by Linton Besser
One of the state’s most senior Catholic education officials failed to report the sexual assault of four of his students at a southern Sydney school in the late 1970s, a confidential internal investigation has found.
Brother Anthony Peter Whelan, as principal of St Patricks at Sutherland, sacked Thomas Keady in 1979 after four students reported the lay teacher for “sexual misconduct”, but he failed to report the incident to the police.
Instead Keady, who had just completed a three-year jail term in Victoria for indecent assault of a minor before being employed at Sutherland, went on to perpetrate further crimes. He was convicted in Wyong in 1994 of indecent assault.
Brother Whelan, meanwhile, rose through the ranks of the Church, becoming a Commissioner for the Catholic Education Commission of NSW. He was the director of schools in the Broken Bay Diocese when he retired in March.
In 2008, he was granted an Order of Australia for services to education including “through a range of executive and teaching roles in the Catholic education sector, to the promotion of social justice, and to professional standards development”.
The revelations come days after the NSW Police and the Church launched separate investigations into an alleged cover-up of the sexual abuse of young boys by senior Church officials.
The ABC’s Four Corners program alleged on Monday that three senior clergy had failed to report to police an admission by a priest that he had molested young boys. The priest, who has since been defrocked and is now a prominent member of the Armidale community, has been accused of repeatedly sexually abusing boys since the early 1980s in parishes from Moree to Parramatta.
Dubbed Father F, the alleged paedophile testified under oath in a 2004 court case that he confessed to performing oral sex on young boys at a meeting in 1992 with Fathers Brian Lucas, John Usher and Wayne Peters.
This morning, the Herald reported that the former NSW director of public prosecutions Nicholas Cowdery believed there were grounds to pursue the three men under section 316 of the NSW Crimes Act. Withholding information about an indictable offence can carry a two-year prison term.
The confidential Catholic Commission investigation report regarding Brother Whelan was handed to the Christian Brothers professional standards office last August.
The report actually focused on an earlier sexual assault at St Patricks by Keady on an 11-year-old boy, Robert Lipari.
In that case, Mr Lipari was molested by Keady at a Windang caravan park just two years before the other four boys came forward to Whelan.
The report made a finding that another senior St Patricks teacher, Brother John Roberts, had been informed of the assault on Mr Lipari, but did not make a finding as to whether Brother Whelan was informed.
But in the course of investigating the Lipari matter, the professional standards investigator and former NSW police assistant commissioner, Norm Maroney, discovered that Brother Whelan subsequently sacked Keady in 1979 following the assault of the four boys. Crucially, he also found that once he had sacked the teacher, Whelan took no further action.
“Brother Whelan did not inform the Police of the allegations by the four students nor did he inform their parents of the allegations they had made against Thomas Keady,” the investigation report says.
“He advised each student to inform his parents of the assaults.”
Brother Brian Brandon, the head of the Christian Brother’s professional standards branch, refused to comment on Brother Whelan’s failure to report the assault to the police, and in contradiction to the Maroney report, claimed Br Whelan had liaised with the children’s parents about the matter. He also said the report was not finalised.
“Obviously it concerns me if somebody is committing offences, but I don’t have any comment about Brother Whelan’s behaviour in the matter, other than to say that he acted promptly to remove Keady from the school,” he said. “That’s all I have to say.”
Earlier this year, police detectives at Sutherland sought advice as to whether they should charge Brother Whelan for failing to report the assault on Mr Lipari.
“NSW Police Force have forwarded a brief of evidence to the NSW Director of Public Prosecutions related to investigations into a complaint that a 71 year old man failed to report an alleged sexual assault in the 1970s,” a police spokesman said.
Source : smh