Serial paedophile Gregory Sutton took young boy on overnight trip interstate
By David Ellery
June 17, 2014
|Marist Brother Anthony Hunt at the Royal Commission into Institutional Responses to Child Sexual Abuse.|
When the superior of serial paedophile Gregory Sutton's Lismore monastery learnt he had taken an overnight trip with a young boy in 1986 it never occurred to him sexual abuse might be the motive.
Brother Anthony Hunt, 72, testified before the Royal Commission into Institutional Responses to Child Sexual Abuse in Canberra on Tuesday morning.
It had also failed to occur to him that a diary entry in which Sutton had written "Picked up AC. What an afternoon, she is magnificent" may also be linked to sexual abuse.
He told the commission he was not aware sexually abusing a child was a criminal act at that time.
Brother Hunt, who is now retired from teaching and living in a Marist Brothers' community in Victoria, also denied ever being told of specific allegations made against Sutton by other teachers at St Carthage's in Lismore.
These included Jan O'Grady, the then-assistant principal and the person who unearthed the incriminating diary entry which helped precipitate Sutton's departure from the school.
Brother Hunt said if he had been made aware Ms O'Grady have given Sutton a warning letter in March 1986, he would have contacted the Marist Brothers' Provincial himself and recommended Sutton be removed.
"I feel sorrow for the great harm done to children," he said.
Brother Hunt conceded he understood the complaints of inappropriate behaviour levelled against Sutton in 1986 and 1987 involved hugging and kissing children.
In a statement to insurance investigators in 1997, Brother Hunt said he had spoken with the mother of a child in Sutton's class in early 1987.
"The mother mentioned to me that Sutton had offered to take her son on a drive to a town outside Lismore," he said in the statement.
"She said she was not [concerned] but that she thought it was unusual a brother would want to take a boy her son's age for company."
Under questioning by Simeon Beckett, the counsel assisting the commission, Brother Hunt said the trip across the border in Queensland would have involved the young boy and Sutton staying overnight at a brother's residence in Murgon and had already happened when the mother spoke to him.
"But Brother, that's extraordinary isn't it [that a child would have stayed in a residence with a brother]?" Mr Beckett said.
"It is in retrospect, yes," Brother Hunt said.
Commissioner Justice Jennifer Coate and Mr Beckett both tendered statements from Sutton's trial in which he admitted sexually assaulting children at the monastery, on at least one occasion in his bedroom.