The Altar Boys: new questions about suicides of clergy abuse survivors should spark another inquiry

The Conversation

August 27, 2020

By Kathleen McPhillips, Senior Lecturer, School of Humanities and Social Science, University of Newcastle. Disclosure statement: Kathleen McPhillips receives funding from the Marist Brothers and the Copley Bequest Foundation.

Investigative journalist Suzie Smith’s new book The Altar Boys is a searing read that raises new questions about the suicides of three former victims of Catholic clergy child sexual abuse.

Smith, a former award-winning ABC journalist, has been covering the clerical abuse crisis in the Maitland-Newcastle diocese for many years. She wrote the book in part to bring new attention to the three victims, whose suicides remain shrouded in mystery, despite two public inquiries.

The Altar Boys recounts the lives — and deaths — of Glen Walsh, Steven Alward and Andrew Nash. All three of them were victims of child sexual abuse by Catholic clerics in the diocese.

Andrew Nash was just 13 years old when he committed suicide in 1974 after being sexually abused at St. Francis Xavier College in Hamilton, NSW. Andrew was in the care of two Marist Brothers who have since been convicted on child sex offences.

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.