Marist Brothers deny a duty of care to their victims

Broken Rites

By a Broken Rites researcher

Catholic religious Brothers, who have been operating schools in Australia for more than a century, now deny that they owe a duty of care to protect pupils from sexually-abusive Brothers, according to church lawyers. The lawyers told a Canberra civil court on 4 June 2008 that (unlike lay teachers who are employed on salaries) the Brothers are not, technically, “employees”. Therefore, this would be the Brothers’ defence if their sexual-abuse victims take civil action through the courts to obtain damages.

Catholic religious Brothers in Australia include the Christian Brothers (who arrived from Ireland in 1868), the Marist Brothers (arrived 1872), the De La Salle Brothers (arrived 1906), the Patrician Brothers (arrived 1883) and the St John of Good Brothers (arrived 1947).

The Canberra civil proceedings, in the Supreme Court of the Australian Capital Territory, involved the Marist Brothers. Three former students from Canberra’s Marist College claimed substantial compensation from the Marist Brothers organisation because Brother John William Chute (alias “Brother Kostka”) was openly molesting students in the 1980s and ’90s. In criminal proceedings earlier in 2008, 76-year-old Kostka Chute had pleaded guilty to molesting six teenage boys between 1985 and 1989, during his 18-year stint at Marist College. All of the offences occurred on school premises, and in some cases involved daily abuse over several months. In the criminal proceedings, Kostka pleaded guilty to molesting two of the civil plaintiffs, but the third civil plaintiff did not seek criminal prosecution. In the criminal proceedings, Kostka’s lawyer indicated that Kostka became co-opted into to a culture of sexual abuse while he was training in his teens (in the care of the Marist Brothers) to become a Brother.

Note: This is an Abuse Tracker excerpt. Click the title to view the full text of the original article. If the original article is no longer available, see our News Archive.