Catholic brother avoids jail over sex assaults

June 17, 2005 – 12:09PM

A Marist brother who indecently assaulted seven students more than 30 years ago has avoided jail in Victoria.

Brother Gerard McNamara, of Mt Macedon, worked at St Paul’s Catholic College in Traralgon as a principal and sports master in the early 1970s when the offences took place.

The 67-year-old, who pleaded guilty to seven counts of indecent assault, received a 36-month jail sentence fully suspended for two years, at the Victorian County Court today.

The court had heard the assaults, which were not reported until 2003, mostly took place in a sports equipment shed where he massaged the students, aged between 11 and 14 years, after they suffered sport injuries.

In sentencing, Judge Jim Duggan said a suspended jail sentence was appropriate because McNamara’s crimes were “at the lower end of the scale”.

“The nature of the offending, what you actually did to these victims, wasn’t as bad as unfortunately is often the case,” he said.

Judge Duggan said he also took into account that McNamara had “voluntarily desisted” from the behaviour since the offences and he had made a substantial contribution to the welfare of society as a Marist brother.

Marist brother on sex count

By Daniella Miletic
June 4, 2005

A word or glance from Marist brother Gerard McNamara was enough to make some students at St Paul’s Catholic College so filled with fear they would wet their pants.

It was well known among students that the Catholic headmaster “spent time alone with boys”, and each dreaded an invitation from McNamara to the storage shed – the shed where he would “massage” students who had injured themselves in a sports lesson.

In the County Court yesterday, McNamara, 67, admitted he had sexually assaulted seven young boys more than 30 years ago at the college in Traralgon, Gippsland.

In a courtroom room filled with his family and friends – but no victims – he pleaded guilty to seven charges of indecent assault on pupils aged 11 to 14 in the early 1970s.

The court was told that McNamara would instruct his victims to go to the shed, where the school’s sports equipment was stored, for a remedial massage after they had injured themselves in a sports lesson.

On two occasions he took his victims to a room inside the college.

McNamara, of Mount Macedon, had the various roles of principal, deputy principal, sports co-ordinator and discipline co-ordinator at the time of the offences.

Prosecutor Boris Kayser said that the boys were taken into the shed and asked to lie on a table and take their clothes off from the waist down.

He would then inappropriately massage them, and would sometimes use a strong-smelling heat balm around the genital area.

In victim-impact statements tendered to the court, one victim said that to this day the smell made him feel ashamed, and would evoke memories of the experience.McNamara’s defence lawyer, Russ Hammill, told the court his client’s behaviour should be measured against a life that “in all other respects has been the epitome of his faith”.

He said McNamara had “considerable remorse” and had entered an early guilty plea.

“He is an example of a good man who has behaved badly,” he said.

Judge Jim Duggan released him on bail for sentencing on June 17.


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