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The Marist Brothers Historical Abuse at St Joseph’s College, Hunters Hill

The Marist Brothers, a Catholic religious order, have made a public admission acknowledging the disturbing truth that at least eight members who served at St Joseph’s College in Hunters Hill—a renowned Sydney boarding school—were later found guilty of sexual offences against children in court. This revelation surfaced after survivors bravely stepped forward to report the abuse they endured, with allegations dating back to the 1960s, a period marked by the presence of several Marist Brothers in Catholic educational institutions.

The case of the eighth teacher, Brother John Patrick O’Brien, aged 81, is a recent and poignant example. Over 50 years ago, a Sydney court convicted and sentenced O’Brien for his crimes against boys at St Joseph’s College. Before his tenure at St Joseph’s, O’Brien had been a member of the teaching staff at the Marist Brothers Hamilton College in Newcastle.

In a heartfelt statement, the Marist Brothers’ national leader, Brother Peter Carroll, expressed profound regret over the actions of the convicted members, stating, “Eight men who served at St Joseph’s as Brothers have been duly convicted or entered guilty pleas for their abusive crimes. Although not all were found guilty of offences committed within St Joseph’s, the fact that any were is utterly indefensible. The occurrence of these crimes is horrifying; their commission by Brothers is deeply shameful. I extend my sincerest apologies to the victims of child sexual abuse at St Joseph’s…”

Following these grave disclosures, St Joseph’s College has initiated the process of erasing or obscuring the images and names of the convicted (or credibly accused) Marist Brothers from school displays, including sports teams and classroom group photographs, as a gesture towards acknowledging the pain caused and distancing itself from the perpetrators.

The Brother O’Brien court case signifies a crucial juncture in the ongoing effort to confront and address these crimes, emphasizing the imperative of holding the perpetrators accountable and safeguarding the welfare of students within educational frameworks.

If you or someone you know has been affected by historical institutional child sexual abuse, please contact Koffels Solicitors and Barristers. Together, we can explore your legal options and work towards securing the compensation and closure you deserve.

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