in these 10 years almost 450 individual child sexual assaults by church clergy have been dealt with by Australian courts.
The following is a brief listing of some of those cases.
Out of court settlements:
Barbara Smith received a near-record amount in a compensation settlement, in January 2000,
from a Franciscan order for incidents involving sexual abuse perpetrated on her by two of
their priests in 1982 and a separate compensation from the Melbourne archdiocese for sexual
abuse by another priest in 1973. Although the terms of the settlement are subject to a
confidentiality agreement, it is believed Smith received a total of more than $200,000. Smith
said she was relieved her fight for justice was over but still felt bitter about her treatment,
adding that she first brought her sexual abuse complaint to the attention of former
Archbishop Frank Little in 1975.
The Sisters of Mercy and the Catholic Church negotiated an out-of-court settlement, in 1998,
with more than 60 former resident of the Neerkol orphanage between 1924 and 1971, who
claimed they were abused and imprisoned as children. In October 1997, the Sisters of Mercy
apologised “unreservedly” to former residents who were “victims of physical, psychological,
emotional and spiritual abuse”. The settlement ended one of the largest litigation cases in
1996, Christian Brothers in Western Australia agreed to pay out $3.5 million to more than
260 men claiming they were sexually abused in boarding schools and orphanages run by the
Catholic order, dating as far back as the 1930s. The out-of-court settlement is the final
chapter in a three year court battle by the men, in a case that was fought in the NSW and
Victorian supreme courts. Former students will be paid at least $2,000 each, with higher
payments of up to $25,000 for those who can show long-term trauma. The Christian Brothers
will also pay a further $1.5 million in legal costs incurred by the ex-residents
Clergy/Church Officials Convicted After Pleading Guilty
Ossie McNamara, a former Catholic Marist brother who had
previously been convicted for indecently dealing with a boy at a Brisbane school and had also
been charged with assault and indecently dealing with a male arising from his time at St
Joseph’s College in Queensland in the 1970s.
March 2000, Catholic priest, Terrence Thomas Keliher, pleaded guilty to two counts of
indecent dealing with a girl under 12 years, occurring between January 1 and June 4, 1977. In
sentencing Keliher to two-and-a-half years jail, Judge Brian Hoath said he accepted Keliher
was remorseful but the acts he committed on the then 9-year-old victim were “particularly
revolting” and done while Keliher was in a position of great trust.
1999, Catholic priest, Father Raymond Deal, a former secretary to retired Melbourne
Archbishop Frank Little, pleaded guilty in the Broadmeadows Magistrates Court to three
charges of indecent assault against an emotionally impaired 26-year-old man at his Corpus
Christi parish in Glenroy between December 1998 and March 1999. The victim was a
parishioner who had been placed in Deal’s care to serve out a community service order
imposed for minor past offences. During Deal’s sentencing, magistrate, Mr Paul Grant,
described the offences committed as “a betrayal of your position as a priest and a betrayal of the
trust placed in you of your supervision of this man,” adding, “The offences must be regarded as
serious breaches of the law...” Deal was sentenced to a two year good behaviour bond for the
first two offences and a four-month prison sentence, suspended for two years, for the third
Former Roman Catholic parish priest, Wilfred James Baker, pleaded guilty in 1999 to 15
charges of indecent assault involving seven boys and one count of gross indecency involving
another boy. The child sex offences spanned almost 20 years, beginning in 1960, and the
victims were all aged between 10 and 12 years at the time of the offences. Baker was a curate
then parish priest at a number of suburban parishes including Gladstone Park, Eltham and
Brighton East and was described by former parishioners as an enthusiastic priest who
revitalised parishes at Eltham and Gladstone Park. Baker was sentenced to four years jail for
the child sex offences.
Salvation Army, Phillip Martin Lawrence Briscoe, of Valley View in SA,
pleaded guilty, in 1999, to possessing child pornography after photos were discovered of two
young girls under his care as foster children. Briscoe claimed the photos were taken of the
naked, young girls as a form of art. Though none were explicit, Judge Sulan said the
photographs were “mildly seductive” and that Briscoe “showed little sensitivity to the girls in
taking and retaining the photographs”. Briscoe was fined $1,200.
1999, former Anglican archdeacon, Louis Victor Daniels, formerly of St George’s Rectory,
Burnie, admitted to four counts of indecent assault and two of oral sexual intercourse,
involving a 14-year-old boy, related to two incidents between January 1, 1992 and April 10,
1992. More sex offence charges, arising from about 10 more incidents in 1994, that had been lodged against Daniels, were later dropped because the prosecutor was unable to give
specific dates for the offences.
Former Christian Brother, John Joseph Jordan, was given a 12-month good behaviour bond
after pleading guilty, in 1999, to one count of indecent assault on a male under 16 years of
age. Jordan, from Valley View in SA, had engaged in mutual masturbation with a 13-year-old
boy at a Geelong orphanage in the early 1960s then left the order soon after the offence,
which came to light in 1997 after Jordan volunteered the information to police.
Catholic priest Patrick Joseph Cleary, formerly the priest of the inner western Brisbane
parish of Ashgrove, pleaded guilty, in 1998, to three counts of indecent dealing between 1967
and 1973. He molested a 15-year-old boy whose mother had just died, while the boy was in
the confessional at a church in Wavell Heights. A second attack occurred after Cleary
contacted the boy’s father, telling him to send the teenager in for religious education. A
second victim, who was 16 at the time, was molested after Cleary took him to a park to look
for his lost bike.
John Gerard Patrick Sweeney, a former parish priest of Our Lady Queen of Peace at
Greystanes and the founder and former superior general of the now-disbanded order of
religious teaching brothers, the Society of St Gerard Majella, pleaded guilty in 1998 to
committing an act of indecency against former trainee brothers over an 11 year period.
Sweeney, who also helped administer the former Newman Catholic High School, was one of
the order’s three ordained priests who have each been jailed in relation to sexual assaults of
young men considering a religious life with the order. Two others are serving jail terms for
offences involving novices and postulants. Sweeney had also been convicted by a jury in May
1997, of three counts of indecent assault and was jailed for 18 months in relation to those
Brian Robert Gordon, former Queensland Catholic Education administrator, was sentenced
to a minimum of 12 months jail for child-sex offences committed while he taught at a Sydney
school. Gordon pleaded guilty in 1998 to six charges and was found guilty on a further two
charges of indecently assaulting four 11-year-old boys at St Mary’s primary school in Dundas
between 1970 and 1972. Gordon had confessed his indiscretions in 1971 to the Provincial of
the Marist Brothers but was told to put it behind him. He went on to teach at a number of
schools until he was arrested on charges of indecent assault in 1996. Gordon said that he was
ashamed about what he had done to the boys, although he had never gone to confession
about it. He is no longer a practising Catholic.
Former De La Salle Brother, Frank Keating -- who was known as Brother Ibar, pleaded
guilty in 1998 to 21 charges of indecently assaulting 12 Melbourne boys, between 1972 and
1978, and was jailed for eight months. The court hearing was told that Keating had joined the
order at a very young age and was described as “sexually naive”. Keating, who was stood down from the Melbourne school after complaints of sexual abuse, had received specialist
medical advice and ongoing medical support. He was later posted to the De La Salle College
in Redcliffe as sports master in 1981 and then appointed school principal in 1989 but, two
years later, he was stood down when “a further compliant was received”. Keating was
sentenced to three years jail, with 28 months suspended.
Former Catholic primary school teacher, Andrew Langley Graham, pleaded guilty in 1998
to one charge of indecent assault between 1979 and 1980, four charges of indecent assault in
1983 and one charge of having sexual intercourse without consent in 1983. All the offences
occurred at Camden and involved Graham masturbating the boy, who was 10 when the first
offence was committed. During sentencing, Judge Helen Morgan said, “This matter cannot be
treated as isolated offences. They constituted a course of conduct over a long period,” adding that the victim estimated Graham had molested him at least 30 time. Graham was jailed for 12
In 1997, a Church elder pleaded guilty to unlawful carnal knowledge and to maintaining a
sexual relationship with his 15-year-old sister-in-law and was jailed for four years with a
recommendation for parole after 16 months.
Former Catholic priest and second in charge of the religious order the Society of St GerardMajella, Peter Harold Pritchard (also known as Joseph Pritchard) pleaded guilty in 1997 to a
charge of buggery, one of assault with intent to commit buggery and two counts of
committing acts of indecency, committed against four teenagers. Pritchard also had four
charges of acts of indecency, that occurred at HMAS Nirimba at Quakers Hill -- where
Pritchard was the Catholic chaplain, taken into account by the judge during sentencing.
Pritchard received a six year jail sentence.
Former principal of a Marist Brothers college, Gregory Vincent Coffey, pleaded guilty in
1997 to six counts of indecent assault against two students that occurred in 1976 and 1977 at
Immaculate Heart Marist Brothers College where he taught. Coffey was sentenced to a jail
term of two-and-a-half-years, wholly suspended for two-and-a-half-years. Coffey was also
ordered to pay his victims compensation of $7,500 each, in monthly installments of $500.
Catholic priest, Leo Daniel Wright, pleaded guilty in 1995 to nine counts of indecently
dealing with a girl under 12, four counts of indecently dealing with her sister when under 16
and three counts of gross indecency with a boy under 16. The offences against the children
occurred between 1968 and 1970. Wright also pleaded guilty to one count of indecently
assaulting an 18-year-old woman in 1977. Wright was sentenced to three years jail. Two years
later, in 1997, Wright pleaded guilty to four counts each of indecent treatment and indecent
assault between 1971 and 1976 and was sentenced to a further 18 months, suspended after six
Catholic priest, Father Gerard Vincent Ryan, who worked in the Maitland-Newcastle
dioceses, pleaded guilty in 1996 to 11 charges, six of indecently assaulting four boys and five
of homosexual intercourse with another boy. He also asked Judge Rummery, in the District
Court, to consider, on sentencing, eight more offences. Ryan was given a four year jail
sentence. A year later, in 1997, Ryan returned to court to face a further 14 sex offences against
boys aged 6-14. Sentenced again, this time in the Cooma District Court, Ryan had another 39
charges taken into account and was received an 11 year jail sentence, to commence in May
2000, after the sentence he was already serving had expired.
Mark Geoffrey Fisher, a former scoutmaster and Anglican church choirmaster, pleaded
guilty, in 1997, to charges of 35 sex offences involving eight boys aged between 11 and 15,
that occurred over a 17 year period up to 1988. Fisher, who was scoutmaster at the 1st
Hunters Hill troop between 1969 and 1988 and choirmaster at several Anglican churches,
told the Parramatta District Court he was sorry for his actions. “I’m truly ashamed and I hope
they are in a position to forgive me,” said Fisher.
Marist Brother John Dyson, a former principal of the Catholic High School at Alice Springs,pleaded guilty in 1997 to four counts of indecent assault against two boys in a Catholic
college in Victoria in 1983. Dyson admitted masturbating the boys up to five times a week
while he was a teacher and dormitory master at Assumption College at Kilmore, Victoria.
Salvation Army major, Charles Alan Smith, pleaded guilty, in 1997, in Perth District
Court to 39 charges, including indecent dealing with a child under 14, carnal knowledge
against the order of nature, gross indecency and indecent assault, committed against nine
boys aged between 10 and 17 over a 15 year period. Many of the offences were committed in
the 1960s and 1970s. Smith had earlier pleaded guilty to 76 offences against 20 boys in Perth
from 1958 to 1977. During sentencing, Chief Judge Kevin Hammond described Smith as a
dominant man and a true paedophile who had preyed on young boys and used them as
sexual plaything, sentencing him to 15 years jail.
Catholic priest, Desmond Laurence Gannon, pleaded guilty in Melbourne Magistrates
Court in 1997 to indecently assaulting three boys, one as young as 12, between January 1960
and March 1969. Gannon had already served a 12 month jail term at prisons in Sale and
Ararat for child-sex offences to which he pleaded guilty at Prahran Magistrates Court in
1995. Gannon was sentenced to 12 months in jail, suspended for two years.
Former Anglican minister, Frank Dennis Martin Bazely, of Belhus, pleaded guilty in 1997 to
four counts of unlawful and indecent dealings with boys under the age of 14, three counts of
unlawful and indecent assaults on a male, two of unlawful and indecent assaults on a female
and three of carnal knowledge on a male. The crimes took place between 1969 and 1975 and
involved three children -- two brothers and their sister, aged six to 16. Bazely was jailed for a
maximum term of five years.
Former Christian Brother, Stephen Francis Farrell, pleaded guilty in 1997 to nine counts of
indecently assaulting two brothers aged nine and 10, at the St Alipius Christian Brothers
primary school in Ballarat in the early to mid-1970s. During sentencing, Magistrate Ian von
Einem described the abuse as “repulsive and outrageous” and that it had a lasting impact on
the victims. Farrell was given a two year jail sentence, suspended for two years.
Anglican youth group organiser and former Bunbury scout leader, Frederick Charles
Underwood, pleaded guilty in 1997 to 79 counts of indecent dealings, 10 counts of gross
indecency, one of procuring indecent dealings, one of inciting indecent dealings and another
of attempted carnal knowledge. Underwood had originally been charged with 500 sex
offences involving more than 25 young boys between 1971 and 1991. Some of his victims
later committed suicide and at least one went on to abuse a six-year-old girl repeatedly over
a two year period. Underwood was sentenced to a jail term of 12 years.
Church youth leader, Darryl Lindsay Mowday, pleaded guilty in Brisbane District Court in
1996 to eight charges of indecent dealing and carnal knowledge with a 13-year-old girl,
between 1992 and 1994. Mowday, who admitted having sex with the girl in parks, in his car
and at his home when his wife was away, was sentenced to seven years’ jail
Father Ron John McKeirnan, the former Queensland Catholic Education deputy-director,
was jailed for three years - suspended after 12 months - for child sex offences. McKeirnan, of
Coorparoo in Brisbane, pleaded guilty, in 1996, to 15 counts of indecent assault and indecent
dealing with boys aged 12 to 16 between 1964 and 1965 and again between 1975 and 1977.
A former Marist Brother, identified only as “AB”, pleaded guilty in 1996 to 67 chargesagainst 15 children aged between nine and 11, from his year 5 classes at Mosman Marist
Primary School in 1976 and 1977, at Eastwood Marist primary in 1978-79, St Thomas Moore
in 1984-85 and St Carthages, Lismore, in 1986-87. AB admitted masturbating the boys,
digitally penetrating the girls, forcing many of the children to masturbate him, some of the
boys to masturbate each other and some of the girls to kiss him. AB also performed oral sex
on one of the girls -- on the kitchen table of her family home. After being arrested in the US,
where he had fled just days after two of his victims complained to police, AB was extradited
back to Australia to stand trial and later sentenced to 18 years’ jail. During sentencing in the
Sydney District Court, Judge David Freeman said that AB h ad unrelentingly s ingled out
innocent children, regardless of their sex or circumstances, to satisfy his sexual gratification,
describing him as an “evil” man whose crimes had left deep scars not only on the children he
abused but also on their peers, families and friends.
Former Marist brother, Peter Richard Spratt, pleaded guilty in 1996 to two acts of indecency
against a 14-year-old boy from the Marist College where Spratt worked. The incidents
occurred at Carinya Holiday Centre, Jindabyne, and at a Marist Brothers’ residence at Wategoes Beach, Byron Bay, in 1979. After taking into account Spratt’s remorse, co-operation
with police and clean record, Cooma Local Court Magistrate Jill MacDonald placed him on a
$2,000, two year good-behaviour bond. The victim’s stepfather called the sentence “really
ridiculous...when you consider what it’s done to our son, it’s hard to quantify”.
Former Christian Brother, William Edwin Marchant, from the Bidyadanga Aboriginal
community at La Grange (150 km south of Broome in WA), was charged with four counts of
gross indecency with a 12-year-old boy at Tardun Boys Home in 1967 and 1968. Marchant
pleaded guilty to one count in 1997 and was sentenced.
1996, Catholic priest, Father John Leslie Treacy, pleaded guilty to indecently assaulting a
16-year-old in January 1988 and was placed on a $750 bond but no conviction recorded in
May 1993. After the court hearing, Treacy was sent on leave while receiving psychiatric help
then transferred from the Sandhurst Diocese to the Queensland town of Dalby, where he
worked as an assistant priest.
Keith John Burton, an associate pastor at a Protestant church in North Brisbane, pleaded
guilty in 1996 to one count of maintaining a sexual relationship with a minor, five counts of
indecent treatment of a boy under the age of 16 and one count of having permitted himself to
be sodomised. He was sentenced to seven years, the victims were aged 14 and 12 when the
incidents occurred from 1985 to 1989.
A member o f th e Christian Brothers order, code-named X11, told the Wood royal
commission in 1996 that he sexually molested 20 boys, aged as young as five, over a 28 year
period. X11 admitted he preyed on disadvantaged boys under his care and that he told his
superiors of some of the assaults as early as 1987 but the Christian Brothers did not tell police
and allowed X11 to remain in the order. X11, who taught extensively throughout NSW since
joining the order in 1961, was interviewed by police a year later, after a complaint was made
by one of his victims, code-named X17.
Christian Brother, Edward Vernon Dowlan, pleaded guilty in 1996 to 16 counts of
indecently assaulting 11 male students under the age of 16 between March 1971 and July
1982. Two counts were committed while Dowlan was teaching at St Alipius Primary School,
four counts were committed at St Thomas’ College, seven at St Patrick’s College and three at
Cathedral College. Originally sentenced to nine years and eight months’ jail, Dowlan had his
sentence reduced, by the Court of Appeal in 1997, to six-and-a-half years.
Canberra Anglican priest John Phillip Aitchison pleaded guilty in 1996 to charges of sexual
intercourse with a young boy and was sentenced in the Queanbeyan District Court to three
years jail. Aitchison was already serving a three year sentence after being found guilty in the
ACT Magistrates Court of three acts of indecency against the same boy when he was nine, 10 and 12 years old. Numerous other charges had been laid in NSW for incidences involving
Aitchison abusing the boy in that state. The charges involved fondling and the victim also
told the court that Aitchison would clothe him in nappies and rub talcum powder on his
Former principal of a Victorian Catholic school, James Richard Gunn, pleaded guilty in
1995 to five charges of indecent assault and six of taking part in acts of sexual penetration
with a boy over 10 but under 16, committed between 1987 and 1989. Gunn was sentenced to
three years jail.
Catholic priest, Father Gerard Joseph Mulvale, who was previously found guilty of three
counts of indecent assault of one 15-year-old boy, pleaded guilty in 1995 to one count each of
indecent assault and gross indecency in relation to another male victim of a similar age.
Mulvale was also acquitted of two counts of indecent assault on the first victim. The offences
occurred between 1977 and 1981, both before and after Mulvale became a catholic priest of
the Pallottine Order in 1979. Both victims were members of church youth groups at St
Ch ristopher’s parish in Syndal, of wh ich Mulvale was a leader. Mulvale was sentenced to
three years jail.
Melbourne priest, Father John Kevin O’Donnell, pleaded guilty to 12 counts of indecent
assault on 10 boys and two girls under the age of 16 between 1946 and 1977. During
sentencing, Judge Kellam told O’Donnell he had committed an “audacious and rapacious breach
of your obligations to these children and their parents as their parish priest’’. The counts of indecent assault occurred in Chelsea, Seymour, Tallarook, Dandenong, Hastings, Rosebud and
Oakleigh and all of O’Donnell’s victims were students at schools attached to his parish --
some were altar boys. O’Donnell received a total sentence of 39 months jail in 1995.
Former Marist Brothers Eastwood teacher and trainee priest, Phillip John Hardy, pleaded
guilty to 13 counts (and was found guilty on another five counts) of sexual abuse charges
committed against a boy from the ages of 8 till 16. In 1995, Hardy was sentenced to a
minimum of seven years jail and a maximum of 11 years for his “abhorrent” crimes. During
sentencing, NSW District Court Judge Angela Karpin said Hardy “represents every parent’s
nightmare, a trusted friend, teacher and religious example who flagrantly abuses that trust... The
prisoner is not a monster but over eight years he behaved in a monstrous way.”
Marist Brother, David Austin Christian, pleaded guilty in 1995 to eight counts of indecency,
against a 10-year-old boy and an 11-year-old boy. The incidences occurred while Christian
was the principal of Newman Junior College. He was sentenced in the Perth District Court
and his $10,500 fine was paid by the Marist Church.
Catholic priest, Gerald Ridsdale, was jailed for 18 years in 1994, after pleading guilty to 46
charges of sex abuse of 21 children aged between nine and 15, in various towns around
Victoria between 1961 and 1982. Ridsdale had earlier been charged with 180 counts including 21 counts of buggery, 102 of indecent assault and 55 of gross indecency. Ridsdale had also
been sentenced to jail some 27 years earlier for sexual assault offences committed against
eight victims at Inglewood and Edenhope. During sentencing at the County Court, Judge
John Dee blamed the Catholic Church superiors for failing to take Ridsdale out of circulation
after becoming aware of his criminal conduct, telling Ridsdale, “You were given some
perfunctory in-house counselling before being shifted off to continue your criminal conduct in other
In 1994, the former Vicar-General of Parramatta and parish priest of St Marys, Father
Richard St John Cattell, pleaded guilty to five counts of indecent assault on a 14-year-old
boy who had gone to him to report a sexual assault by another teacher. Cattell told the boy
that this sort of experience was “normal” then indecently assaulted him several times during
the next three years. Cattell was sentenced in the Penrith District Court to two years’ jail.
Anglican priest, Father Michael Roderick Painter, pleaded guilty in 1994 to sex offences
against a 16-year-old boy and faced four further charges of aggravated sexual assault against
a 13-year-old boy. Sentenced in the Perth District Court, Painter received three years
probation and 240 hours of community work.
Catholic priest, Father Peter Lewis Comensoli, pleaded guilty to assaulting two boys aged
11 and 17, and admitting he used alcohol, pornography and gifts to ingratiate himself to his
victims. The former Gwynneville parish priest, was jailed for 18-months in October 1994.
In 1994, a former scout leader and YMCA leader, Robert John Richardson, pleaded guilty
and was convicted on 29 counts of indecent assault, four of indecent acts with a child under
16, three each of gross indecency and indecent acts in the presence of a 16-year-old, and two
of sexual penetration of a 16-year-old. Richardson was sentenced to 10 years in jail for
sexually molesting the boys, who were aged 11 to 16 at the time of the offences. During the
case, it was alleged that Richardson molested 12 boys in his charge and that the crimes he
committed numbered about 100
Roderick Albert Joseph Corrie, one of the most senior and highly decorated Scouts in NSW,
was jailed for seven years in February 2000 after pleading guilty in the District Court to eight
most serious of 77 charges of sexually abusing children as young as 11, including rape and
buggery, occurring from 1969 to 1995. Two years earlier, Corrie had been convicted of eight
charges of “aggravated indecent assault” and placed on a bond, given counselling and 70
hours of community service. The leader of Australia’s 90,000-strong Scouting movement, Dr
Bruce Munro, apologised to the families of those abused after the Sydney Morning Herald
obtain a copy of a 14-page report written by a senior Scout leader in 1981 that detailed
serious allegations of Corrie abusing four boys, one aged 12 at the time. Munro admitted that
those allegations were not properly investigated or referred to the police and that although
Corrie was initially suspended, he was then simply allowed to transfer as a leader to a North
Shore Scouting group. Even after police began investigating Corrie in 1994, he was allowed to continue having contact with - and sexually abusing -- scouts until at least May 1995.
According to chief executive of NSW Scouts, Mr Peter Olah, Corrie was one of seven
paedophiles in the ‘movement’ to be convicted during the past 10 years.
Former Christian Brother, Gerard William Dick, pleaded guilty in 1994 to 10 counts of
indecent dealing with a boy under 14, more than 30 years earlier. Dick was sentenced to three
Catholic Brother, John Littler, pleaded guilty in 1993 to three charges of indecent assault in
Sydney’s District Court and received a five year good behaviour bond.
Christian Brother Bill Hocking pleaded guilty in 1992 to aggravated indecent assault of 14-year-old boy under his care at a youth refuge and was sentenced to 150 hours of community
Clergy/Church Officials Found Guilty By A Jury
In February 1999, Catholic priest, Bryan Coffey, was found guilty in the County Court at
Ballarat, Victoria, of 12 counts of indecent assault on a male under 16, one count of indecent
assault on a girl under 16 and one count of false imprisonment. The charges related to the
sexual a buse of s even a ltar b oys a nd o ne g irl in s everal parish es in th e Western District
between 1963 and 1975. He was sentenced to three years jail with the whole term suspended.
A later appeal to increase the sentence was brought by the Director of Public Prosecutions,
who argued that the current sentence was manifestly inadequate. The appeal was thrown out
in a 2-1 majority vote.
Bryce Kingsley Fennell, an active church member, was found guilty of three counts of rape
after he invited a 19-year-old intellectually disabled teenager, who had come to his door
selling raffle tickets, into his Mount Gambier home and raped him three times on 4 May,
1998. During the sentencing submission, the court heard that Fennell’s criminal history
related almost entirely to his “sexual problems” and that most of his victims had been aged 15
years or under. Fennell’s solicitor, Mr Nick Vadasz, told the court his client had very little
actual control over his desires and that he was now prepared to be chemically castrated.
Fennell appealed against the judgment but the appeal was dismissed on 13 May 1999 and
Fennell was subsequently sentenced to 5 years imprisonment.
In 1998, a Catholic priest was sentenced to two years of periodic detention after being found
guilty of indecently assaulting an 11-year-old girl in his parish 22 years earlier. The priest’s
Court that “the evidence discloses a systematic abuse of a young child. She was 11 years old when it name was suppressed but the DPP prosecutor, Robyn Denes, told the Campbelltown District happened”. Denes also said the priest had shown no evidence of contrition or remorse for his actions.
Stephen Joseph Robinson, a former Catholic brother of the Society of St Gerard Majella,
was sentenced to a minimum jail term of 18 months after being convicted in 1998 of an act of
indecency on a former postulant and a former novice in separate jury trials. Robinson had
been the society’s former novice master and spiritual director.
A former Christian Brother’s headmaster was convicted on May 17, 1995 and jailed for 5years after being found guilty of two counts of gross indecency. The Christian Brother had
abused two aboriginal boys, one aged under 14 years, on a remote aboriginal community in
Church elder and Sunday school teacher, Robert Arthur Selby Lowe, was sentenced to life
in prison in 1994 for kidnapping and murdering a six-year-old girl. Lowe had been arrested
in March 1993 with a written “confession’’ in his possession that admitted he had abducted
the girl, but claiming she had died after accidentally choking. Lowe had earlier been
convicted of sexual offences in Britain, New Zealand and NSW and been warned for indecent
exposure in Croydon in 1991.
Anglican priest, Father John Sydney Morley, was found guilty on two counts of indecent
assault in 1992 and was given an 18 month suspended sentence. The charges related to
offences committed against an 11-year-old girl and a 14-year-old girl.
Allegations That Lead To Charges Against Clergy/Church Officials
In 1999, the Catholic Church’s Commission into Sexual Abuse found that priest, Father Peter
Waters sexually abused Michael Santamaria, a nephew of the late B.A. Santamaria, in the
1970s. Independent commissioner Peter O’Callaghan made the finding but Father Waters
“vehemently” denied the allegations and formally refused to accept the commission’s
jurisdiction. However, Waters was replaced in his parish of Kyneton in 1999. Michael
Santamaria said he did not disclose the incidents when his uncle was alive as he was still a
force in the church and had befriended the priest involved.
In 1999, a witness from the stolen generations trial told the court how a missionary assaulted
him, as a young aboriginal boy living in Northern Territory institutions, when he was bedridden
with the mumps and alone in his hostel dormitory. The same missionary tried to assault the boy a second time when he next fell ill.
In 1999, former Guildford Grammar dormitory master and Scotch College primary school
teacher, Peter Jeremy Longley, of Karnup in WA, was charged with 20 counts of indecent
dealings with a child under 14 years of age. The charges, for offences allegedly committed
between 1957 and 1984, arose after five complainants had come forward, two were former
Guildford Grammar students, two former Scotch College students and another person. Trial
has not yet taken place, scheduled for 21 June, 2000.
A senior Catholic clergyman was charged with two counts each of indecent dealing with a
boy under 17 and indecent assault. Brisbane Magistrate Peter Mitchell suppressed the name
of the clergyman and that of his alleged victim.
Former science and discipline master of a Sydney Catholic primary school, Robert Joseph
“Dolly” Dunn is facing trial on numerous charges including homosexual intercourse, acts of
indecency, indecent assault, aggravated sexual assault, attempted sexual intercourse, gross
indecency, employing a child for pornographic purposes and supplying cannabis, involving
10 boys aged from seven years and upwards, occurring between 1979 and 1995. Dunn’s trial
was delayed while his lawyers unsuccessfully argued Dunn should be granted immunity
from prosecution because he was granted two indemnities in 1990 so he would help police by
giving evidence about three allegedly corrupt former police officers. Although Judge
Davidson dismissed the District Court action, as of October 1999, the office of the Director of
Public Prosecutions is yet to re-list the case.
In 1998, an Anglican priest faced nine charges of indecent assault on a male for offences that
allegedly occurred during 1973 and 1974.
In 1997, a former Christian Brother faced trial over alleged sex offences against a child under
14 years of age at Perth Magistrates Court. The Brother, who was too ill to face court at the
time, was charged with nine counts of carnal knowledge and five of indecent dealings with a
child under 14, alleged to have taken place in a Perth home between 1955 and 1956.
In 1997, an 80-year-old clergyman and former Neerkol orphanage worker was charged with
three counts of rape and 37 counts of indecent dealing for alleged offences committed
between 1945 and 1975 at the Sisters of Mercy’s St Joseph’s Orphanage. Charges against the
clergyman, who could not be named, included rape of a girl under the age of 14 and indecent
dealings with girls under the age of 16 and boys under the age of 14. The brother of one of
the girls allegedly raped and abused by the clergyman told the Rockhampton Magistrates
Court that he had “spied” on the clergyman and his sister for years, saying, “At the age of 14, I
believed [my sister] had been chosen by God for this. I know it sounds ridiculous but that’s how I felt ... you have to understand our up-bringing -- the [clergyman] was almost God.” He added that it
was not until he was about 18 that he realised the attention given to his sister was morally wrong and that “Not speaking up is something I deeply regret.”
In 1997, a Church Pastor, from Reedy Creek in the Gold Coast, was charged with raping a
16-year-old girl. The youth pastor for the Reach Out For Christ International, pleaded not
guilty to the charges he faced in Southport District Court.
Two retired priests, from the disbanded western Sydney Catholic order, the Brothers of St
Gerard Majella, were charged in 1995 with a range of sexual assault charges after a Sydney
major crime squad team investigated allegations of sexual misconduct by the order. One of
the priests, a 50-year-old, was charged with 13 counts of assault and committing an act of
indecency, two counts of sexual intercourse without consent, three counts of buggery and
one of indecent assault for offences allegedly occurring in Sydney between 1982 and 1992.
The other priest, a 57-year-old, was charged with four counts of assault and committing acts
of indecency, and six counts of indecent assault for offences occurring in Sydney between
1972 and 1985. The order, which had been running retreats for high school students and
conducted religious classes in NSW high schools, was disbanded by Bishop Bede Heather
shortly after the allegations came to light in late-1994. The names of the priests, both from
Nambucca Heads, were suppressed along with the names of their alleged victims. The case
was dealt with in the Downing Centre Court in Sydney.
In 1995, a Christian Brother was committed for trial on one count of buggery, allegedly
committed on a nine-year-old boy at a school in Melbourne in 1958. The evidence was heard
by Magistrate Phillip Goldberg.
Allegations Against Clergy/Church Officials Who Died Before Trial
Father John O’Regan, former priest at Nazareth House in Brisbane, died before police could
interview him over child sex allegations.
In 1997, Peter Bohrsmann, the boarding master of one of Sydney’s most prestigious schools,
St Ignatius’ College at Riverview, was found dead in his car, with the engine running, close
to the 1300-pupil Jesuit school’s boat shed. Two days earlier, Bohrsmann had professed his
innocence when told by Father Christopher Gleeson, headmaster at the college, that an
anonymous but detailed complaint had been made against him.
Prominent Wollongong figure and principal of the Edmund Rice College, Brother MichaelEvans, killed himself just before Christmas in 1994, after a police investigation had concluded
there was enough evidence to charge him with indecent assault. It is alleged that Brother
Evans had been abusing boys for years and, since 1984, victims had complained about him to senior figures in the Catholic Church and to the police.
Catholic priest Father Nazareno Fasciale admitted to police that he had cuddled andfondled an 11-year-old altar boy at beach picnics and after mass in the early-1970s. Fasciale
had earlier told the church hierarchy that he could not deny allegations he assaulted children
in the mid-1950s, the comments leading to his removal from parish work. The 69-year-old
Williamstown priest was facing 13 charges of indecent assault and gross indecency when he
died of cancer on 13 March 1996.
Charges Dropped Or Convictions Overturned
Former parish priest, Reginald Basil Durham, was found guilty of raping a 14 year-old-girl
who was made a ward of the state to escape sexual abuse from her stepfather that had begun
when the girl was eight. The court was told Durham had forced the girl had into a bedroom
at the now closed St Joseph’s Orphanage, at Neerkol, and then raped her in 1966. Following
the attack, the girl was admitted to hospital for five days, in December 1966, with abdominal
pains and fever but records of the treatment had long been destroyed. The girl had
complained to a nun at the time but was told no action would be taken because her allegation
was “made up”. However, she decided to consult police about the alleged rape some thirty
years later, leading to Durham’s court case. Judge Warren Howell, in sentencing Durham to a
seven-and-a-half year jail term, said the Church had displayed “blinding corruption” and a
“reprehensible attitude in trying to cover [the complaint] up.” Judge Howell told Durham, who
had earlier in 1999 pleaded guilty to six counts of indecent dealing with another child in the
1960s, that he was an “evil man” who had engaged in a “gross and outrageous breach of trust”.
The judge also suggested the community expected the Church to make a six-figure ex-gratia
payout to the victim, along with an apology. However, in March 2000, Durham’s conviction
was set aside, by a unanimous judgment of the Court of Appeal, because the trial judge’s
summing up “lacked judicial balance”. The Director of Public Prosecutions will now decide
whether Durham should face trial again on the rape charges.
Catholic priest, Father Kevin Cox, was charged with three counts of sexual assault against
Margaret Heathwood who claimed he began sexually abusing her when she was 11-yearsold.
Ms Heathwood also claimed that Cox made her pregnancy at 17 then gave her $200.00
towards the cost of an abortion when she was sitting her HSC trials. After giving evidence at
the committal hearing in Campbelltown Local Court in July 1997, Ms Heathwood returned to
the public gallery where Cox sat, and suddenly produced a knife that she plunged it into her
neck, telling the priest: “This is for your, Kevin.” Although Cox was convicted of the charges,
the offences having occurred some 20 years earlier, the conviction was later overturned by
three appeal court judges, leaving Ms Heathwood devastated.
Former radio personality, Hadyn Sargent, was charged with 12 child sex-related offences
allegedly committed while he was a Church of Christ Minister more than 30 years earlier.
The offences were allegedly committed against Norman Kozeluh, between 1959 and 1960,
when he was placed in Sargent’s care by a court. The charges were later dropped.
Christian Brother, Robert Charles Best, the principal of a Christian Brothers primary
school, was found guilty in 1998 of six counts of indecent assault and not guilty on a further
12 sex offences relating to three students between 1969 and 1971. Best had allegedly fondled
a grade four boy four times as he sat next to the student in class pretending to take an
interest in his work. He also allegedly twice abused a grade six boy at the school’s sick bay.
Best was sentenced to two years’ jail but won a retrial in 1998 when the appeal court quashed
the convictions and ordered a new trial which has not yet taken place.
A Christian Brother facing 72 charges of alleged sexual abuse of 35 Aboriginal children,
some as young as six, appearing in NT Supreme Court was found guilty of several of the
charges in May 1995. Sentenced to five years imprisonment, the Brother, whose name was
suppressed by the court, later appealed his conviction which was quashed in October 95 and
no re-trial was ordered.
Former priest Father Michael Charles Glennon was convicted in 1991 of five charges of
sexually assaulting teenage boys and a girl while Glennon was master of a karate school run
by the Peaceful Hand Foundation at a property at Lancefield. He was sentenced to nine years
jail but the High Court later ruled that the trial judge, Judge Neesham, had misdirected the
jury in relation to one of the charges involving a teenage boy, and that this had led to a
“substantial miscarriage of justice’’, quashing the conviction and ordering a new trial. The
decision added another chapter to one of Victoria’s longest-running legal battles, which has
been to court 12 times with Glennon convicted, acquitted on appeal, then had his convictions
reinstated on this and other sex charges.
Having a problem accessing a file or finding what you are looking for? Email us
for a listing of alternate locations.
of an article of interest
Publishing a story about TFYQA? - See our for the News Media
Want to share your news! Use Submit TFYQA News
.Pedophilia and sexual abuse of children in Australia