Marist Brother Hesford had female victims

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In the Melbourne Magistrates Court on 12 December 1997, Marist Brother Francis Hesford pleaded guilty to having indecently assaulted two girls, aged 9 and 12, in the swimming pool at Assumption College boys' boarding school in Kilmore, Vic. He was sentenced to a 12-months good-behaviour bond.

Francis Richard Hesford was born on 1 February 1914. The court was told the offences occurred in 1970, when Brother Frank Hesford (then aged 56) befriended the girls' family and allowed the girls to swim in the school's pool during holidays. "Cathy", 12, complained to her parents that Francis Hesford forced Cathy to fondle his genitals. Cathy's father complained to the parish priest, Monsignor Kevin Morrison, who told the headmaster. As usual, the church persuaded the family that it was a "one-off lapse".

Thus, the family were discouraged from notifying the police. Therefore, Hesford continued to offend.

Unknown to the family, Francis Hesford similarly assaulted Cathy's sister, "Mary", aged 9. Mary did not know about her sister's assault. Mary was silenced because she felt guilty about "defaming" a church leader. So, each girl grew up thinking she was Hesford's only victim.

In 1996, aged 33, Mary finally decided to charge Hesford. She signed a statement at Victoria's Community Policing Squad and then told 'Cathy. Cathy and her parents were stunned to learn that Mary was also a victim. Cathy then also signed a police statement.

In court, as usual, the Marist Brothers went to great expense to protect Hesford. They hired a Queen's Counsel who has defended other Marist Brothers and Christian Brothers.

When convicted, Hesford was retired and was living at in a Marist Brothers' Residence at Newman College, Empire Avenue, Churchlands WA 6018. Hesford was the second Marist Brother who pleaded guilty in the late 1990s to sex offences at Assumption College. In May 1997, Brother John Desmond Dyson was sentenced to a year's imprisonment, to be served as an intensive correction order. Dyson admitted having indecently assaulted three boys, aged 12 to 14, while he was a boarding master at Assumption College.

And then there was the paedophile Father Desmond Gannon (a priest of the Melbourne archdiocese), who was a chaplain at Assumption College while ministering in Kilmore in 1969-71. Gannon was jailed for indecently assaulting boys in various parishes, including a student at Assumption College.

See a story by Mary here.