MORE than 30 years ago a father took his son to the Catholic-run Kendall Grange College for troubled children at Morisset where Brother Bernard McGrath assured that, ‘‘We’ll look after him’’.
Yesterday the father, Roland Lowe, wept for his jailed son Simon Monteiro, 46, known as the ‘‘playboy rapist’’, while the man he alleges sexually assaulted him, Bernard McGrath, 65, holidays in Sri Lanka.
Roland Lowe, 78, wants justice, he wants answers, and he wants the community to know the devastating impact of child sexual abuse as experienced by his family.
He makes no excuses for his son’s crimes, but said he was ‘‘bitterly disappointed’’ by an extradition process that allowed convicted child sex offender McGrath to leave New Zealand for Sri Lanka this year, despite 252 abuse charges laid against him in Newcastle in June.
‘‘What’s gone wrong here?’’ Mr Lowe said.
‘‘The police have been very committed, but I don’t think they’ve had anywhere near enough resources when you look at the number of victims, and the extradition process seems to be so involved.
‘‘It is appallingly wrong to think that anyone might have got away with crimes because of the systems we have.’’
Two years ago Mr Lowe reported his son’s allegations to police. Charlestown police established Strike Force Lozano to investigate allegations from the 1970s and 1980s about Kendall Grange, run by Catholic church order St John of God.
In an interview early this month, Michelle Mulvihill, a psychologist employed by the order during compensation negotiations between 1998 and 2007, said up to 70per cent of St John of God brothers in Australian and New Zealand institutions were suspected child abusers.
McGrath was jailed in NSW and New Zealand for offences against children. Another former Kendall Grange brother, Rodger Moloney, was jailed for offences against children in New Zealand. Attempts to extradite another former Kendall Grange brother from New Zealand failed.
Police allege McGrath repeatedly raped and molested dozens of young boys in the Maitland-Newcastle diocese in the 1970s and 1980s.
St John of God and McGrath denied the allegations by Simon Monteiro who was 12 when sent to Kendall Grange on the advice of a psychiatrist after behavioural issues.
‘‘It was supposed to have been a specialist type of school for boys like Simon, but it was just a disaster,’’ Mr Lowe said. ‘‘I would take him up every Sunday afternoon and as I walked him to his dormitory he’d start to tremble. I used to feel pretty bad about that. Many times I’d drive away and turn around to take him back with me. Brother Bernard would be there saying ‘We’ll look after him’.
‘‘We can blame the system, or blame the police or blame ourselves, but we should be blaming the church.’’
Detective Senior Constable Russell Turnbull of Strike Force Lozano declined to comment for fear of jeopardising any extradition process.