Marist Brother John Chute, known as Brother Kostka, leaves the ACT Magistrates Court.
Marist Brother John Chute, known as Brother Kostka, leaves the ACT Magistrates Court. Contributed

Witnesses sought over child sex claims at Catholic schools

FURTHER claims of child sexual and physical abuse on the Northern Rivers are set to come to light, with a Canberra law firm trawling for information from students who attended two local Catholic schools over the past 40 years.

Ken Cush & Associates placed an advertisement in The Northern Star last Saturday and will soon be in Lismore for two weeks collecting information.

They are looking to speak to former students who attended St Carthage's and Trinity College between 1950 and 1990.

The Marist Brothers' Province of Australia said they would encourage and support any person coming forward with any complaint about historic matters of abuse.

"We actively encourage the reporting to the police of any allegation of criminal abuse of children, no matter how long ago, so that the proper investigation can be conducted by the authorities," a spokesman said.

"Bringing to account any person responsible for these abhorrent events is essential for justice to be served."

The alleged child abuse was committed by a range of lay teachers as well as Marist Brothers, including Brothers Bartholomew and Kostka.

 

Ken Cush & Associates' advertisement as seen in the Weekend Star on Saturday May 19.
Ken Cush & Associates' advertisement as seen in the Weekend Star on Saturday May 19. Ken Cush & Associates

Brother Kostka, known as John William Chute, is a known paedophile and worked across at least 12 Catholic schools in Australia between 1952 and 1993.

He is believed to have assaulted at least 48 children during his teaching career and was charged in January 2008 with 19 counts of child abuse and, after pleading guilty, was sentenced to six years imprisonment.

Brother Bartholomew, known as Peter Richard Spratt, is a known sex offender and pleaded guilty in 1996 to two acts of indecency against a 14-year-old child.

He taught in schools across Lismore, Canberra, Byron Bay and Jindabyne and it is possible his abuse spanned across different jurisdictions.

Solicitor Sangeeta Sharmin said they were seeking assistance from witnesses who can provide information about the above mentioned Brothers or any abuse that may have occurred in Lismore across approximately 1964-1990.

"Child physical and sexual abuse can be very damaging," Ms Sharmin said.

"It was occurring across numerous Catholic schools in the Lismore area for many years."

"Much of this abuse was covered up. This makes it difficult for the victims to get evidence and we are simply following the clear trail of abuse in Lismore."

The Marist Brothers recognised and acknowledged that both religious and lay people have been responsible for the abuse of children in their care over the years.

"That this ever occurred is a matter of profound sorrow and regret, and we apologise unreservedly for the suffering and pain that has resulted from these criminal actions," the spokesman said.

"We will continue to work with those whose lives have been damaged by abuse to bring about some healing."

Ken Cush & Associates will be in Lismore for two weeks from June 4, 2018.

Those who wish to arrange a free confidential meeting should call (02) 6257 9922 or email Sangeeta.Sharmin@kencush.com.au

You can also contact the Marist Brothers Professional Standards Office for counselling, compensation and personal apologies on (02) 9218 4000.



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