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  Catholic School Principal Here Held in Australian Abuse Case

By Tim Bryant
St. Louis Post-Dispatch
August 17, 1995

For the past two years, Gregory J. Sutton has served as principal at St. Dismas Catholic School in Florissant. Meanwhile, Australian authorities wanted him on charges of sexually abusing schoolchildren in New South Wales.

Federal authorities arrested Sutton, 44, here Monday at the request of Australian authorities, who want him returned to New South Wales to face charges he abused four students there.

The U.S. attorney's office is asking a judge to order that Sutton be held without bond pending an extradition hearing.

A document made public Wednesday in U.S. District Court details charges that Sutton sexually abused two boys and two girls at St. Carthages Primary School in Lismore, New South Wales.

The students were 10 and 12 years old when the abuse began, the document alleges.

The Rev. Paul Anthony, pastor of St. Dismas Catholic Church, said that Sutton won't return this fall as principal at the church school. Anthony said he learned of the Australian charges Tuesday night in a telephone call from authorities.

Anthony said that Sutton, who is Australian, was among many applicants for principal two years ago.

"He did a satisfactory job," Anthony said.

No one has accused Sutton of acting inappropriately with any students at St. Dismas, Anthony said. There have been no allegations of misconduct, the pastor added.

The school has about 235 students in kindergarten through eighth grade.

Anthony said he had had no chance to discuss the Australian charges with any teachers or parents of students. "I have not even totally digested it myself yet," Anthony said.

The pastor added that St. Dismas officials would cooperate with authorities any way they could.

In requesting an arrest warrant for Sutton here, a federal prosecutor revealed in the court document that from 1985 to 1987 Sutton was a teaching brother with the Marist Brothers Order at St. Carthages School.

Australian authorities allege that the offenses took place in classrooms, in Sutton's car, at the Marist Brothers residence, at a swimming pool, at the home of one of the victims and at a "sports room."

The document adds that a justice of the peace in Lismore, New South Wales, issued an arrest warrant for Sutton on Sept. 16, 1992, and another on Jan. 18, 1993.

Beginning in March 1986, Sutton began sexually abusing a 10-year-old girl student, Australian authorities allege. The year of abuse allegedly included sexual intercourse. During roughly the same time, Sutton allegedly fondled a 10-year-old boy at the school.

In 1985, Sutton touched a 10-year-old boy student through his clothes, the document alleges. In the same year, Sutton allegedly ran his hand up the leg and onto the underwear of a 10-year-old girl student.

Authorities here kept the Australian charges secret until after Sutton was arrested. The court document, filed by Assistant U.S. Attorney David M. Rosen, alleges that Sutton would have been likely to flee had he known of the federal arrest warrant for him here.

The document notes that Australian authorities had sought the arrest of Sutton but doesn't disclose how they tracked him to St. Louis. Sutton is charged in New South Wales with 11 counts of sexual intercourse without consent of a person under 16 years old, 12 counts of assault "with the act of indecency" with a person under 16 and one count of committing an indecent act.

Sutton and his wife live in Shrewsbury. A woman at the Suttons' house refused to comment Wednesday night.

 
 

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