A CHRISTIAN Brother who has pleaded guilty to child sex charges is facing an "inevitable" jail term, a court heard on Monday.
Brother William John Obbens, 70, also known as Brother Dominic, made a brief appearance in Goulburn District Court.
In court, he made the plea to three counts of aggravated indecent assault of three children under 16 under his authority.
The charges relate to his time as a teacher and dormitory master at the former St Patrick's College from 1987 to 1989.
His guilty plea came nearly 18 months after his arrest by Strikeforce Charish detectives at Balmain on December 11, 2014.
At that time Obbens was charged with five counts of sexual/indecent assault of boys under 16 under his authority.
Monday's arraignment on three counts followed negotiations between the defence and prosecution. However, the original three complainants are encapsulated in the charges.
Obbens sat quietly with hands folded, occasionally closing his eyes during the 10-minute appearance before Judge David Frearson on Monday. Asked how he pleaded on each count, he replied "guilty".
Obbens taught at St Pat's from 1986 to 1989, court documents showed. His victims were aged 12 and 13. One didn't tell his mother about the abuse until 2004, agreed facts stated.
Obbens had called the boarder into his office/bedroom one day in 1987 and disciplined him, though the student was not aware he had done anything wrong. The Brother asked him about his homesickness, prompting the boy to cry.
"The offender walked beside him, put his arms around his chest in a bear hug and squeezed (the boy) against his body," facts stated.
"(The boy) could feel (Obbens') erect penis against his mid-back and could feel his face close to the back of his neck."
The Brother kept squeezing him tighter, against his erection, before telling the boy he could 'come to him anytime' he was feeling homesick.
The victim claimed Obbens committed similar offences on him several times throughout the year. At the end of the school year he appealed to his parents to move him to another school, which they did.
Also in 1987, police alleged Obbens called a 13-year-old boy into his office/bedroom after school. “They were talking and the offender stood behind (the boy), reached around and unzipped (the victim’s) trouser pants and fondled his penis over the top of his underpants,” facts stated. The incident lasted five to 10 minutes, during which Obbens was fully clothed.
The student ensured that he was never alone with Obbens again and he left the school at the end of that year.
Documents stated that it was not until 2004 that the former student made a formal complaint to the Catholic Church. He was offered paid counselling.
Homesickness had plagued another 13-year-old when Obbens called him into his office and strapped him across the hands for “bad behaviour” in 1989.
Obbens then hugged and pulled the boy toward him and pressed his groin into the victim’s lower back.
Documents stated Obbens committed similar offences on the boy several more times.
That same year the boy and a school mate reported Obbens’ indecent assaults to police.
Obbens was charged over the school mate’s allegation, for which he was convicted in 1989 and given a two-year-good behaviour bond, antecedents showed. The other boy did not wish to take the complaint further at that time.
Obbens was due to stand trial on the five original charges this week. However, on April 29 he offered, via email, to plead guilty on the three counts. Agreed facts were tendered to the court.
On Monday, Obbens’ solicitor Greg Walsh advised the court of Obbens’ prior conviction. He also asked for a pre-sentence report, which Judge Frearson ordered.
“I understand the Crown will indicate that a fulltime custodial sentence is inevitable, but I ask that bail continue (for now),” Mr Walsh said.
He said Obbens had complied with all his bail conditions to date and lived with a fellow Brother in Ryde.
The prosecution did not oppose this and bail was continued on condition the accused did not contact the victims.
Judge Frearson adjourned sentencing to Sydney District Court on June 24.
In a statement, a spokesman for the Christian Brothers Oceania said the order “apologised unreservedly to those who suffered as a result of these actions”.
“The court process is continuing and we will comment in full once that has been completed,” the statement read. “The individual did not teach anywhere after 1989 and his (legal) representation is paid in line with our guidelines.”
Asked what this meant, the spokesman said payment was provided on a case-by-case basis and reviewed at each stage of the process.
The Goulburn Post understands Obbens was put in charge of the Order’s archives after his teaching career at St Pat’s finished.
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