Category Archives: Australian Catholic Church
How the church concealed Father Terry Pidoto’s life of crime
By a Broken Rites reseacher
From the link: http://brokenrites.org.au/drupal/node/74
This Broken Rites article is the most comprehensive account available about how the Catholic Church protected Father Terry Pidoto for 25 years while he committed crimes against boys in his parishes.
Terrence Melville Pidoto was jailed in Melbourne in 2007 for seven years after being found guilty of 11 charges including rape.
Pidoto’s priestly career revolved around boys. His superiors and colleagues in the Melbourne archdiocese knew this but they tolerated him, thereby giving him access to victims.
According to court evidence, Pidoto was noted for giving boys a “massage”, sometimes behind closed (or locked) doors. The “massages” enabled Pidoto to commit sexual assaults, sometimes by anal penetration.
According to court evidence, Pidoto even took a boy to visit one of Australia’s leading priesthood-training colleges (Corpus Christi College, Melbourne) and sexually assaulted him in a room there. Other priests or student priests saw Pidoto with the boy at the seminary but they did not see anything unusual about this.
When Broken Rites established its Australia-wide telephone hotline in late 1993, some of our first callers told us about Father Terry Pidoto. Several of these contacted the Victoria Police sexual offences and child-abuse investigation team (SOCIT). Detectives eventually charged Pidoto with child-sex crimes, and a long series of court proceedings began.
Finally, in June 2007, Pidoto appeared in the Melbourne County Court, charged with 22 offences against seven boys. On 18 July 2007, after weeks of evidence and legal argument, the jury returned a GUILTY verdict on eleven charges, involving four of the boys.
On 17 September 2007, the court sentenced Pidoto to seven years and three months’ jail. He was ordered to serve a minimum of five years before becoming eligible for parole.
Crimes at the seminary
According to evidence given in the Melbourne County Court in June 2007, Pidoto committed some of his crimes on the premises of Melbourne’s Corpus Christi College, where the church trains its priests for all the Catholic dioceses in Victoria and Tasmania.
One victim, “Roger“, stated that in 1972, when he was aged 13, he became a parishioner at St Bede’s Catholic parish, Balwyn North (a Melbourne eastern suburb), which was one of Pidoto’s earliest parishes. Roger said that Pidoto took him to the seminary, on the pretext of showing him “where priests are made”. Pidoto, then aged about 27, was a recent graduate of this seminary.
Roger said that Pidoto took him to a bedroom, where there was a single bed, with three of Pidoto’s friends, sitting around, dressed in underwear.
The three men were evidently seminarians, or recently-ordained priests, from Pidoto’s peer group. Pidoto introduced Roger to these men in a sexual manner, saying ‘Isn’t he cute?’
Pidoto’s friends agreed that Roger was cute. Roger immediately knew that he was in danger and asked Pidoto to take him home. Outside this room, in the corridor, Roger and Pidoto passed two other men, apparently seminarians, both wearing shorts. These men exchanged greetings with Pidoto.
Pidoto showed Roger the chapel, saying “this is where we have Mass”, and then took the boy to the dining room, which was deserted. There, he grabbed Roger’s penis, performed oral sex on the boy and inserted his penis into the boy’s anus.
[Pidoto is not the only priest who has taken boys to the Corpus Christi seminary for sexual purposes. Broken Rites has received complaints about two other Melbourne priests who have done this.]
The priest’s background
Broken Rites has compiled the following account of Pidoto’s career.
Terrence Melville Pidoto was born in Melbourne on 12 December 1944, the oldest of eight children. He was educated to age 15 (Year 11) at St Bernard’s College (Christian Brothers), Essendon (in Melbourne’s north-west). Pidoto has said that he then worked with the Victorian Forest Commission for three years and did Year 12 studies while working. In 1964, aged 19, he entered Melbourne’s Corpus Christi College seminary to train for the priesthood.He spent the first four years at the seminary’s Werribee campus (west of Melbourne), where his room-mate for the first six months was Michael Charles Glennon (Glennon, too, later ended up in jail for child-sex crimes). For the later years of his course, Pidoto transferred (along with other senior students) to the seminary’s new campus at Glen Waverley (in Melbourne’s east).
He was ordained on 22 May 1971, aged 26. By then, Pidoto was already “working” with boys. The 1972 annual report of St Augustine’s boys’ orphanage, Geelong, said that students from Corpus Christi seminary, including Father Michael Glennon and Father Terry Pidoto, “have frequently travelled down to St Augustine’s and have given many hours in counselling, holding discussions and helping the boys generally.”
In late 1971, according to archdiocesan records, Father Pidoto spent four months on loan to the Ballarat diocese (ministering at Donald in western Victoria) and two months as a chaplain at Melbourne’s Heidelberg Repatriation Hospital.
In March 1972 Pidoto became an assistant priest at Balwyn North (St Bede’s parish). He also acted as a part-time chaplain and school “counsellor” at the nearby Marist Brothers’ Marcellin College. The school’s pupils were sent, one by one, to a room to have a private “counselling” session with Pidoto.
Pidoto himself has said in court that, by the early 1970s, he was becoming very experienced at “massage”. He said he had lost count of the number of boys he had “massaged” during his career. He “massaged” boys in their homes, at school and in his presbytery, he said.
Father Terry Pidoto became a chaplain for the Scouts movement in Victoria and was involved in their camps. He had a pilot’s licence and went flying in light aircraft, from Coldstream airport, east of Melbourne, taking boys with him.
A Balwyn North woman, “Ruth“, told Broken Rites in 1997: “I had brothers, aged 13 to 16. Terry Pidoto was always after them. He took them on outings, including a flight in a light aircraft. I never liked Pidoto. He was a creep. But he was a priest of the church, so we gave him the benefit of the doubt. [In 1997] we learned that Pidoto behaved intrusively towards these boys. One of my brothers, at the age of 21, came out as gay and said he had been conscious of his own gay orientation since the age of 13 [when he was associating with Pidoto].”
A former Marcellin College student told Broken Rites in 1996: “Terry Pidoto hovered around the Marcellin sports teams and gave them massages. Every kid knew that Pidoto was touching kids and therefore the Marist Brothers knew. Pidoto once put his hands on my shoulders from behind, but I knew his reputation, so I escaped his clutches fast.”
Marcellin is one of Melbourne’s most prominent Catholic schools. The sons of many well-known Catholics, including sons of Peter O’Callaghan QC, have been students there. (Peter O’Callaghan QC deals with sex-abuse complaints on behalf of the Melbourne Catholic archdiocese.)
In January 1975, Fr Terence Pidoto was posted to Kilmore (St Patrick’s parish), 57km north of Melbourne, where he also acted as a part-time “chaplain” at the Marist Brothers’ Assumption College, Kilmore. This was the second time that Pidoto had been given the run of a Marist Brothers school. Assumption College is big on sport and there were many opportunities there for Pidoto to give “massages”.
At Kilmore, the court was told, Pidoto developed a relationship with the police force. He became chaplain for a youth group (the Police Scouts) run by the police. Pidoto was a probation officer for Kilmore and he would “look after” boys who got into trouble with the police. Such boys thus became indebted to Pidoto.
This arrangement was particularly advantageous to any offenders who were students or ex-students of Assumption College. At one of Pidoto’s court appearances (in 2001), a retired senior police officer named Tom gave character evidence in favour of Pidoto. The court was told that Tom had been stationed at Kilmore during Pidoto’s time. Tom said he and Pidoto would help each other regarding offenders. For example (Tom said), if offenders were from Assumption College, Father Pidoto would offer to take them under his supervision, and the police would not charge them. That is, offenders from Assumption College would be let off with a warning and would not have to face court.
[Although Tom did not say so, this arrangement also protected and enhanced the reputation of Assumption College. The arrangement would also be beneficial for any police officer who might want to get his children admitted to Assumption College — a school which enjoyed an unblemished public image.]
While at Kilmore, Pidoto’s reach extended even to State schools, where he acted as a part-time chaplain. A defence witness (a former State teacher) told the court that her State school sent its Catholic students to a room to have an individual “counselling” session with Pidoto.
Pidoto left Kilmore in January 1978. About the same time, Marist Brother John Desmond Dyson (later convicted of sex crimes against boys) was arriving at Assumption College.
Pidoto’s later parishes were in Melbourne suburbs, including St Clare’s parish in Box Hill North (in the late 1970s), St John the Baptist parish in Clifton Hill (about 1979 or 1980), St Pius X parish in Heidelberg West (early 1980s) and St Edmund’s parish in Croydon (during the 1980s). His time at Croydon co-incided with that of another assistant priest, Father Jack Gubbels, who was indecently assaulting boys in that parish.
About 1984, according to court evidence, Pidoto was the victim of a bashing. [This is believed to have been an anti-gay bashing in a public park.]
A Croydon parent told Broken Rites in 1997: “Pidoto used to associate with my son, then aged 11, who was in a Catholic scouts group. Pidoto was a district Scouting official. My son, who is now an adult, is oriented towards males. I asked him if anything happened with Pidoto but my son is loyal to Pidoto and won’t say anything against him.”
In 1988 the diocese promoted Pidoto to be in charge of one of the diocese’s most remote parishes — at Yea (Sacred Heart parish), 80km north-east of Melbourne, where he was the only priest. Some of Pidoto’s victims are wondering if the church hierarchy posted him to such a remote parish in order to get him out of the way. Pidoto remained at Yea, out of sight and unsupervised, until the police contacted him in 1997.
An ex-parishioner from an earlier parish told Broken Rites in 1997: “I visited Pidoto at Yea and he had a boy in his presbytery. Pidoto said it was a homeless youth who he was looking after.”
At one of Pidoto’s court appearances (in 2001), one of his character witnesses (from the Croydon parish) told the court: “I visited Terry at Yea and his presbytery was often full of young people — for example, drug addicts and Scouts.”
After 25 years
While at the Yea parish, Pidoto appeared to be a pillar of the community. In 1993, he was proclaimed as “Citizen of the Year” in Yea. In May 1996, he celebrated the 25th anniversary of his ordination and glowing articles about him appeared in the Yea and Kilmore newspapers on 29 May 1996. The papers had photos of Pidoto, looking holy in his vestments, celebrating Mass with eight other priests.
These articles were seen by “John“, a former altar boy for Pidoto at Kilmore. John (born in 1967) was still upset in 1996 about sexual “massages” he received from Pidoto at the age of ten. In November 1996, John contacted the police sexual offences unit, which already had other complainants about Pidoto — from two males in the Yea parish.
In late 1996, following the widely-publicised jailing of various Catholic Church personnel for child-sex crimes, Melbourne Catholic Archbishop George Pell established an “in-house” system (under Peter O’Callaghan QC) to receive complaints about clergy sexual misconduct. The diocese advertised publicly, inviting complainants to contact Mr O’Callaghan. So John contacted Mr O’Callaghan, demanding that Pidoto should not have access to children. Mr O’Callaghan also received reports about Pidoto from other males.
In June 1997, because of the police investigation, the Melbourne diocese issued a media statement saying that Father Pidoto had been placed on administrative leave until the police investigation was resolved (Melbourne Sunday Herald Sun, 15 June 1997). Subsequently, police received several more complaints about Pidoto, including one from the Croydon parish and one concerning a Catholic school in Ringwood — making a total of half a dozen complaints. And, simultaneously, the Scouting movement removed Pidoto as a chaplain.
In April 1999, the Office of Public Prosecutions gave authority for Pidoto to be charged on summons concerning eight incidents involving three of the complainants — John of Kilmore, plus one of the Yea complainants and one from Marcellin College. Pidoto indicated that he would contest the charges, by pleading not guilty.
Before the committal hearing in the Melbourne Magistrates Court in October 1999, the Yea complainant dropped out. A magistrate ordered Pidoto to stand trial regarding the remaining two alleged victims. The magistrate granted Pidoto a name-suppression order in case Pidoto won the right to have two separate juries. This order meant that Pidoto’s name and charges could not be reported in the media until the time of sentencing.
In the Melbourne County Court in February 2000, Judge Campbell granted separation of trials — that is, a different jury for each complainant. This means that each jury thinks there is only one complainant, making a conviction less likely.
While awaiting his trial, Terence Pidoto (according to later court evidence) was living with the Columban Fathers (a Catholic order of priests, officially called St Columba’s Mission Society) at their headquarters, 69 Woodland Street, Strathmore (north Essendon), in Melbourne’s north-west. The 69 Woodland Street address was given for Pidoto also in the 2001 federal electoral roll. According to court evidence, the Melbourne archdiocese was paying Pidoto’s living costs while he awaited trial. The archdiocese was also providing him with a priest’s stipend, plus a diocesan car, the court was told.
First jury, 2000: The story of John
In the first jury trial n the Melbourne County Court in the year 2000, Terence Melville Pidoto was charged concerning four incidents involving “John” when he was a 10-year-old altar boy at the Kilmore parish — including one indecent assault (meaning indecent touching) and three incidents of buggery or, alternatively, indecent assault. The incidents occurred during “massage” sessions over a period of 18 months in 1977-8.
The prosecution alleged that, in one incident, Pidoto massaged John’s penis and that, in three other incidents, he somehow penetrated John’s anus, thereby necessitating medical treatment.
The court was told that Father Terry Pidoto was a friend of John’s parents. During his frequent visits to their house, Pidoto would take John into the boy’s bedroom, lock the door and then massage him on a table.
In court, Pidoto admitted massaging John, using a lubricant, but he denied committing any sexual assault.
John said he was too frightened to tell his devout parents about the alleged indecent assaults because of Pidoto’s priestly status. Eventually, while John was having marriage problems in his late 20s, he told his wife about Pidoto. At his wife’s insistence, John spoke to a counsellor and finally to the police.
Pidoto’s barrister in the year 2000 (presumably financed by church sources) was energetic and skilful. This barrister persuaded the jury (incorrectly) that John might be “making up” his complaint against Pidoto in order to gain compensation from the Catholic Church.
In fact, however, John had not claimed compensation from the church. His only aim was to get Pidoto removed from access to children.
Some members of this 2000 jury were confused by the defence’s misinformation about “compensation” (and by the assumption that there was “only one” complainant). Thus, the jury was split between those who said Pidoto was “Guilty” and those who said “Not Guilty”. Judge Campbell, requiring a unanimous verdict, discharged the jury and ordered a retrial.
After the jury members left the court, they were stunned to learn that that John was not Pidoto’s only alleged victim.
Second jury, 2001: ‘Guilty’ verdict
In January 2001, a second jury was empanelled for a new trial on the same “John of Kilmore” charges. This time, the prosecutor was careful not to let the jury be mis-led about the church’s system of compensation payments.
One issue in both trials in 2000-2001 was the question of buggery. Medical evidence could not prove how John’s anus was penetrated; furthermore, if the penetration was done by a finger, this would not count as buggery as the law stood in 1977-8.
The second jury found Pidoto guilty on four counts of indecent assault, instead of the more serious charge of buggery.
In sentencing, Judge Neesham told Pidoto (then aged 57): “Your breach of trust is truly wicked…As a priest you were above suspicion.”
Judge Neesham said Pidoto had shown no remorse. He said the priest’s not-guilty plea, together with his attitude in the witness, “militates against any such emotion”.
The judge said a child molester gambles on the age difference and power difference to silence his victim — that is, the offender takes the chance that the victim might speak out later (as John finally did).
Jail sentence, February 2001
Pidoto’s offences against John are serious crimes, with a maximum penalty of five years’ jail per incident. On 21 February 2001, Judge Neesham declared Pidoto a Serious Sexual Offender (under the crimes statutes) and sentenced him to three years’ jail (eligible for parole after 18 months).
The Office of Public Prosecutions was satisfied with winning the case of John and decided not to proceed with a trial involving the Marcellin College student. The Marcellin victim agreed, as he shared the satisfaction of seeing Pidoto removed from access to children after John’s case.
Pidoto had a very expensive and well-resourced legal defence team for his two trials.
Media coverage in 2001
Pidoto’s sentencing on 21 February 2001 was widely reported on Melbourne radio and also in the newspapers — the Melbourne Age, 22 February 2001, the Sunday Herald Sun on 4 March 2001 and the Whitehorse Gazette in Box Hill (circulating in one of Pidoto’s former parishes) on 26 March 2001. This media coverage prompted more Pidoto victims to contact the Victoria Police sexual crimes squad.
After the jailing of Pidoto on February 2001, the case was discussed on Melbourne Radio 3AW by presenter Neil Mitchell who expressed sympathy for the victim, “John“. This irritated Father Michael Shadbolt, of the Doveton parish (in Melbourne’s south-east), who had set himself up as “the Catholic Priests Anti-Defamation League”. Fr Shadbolt published a letter-to-the-editor in the Herald Sun (5 March 2001), attacking Mitchell for having not presented “the church’s side” of the story.
Mitchell then phoned Fr Shadbolt and allowed him to present “the church’s side” on air. The following day, Mitchell interviewed “John”, who gave a first-hand account of the incidents for which Pidoto was convicted. Thus, “both sides” got a hearing. However, Father Shadbolt might have served “the church’s side” better if he had stayed out of the Pidoto affair. In subsequent “talkback” segments, listeners phoned in, supporting John and denouncing “the church’s side”.
Pidoto wins appeal, 2002
Pidoto’s legal team lodged an appeal against his February 2001 conviction. Meanwhile, Pidoto remained in jail during 2001. However, he was still listed as a priest (“on leave”) in the mid-2001 edition of the Directory of the National Council of Priests of Australia. In fact, Father Pidoto was spending his “leave” in the Ararat prison and later the Port Phillip prison. And he was still a priest.
In May 2002, the Victorian Court of Appeal ruled that some inadmissible evidence had been given at Pidoto’s trial. The appeal judges quashed Pidoto’s conviction and ordered a retrial. Pidoto was released from jail, pending the retrial. He had been behind bars for 15 months.
Pidoto’s release was reported in the media, and this prompted more Pidoto victims to contact the Victoria Police sexual crimes squad. Therefore the new trial would involve a bigger number of victims.
By 2005, detectives had prepared a file for a new prosecution. The investigator was Detective Senior Constable Fiona Bock, who was then at the Sexual Crimes Squad in St Kilda Road (she has since transferred to a higher position elsewhere).
The Office of Prosecutions chose seven complainants for the new trial. “John” of Kilmore opted not to participate in the new trial, because he considered (understandably) that he had already done his civic duty by putting the Pidoto matter on the public agenda in 2000 and 2001. Also, he said, he had achieved his objective, which was getting Pidoto removed from children.
In 2005 and 2006, Pidoto made several attempts to delay or stop his new trial, claiming health problems such as “sleep apnea”. The County Court eventually rejected this procrastination and scheduled the trial for June 2007. Pidoto again pleaded not guilty.
Pidoto also tried to get a separate jury for each alleged victim, meaning that each jury would think that the offence was an isolated one. But the County Court insisted on having a single jury.
New trial, June 2007
Pidoto’s new trial (with the seven alleged victims) began in the County Court in June 2007 before Judge Ross Howie. After weeks of evidence and legal argument, the jury spent one whole day (18 July 2007) considering the various charges and at the end of the day the jury returned its verdict of “guilty” on eleven charges. These included one count of rape, one count of buggery, seven counts of indecent assault, one count of assault occasioning actual bodily harm, and one count of gross indecency. (The words “buggery” and “rape” were used because these were the terms used in Victoria’s criminal statutes in whichever years the offences were committed.)
The guilty verdict related to offences against four of the seven boys.
- One one these four was “Roger“, the above-mentioned 14-year-old boy from St Bede’s parish in Balwyn North, who was penetrated anally by Pidoto at the Melbourne seminary in 1972 (at that time, this crime against a male was defined as buggery).
- More assaults on two 15-year-old boys took place at St Clare’s Catholic parish in Box Hill in the late 1970s. One of these boys says his mother complained about Pidoto’s offence to Father James Brazier, who was the head of the Melbourne archdiocese’s Catholic Family Welfare Bureau at the time. The boy says that Brazier’s attitude was: “Well, what do you expect me to do about it?”
- The fourth victim, a 13-year-old boy (“Sam“), was targeted by Pidoto in 1982-83 after the priest officiated at the wedding of Sam’s sister. In one of several incidents, Pidoto drove the boy to a park, where he masturbated himself (gross indecency) in the boy’s presence and then masturbated the boy (indecent assault). In another incident, he inserted his penis into the boy’s anus (at that time, this crime was defined as rape).
Two of the victims — Roger and Sam — submitted written impact statements to the court, describing how the abuse (especially as it was committed by a priest) had adversely affected their lives. The judge studied these impact statements when calculating the sentence that Pidoto should receive.
The judge also took into account the fact that Pidoto had expressed no remorse about his crimes.
Sentencing in 2007
Judge Howie said Pidoto’s actions were a betrayal of his vocation and had permanently scarred some of his victims.
“These were the premeditated, intentional acts of an ordained priest of the church, a person trusted by the boys concerned and by their families as a representative of what they regarded as the highest good,” he said.
The judge said that Pidoto’s position of power and authority (as a priest) discouraged his victims from reporting the offences at the time.
The judge then listed each of the crimes for which Pidoto had been convicted, giving a term of imprisonment for each charge. The total came to seven years and three months’ jail, extending to 2007.
The judge ordered that Pidoto’s name be added to the Register of Serious Sexual Offenders. He also ordered the prison authorities to take a DNA sample from Pidoto’s mouth, for adding to the national criminal database.
A victim has the final say
Several of Pidoto’s victims, including “John” of Kilmore (from the court proceedings of 2000 and 2001), were present in court at the 2007 sentencing, accompanied by a representative from Broken Rites.
Outside court, one victim (“Sam“) told the media that his experiences at Pidoto’s hands had affected his personal and professional relationships.
“It’s quite hard to trust people. I didn’t really like myself growing up. I always put myself in abusive situations, including drugs and alcohol.
“There will never be closure, because I’m a different person to what I might have been had I not been abused.’
Pidoto out of jail
On 9 December 2014, Terrence Pidoto completed his jail sentence (which he had served in a prison at Ararat in western Victoria), He was therefore released.
How the church authorities tried to protect a child-abuser, Brother Rodger Moloney
By a Broken Rites researcher
From the link: http://brokenrites.org.au/drupal/node/58
This Broken Rites article shows how a Catholic religious order, the St John of God Brothers, has paid big money to lawyers, trying to defend an Australian child-abuser, Brother Rodger William Moloney. And the order says that it will continue protecting him permanently.
Moloney, who has worked in Australia and New Zealand, was jailed in New Zealand on 1 August 2008 for sexually abusing intellectually-handicapped boys.
He was released on parole in September 2009, barely a year into his 33-month sentence but it was not until 7 April 2010 that the media became aware of his release.
The St John of God order, which has its Australian and New Zealand headquarters in Sydney, told the media on 8 April 2010 that Moloney is still a member of the order, and Brother Moloney would be accommodated within the order in Australia when he finishes his parole requirements in New Zealand in 2011.
Big money spent
Moloney’s jailing in 2008 ended a long battle between the St John of God order and the police.
When allegations surfaced against Moloney, he was living in Australia. New Zealand and Australian authorities tried for years to have Moloney extradited to New Zealand to face a trial for offences committed in Christchurch. Church lawyers resisted the extradition application.
In 2006, the then head of the SJOG order for Australia and New Zealand (Brother Peter Burke) admitted to the media that the SJOG order was paying the legal fees for Moloney and two other SJOG Brothers. He would not say how much had been spent. But because the extradition case had been running for a long time it was substantial, he said, and he had sought guidance from Rome on the cost.
Legal observers estimated that, by the end of 2006, the SJOG order had spent as much as $1,000,000 Australian on this case.
Moloney, born in Australia in 1935, has told a court that he qualified as a pharmacist in Sydney in the 1950s and became interested in joining the St John of God order when he saw a brochure offering mission training.
On joining the order and working as a hospital pharmacist, he also had the chance to train as a psychiatric nurse. In 1971, the St John of God order appointed him as prior at the Marylands institution for educationally-disadvantaged boys in Christchurch, New Zealand.
Moloney told the court that once his term as prior expired in 1977 he was seconded to Rome to work in the Vatican pharmacy.
Moloney has been to the SJOG’s operations in Papua New Guinea. He has been a member of the SJOG provincial council (administering the order’s operations in Australia, New Zealand and the Pacific). In the late 1990s, he was associated with SJOG’s “Kendall Grange” institution at Morisset, New South Wales.
Jailed in New Zealand
On 25 June 2008, a jury in the New Zealand High Court found Rodger William Moloney, 73, guilty on seven counts of sexually abusing boys. The charges dated to when he was head of the Marylands school for educationally-disadvantaged boys in Christchurch in the 1970s.
The guilty verdicts relate to indecent assaults and inducing indecent acts, while Moloney was found not guilty on other charges of indecent assault, inducing indecent acts and sodomy.
On 1 August 2008 the court sentenced Moloney to jail for a maximim of two years nine months, with earier parole possible. The court was told that, after completing his sentence requirements, he was to be deported to Australia.
How police nabbed Moloney in Australia
In 2003 a New Zealand court issued a warrant to have three SJOG members extradited from Australia to New Zealand. The three, who were living in Sydney in 2003, were:
- Brother Rodger William Moloney, then 69;
- Father Raymond John Garchow, then 57; and
- Brother William John Lebler, then 83.
Acting on the New Zealand warrant, Australian police picked up the three men in Sydney and began extradition proceedings in a Local Magistrates Court in Sydney on 29 December 2003.
Eventually, in February 2005, the Local Court ordered that Moloney and Garchow be extradited to New Zealand on child-sex charges, involving boys as young as eight. The incidents allegedly occurred between 1966 and 1979 at Marylands, a former residential institution in Christchurch, New Zealand. This institution closed in 1985.
The Local Court released the third man, Brother Lebler, on grounds of his age and health and because the delay in reporting his alleged offences to police had been even longer than for the other two men. The allegations against Lebler dated back as far as 1955 – nearly fifty years – and the Local Court considered that such a big time-lag (plus Lebler’s age and health) would make it difficult to achieve a fair trial.
Church lawyers, who were being paid by the St John of God order, appealed to the Australian Federal Court against the extradition order. The church lawyers argued it would be unjust and oppressive to extradite because of the delay in bringing the charges and the possibility of collusion occurring between complainants.
On 15 April 2005, Federal Court judge Rodney Madgwick reserved his decision on the appeal. Justice Madgwick said it would take some time for him to prepare a judgment. And His Honour was correct – twelve months later, on 15 April 2006, the judgment had not yet appeared. Nobody had expected that His Honour would take a year.
After 12 months, New Zealand journalists began asking questions about Judge Madgwick’s slowness. At last, on 21 April 2006, Justice Madgwick ruled against the extradition. The judge said that the differences in the two countries’ legal systems and the length of time since the alleged crimes would make it difficult for the men to have a fair trial. Justice Madgwick ruled that Garchow and Maloney be released under Australia’s Extradition Act 1988.
[Ironically, by the time of Justice Madgwick’s ruling, “the length of time since the alleged crimes” had increased by a whole year.]
The Commonwealth of Australia, on behalf of New Zealand authorities, appealed to a full bench of the Federal Court against Judge Madgwick’s ruling. On 5 October 2006, the full bench then re-instated the extradition order.
Moloney and Garchow immediately applied to the High Court of Australia for special leave to appeal against the Federal Court full bench decision.
The High Court’s decision was swift. On 16 October 2006, after a one-hour hearing, the High Court refused to hear an appeal.
And so Moloney and Garchow were flown to New Zealand, where they were released on bail pending a trial.
Background of Garchow and Lebler
Lebler, Moloney and Garchow were living in the Sydney area when the extradition proceedings began. Their solicitor told the Local Court magistrate in December 2003 that Brother Lebler and Father Garchow had retired and were currently living in premises owned by the church at Leumeah in Sydney’s south-west, while Brother Moloney was currently living with other St John of God members at Strathfield in Sydney’s inner-west.
William Lebler was born in inner-city Brisbane in 1922. He took his religious vows in the SJOG order at the order’s “Kendall Grange” institution at Morisset in New South Wales, in 1951, aged 29. It is not known what work he was doing before joining SJOG or how he came to be recruited. This was only four years after the order was established in Australia from Ireland. This means that Lebler was among the order’s first Australian recruits. In the mid-1950s, Lebler was sent to New Zealand to work at the Marylands school near Christchurch.
The Catholic Weekly, Sydney, on 6 January 2002, published an article about Lebler and three other SJOG brothers celebrating the 50th anniversary of their entry into religious life. The article indicates that, as well as working in Australia and New Zealand, Lebler also spent time working at an institution for drug addiction in the highlands of Papua New Guinea. He returned to Australia about 1999. The article in 2002 describes Lebler as a very active man. It says that Lebler in 2002 “is still working and also finds time to play with computers and on the piano. At 80, Br William has no intention of taking it easy.”
However, a year or so after the Catholic Weekly article, when the extradition proceedings got underway in 2003-5, the SJOG legal team informed the court that Lebler had become senile, “borderline mental retarded” and in bad health and that therefore he should not be extradited to New Zealand. [This was a sudden decline from the virile, active man who had been celebrated in the Catholic Weekly only a year or two earlier.]
Raymond Garchow, who was born in New Zealand in 1947, began work at the Marylands institution in New Zealand in 1964, aged 17. In the early 1980s, Garchow was working at the SJOG’s “Kendall Grange” institution at Morriset, NSW. He was originally a Brother but was eventually upgraded to a priest, becoming ordained in August 1987, aged 40.
Garchow’s name appears in the annual directory of the Australian National Council of Priests from 1999 to 2006. At first (in 1999) he was listed as a “chaplain” at the St John of God Hospital in Richmond, west of Sydney. In the 2003 edition, he was listed as working in parish ministry – as the second priest in the parish of St John the Evangelist at Campbelltown, south-west of Sydney (Campbelltown is a parish of the Wollongong diocese). His residential address was listed as unit 1, 52 Leumeah Road, Leumeah, which is near Campbelltown. In 2004 and 2005, while the extradition case was proceeding, he was still listed under the category of working priests, still living in the Leumeah unit. In the March 2006 edition of the directory, while he was awaiting Justice Madgwick’s decision on the extradition, he was listed as “a priest on leave”, care of the SJOG headquarters in Burwood, Sydney.
On 23 July 2008, the New Zealand prosecutors decided not to proceed with the trial of Raymond Garchow for several reasons: Garchow, aged 61, was too ill; furthermore, one of the two complainants was also unwell; and the second complainant had trouble with a disability, which made the prospect of a trial difficult. The prosecutors entered a permanent stay of proceedings.
In some press reports, Rodger Moloney’s name has been spelt as Roger Moloney or Rodger Maloney or Roger Maloney.
Disabled boys were abused in a St John of God institution
By a Broken Rites researcher (article updated 20 December 2014)
From the link: http://brokenrites.org.au/drupal/node/57
One of Australia’s Catholic religious orders – the St John of God Brothers (SJOG) – has specialised in accommodating boys who have an educational (or intellectual) disability. This Broken Rites article is about court cases in the 1990s (and also in 2006) involving Brother Bernard Kevin McGrath, who was jailed for committing sexual crimes against disabled victims.
Bernard Kevin McGrath (born 22 May 1947) grew up in New Zealand. In the 1960s, aged 18, he joined the St John of God Brothers (SJOG), a Catholic religious order which was conducting residential institutions in Australia and New Zealand for disabled boys. For his training, he went to Sydney where the SJOG order has its headquartes for Australia and New Zealand. Most of McGrath’s working life has been spent at SJOG institutions in Australia and New Zealand.
McGrath gave details of his SJOG career in a six-hours videotaped interview with New Zealand detectives in 2003. In the videotape, which was shown in a New Zealand courtroom in 2006, McGrath tells how he was bullied by his authoritarian father who pressured him into joining a religious order at age 18. (McGrath’s father had trained for the Catholic priesthood but ended up as a manual worker.)
The court was told that, when McGrath began training with SJOG in Sydney, a senior brother there had a habit of making sexual overtures towards the trainees. (For legal reasons, we will call this man Brother X.) The sexual abuse McGrath claimed he suffered resembled the kinds of indecencies that he later inflicted on the boys in his custody.
After training in New South Wales, McGrath spent a year at a SJOG institution in Melbourne. In January 1974, he was transferred to New Zealand to be teacher and dormitory master at “Marylands“, a SJOG boarding school near Christchurch for boys with learning and behavioural difficulties. At Marylands, the court was told, McGrath again encountered Brother X. Brother X allegedly set the tone for the culture at Marylands and ensured that complaints about sexual abuse by Brothers like McGrath were covered up.
The court was told that some boys would complain to senior Brothers about sexual abuse. Not only was nothing done but they would be punished for making their complaints.
The court was told that a boy from another dorm came to McGrath to complain about being sexually abused. McGrath says on the videotape: “I didn’t do anything because I’d played up myself, you know, so what do you do? How do you go and challenge someone when you’ve committed these sins.”
About 1978, after spending nearly four years at Marylands, McGrath was sent to St John of God’s “Kendall Grange” boarding institution at Morriset, New South Wales, for boys with educational difficulties. There, McGrath admitted on the videotape, he continued to sexually abuse boys.
In 1986, McGrath transferred from Morriset back to New Zealand to establish a residential program in Christchurch, the Hebron Trust, teaching life skills to street kids.
McGrath’s first conviction
In New Zealand, two social workers raised the alarm about McGrath’s indecent advances towards four of the Christchurch street kids on his course in 1991. The social workers raised the issue with the SJOG order but the order failed to act, so the social workers contacted the police.
Four of the Hebron Trust boys, aged then between 14 and 16, told detectives that McGrath had touched them indecently. Then two of the former Marylands boys, now grown men, also complained McGrath had sexually molested them while at the school.
In 1993, McGrath was sentenced to three years jail in New Zealand for his offences at Marylands and the Hebron Trust
The story of Alex
Meanwhile, in 1992 (before Brother McGrath’s jailing), an ex-pupil of the SJOG “Kendall Grange” boarding school in Morriset, NSW — “Alex” (not his real name) — complained to SJOG headquarters in Sydney that he had encountered Brother McGrath while he was a boarder for four years from 1980 to 1984. Alex (born 1969) told Broken Rites in 1994 that his SJOG experience disillusioned him about schools. He ran away from Kendall Grange and stopped his education, with no qualifications, ending up on the dole and finally on a disability pension. Alex says that St John of God “screwed up” his life. He says the SJOG experience left him with lasting feelings of shame and anxiety, emotional turmoil, depression and an explosive temper.
Alex says that, when he told the Australian leader of SJOG about McGrath, the leader expressed no surprise about Alex’s statement.
Alex had expected that SJOG would report McGrath to the police for prosecution but (he said) this did not happen.
The story of Jimmy — and McGrath’s second conviction
In Sydney in 1989, another McGrath victim (“Jimmy“, born in 1970) was having adolescent behavioural difficulties. He disclosed to his mother what McGrath had done to him in 1982-3 while at Kendall Grange. At the time of the offences, Jimmy was aged 11 to 13. In 1992, Jimmy’s mother (“Jill”) told the Australian head of SJOG who admitted that this was not the first complaint against McGrath.
In 1995, Jimmy made a police statement at Sydney’s Chatswood Crime Squad. After McGrath completed his New Zealand jail term, the police took him back to Sydney, where he pleaded guilty and was sentenced in 1997 to nine months jail for the offences against Jimmy.
With the help of lawyers, and after 10 years of protracted proceedings constantly delayed by the stalling of lawyers for the SJOG order, Jimmy was forced to accept an out-of-court settlement amount for compensation. The amount seemed reasonable compared to other victims but his legal costs took a big bite out of his payout. Jimmy wasn’t happy with an out-of-court settlement — he would have preferred to have his day in court.
Jill has been in frequent contact with Broken Rites.
In March 2006, “Jill”, explained how she sent Jimmy to the Morriset school because his dyslexia was making him too disruptive to remain in the school he was attending.
“I didn’t want him to go, but a teacher told me that my son needed more help than his school could give him. I went to all the other schools in the local area and they refused to take him,” Jill said.
“I knew nothing about (the abuse) until my son told me years later. I knew he wasn’t happy at Morriset, but they covered it up so well and scared the kids so much.
“I used to ring Brother McGrath who was the Prior at Kendall Grange school, Morriset. I would tell McGrath that my son isn’t happy and he’s crying. McGrath just said all the boys do that; he just doesn’t want the discipline and they need discipline.
“I didn’t learn about the abuse until 1989. My son had a girlfriend and their relationship was pretty volatile and he was on drugs pretty heavily in his teenage years.
“She’d charged him with assault and when we were going to court he said `I’ve got something terrible to tell you’ and that’s when it all came out. I didn’t believe him at first. Talk about naive — I couldn’t believe it could happen.”
Jill says there were hints that McGrath’s proclivities were known to the St John of God order, but nothing was done.
“Their conspiracy of silence is terrible. A psychiatrist at the school said (at the time) there were problems at this school and to try to get my son out as soon as I could. I said there was nowhere else to go. In those days there was no onus on schools to accept pupils as there is today.
“When I told the psychiatrist later about McGrath, she said `I wouldn’t have picked him’. There were others there she must have known about.
“I now know of five boys who were molested at Morriset. I don’t think we’ve even scratched the surface. The tragedy is that my son must have felt so alone.
“My life hasn’t been the same since. I’ve tried to get on with my life but it hits me sometimes. I feel very remorseful about my son – it’s like a knife going in.
“In the early years, he blamed me for putting him in that school. He went violent one night and I had to run next door to a neighbour and bolt the door. I know if I’d stayed in the house, he’d have done something to me.”
Third conviction — in 2006
In 2002, more complainants contacted the New Zealand police concerning sexual assaults by Bernard McGrath and other SJOG Brothers at the Marylands institution, dating back several decades.
In the New Zealand High Court in Christchurch in March 2006, Brother McGrath, then 58, was found guilty of 21 charges, including eight charges of inducing an indecent act and 13 charges of indecent assault, relating to his time at Marylands between 1974 and 1977. He was acquitted of some other charges, including charges of sodomy.
The court sentenced McGrath to five years jail. The court took into account McGrath’s two earlier prison terms — the three years in New Zealand in 1993 and the nine months in Australia in 1997.
According to the New Zealand Herald newspaper on 7 April 2010, McGrath was released from his New Zealand jail on parole in February 2008, just less than two years into his five-year term.
Broken Rites is continuing to do research about Brother Bernard McGrath and other SJOG Brothers.
Meanwhile, any Australian victims of Bernard Kevin McGrath should have a chat with the Lake Macquarie detectives office in New South Wales, telephone 02-49429968.