Used with permission.


Evidence and Statistics on Child Sexual Abuse Amongst Church Clergy, 1990-2000.

© Copyright -- Eros Foundation, April 2000











Most people who follow a Christian lifestyle are dedicated individuals of good, moral character. They are sincere in their beliefs and generally work for the betterment of everyone in society.

However, there are also people involved in religious orders who, for reasons best known to themselves, use their positions of trust to molest and defile the most vulnerable individuals in our society - young children. Some of them have stooped so low as to have molested intellectually handicapped children.

No-one wants to talk about these crimes because, for many of us, they are too horrific to believe and the gap from trusted spiritual leader to paedophile is just too difficult for many to traverse. So it is ignored. But these cases of child sex abuse, perpetrated by religious leaders, must be faced -- no matter how difficult that may be -- if we, as a society, are to reduce their number or, better yet, eradicate them altogether.

From the research contained in this book, it is clear that a significant number of child sex abuse cases do involve clergy and church officials, though a far greater number of cases occur than are ever reported. However, the increasing number of cases that are reported serve to highlight what a massive problem this has become. Some have even called it an epidemic but one that has been brushed under the carpet.

We ask you, the reader, to follow up this research with your own, and to discuss the problem with your family and friends. Above all else, find out what’s happening in your own community. Only then can you decide what to think about the sensitive and controversial issues of paedophile priests, the moral hypocrisy their actions engineer and the countless victims whose lives they destroy.

This booklet is not designed to criticise religion or make judgments on the day to day lifestyles of church clergy. It is published in the hope that by acknowledging these events, perhaps more will be done to prevent their continued occurrence.


Nearly 450 individual child sexual assaults by church clergy are referenced in this publication as having been dealt with by Australian courts in the short space of 10 years. This shows that, as a profession, the priesthood has lost its direction and has become a real danger to the community. The scale of this travesty is so great that only the highest level enquiry will get to the bottom of it.

We ask for your help and support in encouraging the Federal Government to conduct a Royal Commission into child sexual abuse amongst church clergy and officials, immediately.

We believe the terms of reference for such an inquiry should include the following:

1) An examination of the content and practice of training programs that church and clergy officials have undergone in the past and continue to do so in the present;

2) An examination of the effects, if any, that celibacy and sexual repression have upon child sex abuse;

3) The nature and extent of the church's cover up of child sexual abuse within its ranks;

4) The need to reassess current government assistance to church-based education and training programs that deal with children, including taxation and other breaks; and

5) The extent to which church leaders, who have presided over child sex abuse cases in their jurisdiction, have affected current censorship regimes that deal with child sexuality and sexual violence in general.



There are too many cases of sexual abuse perpetrated by clergy and church officials for all of them to be listed in this small booklet. However, we have recorded many of the cases that were brought to trial in the 1990s. The first case we list involves a man whose tragic death you may already know about but the reasons behind this Aussie legend’s demise may come as more of a surprise to many of you.

Death Of A Football Hero

It is well known that child sexual abuse destroys many lives in this country, and around the world, but when that abuse leads to the death of a public hero, in later life, everyone sits up and takes notice.

Sadly, for Peter Jackson -- the rugby league star known to fans as the happy-go-lucky clown prince of the league -- he was never able to overcome the aftermath of the sexual abuse he experienced as a schoolboy at the Southport School on the Gold Coast in 1979 and 1980.

The untimely death of the star footballer-turned-media personality, from a heroin overdose at the age of 33 in November 1997, seemed unthinkable. After-all, Jackson’s career had gone from strength to strength, playing nine Test matches for Australia, representing Queensland in the State Of Origin 17 times, playing for the Canberra Raiders, Brisbane Broncos and North Sydney Bears before embarking on a media career.

But Jackson was also a troubled man, who sought medical help numerous times to battle drug addiction and manic depression and, during treatment, told doctors about the sexual abuse he experienced in his youth. There is little doubt that this abuse impacted greatly on Jackson’s life and may well have led to his premature death.

Just weeks before he died, Jackson had given his solicitor a four-page letter detailing his life story and telling of the abuse that dated back to when he was 16 years old.

The teacher involved was 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.

McNamara confessed to molesting Jackson and said he felt guilty about it after being told that the abuse had tormented Jackson later in life. He even tried to contact Jackson after his 1989 wedding but Jackson’s wife, Siobhan, had told him to "never to approach [Jackson] again".

"I know it was stupid, I think I was very naive," McNamara admitted in a newspaper interview. "Jackson was something very special to me and it just got out of hand... I have always felt guilty about what did happen, I thought he grew out of all that."

But like many victims of sexual abuse, Jackson was scarred for life and no amount of success on the football field, in the media and even in his personal life could cure him of the pain he felt within.

Lawyers acting on behalf of Jackson’s widow would eventually settle a case with the exclusive Anglican private school where the alleged sexually abused had taken place. The undisclosed settlement was believed to be in the vicinity of $250,000 but no amount of money could ever make up for the loss of her husband under such tragic circumstances.

Jackson was a brilliant sportsman, well liked by colleagues, fans and the media, but his tragic demise is just one example of what happens to many of the victims of child sexual abuse perpetrated by church and clergy officials every year.

Cases Settled Out-Of-Court

Following are some of the cases of sex offences committed by clergy/church officials and organisations that were settled out-of-court in Australia in the 1990s.

  • 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 Queensland history.
  • 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

    Following are some of the cases of clergy/church officials who pleaded guilty to sex offences in Australia in the 1990s. There can be no doubt as to their guilt but some sentence conditions may have changed due to legal appeals.

  • In 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.

  • In 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 offence.

  • 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.

  • A member of the 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.

  • In 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 offences.

  • 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 months.

  • 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 Gerard Majella, 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 months.

  • 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.

  • Retired 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 charges against 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 had unrelentingly singled 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.

  • In 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 of the 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 body.

  • 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 Christopher’s parish in Syndal, of which 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 areas."

  • 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 years jail.

  • 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 service.

    Clergy/Church Officials Found Guilty By A Jury

    Following are some of the cases of clergy/church officials who were found guilty of sex offences in Australia in the 1990s. Some names have been omitted for legal reasons (as legal appeals may be pending).

  • 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 abuse of seven altar boys and one girl in several parishes in the 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 name was suppressed but the DPP prosecutor, Robyn Denes, told the Campbelltown District Court that "the evidence discloses a systematic abuse of a young child. She was 11 years old when it 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 5 years 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 NT.

  • 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

    Following are some of the reports of allegations of sex offences made against clergy/church officials in Australia in the 1990s. Some names have been omitted for legal reasons, to protect the identity of those with trials and investigations pending.


  • 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 bed-ridden 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

    Following are some of the cases of clergy/church officials who committed suicide or died before being charged with or tried for alleged sex offences in Australia in the 1990s.


  • 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 Michael Evans, 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 and fondled 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

    Following are some of the cases where alleged charges against clergy/church officials were dropped or convictions overturned on appeal in Australia in the 1990s. Some names have been omitted for legal reasons.


  • 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-years-old. 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.


  • The book The Australian Paedophile and Sex Offender Index, published in 1996, includes a listing of offenders by occupation. This listing reveals that Clergy and Church Officials make up the largest single group of offenders. Of the more than 350 offenders named in the book, 68 were Clergy & Church Officials, 38 were Teachers, Educators, Universities and Schools Related (but not religious teachers) followed by 34 Computers, Videotaping, Video Games, Entertainment & Media Related. Other occupations prominently listed included Public Servants, including Members of Parliament, Councillors, Council Workers, Defence And Police Force Members and Self-Employed, Managers, Directors, Farming And Business Related. The thoroughly researched book found no prostitutes, no sex shop owners, no X video producers and no adult publishers with paedophile backgrounds or sex offences recorded against them.

    *Published in 1997 by Hodder and Stoughton, Child Sexual Abuse and the Churches by Patrick Parkinson outlines the problem from within the church and offers a very Christian strategy as a way forward. The real problem with this approach is that it fails to recognise the root causes of why church clergy sexually assault young children and instead focuses on 'overcoming' the problems and becoming 'more vigilant' etc.

    *Sexual Abuse in Christian Homes and Churches by Carolyn Holderread Heggen. Published by Herald Press in 1993.

    This book is written by a psychotherapist who specialises in sexual abuse. It offers hope that confronting broken sexuality will bring healing - for survivors of abuse, for perpetrators and for the church. The book drew conclusions that were well ahead of their time in this area.

    Even in 1993, the book was able to state that:

    'A disturbing fact continues to surface in sex abuse research. The best predictor of abuse is alcohol or drug addiction in the father. But the second best predictor is conservative religiosity, accompanied by parental belief in traditional female-male roles.'

    This means that if you want to know which children are most likely to be sexually abused by their father, the second most significant clue is whether or not the parents belong to a conservative religious group with traditional role beliefs and rigid sexual attitudes (Brown and Bohn,1989; Finkelhor, 1986; Fortune, 1983; Goldstein, Kant and Hartman, 1973; Van Leeuwen, 1990).

    * Other reference works include:

    Betrayal of Trust: Clergy Abuse of Children by Annie Laurie Gaylor


    In case you thought that the problems of clergy and church officials committing sex offences was a uniquely Australian problem, we give the following overview of a number of overseas cases.

    Clergy/Church Officials Charged Or Convicted Of Sex Offenses

    Following are some of the overseas cases of clergy/church officials charged with or convicted of sex offences or exposed in sex scandals in the 1990s.

  • In the largest settlement for a sexual abuse case, the Catholic diocese of Dallas, in the US, agreed in 1998 to pay .4 million dollars to eight former altar boys and the family of a ninth boy -- who committed suicide at the age of 21, who were all victimised and sexually abused by former priest Rudolph "Rudy" Kos. The diocese had earlier agreed to pay three other Kos victims .5 million. Kos, presently serving a life sentence for abusing the boys in three churches in or near Dallas in the 1980s and early-1990s, had previously served a year in a juvenile detention centre for molesting a neighbour. The settlements came after a jury awarded 11 plaintiffs .6 million in 1997 but the plaintiffs (and a 12th victim that filed suit after the award had been made) agreed to take the much lesser amount because they knew the diocese could not afford the larger payment. The bishop of the diocese, Charles Grahmann, issued a "deeply" felt apology when he announced the payment.
  • In 1996, Canadian Roman Catholic bishop, Hubert O’Connor, was sentenced to two-and-a-half years in prison for sex crimes against native Indian women at a boarding school he ran in the 1960s. O’Connor was the most senior Catholic clergyman in Canada to be convicted of such offences.
  • In 1996, UK Roman Catholic priest, Father Adrian McLeish, was jailed for six years after admitting 12 charges of sexual abuse of boys under 14, eight of possessing and distributing child pornography and two of importing illegal videos. For five years McLeish had been abusing boys, contacted through their families’ connection with the church. During sentencing, Justice Moses said, "You sexually abused four young boys, some of whom you groomed with a view to indulging your sexual desires." McLeish had also built a collection of child pornography that would have filled the 24-volume Encyclopedia Britannia 11 times over. Detectives said that some of his collection, that included 9,000 images, was the worst material seized in England.
  • Rabbi’s assistant, Yehudah Friedlander, pleaded guilty in 1995 to sexually molesting a 15-year-old girl on a flight from Melbourne to Los Angeles.
  • In 1995, Austrian Archbishop of Vienna, Cardinal Hans Hermann Groer, resigned his position amid claims he had molested up to 2,000 pupils, monks and seminarians.
  • American ex-priest, James Porter, who admitted to molesting as many as 100 children in three US states, was charged with 46 counts of sodomy and indecent assault committed against 32 people 30 years earlier in a southern Massachusetts diocese. Porter eventually pleaded guilty, in 1993, to 46 charges of sexual misconduct. A year earlier, Porter had been convicted in Minnesota of molesting his children’s baby sitter in 1987 and sentenced to six months jail. While a priest, Porter had been confronted by his superiors over sex abuse claims on at least five occasions in 1963 and 1964, where the claims were backed by solid evidence, but was simply returned to parish work after in-house counselling.
  • US television evangelist preacher, Jim Bakker, and his wife Tammy, once had 600,000 religious followers. But when news got out about Bakker’s affair with church worker, Jessica Hahn, his popularity plummeted. Worse was to come when Bakker was indicted then later convicted and jailed on fraud charges associated with his PTL Ministry.

  • Research conducted by former vicar John Thorburn and presented at the American Psychological Association conference in 1999, found that a sixth of Church of England vicars in Britain had extra-marital affairs and another sixth was attracted to other men. This makes British vicars more likely to be unfaithful to their wives than businessmen. Just under half the vicars surveyed admitted indulging in pornographic books and videos, one in 10 visited strip clubs and "a few" also used prostitutes, citing loneliness and depression as the driving force behind their behaviour.
  • In 1999, The Queensland Commission of Inquiry into Abuse of Children, led by former state Governor Leneen Forde, uncovered such pervasive abuse that 14 allegations of criminal conduct, including criminal, physical and sexual abuse, were referred to police. The 380-page report examined 1,500 files and interviewed 300 alleged victims from more than 150 Catholic and non-Catholic homes, orphanages and child detection centres operated from 1911 to the present. The report concluded that the history of institutional care in Queensland until the 1980s was one of sacrificing children’s interests to expedience. There were many cases of children being preyed upon by paedophiles in some institutions, abused, raped, starved and flogged, sometimes with great fury, using belts and sticks. Often the children bled from the beatings, were forced to strip and endure cold as punishment, were locked up in darkness and force-fed when they would not eat. Over-all, the report found widespread abuse, neglect and deprivation in institutions for children.
  • Victoria’s largest class action was underway in 1999, with more than 100 former state wards alleging systematic sexual, psychological and physical abuse at homes and orphanages across rural and metropolitan Victoria that were run by several religious and lay bodies, notably Catholic nuns. Some cases stem from 1955 to 1965 and involve children being flogged, used as virtual slave labour, being victimised by paedophiles and, in some cases, being shared among fellow staffers by their abusers. Ms Vivian Waller, of the Melbourne law firm Maurice Blackburn & Co, confirmed legal proceedings were underway and that "both boys and girls were repeatedly forced (by male and female staff) to perform indecent acts and to participate in sexual intercourse". She added that the abuse was often "repeated and severe" and that the state, "was the legal guardian of each state ward and had a moral and legal duty to ensure the safety of each child". More than 200 former wards have given their histories to the law firm, many of whom have viable legal claims and those who experienced the most severe forms of abuse may be awarded as much as $200,000 in compensation.
  • A 1998 Tasmanian independent report into allegations of sexual misconduct and paedophilia by senior Anglican Church officials received 160 telephone call and 40 pages of face-to-face submissions relating to sexual abuse by clergy, staff, teachers and volunteers -- identifying 17 individuals as abusers, 15 of which were members of the clergy. The report, known as Not The Way Of Christ, found there was a hard-core group of clergy with sexual tendencies towards young males, described by a member trying to break away from the group as the "grubby little circle". Two males and one female also disclosed being raped as children and one male told how he and his sister were sexually abused over a five year period. The report also found eight women had entered into sexual relationships with ministers as adults and eleven people said they’d been victims of sexual abuse while boarding at Anglican schools. Several people also raised concerns about a lack of action by the church over the allegations.
  • According to Broken Rites, a support organisation for victims of sexual, physical or emotional abuse from members of religious organisations, 35 Catholic priests and religious brothers in Australia were sentenced for sexual crimes and five other died before their cases reached court, between 1993 and 1997. Another eight had been committed and awaited trial or magistrates’ hearings while a further dozen were charged on summons. Others were still under investigation by Police.
  • The New Criminology, by Max D Schlapp and Edward E Smith, studied two generations of statistics examining the population of prisons and found that about 1% of those incarcerated were atheists or people without religious training. The vast majority of inmates had been brought up with religious training and that more than half the prison population came from Catholic backgrounds in particular.
  • A newspaper article published in 1995 claimed that from 1987 to 1995, nearly 100 Christian Brothers, from Sydney, Wollongong, Toowoomba, Perth and Darwin, had been accused of misconduct -- typically the sexual abuse of schoolchildren.

    Many people opposed to censorship often have difficulty understanding the moral crusaders who choose to become self-appointed custodians of public morality. One can understand any person choosing certain moral codes to govern their own lives but what motivates them to force their moral codes onto others?. Perhaps the following analysis of anti-vice crusader, Anthony Comstock, penned by Harvey O’Higgins and Edward Reede (in their book, The American Mind), sheds some much needed light on the motivations of other crusaders, even those in Australia.

    "The Puritan lived in a state of war with his instinctive self, which he regarded as his evil self tempting him to live according to the law of the flesh when he wished to live according to the Pauline law of God. He hated the flesh in himself and he hated even more fiercely that flesh appearing as the vices of others. Hence he was a great persecutor, a strong vice-crusader, the best witch hunter... It is useless to tell such a man to love his neighbour as himself; he hates so much of himself. His hate, reservoired within him, gets its drainage in raids on vice, in the prosecutions and suppressions carried on by anti-vice societies, and in the campaigns of reform that call for the punishment of evil-doers."

    Keith Wright

    Former Labor MP and Baptist lay preacher, Keith Wright, was a strong moral campaigner -- deeply religious, opposed to pornography and a vehement defender of children and their need for protection. As it turned out, children would need protecting from Wright, the former Queensland state Opposition leader and member for the federal seat of Capricornia, with a sexual bent towards adolescent girls. Wright was arrested, tried by jury and found guilty of one count of rape, one count of indecently dealing with a girl under 14, and four counts of indecently dealing with a girl under 16. His victim had been aged 13 when the abuse, which occurring between 1983 and 1985, first began. At the age of 16, when the girl involved tried to break off their relationship, Wright, refusing to take no for an answer, raped her in her own bedroom. Wright received an eight year jail sentence for these crimes in 1993 then, a year later, his sentenced was increased by 12 months after a second trial for more sex offences. In the second trial, involving another victim -- an 11-year-old girl when Wright began molesting her -- he was found guilty of one count of indecent and unlawfully dealing with a girl aged under 14, between 1984 and 1986, and two counts of indecent dealing with the same girl in 1989 and 1990. Wright was eventually paroled on 11 June 1999, after serving only five years of his sentence, and has now launched a new phonetics-based 4S literacy program for children on the Gold Coast. Wright has said that promoting his literacy package is a chance for him to "contribute to the community".

    Pastor Howard Carter

    Baptist minister Pastor Howard Carter was the executive director and founder of the Covenant Evangelical Church’s political and educational arm, the Logos Foundation. The foundation had originally been founded in 1966, in New Zealand, but when Carter moved to Sydney three years later -- joining the fundamentalist Christian Faith Centre and later founding the Covenant Evangelical Church -- Logos moved with him. In 1988, Logos headquarters moved to Toowoomba, a more fertile ground for the emerging New Right church. Originally welcomed to this part of Australia, the established churches turned their back on Logos when the foundation ran a $100,000 campaign during the 1989 state election, arguing that moral issues like pornography, capital punishment, homosexuality and abortion were more important than political corruption. Purporting that his church had two basic commitments, Carter told Toowoomba’s Chronicle newspaper that year that "one is a profound and personal commitment to Jesus Christ, the other is to family." However, even as he uttered those words, Carter was secretly committing adultery, a cardinal sin in the eyes of Logos, with a female member of the congregation. Carter was soon forced to resign his position in disgrace after being confronted by church elders. Carter’s actions eventually led to the demise of Logos, its properties sold for reputed several million dollars, some of the money used to set up a new organisation known as NCV.

    US Evangelist Preacher Jimmy Swaggart

    Well known American evangelist and ardent anti-vice crusader, Jimmy Swaggart was born in Ferriday, Louisiana, and grew up in a small town where his uncle paid for the construction of an Assemblies of God church, the largest Pentecostal denomination in the US. Both his parents were evangelists and his grandmother constantly studied the Bible. It was only natural that Swaggart too would become an evangelist and began preaching on street corners. Eventually Swaggart’s preaching crusades would encompass the US and many other countries. In 1973, Swaggart began using video as his primary medium and, within 10 years, had become the most popular television preacher in the US with some 200 stations sending his message into 2 million households. In 1987, Swaggart was instrumental in publicizing the scandal that brought about the downfall of fellow television preachers Jim and Tammy Bakker but, a year later, he too was forced to resign his position after a fellow preacher showed photographs of Swaggart with a New Orleans prostitute. Swaggart gave a tearful confession at the time, admitting to an unspecified sin, but refused to bow to church discipline and resumed his ministry. However, three years later, Swaggart was caught again with another prostitute in his car in Indio, California. Swaggart has remained entrenched in his religion and continues to fund raise compulsively, attempting to resurrect his lost outreach to souls by means of FM radio and the Internet.


    If there was one crime in society that could be said to be the most perverse, it would surely be the sexual assault of an innocent child. So what is it that has caused the most elevated teachers in our community to perform the most perverted crimes so frequently?

    Bertrand Russell once said of clergymen, 'Any average selection of mankind set apart and told that it excels the rest in virtue, must tend to sink below the average'. While there are many church clergy in Australia who clearly defy this description, Russell's comments may be very appropriate to those clergymen who battle sexual repression and rigid dogma.

    From a very early age the novice clergyman is told to eradicate sexual thoughts from his consciousness altogether. Internal dialogue on sex is discouraged so that many priests grow into middle age with no framework to hang sexual urges or experiences upon. The number of paedophile priests who cited 'sexual naivete' as some sort of defence to their crimes in court reports is astounding.

    Some religious orders like the Mormons actually publish official instructions on how to avoid masturbation. The Guide to Mormon Youth under the heading of Overcoming Masturbation exhorts young people to 'Set a goal of abstinence. Begin with a day, then a week, month and year....If you masturbate, colour that day black' (on a calendar). Under the heading of 'Avoiding Temptation', the Guide encourages novices to leave the door partly open when on the toilet or in the shower and to 'wear pajamas that are difficult to open', 'put on several layers of clothing that would be difficult to remove while half asleep', and 'In severe cases, tie a hand to the bed frame'.

    'Employ aversion therapy. To cancel out the pleasurableness (sic) of masturbating, associate something very distasteful with the act. For example, imagine bathing in a tub of worms and eating some of them'.

    Clearly these are extremist views and a form of mind control that is unacceptable to a reasonable adult. The Catholic Church has quietly and belatedly admitted that attitudes like this around the training of priests can cause problems. In December 1999, A Catholic Bishop's report called Towards Understanding, suggested that little or no training in the issues of sexuality and celibacy could contribute to sexual abuse by clergy. However, the report also confirmed that the church had still not accepted its responsibility in the epidemic of child sexual assaults by suggesting that there was no evidence that the incidence of abuse of children was greater in the church than in the community at large. This is clearly and demonstrably untrue. With 450 individual child sexual assaults by church clergy acknowledged in the courts over the past 10 years, the nation's churches constitute the largest employer of paedophiles in the country by a very long way.

    In fact this may just be the tip of the iceberg. Consider this.

  • A study conduced by Professor Freda Briggs, Russell Hawkins and Mary Williams at the University of South Australia found that of 179 men who were sexually abused as children or convicted child molesters, 15 per cent nominated Catholic priests as their abusers.

  • Research conducted by journalist, Jason Berry, in the US revealed that 15 per cent of all Catholic priests in the US had sexually molested children in their care, but only a tiny proportion faced charges. According to other news sources, US Catholics had filed suits against nearly 500 priests over the past several years from 1993 and the church had already paid out nearly million dollars to plaintiffs who could eventually number in the tens of thousands.

  • In 1992, ABC Compass program aired an episode entitled The Ultimate Betrayal that claimed at least 15 per cent of Australian Clergy, of all denominations, sexually abused people in their congregation.

    There appears to be approximately 20,000 church clergy in Australia. If the 15 per cent figure is ultimately proved then there could well be 3,000 child sex offenders in the church and not 450.

    More worrying are recent reports from the US that hundreds of Roman Catholic priests have died of AIDS and hundreds more are living with HIV. In late January this year, an in depth Kansas City Star/Reuters' report stated that 'priests were dying of AIDS at a rate at least four times that of the general population.' The report quoted estimates from medical experts, priests and health statistics in drawing its analysis.

    The fact that the Church officially outlaws gay sexual relations and opposes the use of condoms says much about the reasons for such an epidemic. The report quoted most priests as saying that the church had failed to give them any early sex education that would have equipped them to deal with the issues.

    The statistics and the evidence that we have on hand suggests that the problem is getting worse rather than better.

    No other profession features in child sexual abuse statistics to anywhere near the extent that church clergy do. Their response to increasing criticism on the issue is to point the finger at the sex industry in an attempt to shift their guilt. Sex crimes and sexual depravity will naturally be found in an industry that deals in sex, they argue. So whenever prostitution or censorship law reform is on the agenda, Bishops, Cardinals, suburban and country priests all step forward to condemn those working in the sex industry as immoral and perverse. Politicians continue to bow to the church's so-called 'moral authority' and turn a blind eye to the real facts about child sexual abuse.

    How strange it is then that not one prostitute or so-called pornographer appears to have ever been convicted of child sexual abuse in Australia. Not even one.

    Clearly there is something about the nature of the sex industry that diminishes child sexual abuse and there is something about church culture that encourages it.

    The job ahead for our legislators and community leaders is to conduct a formal enquiry to determine just what this 'something' is.

    Representing Australia's sex industry, the Eros Foundation has approached church clergy on a number of occasions in the past with the aim of initiating dialogue on sex and censorship issues. From the Roman Catholic church there has been silence and arrogance on the issues. On the 11th October 1996, the Rev Mark Coleridge, a regular anti-sex campaigner in the church, wrote in reply to an Eros request by stating, ' In my capacity as Church spokesman, I have received many invitations but yours ranks among the more exotic. I am not sure what you have in mind when you suggest a debate, but I cannot imagine anything that would be of mutual benefit. I am afraid therefore that I shall have to decline.'

    On the 6th of June, 1997 and again on the 27th May, 1999, the Eros Foundation wrote letters to the Roman Catholic Church's parliamentary representative, Senator Brian Harradine outlining the problems of child sexual abuse in the church and asking him to support an official enquiry. His silence was deafening.

    Without any engagement on the issue the church is isolated and will continue to make the mistakes of its past. The prosecution of 450 sex crimes against it in 10 short years is overwhelming and damming evidence. It is the responsibility of government now to impose that engagement for the good of the community and the good of the church.

  • © 2000 Eros Foundation

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