Research about Chevalier College in the late 1980s

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    By a Broken Rites researcher
    (Updated 26 January 2013)

Some ex-pupils of Chevalier College (a Catholic high school near Bowral in southern New South Wales) are still recalling allegations that a Catholic priest (let's call him Father X) indecently touched young boys at the school in the late 1980s.

Chevalier College is owned by an order of Catholic priests and brothers, the Missionaries of the Sacred Heart (known by its Latin initials "MSC"). Chevalier College takes its name from Jules Chevalier, a priest who founded the MSC Order in France in 1854. The school has sometimes been known as Sacred Heart College.

In the 1980s, there could have been up to a dozen MSC priests living on the Chevalier College campus at any one time, but the number of resident priests dwindled in later years.

Chevalier College was originally for boys only, many of whom were boarders. By the 1980s this school had begun taking girls, as well as boys, but only boys were boarders. The boys slept in graded dormitories (a dormitory for Year 7 boys, another dormitory for Year 8 boys, and so on). Near each dormitory there was a bedroom for a priest who would be responsible for supervising that particular dormitory. Thus, it was boys, not girls, who were at risk in this situation.

A male student (let's call him "Boris"), who was aged 12 at Chevalier College in 1988, has told Broken Rites that, when he was in bed after "lights-out", Father X would summon him to Father X's bedroom/study, because (according to Father X) the boy "needed a wash". After telling Boris to get undressed, Father X would touch the boy's naked body intimately, including around his genitals. Boris was intimidated into remaining silent at the time because (he says) he felt that the MSC Order would not welcome a negative statement about member of the clergy.

Boris says that, in early 1989, another male pupil ("Alex") went public and "kicked up a fuss" about having been targeted by Father X. As a result, police visited the school and interviewed students. Thus, the matter was taken out of the hands of the MSC Order.

In mid-1989, following the police investigation, the New South Wales Director of Public Prosecutions charged Father X with indecent assault of a 12-year-old child. A magistrate held a preliminary hearing and then ordered Father X to stand trial at the Goulburn District Court. The trial was held in October 1989 before Judge Bell, with crown prosecutor Paul Conlon representing the Director of Public Prosecutions.

Father X pleaded not guilty and his lawyer contested the allegations strongly. A jury returned a verdict of Not Guilty.

Thus, the MSC Order protected its public image. The MSC Order gave Father X an office position in Sydney, while keeping him as a priest in the MSC order.

The Missionaries of the Sacred Heart maintain a national archives office, where the archivist is Father Anthony (Tony) Caruana, but Catholic Church archives do not normally preserve documents about the church's sexual abuse, such as what occurred at Chevalier College. Therefore, any former students who experienced sexual abuse at Chevalier College should contact Broken Rites Australia. Broken Rites knows how victims can arrange to have a chat with detectives from the New South Wales Police sex-crimes squad.