different parishes). In court in 2016, Father Flaherty (then aged 72) was jailed regarding the three boys. In July 2018, a television program ("A Current Affair" on the Nine Network) interviewed Father Flaherty (after his release from jail) and also interviewed one of his victims. On TV, Flaherty is still ignorant about how the church's culture of cover-up can damage the lives (and family relationships) of the church's victims many years later. If you click a link at the end of this article, you can watch the interviews. (By a Broken Rites researcher, article updated 2 December 2018.)

These three victims forced the Marist Brothers to apologise

The leaders of Australia's Marist Brothers have apologised to three ex-pupils of a very senior Marist, who was known as Brother Bertinus. These three ex-pupils went to different schools (in different Australian states) and they do not know each other. In a co-incidence, two of the three have each written a book in which each describes his encounter with Brother Bertinus. (By a Broken Rites researcher)

Part-time "celibacy": How Jane was left holding a priest's baby

The Catholic Church in Australia has apologized to a vulnerable woman who was a victim of "nine-to-five" priestly celibacy. The Melbourne Catholic archdiocese has accepted the woman's complaint that one of its priests had fathered her child. This priest allegedly had been living with the woman and her child in a de facto relationship but he later abandoned the woman and the child. (By a Broken Rites researcher.)

Suicide #1: How the church destroyed the life of altar boy Damian Jurd in northern NSW

In the late 1990s, the Catholic Church paid a small amount to a former altar boy, Damian Jurd, to settle his complaint about having been sexually abused (at the age of 11) by a local priest, Father John Joseph Farrell (sometimes referred to as "Father F"). Damian said his life had been disrupted by this abuse and by the way the church protected Father Farrell. At the age of 28 (not long after this settlement), Damian took his own life, leaving two children of his own. This Broken Rites article gives some more information about Damian's tragic life. (By a Broken Rites researcher, article updated 1 November 2018.)

Suicide #2: The church left an ex-altar boy, Daniel Powell, to take his own life in Sydney

The Catholic Church authorities have accepted a complaint from a former altar boy, Daniel Powell, that he was sexually abused in a Sydney parish at the age of 12 by a Catholic priest, Father John Joseph Farrell (sometimes referred to as "Father F"). Daniel, who was aged 25 at the time of the settlement (in 2005), received a relatively small amount of compensation from the church. But he was still severely damaged by the abuse (and by the church's cover-up). Daniel Powell ended up dying by suicide in 2007, aged 28. (By a Broken Rites researcher, article updated 1 November 2018.)

Full story: The church harboured this pedophile Marist Brother and now he is finally jailed

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 eventually some of his victims began speaking (separately) to the Victoria Police child-protection detectives. When the police finally 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 pleaded guilty to this first batch of victims 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. For each of these convictions (to 2016), he was given a suspended sentence. But on 3 September 2018, McNamara (aged 80) was jailed after he pleaded guilty to sexual offences against five more of his former schoolboys. The 2018 court case is reported towards the end of this Broken Rites article. Meanwhile, after his life of crime, McNamara is officially still a Marist Brother, even while he is in jail. (By a Broken Rites researcher, article updated 8 September 2018.)

Pedophile priest Finian Egan is fighting deportation — and he has support from Archbishop Peter Comensoli

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, the Australian immigration authorities tried to deport Father Egan back to Ireland but Egan contested this order with support from church sources, including support from his previous superior in Sydney, Bishop Peter Comensoli. In 2018, Bishop Comensoli has become the new archbishop of Melbourne. (Article updated on 4 September 2018.)

Father Jack Gubbels died while police were seeking to interview him

In 1995, Broken Rites revealed the story of Catholic priest Father Jack Gubbels, who was transferred from Melbourne to Queensland, where he died while police were seeking to interview him about child-sex allegations in Melbourne. In 2014, Broken Rites has received a report of yet another Melbourne victim who has recently come forward with a complaint about Father Gubbels.

A "celibate" priest was jailed for internet child-sex offences

This Broken Rites article is an interesting case-study in the Catholic Church's notion of priestly "celibacy". A Sydney priest, Father Robert Fuller, was jailed on 24 February 2010 (then aged 54) after he admitted seeking a 13-year-old girl, through the internet, for sexual purposes. (By a Broken Rites researcher, article updated 7 September 2018.).

FULL STORY: How the church continued covering up for this priest

A victim (John Parmeter) has spoken publicly about how he was sexually abused for years by a prominent Australian priest, Father Peter Brock, beginning at the age of nine in 1968. The Catholic Church culture of silence blocked John from complaining until 2007 when he was aged nearly 50 and, by then, the church's cover-up had damaged John's life. In 2008 John received a written apology from the priest and later a financial settlement from the church. But the church authorities still praised Father Brock and elevated him to a prominent national role, thereby making John Parmeter feel abused again by the continuing cover-up. John's public statement exposes the church's cover-up, thereby helping other church victims. (By a Broken Rites researcher)

Father Peter L. Comensoli was jailed but was allowed to remain "reverend"

This Broken Rites article gives another Australian example of a Catholic priest who was not laicized, even after being jailed for child-sex crimes. In 1989, the Wollongong Catholic diocese (south of Sydney) was warned that Father Peter Lewis Comensoli was sexually abusing boys in his parish, but the church authorities allowed him to continue in parish work. In 1993, a newspaper exposed this church scandal. Police then charged Comsensoli and he was jailed in 1994. But the church failed to laicize him and he was listed as "Reverend" for the next 16 years, until his name finally vanished from church directories in 2010 — 16 years after his conviction. As explained at the end of this article, this Father Peter Lewis Comensoli should not be mistaken for another Catholic clergyman — his cousin, Bishop Peter Andrew Comensoli who has been appointed (in 2018) as the new Archbishop of Melbourne. (By a Broken Rites researcher, article updated 4 August 2018.)

This "celibate" priest (a child molester) died in a sex cubicle at a gay club

The Catholic Church sheltered Father John Stockdale for 31 years in parishes in northern Victoria, Australia, while he committed sexual crimes against boys. Parishioners complained about Father Stockdale being a danger to children but these warnings were ignored. The church "just didn't want to know" about Stockdale, victims say. Publicly, Father Stockdale upheld the strict morality which the church imposed on all lay Catholics. Privately, Father Stockdale was going to a gay club to have casual sex. On New Year's Eve in 1995, Fr Stockdale was found dead in a sex cubicle at the "Club 80" gay venue in Melbourne. The church then gave him a pious funeral, but (with help from Broken Rites) the church's hypocrisy about Stockdale was soon exposed. In 2018, Broken Rites is doing some further research on Stockdale. (By a Broken Rites researcher)

The church protected Father Paul Raymond Evans - but now his victims force the church to apologise

Broken Rites is doing further research about Father Paul Raymond Evans who molested vulnerable young teenagers while they were under his supervision at Boys Town (a residential institution for troubled youths) near Sydney between 1977 and 1988. At first, according to allegations by victims, the school administration ignored the abuse. After 1988, the church transferred Evans to suburban parishes, where he was permitted to associate with youth groups, a court has been told. Evans's new parishioners were not told about his problematic past. The full story came out when Evans was finally jailed in October 2008. (By a Broken Rites researcher.)

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.)

Yet another priest is jailed for child-sex crimes at St Stanislaus College in Bathurst NSW

Father Glenn Humphreys, a priest in the Australia-wide Catholic order of Vincentian Fathers, has had a long career ministering in three Australian states. From the outset, at his first postings in New South Wales and Western Australia, Humphreys committed sexual offences against boys. He later became the priest in charge of the Townsville cathedral in North Queensland. Eventually some of his earlier victims spoke to police, resulting in Humphreys being convicted in two states: in 2014 he was jailed in Western Australia; and on 21 June 2018 he was jailed in New South Wales. His NSW case includes offences committed at St Stanislaus College (a boys' boarding school in Bathurst). This school has become notorious because of a number of convicted pedophile clergy at this school. (By a Broken Rites researcher, article updated 1 July  2018.)

A vulnerable young woman became a victim

The Catholic Church in Australia has been forced to apologise to a woman ("Diana") who was sexually abused by a priest (Father Gerard Monaghan) immediately after the death of her husband. (Article by a Broken Rites researcher.)

Marist Brothers admit that Brother Stephen was an abuser

The Marist Brothers leadership has been forced (reluctantly) to apologise to victims of Marist Brother Stephen Farrell, child abuser. The Marists allowed this paedophile to teach for many years in New South Wales and Queensland. Marist Brother Stephen Farrell is not to be confused with a Christian Brother of the same name, who taught in Christian Brothers' schools in Victoria and who has been convicted in Victoria for child-sex crimes committed in the 1970s. (By a Broken Rites researcher.)

A Marist Brother committed child-sex crimes at a "top" Sydney school — and there are also complaints about him in Queensland

For years, the Marist Brothers tolerated a child-abuser (Brother John Dennis Maguire) as a teacher and dormitory master at their high-profile St Joseph's College boys' boarding school in Hunters Hill, Sydney. Maguire allegedly would target the youngest boarders (perhaps eleven years old) who were homesick – comforting them and then sexually assaulting them. In 2002,  police charged Maguire with assaulting six of these boys but the Marist Brothers defeated each of these charges. In 2014, after a total of nine jury trials, a seventh ex-student succeeded in getting Maguire convicted in court. Finally, on 20 March 2015, Maguire (then aged 71) was sentenced to at least 21 months in prison. There have also been complaints about Maguire in Queensland, which would need to be handled by the Queensland police. Maguire was a danger to girls as well as boys. (Article by a Broken Rites researcher.)

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.)

A trainee priest jailed held "prayer meetings" for his victims

Broken Rites is doing further research about Paul Ronald Goldsmith (born about 1945), a former trainee priest who indecently assaulted boys. In the 1960s he trained for the Catholic priesthood in Melbourne but failed to reach ordination. About 1970 he left the seminary. In the 1970s and 1980s, as a layman, he continued his interest in boys by acting as a sports coach at Catholic boys' schools in Tasmania and on the mainland. According to submissions in court, he took boys on camping trips, held prayer meetings at his home and would serve alcohol to teenagers before indecently touching them. (By a Broken Rites researcher.)

Two female victims received an official apology but not much compensation

The Catholic Church in Australia has apologised to two women for child-abuse committed by an archbishop’s uncle. The Broken Rites victim support group helped the two women to obtain the apology. The two women, who do not know each other, were sexually assaulted as children by Brother Brendan George Carroll, who was a senior member of the Catholic teaching order of De La Salle Brothers. De La Salle's Australian office has accepted that both girls were assaulted by Brother Brendan Carroll. The office has paid a small financial settlement to each of these women, but not enough to match the damage that was done to their lives. Brother Brendan Carroll died in 1983. He was an uncle of the Most Reverend Francis Carroll, who became the archbishop of Canberra-Goulburn in 1983. (By a Broken Rites researcher, article updated 1 July 2018.)

Four victims achieved justice after 40 years, but others missed out

In 2018, Broken Rites has received another complaint about Christian Brother Keith Weston. In 2004, Weston pleaded guilty in the Melbourne County Court to indecently assaulting male pupils, aged 11 to 14, forty years earlier. Broken Rites helped these victims to obtain justice in 2004. Ten years later, in 2014, police were about to charge Weston regarding more of his earlier victims but he died (aged 91), thus evading another conviction. (By a Broken Rites researcher, article updated 8 June 2018.)

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