Former Maitland Marist student alleges caning so hard it required ambulance treatment

Compensation: The Marist Brothers order has paid compensation to a former Maitland Marist student who alleged he was physically and sexually assaulted in the 1970s.
Compensation: The Marist Brothers order has paid compensation to a former Maitland Marist student who alleged he was physically and sexually assaulted in the 1970s.

THE Marist Brothers order has paid compensation to a former Hunter student who alleged he was sexually abused by a lay teacher in the 1970s, and physically assaulted so severely that he was treated by an ambulance officer on one occasion.

The former Marist Maitland student alleged he was physically and emotionally abused by four male lay teachers and three Marist Brothers, including former principal and convicted child sex offender Brother Nestor, also known as John Aloysius Littler, and sexually abused by a lay teacher outside the school.

The order denied the allegations and did not admit “any wrongdoing for any of the claims”, but agreed to a financial settlement with the man in December that included recognition of his need for on-going counselling and treatment.

The settlement occurred only weeks after a Royal Commission into Institutional Responses to Child Sexual Abuse public hearing in Newcastle heard shocking evidence of sexual and physical abuse of students at Marist Brothers schools at Maitland and Hamilton.

The royal commission hearing in September, 2016 included an apology from Marist Brothers leader Brother Peter Carroll, who agreed the order had failed to act on the sexual crimes and excessive disciplinary violence of many its Brothers, and had tried to minimise the importance of complaints.

The former Marist student alleged Littler struck him with a one-metre bamboo cane in the 1970s with such severity that he travelled home after school and walked to an ambulance station in a Hunter town where an officer treated his injured hands.

The incident occurred only weeks after he started high school as a 12-year-old, the man said.

He alleged a lay teacher repeatedly struck him about the head with a hardcover book, another teacher struck him with a leather strip and another with a bamboo cane.

He alleged one teacher struck him with a one-metre bamboo cane after the student refused to kiss a stone which the teacher said had come from a paddock and had been “defecated on by a cow”.

The former student said the teacher chose the stone-kissing as a humiliating step in a disciplinary process.

He alleged a Brother watched as another student pinned him down while on a school camp and simulated sex acts with him.

The Brother “witnessed and did not stop it”, the former student alleged.

He alleged a lay teacher sexually abused him at the teacher’s home after a school activity outside the Maitland college grounds. After a parent complained about events at a school camp the lay teacher “verbally attacked” the student for causing trouble, and Brother Nestor “interrogated” the former student and was “aggressive and threatening”, he alleged.

In his claim the former student alleged the conduct of multiple teachers at the Maitland Marist school and the failure of adults to protect students from sexual, physical and emotional harm “fell so far short of acceptable standards as to represent a disregard for the plaintiff’s rights, and a violation of his rights”.

The former student alleged that because of repeated and serious abuse at school he suffered major depression as an adult, recurrent panic attacks, severe alcohol and drug abuse, post traumatic stress disorder, and feelings of a marked sense of injustice at what had happened to him.

The extent of abuse, the number of teachers who were physically abusive, the involvement of the principal and the humiliating nature of disciplinary processes exacerbated feelings of powerlessness.

While the former student achieved a level of professional success, he had been forced to take regular periods away from work for treatment and would need to continue doing so, he said.

In its cross claim the Marist Brothers did not admit the former student had been sexually abused by the lay teacher, but said if he suffered injuries “it was caused by the negligence” of the lay teacher.

A Marist Brothers Australia spokesman said: “We don’t comment on settlements. The civil claim was handled by the legal representatives of both parties, and agreement was reached.”