Marist Brothers 'did not go to police' after paedophile teacher's confession

The Guardian (UK)
June 16, 2014

Brother Gregory Sutton.

Even after a paedophile teacher confessed to the father of a boy who had taken his own life that he had molested him, the Marist Brothers did not go to police, a royal commission has heard.

John Holdsworth, who oversaw the primary school in North Queensland where Gregory Sutton, later jailed for 67 counts of child sexual abuse, taught in the 1970s, has told the inquiry in Canberra he was not concerned by Sutton's behaviour at the time.

Holdsworth, the then community superior, said he could not recall the principal of the primary school, Denis Doherty, raising concerns about Sutton's behaviour in 1974.

Doherty – a Marist Brother at the time – gave evidence on Monday at the royal commission into child sexual abuse that he had complained to the superior about Sutton's "unprofessional" behaviour.

Holdsworth said he only recalled thinking at the time that Doherty and Sutton just did not get on.

He did recall that in 1989 he went with the father of a boy, referred to as ADO, to visit Sutton who had been moved to the brothers' residence at St Joseph's College, Hunter's Hill in Sydney.

ADO had taken his own life and his father came to see Holdsworth because he had found out his son was sexually assaulted by Sutton when he was eight or nine.

Holdsworth said he was "quite shocked” because Sutton – who was still friendly with the family – had offered to arrange the funeral.

Sutton had been moved from the Queensland school to a school at Mosman in New South Wales when Doherty spoke to the then provincial of the order, Charles Howard, about his relationship with boys.

He had "pets" and would take boys out in the community car.

Holdsworth said he did not go into the meeting with the father but waited for him. He said the meeting was short and ADO's father told him Sutton admitted he had "interfered with ADO".

He was pressed by counsel assisting the commission Simeon Beckett if he knew Sutton had confessed to a criminal offence.

Holdsworth said: "I can't give a specific answer as to why at the time I did not take that view."

The witness also said he did recall telling Brother Alexis Turton, who was provincial of the order in 1989, that the boy had committed suicide but he could not remember telling him about the meeting with ADO's father.

When ADO's father later found out that Gregory Sutton had been sent to Canada for treatment, he came to Holdsworth and accused the Marist Brothers of sweeping the matter "under the rug".

The hearing into how the Marist Order handled complaints about two brothers, Sutton and John Chute, is continuing.

The pair taught at schools in NSW, the ACT and Queensland for decades through until the late 1980s and early 1990s and have since been jailed for scores of sexual offences against children.


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