Ex-teacher facing 99 sex abuse charges excused from court on account of his age

By Amber Wilson
November 13, 2017

A former teacher and Catholic brother accused of 99 historical sex offences will be absent from a pre-trial committal hearing in Melbourne due to his age.

Lawrence Fitzpatrick, 90, appeared in the Melbourne Magistrates Court on Monday charged with abusing 18 victims, including children under 14, at Sale, Briagolong, Stratford and Rosedale between 1971 and 1977.

The court was told the Marist brother is unsteady on his feet, has recently fallen multiple times, suffers back pain, fatigue, confusion, and is hearing impaired.

The former teacher from St Patrick's College at Sale has been charged with more than 30 counts of buggery, with some alleged victims aged under 14.

He also faces dozens of charges of indecent assault, gross indecency, assault and a charge of unlawful imprisonment.

Fitzpatrick, who is not in custody, was initially charged with 103 offences, but prosecutors previously withdrew four of those charges.

Seventy-two of the existing charges were amended on Monday, including 16 that extended the dates of alleged offending from 1976 to 1977.

His absence from proceedings was not opposed by prosecutors, although he will need to provide a medical certificate.

The hearing is expected to continue until November 23 and will hear evidence from 24 witnesses.

Fitzpatrick was charged by the Sano Taskforce, which was established to investigate historical and new allegations of child sex abuse involving religious and non-government organisations.

The matter was adjourned until Tuesday.


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