Stephen Farrell – Paedophile Offender
Brother Stephen Farrell abused children in his care. He was a member of the Christian Brothers, a Catholic religious order, and worked at schools across Australia.
Edmund Rice founded Christian Brothers in 1802 as a Catholic religious order. The order’s mission is to “educate the young in Ireland and worldwide.” The Brothers ran schools across Australia, including ones where Farrell worked.
The Christian Brothers’ religious order in Australia played a role in the abuse of dozens of children. The order ran schools across the country, including ones where Farrell worked. Although this article focuses on Farrell, it’s vital to note schools worldwide have had similar sexual abuse convictions and lawsuits involving paedophiles in the order.
At the order in Australia, 853 people have made claims, and 281 individual members of the Christian Brotherhood have been investigated. Over 75% of the victims were under age 13.
The victims in Ballarat remember the school as a profoundly evil place. Philip Nagle, the first victim to come forward in 1997, referred to St. Alipius Primary School as a “nest of paedophiles.” The 2013 Victorian Parliamentary inquiry concluded,
“the only person who was working at the school at that time who did not offend against children was the sole female lay teacher”.
Farell began teaching in his early twenties at St. Alipius Primary School in Ballarat, Victoria. He taught there from 1973 to 1974.
Farrell’s first known victims were boys he met while working at St. Alipius. When Farrell began abusing them, the boys were just 9 and 10 years old. Farrell took the 10-year-old camping and harmed him in the school’s infirmary.
The 9-year-old’s abuse occurred in a sports storage room, on school trips, and in various classrooms after school.
Although he’s referred to as “brother”, he no longer had the title as of 1974.
How Was Brother Stephen Farrell Caught?
They finally caught Farrell when two of his victims came forward and reported him to the police in 1997. These brave survivors of paedophilia at St. Alipius dared to speak out and ensure Farrell could hurt no one again.
However, it didn’t go as the victims hoped. Farrell received a suspended jail sentence and spent no time behind bars. Worse, the court and school re-victimized the survivors by speaking for Farrell at his sentencing.
In 2013, another victim came forward against Farrell. This was the third assault, and there were records of the school’s involvement. The headmaster, Brother Paul Nangle, at St. Patrick’s College in Ballarat did not contact the police in 1974.
Once again, Farrell received a suspended sentence. The only difference is the court placed him on a sex offender’s registry for life.
Nangle claims he reported paedophiles three times to the head office. According to the mother of the victim of another brother at the school, Brother Dowlan, the headmaster, talked her out of filing charges.
In 1994, 20 years after the abuse, she said,
“Brother Nangle sort of talked to me about it, and he said it was a big blot on the Catholic Church, which it probably would have been, and St Patrick’s being an exclusive type of college, it would have been bad for them.”
During a 2016 interview, Brother Nangle appears to come to terms with the damage any inaction on his part caused.
“I’m appalled at what happened, and I am deeply sorry for the pain that people have suffered as a result of that,” he said.
Late in 2017, two more former students from the 1970s came forward against Farrell. This time, he received a longer sentence—18 months with 14 months suspended, or four months in prison.
When Farrell, then 66, finally went to jail for his crimes against children, one of the first victims found some peace. Philip Nagle said,
“[I’m] very, very satisfied … and to see him being led away and put in the dock like the evil predator he is, was just great.”
What happened to Brother Stephen Farrell’s victims?
Farrell’s victims have all suffered immensely because of his actions.
According to Nagle, many of Farrell’s victims are no longer around to tell their stories.
“They were scary times, in a class of 33 … a lot of them committed suicide … they can’t come here and testify and hold this guy accountable, that’s part of the reason I’m here.”
Many of the co-conspirators are also now dead, such as Gerald Leo Fitzgerald, a teacher with Brother Stephen at the St. Alipius Boys’ School. He retired and never spent a day in jail for his crimes.
Victims Are Seeking and Winning Compensation
The survivors of Brother Farrell’s abuse are now adults, and some have chosen to seek compensation for the harm the paedophile caused them.
In 2121, one victim was awarded $1.5 million from the Catholic Church. This is one of the largest payouts given to a survivor of sexual abuse in Australia.
The payout is only a small measure of justice for the hundreds of victims, but it’s an important step in the healing process for survivors.
The Christian Brothers are no strangers to settlements. The organisation spent $300 million on settlements from 2013 to 2019. To meet its financial obligations, the local branch of the religious brotherhood has received large injections of cash from its regional headquarters.
More lawsuits are expected, and the Australian order is anticipating spending another $177 million as victims of these and other paedophiles continue to come forward.
If you or someone you know has been harmed by sexual abuse, it’s essential to seek help. Victims of abuse deserve justice, and organisations like the Catholic Church need to be held accountable for their actions. Contact us here to learn more about how we can help you get justice.
This content is informational only and should not be used as a substitute for professional legal advice.
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