A former Marist brother who was later jailed for child sex assault probably organised the funeral of a young man he had abused as a boy.
A pedophile Marist brother attended and probably organised the funeral of a young man he had molested as a boy, an inquiry has been told.
The man’s family later learned of the link between their son’s suicide and the fact he had been molested by Gregory Sutton when he was just eight or nine and attending a Marist Brothers primary school in North Queensland in the 1970s.
The Royal Commission into Institutional Responses to Child Sexual Abuse was told on Monday Sutton, who has since served 12 years in jail for sexually assaulting boys, offered to arrange the funeral of the boy, referred to as ADO, who committed suicide in 1989.
The former brother was later confronted by the father of ADO and confessed he had molested him.
Sutton who had been moved from Queensland to schools in NSW was living at the brothers’ house on the grounds of St Joseph’s College at Hunters Hill in Sydney in 1989.
He was visited there by ADO’s father, accompanied by John Holdsworth, superior of the Marist community which ran the primary and secondary schools in North Queensland.
ADO’s father went to Br Holdsworth after ADO’s brother told the family he had been abused by Sutton.
“I was quite shocked because Sutton had offered to arrange the funeral,” Br Holdsworth told the commission.
He knew Sutton was friendly with the family and had been at their home and he understood he had attended the funeral and “probably organised it”.
After the meeting at St Joseph’s, ADO’s father told Br Holdsworth that Sutton admitted he had “interfered with ADO”.
He was pressed by counsel assisting the commission, Simeon Beckett, if he knew that what Sutton had confessed to was a criminal offence.
“I can’t give a specific answer as to why at the time I did not take that view,” Br Holdsworth said.
He later said it did not occur to him to go to police because it was not in his realm and he had the impression ADO’s father did not want him to.
Earlier on Monday, the former principal of the primary school Denis Doherty told of his anger when Sutton was arrested two decades after he had first reported him to the then provincial of the Marist Order, Charles Howard.
He said he raised his concerns with Br Howard who paid an annual visit to the school and reassured him “It sounds serious. We will move him to Sydney for counselling.”
Sutton was moved to another school in the Sydney suburb of Mosman and also worked at of schools in NSW and the ACT.
Mr Doherty said he heard on the radio in 1996 that Sutton had been arrested.
“I was extremely angry. I told the brothers in the 70s and they did nothing and Greg went on to do the most dreadful things”, he said.
Mr Doherty said he had suspicions about Sutton from the start because he had teacher’s ‘pets’ and would mow the playing field on a tractor mower with a boy sitting between his knees.
Br Holdsworth said he could not recall Mr Doherty raising concerns with him and just thought the two did not get along.