This Marist Brother Fled from Australia but Was Eventually Captured
May 30, 2014
Marist Brother Gregory Sutton must rank as one of Australia's most publicised child-sex offenders. Throughout 1996, his name appeared frequently in newspapers. The reports described how police hunted for him in the United States and then extradited him to Australia, where he pleaded guilty to numerous offences against boys and girls in New South Wales.
Broken Rites has ascertained that Brother Gregory Joseph Sutton was born in Australia on 19 March 1951. After his schooling, he became a trainee Marist Brother, living in a Marist residential centre with other Marist trainees, absorbing the Marist culture. It is believed that a second son from the same family also became a Marist Brother.
Until around that time, each new Marist Brother normally discarded his birth-name and adopted a "religious" forename (for example, Fred Smith might become "Brother Alphonsus"). From around Gregory Sutton's time, the younger Marists started using their birth name (in Sutton's case, he became "Brother Greg").
Sutton taught at various Catholic primary schools in New South Wales in the 1970s and 1980s.
Also, Broken Rites has learned that one of his schools was Marist College in Canberra. However, the criminal charges were laid by NSW police, not Australian Capital Territory police, and therefore the charges do not relate to Canberra.
According to his own admissions, Sutton committed numerous sexual assaults on boys and girls, aged between 9 and 11, who were under his supervision at Catholic primary schools in New South Wales. The offences ranged from touching and rubbing genitals to full sexual intercourse with a 10-year-old girl. The assaults took place in classrooms, in his monastery bedroom, in the playground, in cars, a caravan, bushland and in the children's homes.
Sutton often assaulted two children at once, forcing them to engage in sex acts with each other. He indecently mauled some pupils in front of their classmates.
He assaulted one boy on his eleventh birthday as "a present".
The NSW Police brief in the Sutton case stated: "In all these matters, the accused had the complete trust of the family of the young victims and took advantage of his position as a teacher and a Marist Brother."
Broken Rites has learned that Sutton's schools included (this is not a complete list)::
a Marist primary school (later re-named Marist Sacred Heart) in Mosman, Sydney, in 1976;
Marist Brothers, Eastwood, Sydney in 1978;
St Thomas More primary school in Campbelltown, Sydney, in 1984; and
St Carthage’s primary school in Lismore (northern NSW) between from early 1985 until Easter 1987. His pupils were in Years 5 or 6, aged about 10-12. This school had become co-educational, with an equal number of girls and boys. It was staffed by lay teachers, plus two nuns and two Marist Brothers.
This raises some questions: Why did the Marist culture allow all this to happen? How much did Sutton's colleagues and superiors know about his offending? Did they look the other way (and were any of his colleagues and superiors committing similar offences themselves)? If the Marist administration received any complaints about Sutton's offences at the time, were these crimes notified to the police (and, if not, why not)?
In 1989, one of Brother Sutton's victims (a girl) reported his offences to NSW Police but Sutton (then aged 38) fled from Australia a few weeks later before police could interview him. He settled in the USA, where he stayed for seven years.
Sutton's Marist background in Australia helped him to obtain employment in Catholic education in the US. He was now a lay teacher ("Mister" Greg Sutton), as distinct from a Marist Brother. He eventually became principal of a Catholic school (St Dismas School in Florissant, Missouri), holding this job for two years. While in the USA, he married an ex-nun.
After Australian police issued arrest warrants for Sutton in 1992 and 1993, they suspected that he was in the US and asked the US authorities to find him.
US deputies learned in February 1994 that he was living in St Louis, Missouri.
He was arrested there and, after a court battle in the US, was extradited to Australia.
The extradition made news in Missouri (e.g., in the St Louis Post Despatch, 16 August 1995). He was named in metropolitan daily papers throughout Australia and also in the newspapers of the towns where he had taught. For example, the Northern Star at Lismore in northern New South Wales published frequent reports on the Sutton case, as well as photographs of Sutton.
Because Sutton was no longer a member of the Marist order, these media reports described him as a FORMER Marist Brother. However, he was certainly a Marist Brother while he was committing the crimes. And his status as a Marist Brother was protecting him from exposure at the time of the crimes.
By late 1996, aged 45, Gregory Joseph Sutton was in jail in New South Wales, serving a sentence of 15 years maximum (with the minimum term eventually fixed at 12 years, after which he would become eligible for parole).
Sutton at Marist College, Canberra
At the primary section of Marist College in Canberra, Gregory Sutton evidently earned a reputation for being violent. One of Sutton's former pupils in Canberra wrote in 2008:
"[At Marist Primary in Canberra] Sutton was neither called to account, nor punished, for whipping dozens of young boys with a cane, reducing them to tears in front of an entire class, day after day, and with evident gusto and delectation. A queue of penitents often had to be formed, such was Sutton’s appetite."
At some time, Brother Gregory Sutton was also on the staff of Marcellin College, Randwick, Sydney (according to a Marcellin College website).