Historic sexual assault charges to be heard

A FORMER St Patrick’s College, Sale, Marist brother has appeared before court charged with 99 sexual offences which allegedly occurred in Gippsland more than 40 years ago.

An 89-year-old Lawrence Fitzpatrick, faced Melbourne Magistrates’ Court on Friday.

The court heard Mr Fitzpatrick intended to contest the charges against him, and was scheduled to appear before a 10-day hearing later this year, which will determine whether he stands trial.

Mr Fitzpatrick was charged with 38 counts of buggery, some against children under 14, one count of detaining a male against his will and other charges of indecent assault. 

Prosecutors withdrew four other charges. 

The court heard there were at least 18 complainants.  

Names of the alleged victims were blacked out in charge sheets.

The alleged offending is said to have taken place in Sale, Briagolong, Stratford and Rosedale between 1971 and 1976.

Mr Fitzpatrick, who wears a hearing aid and walks with the aid of a stick, had his bail extended to return to court in November.

This latest development follows the sentencing of a former St Patrick’s College Sale teacher, Lawrence Todd Stevenson, late last year to 12 months in prison and lifetime sex offender registration after being found guilty of child sex crimes.

He was later bailed after indicating his intent to appeal the sentence.

Mr Stevenson, aged 86, pleaded not guilty in October last year to four charges of unlawfully and indecently assaulting boys.

The boys were aged between 11 and 14 at the time of the alleged offences, which the court was told took place between 1979 and 1982.

Mr Stevenson was a woodwork teacher at St Patrick’s College in Sale between 1979 and 1981, and was a lay teacher, not a Marist Brother.

All three alleged victims who brought charges were students at the time, and were present in court.

Mr Stevenson lodged an appeal, and sought legal representation.

He was deemed a low flight risk, and was bailed to face the County Court.

Both cases are the result of investigations by the SANO Task Force.

The task force was established to investigate historic and new allegations that have emanated from the Victorian Parliamentary Inquiry into child sex abuse involving religious and non-government organisations.

The task force also co-ordinates investigations emerging from the Australian Government Royal Commission into Institutional Responses to Child Sexual Abuse.

People with information about child sexual abuse in an institutional context can email the SANO Task Force sanotaskforce@police.vic.gov.au or phone the SANO Task Force on 1800 110 007.

To report a child at immediate risk or danger, phone 000 or a local police station.

For more information about the Royal Commission into Institutional Responses to Child Sexual Abuse, visit the website, www.childabuseroyalcommission.gov.au.

Survivors & Mates Support Network (SAMSN) is a not-for-profit organisation working to increase public awareness of the effects that childhood sexual abuse can have on men in their adult lives.

For more information about SAMSN, visit www.samsn.org.au, which also has links to other related organisations.

St Patrick’s College was a Marist Brothers school, as is Catholic College Sale, formed following the amalgamation of Our Lady of Sion College and St Patrick’s College.

Gippsland Senior
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