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Brother Thomas (Patrick) Butler – Institutional Sexual Abuse in the Marist Brothers

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Marist Brothers Child Sexual Abuse

Brother Thomas (Patrick) Butler – Institutional Sexual Abuse in the Marist Brothers

Not for the first time, the Marist Brothers Australia are centre stage for their inability to act on institutional child sexual abuse within their ranks.

Whilst on the surface, the Marist Brothers look like any other international community of Catholic brothers, their history is found to be much darker with corruption, scandal, and child sexual exploitation.

They claim to be an honest community of Roman Catholics who follow the spirituality and charism of St. Marcellin Champagnat. But nowhere in the rules of the religion does it depict that child sexual exploitation is condoned.

One member that took advantage of his position within the organisation was Brother Thomas Butler, otherwise known as Brother Patrick. Like many others who were recruited to the Marists, he was groomed from his school days into behaving just like one of their own.

At just 17 years of age, Brother Patrick was officially a teacher at Marist schools within the New South Wales and Queensland areas. These schools and institutions at which he operated include:

  • East Brunswick
  • Hamilton
  • High Schol Mosman
  • Darlinghurst
  • St Joseph’s College Hunters Hill
  • Ashgrove
  • Eastwood
  • Parramatta Marist High
  • Marcellin College Randwick
  • Kogarah Marist High

Thomas Butler – Child Sexual Abuse

After 3 long and agonising years for students at Ashgrove, the Catholic Church received many complaints regarding the decades of sexual abuse condoned and coordinated by Thomas Butler.

A report issued by the Royal Commission had firmly stated the Provincial of the Marist Brothers Sydney Province should have done more to attempt to remove Brother Thomas Butler from the institution but had failed to act appropriately.

The Provincial, Brother Turton defended himself stating that Thomas Butler had never had unsupervised contact with any of the children at the school. He was advised by others that Brother Patrick was a perfectly appropriate member of the Church who had no other complaints made against him and was just simply an old man.

But in the Summer of 1992, two young boys were sexually assaulted by Brother Patrick as he was deemed to often touch and squeeze their bottoms.

The Commission’s report acknowledged that although Brother Turton took the allegations to the principal at the school, the only action that took place, as a result, was that Brother Patrick was not to be left alone with children and that vigilance would be kept.

One ex-student claimed that he would sit next to you, put his arm around you and touch your genitals through your pockets. The student continued to describe events when he had to explain his reasoning for being absent from school, however, the events were of more severe punishment, Thomas Bennet attempting to take off the child’s trousers. When the student reacted and ran off, he was sent a letter of expulsion as a result.

More and more allegations had come forward as the years went on including two historical child sexual abuse complaints in 1993.

Brother Patrick had sought to redeem his actions, attending a program enriched with spiritual renewal. The programme was thought to offer counselling and spiritual guidance for men like Brother Patrick, which others thought had healed him as he resumed his tutorial role at Ashgrove, remaining there until 2001 from which he retired.

Before Thomas Butler – Brother Patrick – died in 2006 he was meant to stand trial, however with a lack of hard evidence– the case was quickly dismissed.

Although he had died at the age of 77 in 2006, the Marist Brothers had finally responded to allegations in 2015. Marist Brothers’ head office admitted in a statement that they had received many complaints about Thomas Butler, and they apologised to the victims of any brothers or school employees.

If you or someone you know would like to talk to one of our historical sexual abuse specialists, for free and in confidence, about your legal options, please feel free to either complete the form below with the best way and the best time to contact you, or you can call us on 02 9283 5599.

If you or someone you know would like to talk to one of our historical sexual abuse specialists, for free and in confidence, about your legal options, please feel free to either complete the form below with the best way and the best time to contact you, or you can call us on 02 9283 5599.

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