Royal Commission: the cover-up of Marist Brother Gregory Sutton

Broken Rites
June 10, 2014

Australia's national child-abuse Royal Commission has begun examning how Catholic Church authorities ignored the crimes of Marist Brother Gregory Joseph Sutton, who was inflicted on Australian Catholic schoolchildren for 20 years. Originally, the Commisson had considered giving Sutton a code-name, "Z.A.",  but on 10 June 2014 the Commission decided to allow publication of his real name - Gregory Sutton.

Brother Sutton worked as a primary teacher, from the early 1970s to the early 1990s, in various Catholic schools including (this is not a complete list):

  • a parish school in North Queensland (under Queensland law, the name of this school cannot be published);
  • a parish school at Lismore, northern New South Wales; and
  • Marist College, Canberra.

On 10 June 2014, the Royal Commission began holding a week or more of public hearings (Case Study 13) which will include the question of how the Marist Brothers administration responded (or failed to respond) to the crimes of "Brother ZA" [Brother Grregory Sutton], plus another Marist (Brother John "Kostka" Chute).

When the public hearing began (chaired by Justice Jennifer Coate), Sutton's lawyer (Greg Walsh) applied to have his client's identity kept secret on the basis that publicity could cause "psychological damage" to Sutton as well as putting Sutton at risk of physical harm. Commissioner Coate ruled against the application. Thus, for the first time since 1996, the media is now able to publish Sutton's name.

On June 10, two female victims of Brother Greg Sutton gave evidence at the public hearing. They were pupils at St Thomas More primary school in Campbelltown, near Sydney, in the mid-1980s when they were in Fifth Class, about ten years old. Sutton's assaults on them were serious criminal offences, including digital penetration of the vagina and also being forced to perform oral sex on Brother Sutton.

Five years later, when she was in Year 10 at secondary school, one of these girls finally made a police statement, which was arranged by her parents after they learned about the abuse.

Each of these two victims, now aged 40 in 2014, told the inquiry that Brother Greg Sutton's "religious" status, as a Catholic Brother, made them vulnerable to the attacks. Each of them also related how the abuse (and the church's harbouring of Brother Sutton) intimidated them and disrupted their childhood development, causing them serious personal problems in their adult years.

Other witnesses who have been called to give evidence about Brother Gregory Sutton include:

  • A former Marist Brother who worked with Brother Sutton at a parish primary school in North Queensland;
  • A Marist Brother was was the principal of the school in North Queensland;
  • A woman who was assistant principal of St Carthage’s School in Lismore, when Brother Sutton worked there;
  • A Marist Brother who was the former superior of the Marist Brothers community in Lismore when Brother Sutton was there; and
  • Two senior Marist Brothers who are currently in the Marists' Australian hierarchy.

The public hearings of Case Study 13 (including both Kostka Chute and Sutton) are being streamed, via webcast, on the Royal Commission’s website.  To reach the Commission's webpage for Case Study 13, click HERE.

This hearings are being held in Canberra but the issue is of Australia-wide significance.

  • To see a Broken Rites background article about how Brother Gregory Sutton fled to America, click HERE.
  • As the Royal Commission hearings are also examining the crimes of Marist Brother John "Kostka" Chute, you can see a Broken Rites article about Brother "Kostka" HERE.


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