Oldest Catholic boarding school in Australia at centre of child-sex claims

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Wednesday, August 27, 2008

New South Wales Police have broadened investigations into Australia's oldest Catholic boarding school, St Stanislaus College in Bathurst, New South Wales, following claims that at least 13 men were sexually abused while children at the school in the 1970s and 1980s. The claims have surfaced following police being alerted in August last year.

Police have appealed for victims to come forward, but acknowledged it may be difficult for some. "I would imagine it would be very hard for anyone subject to these sort of things to come forward," Detective Superintendent Michael Goodwin said. "All I can say is that NSW police force will be providing every form of support we possibly can to make the process for them as trouble-free as possible."

St Stanislaus College is at the centre of an on-going child-sex abuse investigation.
Image: Cartman02au.

Superintendent Goodwin reassured the community that the allegations date back two decades and there is "absolutely no suggestion whatsoever that the college involved is/has been looking to anything in the current day."

"The college involved has been cooperating with the police completely with this inquiry," Goodwin added.

The police would not release how many suspects were being investigated but said their inquiries had not led them to any other locations where former staff may have been employed. Superintendent Goodwin said Police were exploring all lines of enquiry and that "no loose ends [are] being let go at this stage."

The school's principal, John Edwards, said the police had served him with a search warrant last month which listed the names of three former staff members.

"There were three former staff member who were listed on the search warrant that was served on me in early July, and we facilitated the gathering of material for police," Mr Edwards told Fairfax Radio Network.

Mr Edwards called for the matter to be transparent and described the complaints as "gravely concerning" and he hopes they are properly dealt with by the courts.

Front of St Stanislaus College in Bathurst, facing Brilliant Street.
Image: Cartman02au.

"It is absolutely a requirement for this matter to be open, for this matter to be addressed and this matter to be resolved," he said. "This school is very concerned to ensure that children are treated well and that their interests are protected."

A former priest, Brian Joseph Spillane, aged 65 was arrested over the case in May. He faced Bathurst Local Court in July, facing 33 separate charges including six counts of sexual intercourse with pupils aged 10 and 18.

Spillane's lawyer, Greg Walsh, says media reports alerted him to the new claims.

"I don't know anything about eight alleged other victims, I've not been served with any witness statements so I really can't comment about it," said Walsh.

One former student described the alleged abuse as "an orgy", claiming that boys were herded into a prayer room by a priest chanting "hypnotic" spells in tongues. It is alleged that boys were subject to sexual abuse or forced to assault each other once in the prayer room.

A former border told The Daily Telegraph that priests "got a group between eight and 12 of us together and they'd just start chanting and I would wake up during these sessions and see what was going on."

The allegations came to light after one of the alleged victims made a visit to Bathurst last year to hand out fliers documenting the abuse and providing a link to his website address. The school called in police, who the victim claims contacted him and asked him to make a complaint.