Brother avoids charges

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The Newcastle Herald

April 29, 2013, 11 p.m.

A CATHOLIC Brother will not be charged for failing to report child sex allegations to police in the 1970s because it was ‘‘not in the public interest’’ and despite a ‘‘prima facie case’’ against him.

The Office of the Director of Public Prosecutions advised police on April 23 against charging retired Central Coast Catholic schools director Brother Anthony Whelan for misprision of felony (concealing serious crime) offences.

It was the second police investigation of Brother Whelan’s time as principal of St Patrick’s College at Sutherland in the 1970s, and his handling of child sex allegations against teacher Thomas Keady.

‘‘Whilst there would appear to be a prima facie case against Whelan for misprision of felony offences, such a prosecution would not be in the public interest,’’ the DPP advised Sutherland detectives last week.

‘‘This takes into account such factors as the relatively low level of criminality against Whelan; his lack of antecedents [lack of criminal history]; the absence of any issue of specific deterrence; the staleness of the alleged offences and the likelihood that a conviction would result in, at best, a negligible penalty.’’

Brother Whelan was investigated by police and Christian Brothers in 2010 after Salt Ash man Rob Lipari alleged he was sexually assaulted by Keady at the school in the 1970s, when he was 11.

A confidential Catholic Commission investigation report in 2010 accepted the offence occurred in 1977. The report found Brother Whelan sacked Keady in 1979, when four more boys reported Keady for ‘‘sexual misconduct’’.

Brother Whelan told Catholic Commission investigator, retired NSW Police assistant commissioner Norm Maroney, that he advised the boys to tell their parents but did not report Keady to police.

Keady served a jail term in Victoria for indecent assault of a minor before moving to NSW and working at the Sutherland school. Brother Whelan was not at the school when Keady was employed. Keady was convicted of another indecent assault at Wyong in 1994.

The mother of one of Keady’s victims said she was disappointed by the DPP decision after making a statement to police that she was not aware of her son’s sexual abuse until a year ago.

‘‘My boy’s suffered for it. I think there’s been a lot more go on that we don’t know about, but the royal commission will bring all that out, I guess,’’ she said.

Mr Lipari said Brother Whelan ‘‘made a decision to do nothing’’ apart from sacking Keady.

‘‘He second-guessed the police in the 1970s. Keady was to some degree tried and convicted by Whelan, but Whelan made the wrong decision.’’

A DPP spokeswoman said it did not comment on matters referred to it by police.

Sutherland Police Inspector Barrie Bourchier said there would be no comment from police, and Brother Whelan’s solicitor had been advised of the decision.

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