The Marist Brothers had received at least 48 complaints of abuse by a brother before he was jailed, an inquiry has been told.
Some of them dated back to the 1950s, but the man who held the order’s top job in the late 1980s, and was in charge of the office dealing with abuse victims until 2012, has told the inquiry he didn’t know John Chute, also known as Brother Kosta, had a history of complaints against him until 1993.
The Royal Commission into Institutional Responses to Child Sexual Abuse is continuing to investigate the order’s handling of allegations against two brothers, Chute and Gregory Sutton. Both have been jailed for multiple offences against children.
Chute was jailed in 2008 for six years when he pleaded guilty to offence against 19 children.
The former provincial of the order, Alexis Turton, is in the witness box for his third day.
Documents presented on Monday show the order had received complaints that Chute had abused 48 children from six different schools between 1959 and 1990.
In Canberra it was revealed that the Marist Brothers have paid out $6.84 million in compensation to 38 former students who were sexually abused by Chute.
Many of the offences were at the Marist College in Canberra where Chute worked for years.
It was also revealed on Monday that at the Canberra college two other members of the religious order and one lay teacher allegedly abused children.
Br Turton repeatedly said he could not recall hearing early allegations about Chute or the additional complaint about brothers in Canberra.
The commission has heard that Chute was given a canonical warning about inappropriate behaviour as early as 1959.
At Monday’s hearing a 2012 email was tabled. It gave details of a phone conversation from a victim who had rung the professional standards office (PSO) detailing abuse by Chute when he was at primary school in Randwick, in east Sydney.
At the time of his abuse he went to the headmaster, Br Anselm in the 1950s. He feels he was not believed by the school, the email said.
The victim asked that Br Turton, who was head of the PSO at the time, contact him, the email said.
Br Turton said on Monday he could not remember whether he did contact the victim but said he would be surprised if he did not.
Earlier at Monday’s hearing Br Turton was asked by Peter O’Brien, representing Damian De Marco who was abused by Chute, if when he was professional standards officer it was his role to “conceal rather than expose” abuse.
Br Turton: “That was not my role”. When asked if he saw his role as being to primarily to protect the reputation of the brothers above all else, he replied “far from it”.
The commission heard that John Chute is still a member of the order.
By Annette Blackwell, AAP
IMAGE: The former head of the Marist Brothers, Brother Alexis Turton