Abused student punched paedophile Marist Brother in head, royal commission hears
A child abuse survivor has told a royal commission he punched a Marist Brother “hard in the head” after being subjected to horrific abuse at his Catholic high school.
The Royal Commission into Institutional Responses to Child Sexual Abuse hearing into the Maitland-Newcastle Catholic diocese has resumed for its second week.
The hearing is also probing the response of the Marist Brothers to allegations of child sexual abuse made against several Brothers over decades.
Abuse survivor CNQ described traumatic and sustained abuse at the hands of several Brothers while he attended a Marist Brothers high school in the Newcastle suburb of Hamilton in the early 1970s.
CNQ recalled being masturbated by Darcy John O’Sullivan, known as Brother Dominic, after being sent to him to receive the cane in 1977.
CNQ said he was later anally raped by Brother Dominic.
“It hurt a lot and I screamed,” he said.
“Afterwards I was dazed and was wandering around the lunch area.”
He said the abuse by several teachers continued for years until he snapped while being touched by one of the Marist Brothers.
“Brother Patrick sat in the desk next to me and started to touch my leg,” he said.
“By this time I had had enough and punched him hard in the head.
“He fell off the chair and I remember his head thumped into the next desk.”
CNQ told his mother of the abuse and they met with the school principal, who berated the boy for hitting the teacher while saying “there’s nothing I can do” about the abuse.
Earlier, the commission heard Brother Patrick molested boys “every maths lesson” and students wore tight belts to stop him putting his hands down their pants.
Child’s death a ‘prank gone wrong’
Photo: Marist Brother Francis William Cable, known as Brother Romuald. (ABC News: Lauren Kendall)
The commission also heard details about the suicide death of 13-year-old Andrew Nash in 1974.
The teenager was a student of Francis Cable, known as Brother Romuald, and his mother Audrey has long suspected he was the victim of sexual abuse.
A former priest and psychologist for the Maitland-Newcastle diocese, William Burston, admitted he may have said the death was a “prank gone wrong” at the time.
“There was no sign of any anxiety or trauma,” he said.
He was pushed on the issue by the barrister representing Audrey Nash, Hilbert Chiu, who repeatedly asked him if the child had killed himself in his own bedroom.
Ms Nash is expected to give evidence to the commission this week.
Survivor blames Marist Brothers for inaction
The commission also heard from survivor Michael Balk, who attended a Marist Brothers school in Sydney in the 1960s.
Mr Balk recalled abuse by Brother Romuald, while the Brother was head of the cadets.
The abuse included a “small arms parade” in which Brother Romuald demanded the boys undergo a medical inspection of their genitals.
Mr Balk told the commission that the school principal, Brother Kevin, was later told about the abuse and advised that Brother Romuald would be moved to another school but did not mention reporting the matter to police.
“It was his fault that Brother Romuald continued to abuse more boys and it is his fault that more lives have been shattered,” Mr Balk said.
Brother Romuald was sentenced to 16 years’ jail last year after being convicted of dozens of child abuse charges.
Another abuse survivor, CNR, said he is in a “permanent state of shock” over the church’s response to abuse, likening it to somebody failing to assist at a road accident.
A former director of professional standards for the Marist Brothers, Brother Alexis Turton, told the commission some brothers admitted to him they had committed offences.
Brother Alexis confirmed more than 10 brothers told him about acts of abuse they had carried out.
He has been asked to provide a list of those names when the commission hearing resumes in Newcastle today.
If you or anyone you know needs help, contact Lifeline on 13 11 14.
Hamilton Marist Brothers students describe their abuse
The Newcastle Herald
05 Sep 2016, 8:30 p.m.
Michael Balk, aged 64, and four more survivors – CNS and his brother CNV, followed by CNQ and CNR – talked about their various experiences of abuse at the hands of Brother Romuald, Brother Patrick, Brother Dominic and other clergy.
At the end of CNQ’s evidence, the commission was left pondering the fact he’d been abused by three Brothers and had two school principals tell him they could do nothing about the abuse he had suffered.
CNQ was about 12 when Dominic first abused him, burying his hand in his pants and asking if he was old enough to have pubic hair. He asked him if he was circumcised, and if he knew what that meant.
CNQ told the commission that Dominic’s abuse continued until it got to the point where the Brother bent him over to have sex.
“I screamed. Brother Dominic then released me and helped me gather my clothes. He was rushing me to get dressed and literally pushed me out of his office,” CNQ said.
Another time he was sent into Brother Dominic’s office to get chalk, and another boy was standing between the priest’s legs in is underpants and socks.
Brother Dominic was not CNQ’s only abuser. He was also assaulted at a school camp when he woke up to find another teacher, Brother Oswin, had his hand in his pyjama pants.
When Brother Patrick turned his attentions to him, CNQ said he was “stunned because of what had happened to me in the past with Brother Dominic and Brother Oswin”.
One day, with Brother Patrick sitting beside him fondling his thigh, CNQ said he punched the priest, which resulted in him being disciplined. He said when he told the headmaster, Brother John, about the abuse, the principal “put both of his hands up in a defensive manner” and said: “There is nothing that I can do about that”.
“I said: ‘That’s bullshit.’ and he replied: ‘Don’t speak to me about that’,” CNQ said.
When he transferred to St Pius X Adamstown to get away from the Marist Brothers, he said the principal there reacted the same way, putting his hands up and saying he could not do anything about it.
Earlier, CNV told the commission about Brother Romuald’s pursuit of boys in the shower room and the swimming pool, describing an occasion when the brother stood naked before about 20 boys with an erection “and a wry smile” as “just another day” at school.