Broken Rites (Australia),
http://broken rites.alphalink. com.au/n letter/page 100.html ,
(formerly http:// brokenrites. alphalink.com. au/nletter/ page1.html ),
E-mail of January 6, 2006
Church protected a convicted criminal priest
In 2004 and 2005, the Broken Rites victim support group helped to expose a Catholic religious order - the Salesians of Don Bosco - for harbouring a convicted criminal priest in its ranks.
The priest, Father Frank Klep, was given a jail sentence in Australia in 1994 for indecently assaulting vulnerable boys, aged 13, in the sick dormitory of a Salesian secondary school, "Rupertswood", at Sunbury in Melbourne's north-west. The court allowed him to serve the 1994 jail sentence in community work.
Klep's victims tried for years to get him removed from the priesthood but the Salesians obstinately protected him. They merely transferred him from Australia to the Pacific island Samoa, illegally concealing his criminal record from the Samoan authorities. There, he was out of reach of the Australian police. Finally, after more Australian victims contacted Broken Rites , Klep was deported back to Australia and was convicted again in 2005. Even as Klep entered jail in December 2005 (eleven years after his first conviction), his Salesian bosses still had not decided to remove him from the priesthood.
This story raises questions not just about Klep but about the Catholic system that sheltered him from justice.
The following account is based on court submissions and witnesses' testimonies. Father Frank Gerard Klep, from a family of nine children, was born in Holland 3 October 1943 and arrived in Australia aged ten. He attended a Salesian secondary school at Chadstone in Melbourne's south-east and, by age 16, the Salesians fancied him as a future priest. He began boarding with the Salesians and spent his final two school years (years 11 and 12) in a special classroom of priesthood "aspirants". At 18, he joined the order and eventually made the life-long vow of "chastity". Klep's Catholic family (according to his barrister in court in 2005) enjoyed the prestige of having a future priest in the family.
His priestly training included study at a Catholic theological college in the United States. There, aged 25, he had a sexual relationship with a fellow trainee priest, Klep's barrister told the court in 2005. (This kind of experience is not uncommon in the Salesian order.)
Ordained as a priest in 1972, aged 29, Klep taught at "Rupertsood" till 1979 and was the religion co-ordinator. "Rupertswood" then was a boys-only school, with boarders as well as day students. The boarders included many from distant farming communities in northern Victoria and southern New South Wales.
The boarders slept in dormitories, partitioned at both ends by curtains, behind which a Salesian priest or brother slept to maintain order. There were about 19 priests, brothers and lay brothers at "Rupertswood".
Klep was in charge of the infirmary, where sick boys were kept. Klep slept in a partitioned section in the infirmary. He administered medication to sick or injured boys.
Klep now admits that he used to touch the boys' genitals while the boys were in bed asleep. He now admits that, in many cases, he would perform oral sex on the boy. Furthermore, some boys allege that Klep gave them sedatives, or a drugged drink, to put them into a deep sleep before abusing them. Some allege that he inserted a medical suppository into their anus.
At that time, Klep's victims were unable to report the sex-abuse to their parents or the police. As boarders, the boys were a long way from home. Furthermore, their parents were devout Catholics who would not welcome - or even believe - the complaints. The boarders also knew that a complaint would result in reprisals from the school administration.
How Klep was exposed in 1986
In 1980-1, Klep was principal of a Salesian secondary school in Brooklyn Park, Adelaide. He is recorded as taking part in many activities with Adelaide boys, including one trip with boys in May 1981 to visit the Salesian houses around Melbourne.
In the 1980s, some "Rupertswood" parents were alarmed that their sons, now becoming adults, seemed to have had their personal development disrupted at the school. Gradually, these ex-students admitted that Father Klep sexually abused them in the infirmary in the 1970s. Being adults now, the ex-students felt safe to reveal what they could not have said when they were children.
In 1982-6, Klep was back at "Rupertswood" as principal. Alarmed by this promotion, a dozen parents confronted the Salesians' Australian administration and demanded Klep's removal but the Salesians refused. Klep denied everything. These parents also reported Klep to the then chief administrator of the Melbourne Catholic archdiocese but he ignored the complaints.
Eventually, after the parents threatened to sue, the Salesians removed Klep from "Rupertswood" and awarded him a "study" trip to Rome and the United States.
Returning to Australia in 1989, Klep helped to train Salesian priests at Oakleigh in Melbourne's south-east.
Despite the complaints of 1986, he was again put into youth work in 1992 - as head of the Salesians' Don Bosco Hostel and Youth Centre, 715 Sydney Road, Brunswick, a blue-collar suburb of Melbourne
One ex-Rupertswood parent, "Cath", said she and the other parents were horrified by this appointment. She complained in writing to the Salesians in 1992 and received a scolding from the order's Australian head at the time. She dropped her protests.
"I just tried to do the right thing, but we never got anywhere," Cath said later. "They absolutely had it covered like the Mafia."
Klep's 1994 conviction
In 1993, about the time that Broken Rites was beginning to publicly expose church sex-abuse in Australia, more Klep victims from "Rupertswood" in the 1970s came forward. But, this time, as recommended by Broken Rites , these victims contacted the police, instead of telling the church.
First, two siblings ("Kerry" and "Paddy") made sworn statements at what is now called the police Sexual Offences and Child Abuse (SOCA) unit.
Paddy said that Klep gave him sedatives. In addition to indecent touching of genitals, Klep inserted a medical suppository into Paddy's anus, the boy said.
Klep denied everything and pleaded not guilty. The Salesians left him on duty throughout the court process in 1994.
Senior Sergeant Steve Iddles, the prosecutor, later said: "He [Klep] forced himself on them. Lie down and do as I tell you."
In the Melbourne Magistrates Court on 12 December 1994, a magistrate declared Father Klep guilty. The Salesians' barrister immediately told the court that Kelp would appeal against the conviction. This discouraged the media from reporting the conviction. In fact, however, Klep withdrew the appeal a month later, by which time the metropolitan media had forgotten to follow up the case.
The magistrate sentenced Klep to nine months jail, which he was allowed to serve in community service, gardening at nursing homes.
The Salesians successfully kept the 1994 conviction out of the metropolitan media. Broken Rites, however, managed to get the Sunbury Regional local weekly paper (near "Rupertswood") to publish four paragraphs about it on 20 December 1994.
After the conviction, Klep had chats with Catholic Church psychiatrist Richard Ball but (according to statements made in court in 2005) the Salesians arranged no on-going professional treatment for Klep's offending. Clearly, neither Klep nor the Salesians felt any remorse.
One victim, Kerry, wrote an article for the Broken Rites printed newsletter in 1995, saying: "Klep's actions have altered my life in many ways. I feel cheated by the Catholic Church which for years must have known of this problem with many clergy and yet took no stand to remove those responsible or even to apologise to the victims concerned."
Another victim comes forward
After the 1994 conviction, Klep was posted as a financial administrator at a Salesian centre for trainee priests in Lysterfield, south-east of Melbourne. In 1996, another former "Rupertswood" student ("Pierre") contacted Broken Rites, which referred him to the police SOCA unit.
Pierre alleged that, when he was in the infirmary in 1973 aged 14, Klep had fondled him, performed oral sex on him and penetrated his anus with a finger.
Once again, Klep denied the allegations. When the investigating detective was transferred to a country area, the file lay dormant in Melbourne.
In July 1997, a lawyer acting for "Pierre" notified the Salesians in Melbourne that Pierre would claim damages from the Salesians for personal injury because of Klep. In 1998, the Salesian secretly paid an $80,000 out-of-court settlement to Pierre in order to prevent this damages claim going to court.
Klep in Samoa
With more victims likely to contact lawyers or the police, the Salesians now realised that Klep would be a long-term problem for them. In June 1998, Broken Rites learned that Klep was being transferred to Samoa, where he would become the financial administrator at a theological college. In August 1998, police tried to serve a criminal summons on Klep (for five sexual assaults on Pierre ) but he was already in Samoa - and Australia has no extradition treaty with Samoa. Police issued a nationwide arrest warrant for Klep.
The people of Samoa were not aware that the newly-arrived friendly priest was a convicted child molester who was wanted on more charges back in Australia. Neither he nor the church felt an obligation to tell anyone about all that.
In 2002, Broken Rites made contact with a United States journalist, Reese Dunklin of the Dallas Morning News, Texas, who was investigating the Catholic Church's habit of allowing sexually-abusive priests to move to other countries. Broken Rites briefed Dunklin about Klep and certain other Australian Salesians who had gone to Samoa. Dunklin eventually flew to Samoa and published a long article about Klep on 18 June 2004.
To satisfy Klep's victims, the Salesians' Australian headquarters had previously claimed that Klep would never again deliver Mass publicly or participate in any activity that may bring him into contact with children. But Dunkln found that Klep was helping during Mass at a Samoan church and at the nearby Salesian schools. A photo in the Dallas [? Morning] News showed Father Klep in Samoa handing out sweets to children after Sunday Mass. The paper reported that teenaged boys were waiting for Klep outside.
"I don't think I'm at risk (of offending) now," Father Klep told the newspaper.
Samoa's top Catholic, Archbishop Alapati Mataeliga, told Dunklin that he was startled to learn about Klep's criminal past. He said the Salesians should not have hidden the details from him.
The archbishop said he had just learned, from the media, about the Salesians' promise that Klep would not deliver Mass or participate in any activity that may bring him into contact with children. The archbishop said he should have been told this earlier.
Dunklin's article pointed out that the Salesians of Don Bosco, one of the largest Catholic religious orders, concentrate on educating and housing some of the world's most needy and vulnerable children. Yet influential Salesian officials, worldwide, have spoken out forcefully against cooperating with law enforcement agencies investigating sex-abuse allegations.
Dunklin said that Salesian officials worldwide had spoken out against co-operating with police investigating sex-abuse allegations. It quoted Salesian Cardinal Oscar Rodriguez of Honduras - then regarded as a possible candidate to be the next pope - as saying: "It would be a tragedy to reduce the role of a pastor to that of a cop. I'd be prepared to go to jail rather than harm one of my priests."
Broken Rites emailed Dunklin's article to Australian newspapers, which began investigating Australian aspects of the Klep story. The newspapers soon reported that the Salesians had paid hundreds of thousands of dollars to victims of priests in out-of-court settlements in return for the victims not suing the Salesian order for damages. Apart from Pierre's $80,000, other Klep victims received amounts like $45,000 and $20,000 (The Age, 10 July 2004).
Klep back in Australia
In late June 2004, the Samoan government deported Klep because he had failed to disclose his 1994 conviction. On his visa application for Samoa, Klep had sworn that "I ... have never been convicted of a criminal offence." The lie was witnessed, and endorsed, by Klep's then Salesian boss.
Returning to Australia on 25 June 2004, Klep was immediately arrested on the 1998 charges involving Pierre . The publicity about Klep's return from Samoa resulted in more victims contacting Broken Rites and/or the police SOCA unit.
Embarrassed by the publicity about Klep, the Melbourne Catholic archdiocese wrote to Klep on June 25, stating that he was no longer authorised to function as a priest within the boundaries of the Melbourne diocese. (However, this prohibition related only to Melbourne; the Melbourne diocese had no power to ground a Salesian priest in other dioceses or other countries.)
Court proceedings in 2005
At the Melbourne Magistrates Court in April 2005, Klep pleaded not guilty to 28 incidents of indecent assault [i.e., touching of genitals] and one of buggery [i.e., Pierre's allegation of digital penetration], all relating to eight "Rupertswood" boys in 1973-79.
Klep contested the charges fiercely but, after hearing evidence from the victims, the magistrate decided that there was certainly enough evidence for a jury to convict Klep and he therefore ordered Klep to stand trial.
Klep then made a plea bargain with the prosecution. Klep agreed to plead guilty to a reduced number of incidents - only one or two "representative" incidents per victim, even if a victim had been assaulted numerous times during several years (as some of them were).
The defence and prosecution drew up an "agreed statement of facts". This document reduced the allegations to simple indecent assault, with no mention of digital penetration or the drugging of victims.
Meanwhile, two more "Rupertswood" victims contacted police. In December 2005, Klep pleaded guilty in the County Court to 13 incidents of indecent assault involving ten Rupertswood boys, aged 12 to 17. All were boarders and all were assaulted in the infirmary.
Klep's barrister asked the court for a wholly-suspended sentence, particularly in view of the 30-year delay in reporting the offences. The publicity and the disgrace were a sufficient punishment, the defence claimed.
However, Judge Francis Hogan quoted a letter from the Salesians' Australian head, Father Ian Murdoch, dated 13 December 2005, which stated that the Salesians had not yet decided what to do about Klep's future as a priest. Murdoch failed to explain why Klep was still a priest in 2005 (11 years after the 1994 conviction) and why there was still a hesitation about removing him from the priesthood.
The prosecution sought an immediate jail sentence, pointing out that the boys were particularly vulnerable because they were ill and because, as boarders, they had no parents on hand to whom they could complain; and, furthermore, the delay in reporting was because the boys could not tell their devout parents about church sex abuse.
Klep's victims said in written impact statements to court that the Klep and the Salesians had had long-term drastic effects on their lives. The effects included: losing trust in other people; disrupting their relationship with their families; becoming socially withdrawn; sexual identity problems; substance abuse; and destroying their relationship with their fellows in the Catholic community.
Off to jail
On 16 December 2005, Judge Hogan sentenced Klep to a total of 36 months jail, with one year behind bars and the rest possibly on parole. Just before the sentencing, another "Rupertswood" victim contacted police, and his case was included in the sentencing, making 14 incidents involving 11 victims .
Judge Hogan said Klep had violated the innocence of his students, leaving them with profound and lasting psychological scars.
"You betrayed their trust in a most appalling way. Not only were you in a position of trust but you were also in a position of power," the judge said.
"Offences of this kind are difficult to detect because they are committed against children who are scared and do not complain."
The judge ordered that Klep's name be placed permanently on the Register of Serious Sexual Offenders. She also ordered that a sample of his saliva be taken for DNA testing. (Detectives took Klep's fingerprints in 1994.)
Klep's conviction was widely reported in radio and television bulletins and in newspapers. His disgrace - and the disgrace of the Salesians - was complete.
One victim, Kerry (from the 1994 case), told the Melbourne Age that church leaders are "the most hypocritical people on earth because they hide behind the cloth and the cross". Kerry said his mother, a church person all her life, has lost all trust in the church, as have the rest of Kerry's family.
For many victims of Klep and other Salesians, the anchor of their lives has been cut, leaving them spiritually and emotionally adrift. They consider it a high price to pay for the bad faith of Salesian priests and administrators.
The eleven victims in the December 2005 conviction were not Klep's only victims. From time to time, other callers have phoned Broken Rites reporting Klep's sexual abuse of them, but, for family reasons and other reasons, they have declined to go to the police.
Klep victims have told Broken Rites that they know of former "Rupertswood" students whose lives have been adversely affected, including several students who have committed suicide after leaving the school. #
The Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests
Testimony of Bishop Gumberton to
Legacy ignites legal battle over benefactor's wish to help the former residents of the Bindoon Boys' Town
Brothers, orphans contest will
A will which dates back almost 60 years is about to reignite the fierce battle between the Catholic Church's Christian Brothers order and the men who were abused as orphaned child migrants at the Brothers' farming property near Bindoon.
Lawyers acting for the Brothers have applied to the Supreme Court for permission to scrap the wishes attached to the will and for full access to the remaining $167,000 being held in a trust account.
But in a bid to torpedo the court application, a group of Christian Brothers orphans, who were used as child labour to build the Boys' Town property, have launched a counter claim for the money.
They argue that when wealthy widow Catherine Musk signed over more than £40,000 to the Christian Brothers in her 1947 will she wanted the money used to set the orphans up on their own farms.
Instead, the money was only ever used to buy stock and equipment for the farm at Bindoon where orphans suffered terrible physical and mental abuse at the hands of some of the Christian Brothers who ran it.
"Mrs Musk was a very kind-hearted lady and she left what was a bloody fortune back then to help us boys," former Boys' Town resident Lionel "Geordie" Welsh said. "Her good intentions were abused by the Christian Brothers. They went against the spirit of her will and with the help of her funds they took away our childhoods, they destroyed many of us mentally and now they want to take the remaining money without talking about its real purpose."
A copy of Mrs Musk's will reveals that her clear intentions for the money was to help the orphans of Bindoon to become farmers.
[Picture] Complaint: Former Boys' Town residents, from left, Chris McAdam, Tony Hardinon, Frederick Cracker, Alan Lacey, Robert Hall, Brian Bevon, Laurie Humphreys, John Watson, Bill O'Connor, John Murphy, Gordon Grant and Lionel Welsh with lawyer Leonard Cohen, who has represented them. Picture: Guy Magowan
Five clauses in the will stipulate that funds should be made available to set the boys up on "farms of their own", to make loans to them "interest free", "to enable them to carry on farming operations" and for boys to buy their own "plant and/or stock".
Mrs Musk was adamant that none of the money should be used by the Brothers to construct buildings on the Boys' Town site.
But there was a direction in the will which the Brothers have relied upon since Mrs Musk's death in 1949 to avoid spending any of the funds to establish boys on their own farms.
It allowed the Christian Brothers to use money from her estate to develop Boys' Town "by way of pasture improvement, growing of crops, purchase of stock and plant and general agricultural operations".
‘These boys were denied a proper education by the Christian Brothers -- some still can't read or write properly. ’
LAWYER LEONARD COHEN
The will said it was for the Boys' Town principal to direct whether the money would be used for "all or any" of the purposes Mrs Musk had listed.
Once Mrs Musk was dead the Brothers ruled out setting the boys up on farms because of advice which said it was not economically viable.
Now the Christian Brothers have asked the court to forgive any previous breaches of the trust instructions and want to use the remaining money to award scholarships to teenagers whose parents cannot afford to send their children to Bindoon where the Brothers now run a commercial agricultural college.
Lawyer Leonard Cohen, who has represented victims of the Christian Brothers for more than a decade, told The West Australian using the money in this way was an insult.
"These boys were denied a proper education by the Christian Brothers -- some still can't read or write properly -- and by spending it now on scholarships doesn't sit well with them," he said.
"It means the Brothers still benefit indirectly by getting the fees through their scholarship money and that the good intentions of Mrs Musk are still being bypassed."
The orphans want the money used to assist financially with any needy cases involving former Boys' Town residents.
But WA's Christian Brothers leader Kevin Ryan said there was already a program in place for that purpose.
"We are making an application to fulfil the wishes of Mrs Musk in a contemporary setting," he told The West Australian.
"I am sure she would be as disappointed as we are with the behaviour of particular Brothers in particular times in relation to a particular number of boys."
A court hearing is expected next month.
[Picture] Boys' Town: The Christian Brothers' Bindoon site at the centre of the legal fight with former residents is now run as a commercial agricultural college. #
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