Karapandzk – Mato - Photo



Cathedral cleaner jailed for child abuse

Jayne Stinson

Updated Thu Mar 13, 2008 6:15pm AEDT

An Adelaide District Court judge has described the actions of a 77-year-old former cathedral cleaner who sexually abused a school girl as ‘cunning’ and ‘premeditated’.

Croatian immigrant Mato Karapandzk was today sentenced to nine years jail with a non-parole period of four years, for abusing the then 12-year-old girl in the early 1980s.

Karapandzk met the victim at St Francis Xavier’s Cathedral in Victoria Square in 1981, while she was taking a wheelchair-bound nun to pray at the church.

The church was across the road from the girl’s school, St Aloysius College.

Karapandzk was a cleaner at the church and began paying the girl to regularly wheel the nun across the road, which he told the court he would otherwise have to do.

But within months his relationship with the girl turned sexual, and over five years he sexually abused his young victim in and around the Cathedral building, sometimes giving her $20 after the abuse.

In December he was found guilty of five child sex offences by a District Court jury, and acquitted of a sixth charge.

Today Judge David Smith said Karapandzk robbed the victim of her innocence and disrupted her schooling and career opportunities.

“[The crimes were a] premeditated, cunning and secretive exploitation of a schoolgirl, which you carried off under the noses of Cathedral staff for five years,” he said.

“You must have appreciated the seriousness of what you were doing.

“You had no regard for the harm you were doing. It was arrogant, exploitative and predatory behaviour.”

However Judge David said he took into account Karapandzk’s age and poor health, as well as his upbringing in Croatia during World War II, where he witnessed fighting and atrocities.

Karapandzk has been granted leave to appeal against the conviction in the Supreme Court next week.

Victim: long court process was worth it

Outside the court, the victim, who is now living interstate, told the ABC she is pleased with the sentence and glad Karapandzk cannot abuse any other children.

“I’m glad that justice has been done and he’s been held accountable for his actions,” she said.

“It feels nice to know he’s finally behind bars, the freedom of not having him on the streets is just fantastic.”

The 37-year-old said she first went to police four years ago, and although the court process has been long it was worth it.

She says she encourages other sexual abuse victims to take their cases to court.

“I’d urge them to come forward and to do what I’ve done,” she said.

“Eventually, once you’ve been through the process, it’s long and hard, but it’s very rewarding.

“It helps you grow as a person and helps you have some closure as to what happened.”



Justice at last for victim of Cathedral sex monster

  • The Advertiser
  • March 10, 2008 11:30PM

“JACKI” has waited more than 20 years for the pedophile who stole her innocence in an Adelaide cathedral to pay for his sickening crimes.

Today she smiled and shook her fists in triumph in the District Court as 77-year old Mato Karapandzk was jailed for nine years.

“It feels nice to know that he is finally behind bars … the freedom of not having him on the street is just fantastic,” Jacki said outside the court.

Jacki endured five years of sexual abuse at the hands of Karapandzk, who was caretaker at the St Francis Xavier Cathedral on Victoria Square.

Judge David Smith said Karapandzk had taken advantage of Jacki when she started attending St Aloysius College as a 12-year old in the early 1980s.

“You befriended her on occasions that she wheeled a disabled elderly nun over to the Cathedral for church services,” Judge Smith said.

“It was premeditated, cunning and secretive exploitation … which you carried off under the noses of Cathedral staff and the school for over five years.”

Now in her late 30s, Jacki said the years of abuse had taken a terrible toll on her childhood and early adult life.

“When you think about it you start to realise that your actions may not have been the way they would have been had you not been robbed of your childhood,” she said.

“But I am not a victim – I’m a survivor.”

Karapandzk showed little or no emotion as he learned he would have to serve at least four years in prison.

Judge Smith said the four-year non parole period was lower than usual to reflect Karapandzk’s age and “parlous health”.

The court heard Karapandzk had continued to work as caretaker at the Cathedral until the Catholic Church dismissed him in 2004 when Jacki came forward with her story.

Jacki said yesterday’s prison sentence vindicated her draining four-year court battle for justice and urged other victims to face up to their past.

“It is hard but it is also very rewarding, it helps you grow as a person and helps you have some closure,” she said.


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