Child abusers were allowed to remain in Catholic orders, royal commission told


The royal commission has heard Christian and Marist brothers' protocols allow known child sex abusers to continue living in religious communities.

Marist and Christian brothers allow known child sex abusers to remain in their order, a royal commission has heard.

Marist Brothers in Australia provincial Peter Carroll says, following a "vigorous and rigorous debate", the order decided offending brothers would be allowed to stay with ministry restrictions.

The restricted brothers cannot have access to children, must live separate from a school and adhere to supervision.

"Are they allowed to call themselves brother if they wish to?" Counsel assisting Stephen Free asked Brother Carroll at the Royal Commission into Institutional a responses to Child Sexual Abuse in Sydney on Wednesday.

"We haven't formally taken that from them," he replied.

Brother Carroll, who said restricted brothers would not have much opportunity to use their title, was among a group of Leaders from Catholic religious giving evidence.

Christian Brothers Oceania Province Leader Peter Clinch said offenders in his order could also be kept in the fold with restrictions.

But in some cases, public perception would be so strong a brother would be asked to leave or a dismissal recommendation made to the Vatican, the royal commission heard.

Brother Clinch said he had suggested two people for dismissal and more needed consideration.

The commission has previously heard more than 20 per cent of Marist Brothers and 22 per cent of Christian Brothers between 1950 and 2010 were alleged sexual offenders.

On Wednesday, it heard the Christian Brothers paid an extra $14 million to victims after a review of about 200 settlements.

The royal commission heard 165 settlements were reopened as part of the review, which came after a hearing into the responses of Western Australian brothers to abuse in orphanages and schools.

Brother Clinch was asked why he thought victims were underpaid.

"We thought we were going to be taken to the cleaner," he said.

"It was kind of a defensiveness, a reluctance to come and speak with legal people."

Christian Brothers defend funding pedophile's $1.5 million legal fees

The Christian Brothers say they only paid a convicted pedophile's latest legal fees after previously spending more than $1.5 million defending him because he decided to plead guilty.

A Victorian County Court judge says he is "blown away" that the Catholic Church still funds the legal defence for Brother Robert Best, who has been convicted of sex offences against 11 boys and this week admitted abusing a further 20.

Christian Brothers Oceania Province leader Brother Peter Clinch says the order agreed it would fund the latest case only if Best pleaded guilty.

"We agreed that if the person pleaded guilty we would support the plea. Full stop," Brother Clinch told the child sex abuse royal commission on Wednesday.

"We would not contest and we would not pay for any trial and we would not pay for any appeal."

The Christian Brothers had spent $1.53 million defending Best by 2015.

Marist Brothers provincial Brother Peter Carroll said the order paid for the defence of brothers charged with child sex offences whether they pleaded guilty or not.

"I think it's a general policy that we fund it," he told the commission.

"But it would depend, and we haven't got to this, that If there was a request for an appeal, for instance, that is something we would have to assess very carefully."

Source AAP

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