Why Has Religious Order Failed To Prevent Paedophilia After Numerous Abuse Complaints?
The Marist Brothers is an international community of Catholic Religious Institute of Brothers. Two of their members Greg Sutton and John Chute faced abuse claims that were allowed to span for decades and now investigations examine how this was allowed to continue in the care of the institution.
One victim whose parents took her to the police station after hearing about numerous incidents of abuse claims Sutton was informed before they could get to him and that is why he went to Canada so that he could not be found. However a statement by Simeon Beckett Sutton’s superior claimed the only reason he went there was because he had recently admitted to him that he had abused a child and was therefore sent to attend sexual offender therapy and counselling.Sutton and Chute were both transferred over Queensland throughout their teaching history despite and sometimes because of multiple allegations made against them by children of sexual abuse and indecent behaviour. How they were not suspended or taken to the police immediately is beyond comprehension.
During his stay in Canada Sutton became a teacher at a School in Southdown and later headmaster of a school until 1996 the year he was finally convicted. He pleaded guilty to 67 charges of sexual assault against 15 children and was sentences to 18 years with a minimum of 12. He was released in 2008.
His legal representative has argued that Sutton’s identity should remain concealed otherwise his safety will be jeopardised. However this application was dismissed on terms of ensuring public confidence and open justice. After his identity was revealed further victims began to surface.
The hearing currently continues examining how the religious order failed to prevent paedophilia and the commission has already heard evidence from two women for legal reasons under the names ADM and ADQ.
ADM was a year 5 student when she was first abused. She told of how Sutton made her sit on his lap whilst he marked her work and inserted his fingers into her vagina. The events escalated from there on. She was also assaulted in a theatre one day and afterwards told to fetch ADQ her best-friend at the time and send her to him. ADQ was also in year five and that Sutton had made her touch his penis through the holes in his religious robes and then kiss it. If anyone was to find out he allegedly told her he would kill her entire family and believing this was truth she tried to keep the events a secret.
ADM was later told by Sutton that ADQ was a better kisser but that she was good at the other stuff. He then undid his pants and she was forced to masturbate him. She was told they had to be extremely careful as another teacher suspected misconduct and ADM has claimed that Sutton told her he did the same thing to her to other students and that he was not sure whether he would stop when he moved to another school.
When Sutton did finally move to another school the abuse continued and complaints grew about his behaviour. Somehow however he remained employed and without further scrutiny. Surely after numerous complaints of sexual abuse these allegations would be taken seriously by the Marist Brothers and he would not be allowed on school grounds nor be allowed to resume his position as a teacher with unlimited access to vulnerable pupils.
ADM has been awarded $93000 in compensation however she only received $53711 after $9300 went towards counselling and $25000 went on legal fees. She was extremely disappointed with the settlement especially as Sutton has been released from prison and “allowed to live his life” whilst she is forced to live with what he has done forever but catholic solicitors said if she wanted more money they would see her on the stand. However ADQ received $170000 after legal costs. She had reported suffering from flashbacks and nightmares and could not trust anyone with her children. She said that she also suffered further abusive relationships resulting in her self-medicating with alcohol and attempting numerous suicide attempts.
ADQ also stated that her abuse was the reason her brother had killed himself eight years previously because he was aware what was going on and felt so guilty about not doing anything about it. Just before he died he had told her he was sorry he did not protect her. She made a statement that read: “I have been robbed of my childhood teenage years and the best part of being an adult. But most of all I was robbed of being a woman.”
If you have been subjected to sexual abuse contact a solicitor now for advice on claiming compensation. Behaviour like this needs to be punished and victims given some form of justice.Thus far 48 compensation claims have been made against Chute and 19 against Sutton. The victims of abuse have not received an apology off Sutton or the Marist Brothers. In terms of a religious community you would undoubtedly assume that the Marist Brothers would be the first to come forward with a sincere apology for the abuse that happened under their roof especially when complaints had been made but no further action was taken. It makes one question how much involvement they really had and whether this was ignored with intention.