The Royal Commission’s Report of Case Study No. 13 – The response of the Marist Brothers to allegations of child sexual abuse against Brothers Kostka Chute and Gregory Sutton, was released today.
The report follows a public hearing held in Canberra last year which examined the response of the Marist Brothers to allegations of child sexual abuse in schools in the ACT, NSW and Queensland.
The Marist Brothers is a Catholic Order established for the education and ‘Christian formation’ of young people. Since 1972, Marist Brothers have operated 21 schools in their own right and administered a further 74 schools on behalf of parishes or dioceses at which Brothers have been placed. Since 1984, the Marist Brothers have taught approximately 200,000 children.
Evidence before the Royal Commission showed that until the 1990s accusations or admissions of sexual misconduct by Marist Brothers were treated as highly confidential. Information concerning child sexual abuse was usually held by the Provincial (a person with direct authority over the Brothers in that Province) and, with some rare exceptions, seemed not to have been passed on to their successors or to the Provincial Council.
Between 1962 and 1993, allegations of child sexual abuse were not reported to police by the Marist Brothers. Before 1992, there was nothing kept in writing concerning the transfer of Brothers nor, before 1983, were written records kept of allegations against, or admissions by, Brothers.
Brother John (Kostka) Chute taught at various schools in Queensland, NSW and the ACT. In 2008, he was charged and convicted of 19 child sex offences against six children he taught at Marist College Canberra.
Commissioners heard the Marist Brothers knew about a number of allegations and admissions of child sexual abuse by Brother Chute but continued to transfer him from school to school.
The Commissioners found the failure to act by one Provincial resulted in a missed opportunity to remove Brother Chute from teaching or from contact with children thus putting more children at risk.
Brother Gregory Sutton also taught at a number of schools in Queensland, NSW and the ACT. In 1996 he pleaded guilty to 67 child sex offences in relation to 15 students at schools in New South Wales.
In 1985 Brother Sutton commenced teaching at St Carthage’s Primary School. In 1987, he was removed from this school. Although described as being due to problems with interpersonal relationships with staff, the Commissioners found his removal was only after:
- a number of complaints of inappropriate behaviour with children, primarily girls
- a direction given by the school’s executive to refrain from that conduct which Brother Sutton breached by being alone and in physical contact with two girls
- a final warning about this conduct, and
- a further allegation.
Commissioners also heard that successive Provincials seemed to not have passed on information regarding Brother Sutton’s behavior to their successors and the Provincial Council.
The current Provincial of the Marist Brothers, Brother Crowe, admitted to the Royal Commission that failures of communication and of action had had tragic results and that the facts were horrendous and inexcusable.
Read the full report.