Former Hunter Marist Brother charged with child porn offences

By Joanne Mccarthy
Newcastle Herald
March 21, 2016

A FORMER Hunter Marist Brother who was jailed in 2001 for child sex offences, but was selling comic books and school resources on the Marist Schools Australia website until June last year, has been charged with child pornography offences.

Brother Terry Gilsenan, 60, who taught at the Marist St Francis Xavier College at Hamilton in 1995-96, was refused bail after he was charged with making child abuse material at the order’s Provincial House at Drummoyne.

He was charged nine months after the Marist Brothers removed contact details and references to Brother Gilsenan from its schools website after a complaint from Hunter victims’ group, Clergy Abuse Network, and questions from the Newcastle Herald.

Brother Gilsenan was identified only as “Brother Terry” on the website as contact for sales of “cards, posters and publications” and the “Champagnat Comic Book”, about the order’s founder. The website included his email address, land line and mobile phone numbers.

His details were removed after Clergy Abuse Network founder Bob O’Toole expressed outrage that a child could inadvertently make contact with Brother Gilsenan through the order’s schools website.

NSW Greens MP and justice spokesman David Shoebridge said the order’s decision to make Brother Gilsenan the contact point for a children’s comic book, and provide direct means to communicate with him, meant there was no effective screening between him and children.

‘‘The Marist Brothers are still in denial, despite everything we’ve heard at the Royal Commission into Institutional Responses to Child Sexual Abuse,” Mr Shoebridge said after the matter was raised with him in June.

“In 2015 no one with responsibility for educating children should have to be told it is wrong, in fact culpable, to have a convicted paedophile selling comic books.”

Brother Gilsenan is alleged to have made images in February, including pictures of a young girl “and a close up of a male and female having sexual intercourse alongside captions which outline explicit sexual connotations referencing the child in sexual activity”, Burwood Local Court was told.

Another picture allegedly shows a young girl alongside images of people having sex.

In a statement after Brother Gilsenan was charged Marist Brothers Australia expressed its “profound disappointment”. The child pornography allegations were “deeply disturbing and distressing” and were “rightly before the courts”.

“If the charges are proven, then they would be unconscionable actions that undermine the very protection and safety of children. We are deeply troubled by these events and the betrayal these actions, if proven, represent,” the statement said.

In June last year in response to Newcastle Herald questions, Marist Brothers Provincial Brother Jeffrey Crowe said Brother Gilsenan’s job administering school resources was “essentially an office role”.

‘‘In this role, he has no contact with children, nor does he visit schools or any places that are regularly attended by children,’’ Brother Crowe said.

‘‘He has carried out his tasks professionally and without incident. It is the view of the Marist Brothers that Brothers who have been convicted can be gainfully employed, provided the strictest conditions are met.’’

The Newcastle Herald confirmed Brother Gilsenan was part of a school ministry ‘‘new venture’’ by Sydney Catholic Education Office and the Marist Brothers in 2005, only two years after his release from jail for the serious sexual assault of a 12-year-old boy.

He was named on a province spirituality ministry team covering at least six Sydney Marist schools. The team helped schools ‘‘to be faithful to our Marist dream and to the Catholic traditions to which we are committed’’, a Marist report said.


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