Paedophile priest Brian Spillane jailed for nine years for sexually abusing boys

By Sean Rubinsztein-Dunlop

Posted 32 minutes ago

A serial paedophile priest has been sentenced to at least nine years’ jail for the sexual abuse of boys at St Stanislaus College in Bathurst in central west New South Wales.

Brian Spillane was found guilty last year of sexually abusing seven students in the 1970s, 1980s and 1990s when they were as young as 12.

A district court judge today sentenced him to a nine-year non-parole period and a maximum of 13 years for 16 offences including buggery.

Spillane is already serving at least 11 years for other child abuse offences and will not be eligible for parole until 2026.




Notorious paedophile Brian Spillane convicted of more school sex assaults in Bathurst

Notorious paedophile and former priest Brian Joseph Spillane has been found guilty of a string of sexual assaults on students at St Stanislaus College in Bathurst, it can now be revealed.

There has been a complete black-out on Spillane’s cases, which have been running in Sydney courts over several years, including two consecutive trials this year.

In the Downing Centre District Court on Monday, Judge Robyn Tupman revoked the series of non-publication orders that has been in force during court proceedings since 2013.

A jury last week found the 73-year-old guilty of 11 charges, including sexual assault, indecent assault and buggery on four students at the boys’ school in central west NSW between 1976 and 1988.

He was acquitted of one charge of buggery.

Earlier this year, he was convicted of attacks on five students between 1974 and 1990.

Spillane, who has been in custody since 2010, is serving at least 11 years’ jail on previous convictions.

He was sentenced to nine years’ jail in 2012 for attacks on young girls, who he accessed through his role as a priest in Sydney and other parts of NSW.

“The offender used his position as a priest to gain access to the homes in which each of his victims lived,” Judge Michael Finnane said at the time.

“Because of his position as a priest and because of his standing in the community generally, he was very trusted and the parents of each of the victims readily gave him access to their daughters.”

“This was the conduct of a violent bully and coward, done without regard to the effect it would have on the young girl.

“It was sexual abuse carried out by a trusted priest, and was a major breach of trust.”

Spillane was then convicted of assaults on five St Stanislaus students after a trial in 2013, and in 2015 he pleaded guilty to assaults on four boys at the school in the late 1980s.

He will be sentenced on the latest convictions early next year.



Spillane appeals child sex conviction


Nov. 17, 2012, 4:30 a.m.

Former Bathurst priest Brian Spillane has has launched a bid to quash his conviction by claiming he faced an unfair trial.

Spillane, a former chaplain at St Stanislaus’ College, was sentenced to nine years in prison earlier this year for abusing three girls, one as young as eight, in the 1970s and 1980s.

His lawyer, Greg Walsh, has prepared a series of documents outlining why the conviction should be overturned.

The case will be heard in the NSW Court of Criminal Appeal in April next year, around the same time the Royal Commission into child sex abuse will be lifting the lid on decades of crime and cover-up.

Mr Walsh this week claimed Spillane, 69, was wrongly convicted.

“I’ve been a lawyer for 35 years and I don’t think I’ve seen a more unfair trial in my experience,” he said.

One Spillane victim was the 11-year-old relative of male students known to Spillane.

During court proceedings, it was revealed Spillane abused her at a north-west NSW country town.

The other victims were from Sydney where the priest worked before returning to Bathurst in about 1984. One of the offences occurred when Spillane was in the victim’s bedroom for night-time prayers.

Mr Walsh conceded the national focus on child sex abuse would sharpen reaction to Spillane’s bid for freedom.

“This appeal will be determined by, probably, three very experienced judges,” he said.

“I would have every confidence those justices would not be influenced by the media, they would not be influenced by the current publicity about the Catholic church and paedophilia.

“Most members of the public may believe this appeal should not be upheld because he’s a former priest and he’s been convicted of paedophile-type offences.

“But I’m sure there are other members of the public … who subscribe to the view Mr Spillane is entitled to a fair (appeal) and would get a fair hearing.”

Bathurst police fielded the first complaints about Spillane and he was charged in 2008.

He was convicted in late 2010 but his sentencing only occurred in April this year because Mr Walsh was attempting to have former NSW District Court judge Michael Finnane disqualified from presiding over the case.

Mr Walsh had signed a statutory declaration claiming Judge Finnane told him at a 2011 social function that paedophiles were “all guilty” and should be “put on an island and starved to death”.

Judge Finnane denied making the statements and the legal bid to have him removed was lost. The alleged comments are one of nearly a dozen grounds for the appeal.


Former Catholic priest Brian Joseph Spillane jailed for child sex

Peter Bodkin
The Daily Telegraph
April 19, 2012 12:18PM

HE was a sexual predator who used his position as a Catholic priest to gain the trust of the families of young girls.

Brian Joseph Spillane former priest found guilty of child abuse

But while conducting parish missions and visiting country towns, Brian Joseph Spillane systematically betrayed the trust they had all placed in him.

The 69-year-old former priest and Catholic school chaplain this morning covered his face with his hand as a judge sentenced him to at least five years in prison for a series of depraved acts committed more than 30 years ago.

A jury found him guilty in late 2010 on nine counts of indecently assaulting girls, including eight charges of abusing children aged under 16.

One of his three victims, known as Miss M, was only eight years old when Spillane first started sexually assaulting her in 1980.

The District Court was told the girl’s family had welcomed the priest from their Catholic church in suburban Sydney into their home, where he would often stay for dinner.
He would be left alone in Miss M’s room as the pair said their nightly prayers, but he began trying to kiss her and later lying on top of and rubbing against the then nine-year-old girl.

The court heard the former priest sexually assaulted Miss P, an 11-year-old from a country town in north-western NSW, while home alone with her and her younger sister.

After telling the victim to “sit on his lap and give him a cuddle”, Spillane began abusing the young girl, only stopping when her sister suddenly came through the front door of the house.

Spillane assaulted his third victim, 16-year-old Miss L, after arriving at her house unannounced to console her over the loss of a close friend, who had recently been killed in a car accident.

He convinced the teenage girl to get in a car with him before putting a hand up her dress.

Judge Michael Finnane said Spillane had clearly taken advantage of Miss L’s distress at the death of her friend.

He said Spillane had led a “blameless life” aside from his sexual crimes, but he had abused his trusted position as a priest to get access to his victims.

“Each assault was serious, planned and callous,” he said.

Spillane, who has been in custody since November 2010, will be eligible for release in 2015.



God help me: former priest found guilty of child abuse

December 1, 2010

Hospitable families in far-flung places would come to regret opening their homes to Father Brian Spillane, writes David Marr.

As Judge Michael Finnane, QC, pondered what lay ahead for Brian Spillane he remarked: “It is almost unheard of for one person to be involved in so many trials.” The former priest was convicted yesterday by a District Court jury on nine counts of indecent assault and the bail hearing that followed heard the former chaplain of St Stanislaus College, Bathurst, faces a further 135 charges to be heard in four more trials that could last until late next year.

Spillane, 67, sat impassive, only occasionally shaking his head, as the jury found him guilty on count after count.

Spillane’s victims were three young girls assaulted while he was based in Sydney during a break in his long career at St Stanislaus. The charges Spillane will face in trials next year relate to boys at the school where he taught in the 1970s and again in the late 1980s. He left the priesthood and married in 2004.

In the witness box Spillane described himself as a modern priest, joyful and enthusiastic, a man at ease with families and kids, a hugger and kisser, happy to play a game of tennis and celebrate a home Mass. His victims recalled him bringing his clarinet and Edith Piaf LPs when he came to dinner. His favourite Piaf song was, one victim said, “the one about no regrets”.

The Crown prosecutor, Brad Hughes, told the jury: “He would not have been within a bull’s roar of these girls if he hadn’t been a priest.” There was evidence that he had an eye for a broken family, a husband and wife in conflict, a sick mother or an absent father.

He would appear uninvited.

Mrs A found him on her doorstep in a bush town four or five times. She was a pillar of the parish; her husband was in rehab; her boys had been at St Stanislaus. “I always welcomed him.”

He was convicted of two counts of sexually assaulting Mrs A’s 11- or 12-year-old daughter. One morning, Spillane put her on his knee and touched her vagina.

When the child sprang from his clasp, he held her by the throat, thrust against her and pulled down her pants. At that point her younger sister appeared in the kitchen to see Spillane “pushing my sister up against the oven and she was struggling and he let go when I ran in and she grabbed me and we ran out of the house and I was terrified. He was hurting her.”

Next year he will face charges involving the girl’s two brothers.

Spillane was a gregarious, heavy-set, 36-year-old with pale red hair when the Vincentian Order brought him down from the bush in 1979.

His job was to lead the priests and brothers at the Vincentians’ compound in suburban Marsfield. Within months he was also acting parish priest in the order’s local church.

He liked to play with the children at the order’s primary school before the bell rang for class. “They would come running up and take me by the hand and come up and, you know, give me a hug,” he told the court. “It was just a very open and welcoming joyful moment for them and for me.” In answer to his counsel, Philip Boulten, SC, he told the court he touched children “on their shoulder, perhaps on their head and on their hand. I’d allow my hands to be available to them.”

During confession he would invite children as young as eight to sit on his lap. “It was my pastoral approach,” he told the court, “to break down the barrier between the fearful God and the loving God.” One former penitent gave evidence of him holding her tightly on his lap as he nuzzled into her neck. “What I felt was some little kisses.”

The jury failed to agree on two charges relating to this 12-year- old child.

Spillane cultivated the Ls, a family in the parish. The devout mother hoped the priest might persuade her reluctant husband to attend Mass. Their daughters gave evidence that Spillane came to dinner more than 30 times in those years, usually bringing whisky for the father, chocolates for the mother and pink sugared peanuts for them. At the time they were aged eight and 10.

Spillane has been convicted of six counts of abusing the younger daughter while he was in her bedroom, ostensibly to hear her prayers. The assaults began with little pecks on the cheek which became forced tongue kissing and, according to the evidence, progressed over months until Spillane was lying on top of the child.

Her older sister told the court the priest was also assaulting her: “I can still taste the Scotch in my mouth and I can feel the stubble of him on my face.”

Spillane took great risks. The court heard some of the children complained to their parents in the vague terms a deeply embarrassed child might use. One or two parents set bounds on Spillane’s access. None took decisive action. No evidence was tendered at the trial to suggest the police were ever called or the Vincentians alerted.

From January 1981 Spillane joined a “renewal team” led by the provincial of the order, Father Keith Turnbull, which visited Vincentian parishes around Australia promoting what Spillane called “the teachings and the spirit of the Second Vatican Council”. The priest was on the road for the next three years, but his base remained Marsfield and the evidence suggests he never lost touch with the parish.

Hospitable families in far-flung places opened their homes to him. He said Mass in their sitting rooms, played tennis with their children and, according to the evidence, abused their daughters. The court heard that staying with a family in a Queensland town one night, he climbed into the bed of their 15-year-old daughter then lay and ejaculated on her. He did not face charges over this allegation.

Spillane was also conducting retreats for girls at a Sydney Catholic school. On one of these retreats in the Blue Mountains he met two 17-year-olds, T and her best friend.

The day after the friend was killed in a car crash, Spillane turned up uninvited at T’s house to celebrate a home Mass for the distraught young woman and her friends. Later he asked T to come with him to his car parked out of sight of the house.

Spillane was convicted of one count of sexually assaulting T there. “He slid his hand up under my skirt,” she told the court. “I was, by this time, weeping, crying and saying no, and he slid his hand all the way up under my skirt and grabbed my crotch and groin area, my underwear”. She fled from the car.

Spillane’s first trial lasted the whole of November. The jury – reduced by illness to 10 members – took nearly four days to reach its verdict. On Monday, they found Spillane guilty of three charges. Yesterday, they added a further six convictions.

The bail hearing that began immediately heard that Spillane was arrested in May 2008 following an investigation that had begun in Bathurst some years before. In time, the number of complainants grew to 31, all but four of them former pupils of St Stanislaus.

A notice of prosecution case presented during the bail hearing details allegations by 44 former pupils of St Stanislaus of fondling, kissing, masturbation, fellatio and anal penetration by Spillane. Many of the 44 speak of loneliness and homesickness at the school. Many allege sexual abuse by Spillane during prayer sessions.

Spillane was refused bail. As he was led away to the cells he called: “Please God, help me.” His solicitor, Greg Walsh, has told the Herald that Spillane intends to appeal.



Former priest denies assault after channelling voice of dead

David Marr

November 16, 2010

”KNOW that I will always love you,” Father Brian Spillane wrote to a girl he is accused of indecently assaulting the day after the death of her best friend in a car crash.

He denies the assault, which is said to have taken place in his car after he had said a home Mass for the distraught 17-year-old’s friends and family in 1981.

In the letter, he explained the voice of her dead friend had compelled him to reach out to her.

”She knew and knows that I love you and really care for you,” he wrote. ”As [she] would have it, you are my very special care, with deep concern and care to be shown to [her classmates] whose lives God may have touched through this weak human instrument who happens to be one of his priests.”

Mr Spillane, who has left the priesthood, denied he was purporting to channel messages from the dead. ”All I was writing down were the fruits of my prayer in this spiritual exercise,” he told a District Court jury. ”I went with the spirit. It was the spirit of God speaking.”

He is facing 11 charges of indecent assault on girls as young as six. He told the court he would often tell children that he and God loved them. He would lightly touch a hand, shoulder, back or leg of a child because touch can be ”a powerful way of conveying a sense of care, encouragement and affirmation”.

The former priest denied any ulterior motive behind inviting eight- to 12-year-old children to sit on his knee in confession.

”It was my pastoral approach, to break down the barrier between the fearful God and the loving God.”

Mr Spillane denied kissing the neck of a 12-year-old girl while hearing her confession in 1979 when he was acting parish priest at St Anthony’s in Marsfield. ”That’s not part of the sacrament.” His trial continues.



Family priest was doing ‘things I didn’t like’, court told

David Marr

November 4, 2010

Brian Spillane put his hands around the throat of a 12-year-old girl before indecently assaulting her in her family’s kitchen, the District Court in Sydney has been told.

The first of four complainants has begun giving evidence in the trial of the former priest Brian Joseph Spillane who faces 11 charges of indecent assault on girls as young as six. His defence counsel, Philip Boulten, SC, said this incident in a Moree kitchen in the 1970s was ”totally denied”.

The priest, who taught the girl’s brothers at a Catholic boarding school in Bathurst, had come to stay at the family home for a few days while her father was away, the complainant said. Her father had health problems. Her mother was active in the local parish.

When the priest asked her to ”give him a cuddle” she sat on his lap. But she jumped up when he put his hand ”very forcefully” between her legs. He then forced her towards the stove. ”I was very frightened. He was then pushing into my bottom from behind. I was frozen with fear.”

She said he stopped when the screen door banged shut and her sister came into the kitchen. She told the jury that within weeks or months she had told her brother Mr Spillane ”was pushing me and doing things I didn’t like and I was very frightened”.

The complainant, now in her 40s, admitted that some of the surrounding facts were hazy in her memory after all these years. ”I suggest it didn’t happen at all,” Mr Boulten said.

”Yes it did,” she replied.

Also giving evidence was her brother who was unable to recall exactly what his sister had told him at the time. ”I might be a bit vague on dates and times but the words she said have stuck in my mind all my life,” he said.

A second complainant against Mr Spillane is expected to give evidence today.



Priests and justice


January 9, 2010

After two years of investigation, charges of pedophilia at St Stanislaus College, Bathurst, are moving to trial. David Marr reports.

One winter day a couple of years ago, a troubled man walked the streets of Bathurst, handing out leaflets accusing a priest of sexual abuse. Tor Steven Nielsen’s life was a mess. A few weeks before this dash to Bathurst he had posted on his website a grim résumé of his 35 years: “As it stands now I am a convicted criminal who has been certified as delusional.

“I have no education, no house, no job, no job references, no licence, no car, no super, no savings. To this day, they are putting Drugs in my food and I find it very distressing . . . my life has been completely destroyed.”

Twenty years earlier, Nielsen had boarded for a few terms at Bathurst’s St Stanislaus College, where he was sexually abused by a teacher. Nielsen eventually complained to the police. The teacher confessed and went to prison. When suing the school for damages afterwards, Nielsen made and then dropped quite separate allegations against the school’s chaplain. This was the man his leaflets attacked in the winter of 2007: Father Brian Joseph Spillane.

The investigation Bathurst police began in the aftermath of Nielsen’s visit to the city has led to nine former staff of St Stanislaus College being charged with sexual abuse. Greg Walsh, the solicitor defending most of them, says: “This would have to be one of the biggest sexual assault cases in Australian history.” Walsh speaks of a witch hunt against the teachers. “Religious people are so easily tainted these days,” he says. “It is easy to make allegations and so hard to disprove them.”

All 200-plus charges against the men are contested. None has pleaded guilty. Five have been committed for trial. The first trials are scheduled for March. The cases of the other four priests will be back before the courts over the next couple of months. Whether they proceed to trial has yet to be decided. All nine men remain innocent until a dozen or more juries decide otherwise. None of them face charges of abusing Tor Nielsen.

Bathurst is a town of boarding schools: one Anglican, one Presbyterian and St Stanislaus, the oldest Catholic boarding school in Australia. Nielsen was a 12-year-old at Nowra High in 1985 when his parents decided to send him boarding. “During that year I went with my father to Bathurst to look at three boarding schools,” he later posted on his website, The Catholic Cover Up. “I preferred All Saints because it was Co Ed but Saint Stanislaus was the cheapest so I went there.”

The school has been run by the Vincentian Fathers since 1889. The order and the school are close. Old boys join the order and return to St Stanislaus as priests and brothers, so spending most of their lives in those brown-brick classrooms topped with spires and corrugated iron. There’s a list of distinguished old boys. Farmers out west look back on their time at Stannies with fierce affection. But that fondness is not shared by all who went there. Boarding schools have that effect.

Nielsen’s year at the school was miserable. His abuse began after a game of strip poker. The teacher was not a member of the Vincentians but a lay teacher. The abuse occurred in the town. Quite separately, Nielsen attended night prayers with a number of other boys in Father Spillane’s room. The school’s charismatic chaplain, then in his mid-40s, was a man known for his intense devotion to his faith.

Each time Nielsen ran away, his parents took him back to Bathurst. He was often in trouble. A few weeks before the end of the year, he was expelled. By his own account what followed was a life of dead-end jobs, heavy use of marijuana, financial problems, court convictions and several attempts at suicide. He came to believe he was being hypnotised and poisoned. Behind all his woes he saw the hand of the Catholic Church: “They have been interfering with my life ever since I was 13 years old.”

The teacher’s imprisonment, and the cash settlement that followed, did not end the matter for Neilsen. He wanted action against Spillane. In June 2007, he posted on his website a long memoir, “Sexual and Mental Abuse @ Saint Stanislaus College in Bathurst”, that made a number of serious allegations of abuse against Spillane who had, by this time, left the school and was about to leave the priesthood to marry.

Nielsen’s memoir provoked some spirited abuse on his website over the next few weeks. “This is absolute bullshit,” posted one anonymous correspondent. “I go to Stannies now and my dad went to Stannies back then and he thinks u r a f—wit.” But as far as Nielsen could tell, his claims were not provoking any official action. So he took his bundle of leaflets to Bathurst. He said: “It was my last resort.”

Bathurst police set up Operation Heador, under the command of Detective Superintendent Michael Goodwin, to investigate Spillane. The initial legwork was done by Detective Justin Hadley. The last months of 2007 saw little progress. “But in 2008,” Goodwin told the Herald, “some of the information was corroborated.” Four other men had accused Spillane of sexually assaulting them while they were at the college.

Spillane was quietly arrested in May 2008 and charged with 33 counts of abuse. Nothing of this appeared in the media. “We were trying to keep a lid on it,” says Goodwin. By this time, police were pursuing other allegations against other priests. But in August that year, Channel Seven broke the story. Dramatic claims of abuse of children as young as 11 were reported around the world.

Police were furious. “But a lot more allegations came forward,” says Goodwin. Operation Heador became Operation Belle. “This involved three full-time detectives in Bathurst with assistance from the State Crime Command plus at various times detectives from Sydney.”

More arrests followed. In September 2008, the school’s former headmaster, Father Peter Dwyer, and a former dormitory supervisor, Brother John Gaven, were charged with abuse of students. At the same time, Spillane was charged with another 60 offences, bringing the total he faced to 93.

Greg Walsh, speaking for his clients Spillane and Gaven, declared: “These men are innocent. The allegations are bizarre and have arisen under very suspicious circumstances.” He assured the media scrum around the Bathurst court that all the charges would be defended. “We are seeing here examples of mass hysteria. Moral panic.”

In December, three more men were arrested. One was Father Greg Cooney, a former chaplain at the school and now the Provincial – or head – of the Vincentian Order in Australia. Only weeks earlier, Cooney had been defending the order’s handling of abuse allegations. Now he found himself in the cells at Ryde police station.

Walsh met his client there. “Some months before his arrest, the police had sought and been given the records of the order,” he says. “These should have alerted them to the fact that Cooney was in Rome in the years one of the ex-students was alleging abuse at his hands.” Superintendent Goodwin confirms that Cooney was set free after showing police his passport. No charges were laid.

In these weeks, the NSW Director of Public Prosecutions decided to cut Nielsen loose. Though his complaints had provoked the investigation of the St Stanislaus teachers, his evidence would not be part of the prosecution case. As a result, 20 charges against Spillane were to be withdrawn. Goodwin talked the situation through with Nielsen. “He was very upset.”

But as the 20 were withdrawn in December 2008, another 44 were laid against Spillane. Then in August last year, following further work by Operation Belle, another 29 charges against the former chaplain were laid, bringing the total at that time to 146.

Opposing bail in the Downing Centre Local Court that month, prosecutor Beth Walker said: “In my submission, your honour, the brief of evidence paints a picture of rampant pedophilia.” Spillane pleaded not guilty to all the charges and was granted bail.

Police are not saying the work of Operation Belle is over. Last year a former teacher known as Witness A began to assist police. Four more priests long retired from St Stanislaus were arrested and charged with abusing boys. One of the arrested was a priest in Mackay. Another a travel agent in Tasmania. Four of the new charges date back half a century.

The St Stanislaus prosecutions are still evolving. Fresh allegations could lead to fresh charges. Charges already laid may be dropped. Magistrates may decide not to send to trial the four men now facing committal.

But at this point, five priests, two ex-priests, one brother and one lay teacher have been charged with more than 200 offences committed between 1961 and 1991 against 46 children. The nine men are contesting all the charges.

James Patrick Jennings, 75.

An old boy of the school, Jennings became a Vincentian priest and returned briefly to St Stanislaus to teach from 1959 to 1961. After departing the school he spent 14 years in schools and parishes before leaving the priesthood to marry. He faces four charges of indecently assaulting the one male in 1961. His trial is due to begin on March 1.

Hugh Edward Murray OAM, 79.

A former priest awarded an Order of Australia medal in 1994 for service to people living with HIV/AIDS and their families, Murray was teaching at the college in 1978. He faces one charge of assaulting a young male that year. Another charge relates to assaulting a young male at Ryde a decade earlier. Three further charges relate to another young male he is accused of assaulting between 1967 and 1972. His committal hearing is due to resume on February 17.

Father William Stanley Irwin, 54.

A former teacher at the school, Irwin is charged with two counts of gross indecency with a boy he brought on a visit to St Stanislaus in 1986. Irwin was counselling the boy following earlier sexual abuse by another man in Victoria. When arrested late last year, Irwin was chaplain at St Aloysius College, Milsons Point. His case will be next mentioned in the Downing Centre Local Court on February 11.

Father Kevin Phillips, 59.

Phillips appears to have worked at the college only briefly in 1990 as a priest, sports coach and part-time teacher. He faces eight charges of abuse of two boys and one of supplying drugs to a pupil. At the time of his arrest, Phillips was a priest in charge of several parishes in the Rockhampton diocese in Queensland. His case is due to be mentioned next in the Downing Centre Local Court on February 25.

Father Phil Robson, 62.

The master of discipline and a member of the school’s board, Robson is charged with five counts of sexual abuse of a 15-year-old boy in the last months of 1991. When arrested he was living in a Vincentian home for retired and semi-retired priests in Sydney. His committal proceeding resumes at the Downing Centre Local Court on February 22.

Rick McPhillamy, 50.

An assistant dormitory master, he is charged with indecently assaulting one student on two occasions in 1985. His trial is due to begin on March 15.

Father Peter Dwyer, 67.

An old boy, Dwyer returned to the college as a Vincentian brother to teach music in about 1972. By the end of the decade he was the school’s headmaster. He faces a dozen charges of abuse, most with a 13-year old boy in 1982. Police allege Dwyer “fondled and masturbated” the boy’s penis and had intercourse with him without consent. After leaving the college in 1992, Dwyer worked at the main Catholic seminary in Sydney and became a priest with a parish in Armidale. His trial begins on April 27.

Brother John Gaven, 68.

A keen rugby referee, Gaven joined the staff of the college as a dormitory supervisor in the mid-1970s. A decade later he was vice-principal of the school. He faces about 37 charges of abuse involving five boys in the 1980s. Most allege he kissed, caressed and masturbated several young boys in a group. It is also alleged he “rubbed his erect penis” against the chest of a 13-year old. He also faces three charges of homosexual intercourse with a pupil.

Gaven retired after 30 years in schools and seminaries. Recently he has been assisting the Vincentians’ work among men living with HIV/AIDS. He has been committed for trial and will be formally arraigned at the Downing Centre Local Court on January 29.

Father Brian Spillane, 66.

In his first stint at the college from 1968 to 1978, Spillane was the school’s dean of discipline. From those years, he faces about 30 charges, mainly of indecent assault of about eight boys.

In the late 1970s, Spillane was transferred by the Vincentians to the Sydney parish of St Anthony’s, Marsfield. From his few years there he faces about eight charges of indecent assault of three little girls – one aged seven or eight.

Spillane returned to St Stanislaus as the school’s chaplain from 1984 to 1990. From those years he faces about 90 further charges. These include indecent assault, homosexual intercourse, inciting a person under authority to commit an act of indecency, and sexual intercourse without consent.

Another 22 charges Spillane had been facing were dropped during committal proceedings late last year. He will be arraigned with Gaven on January 29.

His solicitor, Greg Walsh, has foreshadowed that he will make an application at that time for a permanent stay of the proceedings. Walsh argues that the evidence against Spillane has been tainted by Tor Nielsen’s website.

“I’ve been in enough cases to know you can have a mass contaminated case,” Walsh says. “This case brings to light the dangers of the internet and modern communication, and this will be at the forefront of the application.”

with Geesche Jacobsen



Former teacher says he witnessed sexual assaults


September 2, 2009

A FORMER school teacher has emerged as a key witness to the alleged sexual assaults of students, amid allegations that paint a picture of ”rampant pedophilia” at St Stanislaus College in Bathurst.

The allegations, including that students were forced to have group sex and were hypnotised to have sex with teachers, were heard during a bail review for Brian Joseph Spillane, a former chaplain at the school.

Spillane, 66, is now facing 146 charges of indecent and sexual assault against 27 alleged victims after he was charged on Monday with 32 offences.

The alleged offences occurred between 1971 and 1989, when Spillane was both employed as a priest at St Stanislaus College and in the broader community, the court heard. Several witnesses have accused Spillane of indecently assaulting them in the confessional at St Anthony’s Parish.

He is one of nine former priests or teachers at St Stanislaus and All Saints’ College in Bathurst to be charged with historical sex offences.

Spillane, who succeeded yesterday in remaining on bail, has strongly denied the allegations.

The teacher, known only as ”Witness A”, allegedly saw Spillane sexually abusing and indecently assaulting various students during prayer sessions. He also allegedly witnessed Spillane engaging in ”brief sexual activity” with students in a shower block.

The evidence of Witness A brought ”power support” to other allegations, prosecutor Beth Walker told a Downing Centre Local Court, before strongly opposing bail.

”In my submission, your honour, the brief of evidence paints a picture of rampant pedophilia,” she said.

The prosecution did not believe Witness A had ”an axe to grind” against Spillane or other teachers at the school, Ms Walker said. She said Spillane could not be charged in relation to complaints by 14 other witnesses, some because they occurred interstate.

One witness alleged Spillane took part with him in anal intercourse and ”group rape”. However, when he reported it to the school’s then priest and college president, Peter Dwyer, he was sent for a psychiatric assessment at Rivendell, an adolescent mental health ward attached to Concord Hospital, the court heard.

Dwyer has pleaded not guilty to charges of the sexual assault of students in the 1980s.

Spillane is also alleged to have indecently assaulted two sisters in their bed at their home on separate occasions, simulating or attempting to have sexual intercourse with them.

The court also heard that another former priest from St Stanislaus College had signed a typed admission to ”hypnotising” boys in 1967 for the purpose of having sexual intercourse with teachers.

The magistrate, Jane Culver, granted bail to Spillane but imposed harsher conditions, including that he report daily to police and not be involved with any child under the age of 16, except for relatives. His surety was also increased from $10,000 to $20,000.

Spillane’s lawyer, Phillip Boulten, SC, argued that the case against his client had been tainted due to media reports and the publication of allegations on an alleged victim’s website.

Spillane has been excused from appearing when his case is next in court in November.



Students ‘hypnotised for sex’ at St Stanislaus

STUDENTS at prestigious Catholic boys St Stanislaus College school were hypnotised into having sex with teachers, a court heard yesterday.

One of those teachers, former St Stanislaus College chaplain Brian Spillane, yesterday faced a fight for his freedom as additional charges were laid, bringing the total to 146.

The court heard how a former teacher had handed police “typed and signed admissions” from a St Stanislaus staffer that he had in fact hypnotised boys for the purposes of having sex with them in 1967.

The Crown said evidence would corroborate the claims from some of Spillane’s victims that they were hypnotised by him.

Spillane, one of nine former teachers charged, is accused of indecent and sexual assaults at the school between 1971 and 1990 against 27 victims – three of whom were girls in the parish.

Crown Prosecutor Beth Walker yesterday asked the Downing Centre Local Court to refuse bail on the new charges and revoke bail granted on the existing ones.

“In my submission, the brief of evidence presents a picture of rampant paedophilia,” she said.

Spillane, 66, has yet to enter any pleas to the charges.

In new evidence, Magistrate Jane Culver was told of an informant, “Witness A”, who had told police of seeing Spillane involved in sex acts with “various students” during prayer sessions.

Witness A has also told of seeing Spillane engaging in sexual activity with students in a shower block.

Prosecutor Ms Walker rejected any suggestion the informant had “an axe to grind”.

She argued the case was an extremely strong one and said there was significant corroborative evidence.

Magistrate Culver said while recent material and the full brief did in fact paint an alarming picture, Spillane “doesn’t appear to have engaged in any recent paedophilia activity” since the last allegation of 1989.

She continued bail and ordered Spillane’s wife to provide another $10,000 surety.



Paedophilia rampant at Bathurst schools, court told

THE evidence against former NSW priests accused of historical sexual assaults painted “a picture of rampant paedophilia” in Bathurst schools, a court heard today as one fights for his liberty.

A former Father at St Stanislaus College, Brian Joseph Spillane has been charged with a fourth round of offences relating to alleged sexual assaults at the prestigious school.

The charges relate to alleged sexual assaults on students at the school more than 20 years ago.

A number of the men charged were members of the Vincentian Order on the staff at the college in the 1970s and 1980s.

Spillane is now accused of a total of 146 charges of indecency and sexual abuse against 27 victims – three of whom were girls.

Crown Prosecutor Beth Walker today asked a Downing Centre Local Court to refuse bail on the new charges and revoke bail granted on the old ones.

“In my submission, the brief of evidence presents a picture of rampant paedophilia,” she said, citing a string of corroborating witness statements.

So far Strike Force Belle, set up to investigate the claims, has charged nine priests with historical sexual and indecent assaults.

Spillane’s barrister Philip Boulten SC is expected to mount a heavy case for his client to remain on bail this afternoon.

The hearing continues before Magistrate Jane Culver.



St Stanislaus College police investigation explodes

Article from:

By Gemma Jones in Bathurst

September 15, 2008 12:03pm

THE police paedophile investigation into St Stanislaus College in Bathurst has exploded with 40 alleged victims of just one of the charged men, a court heard this morning.

Bathurst Local Court was told that there were more than 100 statements by former students.

At least 40 of those former students were referred to as complainants of just one of the three charged priests and brothers.

The complaints are against former school chaplain Brian Spillane, who today pleaded not guilty to 93 child sex charges.

Dressed in a dark suit, brown tie and brimmed hat, the former priest from Sydney arrived at the court just before 9.30am with his lawyer Greg Walsh.

Brother John Gaven, 66 and Father Peter Dwyer were listed but did not have to appear.

Gaven and Dwyer are facing 32 child sex charges between them, with complaints against them boosting the alleged count of 40 even further.

Outside the court the 35-year-old South Coast man who last year went to Bathurst to hand out flyers detailing alleged abuse, sparking the investigation, said he was relieved.

He went to the central west NSW town believing he had exhausted all other avenues to have the matters investigated.

“I think the cover-up was appalling,” he said.

“I think it is good finally people are looking at it.”

Just before the alleged victim spoke St Stanislaus old boy and Bathurst defence lawyer Mark Ireland said he’s supporting the school.

“Not one person I have spoken to believes this happened,” Mr Ireland said, before adding: “We’re not sitting on either side of the fence.”

He said the association and the school were supporting the police investigation.

Outside court Mr Walsh called the case a “witch hunt” before saying the police case against his clients was contaminated.

The matter was adjourned until November 10.



Alleged sex offenders to face court today

15/09/2008 8:16:00 AM

A FORMER president of St Stanislaus’ College and former teaching priest and brother will answer a total of 125 charges in Bathurst Local Court today.

The charges relate to alleged sexual assaults on students at the school more than 20 years ago.

All three of the men charged were members of the Vincentian Order on the staff at the college in the 1970s and 1980s.

The former president and brother now a priest, Peter William Dwyer, 65, of Armidale, former priest Brian Joseph Spillane, 65 of Riverwood and former brother John Francis Gaven, 66, of Marsfield

All had charges laid against them by special Chifley Command Strike Force Belle.

They were charged by the strike force formed by Chifley Command with NSW Crime Command Sydney, established to investigate an alleged paedophile ring at St Stanislaus’.

Spillane was the first of the three charged on 33 sexual assault counts related to five students. He appeared before Bathurst Local Court in mid-July.

Earlier this month, Spillane had an additional 60 charges laid against him alleging sexual assault of another eight victims, a total of 93 charges related to 13 former students.

The original charges against Spillane related to alleged homosexual intercourse between a teacher and pupils aged 11, 12 and 13 years of age and allegedly inciting males to commit acts of gross indecency.

Some offences allegedly relate to an 11-year-old between March and May 1986, others to a 12-year-old between March and November 1986 and a 13-year-old in March and between June and July, 1986.

The charges allege that Spillane, the former school chaplain and teacher, committed sexual assaults late at night and early in the morning.

Former bursar, Brother Gaven, is facing 28 charges alleging homosexual intercourse with males between 10 and 16 years and 10-18 years, gross acts of indecency male on male under 18 years, homosexual intercourse with males 10-18 under authority and by a teacher, acts of indecency male with male and indecent assault on a male person.

The former college president, former brother Peter Dwyer who is now a priest, has been charged with four offences the details of which have not yet been revealed by police.


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  1. patch england says:

    gail spillane and her daughter knew shit had happened at bathurst 20 years ago
    i was married to the daughter i always wondered why brian wasnt permitted to be the priest at our wedding??? Ifeel sorry for his wife and kid/.
    iv been warned there are others in the family with similar sexual persuasions!!!
    Dificult to do anything about when the complainent wont go to police

  2. tom says:

    I went to this school and what infurates me more than anything is that the old boys association are doing nothing. They asked me for money raffle tickets etc, and I wrote them a letter saying that I wouldn’t give anything to the association until such time that they supported the victims and acknowledge what has happened, for all I can tell is that they are still supporting these mongrels although they have been found guilty. This letter was written to them over a year ago and I still haven’t had a reply.

  3. dee king says:

    spillane is going to get what he deserves, not only did he ruin my sons life but lotsof other as well, god help him he says, he is going to need it

  4. BreakAway says:

    Couldn’t agree more about the Old Boys’ Association. For 99% of us St Stanislaus allowed us to take away something valuable into later life.

    However, that doesn’t mean that what Brian Spillane (and others) did can be ignored. The College needs to step out from beneath the shadow of blind adoration of Holy Orders and uncritical veneration of the Church.

    Old Boys, show some guts: step up and scrum down now for the future reputation of Stannies as something more than just a breeding ground for simple jockstraps.

    • With the amount of child sex abuse that has occurred within the Institutional clergy and beyond in Bathurst, Why would the Royal commission decide Not to go to Bathurst. This is the biggest case in DPP history but the Royal Commission are ignoring the requests of the community, victims and survivors. With a long running history of child abuse allegations going back to the early 90’s. The old boys forming a scrum around a sexual predator and professed he was innocent. How do the old boys involved feel now that he was convicted of child sex offenses at St Stanislaus and the rest. It was a well organised pedophile ring.


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