A former Christian brother and convicted pedophile has admitted to 55 fresh charges of child sex abuse.

A convicted pedophile who changed his name to avoid publicity has admitted to another 55 offences committed while he was a Christian brother teaching in Victorian schools.

Ted Bales, 64, was taken into custody on Thursday after pleading guilty to indecently assaulting boys over a 16-year period in the 1970s and 1980s.

Bales, now a defrocked layman living in Thomastown, was formerly known as Edward Vernon Dowlan.

The name ‘Dowlan’ has frequently appeared alongside some of Australia’s most notorious clergy pedophiles, including Robert Charles Best and Gerald Francis Ridsdale.

A court hearing in April was told Bales changed his identity to avoid publicity because his name came up whenever the media reported on crimes involving the Christian Brothers.

The court heard Bales spent five years in prison in the 1990s after being convicted of other historical sex offences.

Dowlan was jailed for six-and-a-half years with a four-year minimum for sex crimes against 12 students between 1971 and 1982.

Bales pleaded guilty to 55 counts of indecent assault in the Melbourne Magistrates Court on Thursday, after five other charges were withdrawn.

His admission of guilt brings the number of his victims to more than 20.

The assaults covered by the latest charges occurred in Ballarat, Forest Hill and Warrnambool in the 1970s, and Lovely Banks, Lower Templestowe and East Melbourne in the 1980s.

Almost half of Bales’ offences were committed in Ballarat in the early 1970s.

Between 1971 and 1974, he was one of four male teachers at Ballarat primary school St Alipius including Best, while Ridsdale was the school’s chaplain.

Advocacy group Broken Rites said it was another example of the church cover-ups that allowed these offences to continue.

“While Dowlan was committing these crimes he was protected by his colleagues and superiors,” spokesman Bernard Barrett told AAP.

Best was jailed in 2011 for a minimum of 11 years and three months for sexually abusing young boys at three schools over a 20-year period.

Australia’s worst pedophile priest, 79-year-old Ridsdale, abused 53 victims over 26 years and is likely to die in jail. Another eight years were added to his lengthy jail term in April this year after he pleaded guilty to 30 new charges.

Bales was arrested by the Sano task force, which was established by police to investigate historic and new allegations arising from the Victorian parliamentary inquiry into child sex abuse.

He was remanded in custody and will next appear in court on February 6.