Four paedophiles in same parish an accident of history, Christian Brothers tell parliamentary inquiry ” & related articles

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The Australian

May 03, 2013 11:43AM

by: Erin Marie

From: Herald Sun

Victorian Child Abuse Inquiry - Hearings

Brother Julian McDonald answers questions at the inquiry. Picture: Jon Hargest Source: Herald Sun

A CATHOLIC order at the centre of Victoria’s child abuse inquiry says the existence of a cluster of paedophile priests in Ballarat at the same time was “an accident of history”.

At least four Christian Brothers at Ballarat’s St Alipius Parish School in the early 1970s were child sex offenders, as was parish priest Gerald Ridsdale.

But the order’s deputy province leader Brother Julian McDonald told the parliamentary inquiry there was nothing to suggest a cultural problem.

“I have no explanation for that … It’s certainly an accident of history. Was there a culture that encouraged that? I don’t believe there is evidence that there was.”

The inquiry heard six brothers had been jailed, four of whom remain in the order.

Brother McDonald said a further six, none of whom now had any contact with children, had been investigated by police without conviction.

Jailed serial paedophile Brother Robert Best was still a member of the Christian Brothers and was visited regularly by other members.

“We feel obliged not to let people like Brother Best be unsupervised,” Brother McDonald said.

He said the order had spent more than $1 million on Brother Best’s defences of cases between 1996 and 2011.

It also spent $10,000 on a private eye in the 1990s to probe an alleged victim.

“Our primary concern has always been with the victims,” he said.

He said the order had footed a $10.5 million bill to represent priests in child abuse cases, though it hadn’t paid for legal help for victims.

He said the order had been alerted to only two abuse complaints against a pair of Ballarat brothers, neither of which it reported to police.

“From its perspective the committee can certainly be excused for interpreting it that way (as a cover-up),” he said, prompting laughter.

“We can find two situations in which mistakes were definitely made and I will never try to defend that. That is indefensible.”

The church’s compensation panel chairman David Curtain, QC, said the average payout was $50,000-$70,000. It was not the case silence had been bought, he said.

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Abuse inquiry: Christian Brothers paid $1 million to defend Best

The Courier  (Ballarat, Australia)

May 3, 2013, 12:46 p.m.

THE Christian Brothers paid $1 million to defend paedophile Brother Robert Best.

A further $500,000 was spent on legal fees for other shamed brothers, including Edward Dowlan and Stephen Farrell who, along with Best, taught at Ballarat East’s St Alipius school in the 1970s.

The parliamentary inquiry into institutionalised child sex abuse also heard the Christian Brothers paid a private investigator to look into at least one victim’s “bizarre behaviour” to use in Best’s defence.

In front of a packed gallery at Parliament House, Christian Brothers Oceania Province deputy province leader Brother Julian McDonald said Best, who is still a Christian Brother, was often visited in Ararat jail.

“You don’t just add further to the judgement,” Brother McDonald said.

“Family members should visit another family member in jail. He is still a brother.”

Evidence was also given that Dowlan, who is no longer a Christian Brother, was set up with a discretionary trust fund and housed by the brothers after his conviction and up until 2008.

However, Brother McDonald, who became very emotional during his closing statement, said he wasn’t going to “defend the indefensible” and said the placing of four paedophiles at St Alipius was a “terrible, terrible situation”.

But he said the Christian Brothers had no evidence of collusion between the four, describing it as “an accident of history”.”

Institutions do attract, consciously or unconsciously, people who have paedophilic inclinations.

“There were spartan and repressive conditions when these people joined the congregation. We were taught to be tough and have little communication with our families.

“It was clear some paedophiles found their way into the Christian Brothers.”

Inquiry chairman Georgie Crozier said it was extraordinary nobody noticed.

“The leadership was not trained in those days to know what the signals of paedophilia were,” Brother McDonald said.

He said there were strict rules of conduct though, including never being alone with a boy and not touching children.

“Some mistakes were made that had dire consequences for the victims.

“He said until the 1990s, only two cases of child sexual abuse by a Christian Brother had been reported.

But he said church leaders at the time treated them as cases of “moral failure” and only issued reprimands.

Committee member Frank McGuire asked what selection processes were now in place.

Brother McDonald said a “rudimentary” process had been replaced with the need for at least a tertiary qualification and psychological screenings.

He said 250 complaints had been made about Christian Brothers, with the first in 1934 and only reported in 2000, and the last in 1987 and reported in 2008.

Of those, six brothers have been convicted, with four remaining in the order, and another six were found not guilty but no longer have access to children.

Mr McGuire pointed to an early report showing Brother Dowlan was “immature, spending more time with boys than other Christian Brothers”.

“Why was that not picked up?” Mr McGuire said.

“It was a red light flashing from our perspective now. It should have been a red light then,” Brother McDonald said.

Committee member Andrea Coutt said it was clear the order had looked after the priests and “pushed” them around parishes.

“We made mistakes. Our records indicate those mistakes. We didn’t try and expunge anything,” Brother McDonald said.

“In hindsight, (a cover up) is certainly what it looks like but I don’t think that’s what it was thought of at the time.”

Outbursts from the public gallery followed this remark.

fiona.henderson@fairfaxmedia.com.au

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Christian Brothers say child abuse record indefensible

Yahoo! News (Australia)

ABC

Updated May 3, 2013, 3:15 pm

Peta Carlyon, ABC

The Christian Brothers of the Catholic Church have apologised to victims for what it calls an “indefensible” record on child sexual abuse.

Leaders of the order’s Oceania chapter have given evidence to the Victorian parliamentary inquiry into child abuse.

Victims and their supporters scoffed and shook their heads as the order ran through its history of dealing with abuse, including several paedophiles at the St Alipius Catholic School in Ballarat in the 1970s.

The order admitted it spent $980,000 on the most recent court case of Brother Robert Best, who remains in the congregation despite more than 20 convictions, while it had spent $1.5 million in total on all offenders.

The order’s Brother Julian McDonald has made an official apology on behalf of the church.

“Far too many Christian Brothers have betrayed the sacred trust placed in them and sunk to the depths of abusing children is a matter of great shame for us,” he said.

“It’s diametrically opposed to all that we proclaim and for which we stand.”

The order says it has received 266 complaints of child sexual abuse in the last 80 years.

Inquiry chair Georgie Crozier asked province deputy leader Brother McDonald to explain how so many notorious paedophiles, including Best and Gerard Ridsdale, could have been allowed to offend for so long at the St Alipius Catholic School in Ballarat.

“I have no adequate explanation for that, madam chair. It’s certainly an accident of history,” Brother McDonald said.

“It was a terrible, terrible situation. The lives of young people were devastated.”

Ms Crozier said it appeared at one point in the school’s history that only one female lay teacher was not offending against children.

Brother McDonald said it was a “sad, tragic” story and he would not attempt to defend it.

He said the order believed at the time that the offending was a moral issue, and not criminal.

“Eventually it came to be understood as a psycho-sexual dysfunction. With all of that, it’s a crime. It’s always been a crime and a terrible, terrible crime that has ruined lives,” he said.

“We know that. We knew that and every believer of Christian Brothers should have known that.”

He said he did not believe offenders were protected by “organisational design” but by “elements” within the organisation.

Brother McDonald said there was no concrete evidence of a cover-up at St Alipius, but admitted such a notion had not been investigated by the order.

He acknowledged a cover-up was possible.

Brother McDonald said there was no evidence to suggest, as claimed by victims’ groups, that Ridsdale actively colluded with other paedophiles to abuse children.

He said he had no evidence that the congregation was “infiltrated” by paedophiles but acknowledged such institutions attracted them.

Sick secrets

Brother McDonald told the inquiry the church had a “spartan, repressive” culture at the time.

“We were taught to have little connection to family. For instance we didn’t go to weddings, funerals, family celebrations,” he said.

“It was a culture that was based on moral code of thou shalt not.

“So the culture of religious life when people joined, certainly when I joined, was repressive to that extent.”

Brother McDonald agreed with inquiry committee members it was true the order had made mistakes by moving offenders on.

“There were times when parents became aware their child had been abused. There was anecdotal evidence that they turned up at the door of the priest and asked them to be removed,” he said.

“There is anecdotal evidence police turned up at the door and asked for them to be removed.

“It was a perception that they were beyond offending. They should resist being put up on a pedestal.

“People are as sick as their secrets.

“We have to address the culture so there is no offending in the future. We have to address our secrets and you are helping us to do it.”

The province’s executive officer for professional standards, Brother Brian Brandon, told the inquiry he personally felt “desperately sorry and ashamed” of the order’s record.

He said most complaints of abuse came through lawyers or the church’s Towards Healing project, and the order would be happy to recommend a liaison between Towards Healing and police to ensure accountability.

3 Responses to Four paedophiles in same parish an accident of history, Christian Brothers tell parliamentary inquiry ” & related articles

  1. Sylvia says:

    Four Christian Brothers and the parish priest, all molesters and all connected to the same school at the same time ? Does that not sound more like a ring than an accident of history?

    And look at the money expended on defending the indefensible by the Christian Brothers in Australia:

    – $1 million for the defence of ONE of its members
    – $10,ooo for a private eye to dig up what they could on an “alleged victim”
    – A total of $10.5 million to represent those accused (the article says “priests” but it would probably be both priests and Brothers?)

    And, oh yes, an average payout/victim of $50,000-$70,000.

  2. Brunelle Brenda says:

    This story is just the beginning of many stories to become public from around the world.

    Is there any geographical location in this world of ours that truly believes children are sacred. Are there any Religious institutions that stand hard and strong on moral issues, above and beyond the value of any monetary value?

    It seems to me that at the end of every story, the institutions lose sight of the victims and their grief and focus on the monetary loss for defending their priests!

    It is time to fire them, kick them out. Publish their names on sex offender registries and above all else, report these employees to the police!

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