A Catholic priest, on the run, is finally jailed for child-sex crimes (and he is STILL a priest)
August 28, 2015
The former Australian head of a worldwide Catholic religious order was sentenced to jail on 28 August 2015 for child-sex crimes. Father Julian Fox, 70, of the Salesian order, was found guilty of indecently assaulting boys at two Melbourne schools. The crimes occurred between 1976 and 1985. After these crimes, Father Fox was appointed as the Australian head of the Salesian order. Later, the Salesians allowed him to flee to Rome, thus enabling him to evade Australian police — until the police eventually forced him back to Australia to face the courts. During the sentencing in 2015, Fox's defence lawyer told the court that Father Fox is still officially a Catholic priest and he has the support of the Salesians.
Various Salesian websites have claimed that the Salesians are the second or third largest Catholic religious order in the world. The Salesians operate in "more than 125 countries".
The sentencing of Father Fox was conducted by a judge in the Melbourne County Court. Broken Rites representatives were present in court.
The charges against Father Fox were laid by the Sex Crime Squad of the Victoria Police. In 2012, the Sex Crime Squad established a special team of detectives in Melbourne, called "Task Force Sano", to investigate child-abuse allegations in religious organisations.
The offences involved two Catholic schools: Salesian College Rupertswood (at Sunbury in Melbourne's outer north-west); and St Joseph's College, Ferntree Gully (in Melbourne's outer east).
Broken Rites has ascertained that Julian Benedict Fox (born 20 July 1945) originally came from Tasmania, where he was a schoolboy at Hobart's Dominic College, which was a boarding school operated by the Salesians. There, he was groomed to absorb the Salesian culture and was recruited to begin training for the Salesian priesthood. He has spent his whole career in the Salesian order.
He worked in several Salesian schools, including their Melbourne schools at Sunbury in 1976-83 and Ferntree Gully (in the 1980s and early 1990s). He later had another stint at Sunbury.
During the 1990s, some of the Salesians' former students realised that it was not wise to report their childhood abuse to the church authorities, because of the culture of cover-up. Instead, some victims finally began to speak to detectives in the Victoria Police sex-crime squad. This resulted in the conviction of Salesian priests, such as Father Frank Klep and Father David Rapson. And the detectives also began investigating a complaint from a former student of Father Fox.
In 1998, after more ex-students complained about Fox, the Salesians evacuated Father Fox to a Salesian post in Fiji. There, he was out of the reach of the Australian police. Broken Rites has ascertained that, in 1999 edition of the annual printed Australian Catholic Directory (and in subsequent editions), Father Fox was listed merely as being "overseas".
In 2000, the Salesians paid an out-of-court financial settlement to Luke Quilligan, a former student of Father Fox. The payment, which was relatively modest, was made on condition that Luke would give up his right to sue the Salesians publicly for a larger amount in the Victorian Supreme Court. To learn more about Luke's out-of-court settlement, see a link at the end of this article.
Eventually, the Salesians helped Father Fox to flee to Rome, where the Salesians' world headquarters are located. There, he was appointed to work on the Salesians' worldwide website. In 2009, Broken Rites noticed a Salesian website which had a photograph of Fr Julian Fox presiding over "an English-language discussion among editors."
The Victoria Police kept trying to persuade Fox to re-visit Australia, so that he could be interviewed about the complaints which police were receiving from Fox's Melbourne victims. For several years, Fox ignored the police requests.
In April 2013, the Victoria Police finally managed to bring Father back to Australia to face criminal charges in Melbourne.
After a preliminary hearing in the Melbourne Magistrates Court, Fox pleaded "not guilty" to all charges, thereby necessitating jury trials which would be heard by a judge in a higher court, the Melbourne County Court.
At the County Court, the victims were dealt with in eight separate trials (each with a different jury), held between September 2014 and July 2015. To protect the integrity of the proceedings, the court temporarily banned the media from making any mention of the Fox case. The purpose of this was to enable each jury to focus on its own particular set of charges.
Fox was found guilty of a total of three counts of indecent assault by juries in two of the eight trials. He was found not guilty in two trials, while four juries were discharged without verdict.
Impact on the victims
The court heard that a former student from St Joseph's College, Fentree Gully, was gripped by depression, had attempted suicide six times and felt haunted by Fox, who "stole my childhood and innocence".
The man's wife said she lived in constant fear of finding her husband hanging from a tree on their property, and estimated that the suffering had cost them hundreds of thousands of dollars in work that could not be done and long-term medical costs.
A former Rupertswood student said he abused alcohol as an adult, endured a marriage breakdown and engaged in "anti-social behaviour". He said in a victim impact statement that his initial excitement at attending the boarding school was marred by the horrible acts of violence he witnessed against students.
Defence counsel Julie Condon told the court, during pre-sentence proceedings, that Fox is still officially a priest and has the support of the Salesians.
After all the juries had finished, Judge Graeme Hicks held the sentencing on 28 August 2015. He began by lifting the media-suppression order.
Judge Hicks jailed Fox for four years. Fox must serve two years and eight months before he is eligible for parole. At the time of the sentencing, he had already served twelve months of his jail sentence while in the remand prison.
In his sentencing remarks, Judge Hicks said that Fox's offending represented a power imbalance and gross breach of trust, as he was a teacher and member of the clergy.
"The victim impact statements are powerful testimony to the injury, both physical and mental, that you have caused your victims," the judge said.
The judge told Fox: "You have caused a great deal of human damage and misery."
After the jury verdicts on the indecent-assault charges, Fox pleaded guilty to three counts of "common assault" (that is, physical assault), related to beating three other boys with a pool cue.
At Rupertswood College in Sunbury in 1978 and 1979, after thrashing a 14-year-old boy on the bare bottom with a pool cue, Fox jammed the a pool cue into the boy's anus and asked: "Is that hard enough?". For days, this boy had bleeding from the anus.
Judge Hicks fined Fox $10,000 for these physical assaults.
No apology from the church
On 28 August 2015, after the sentencing, the Salesian colleges in Melbourne (at Sunbury and Ferntree Gully) said in statements that they acknowledged the victims' suffering, although the schools did not offer formal apologies.
The schools said they had removed all references to Fox from within their walls.
[However, Broken Rites will continue to remind Australians about how the Catholic Church's Salesian order harboured Father Julian Fox and other priests and Brothers while they committed crimes upon children.]
Other criminals in the Salesian organisation
Julian Fox is one of a long list of priests and Brothers who have now been convicted for sexually assaulting Australian schoolchildren. Two examples from Melbourne's Salesian College Rupertswood are:
Father Frank Klep, 70, a former principal, was jailed for 10½ years in May 2014 after pleading guilty to abusing 15 children while running the college's infirmary between 1974 and 1983.
Father David Rapson, 61, a former vice-principal, was jailed in May 2015 for 12 years after being found guilty of sexually assaulting six boys between 1976 and 1990.