A CHRISTIAN Brother has been acquitted on six historical sex charges.
At the same time the Judge has criticised the Catholic Church’s handling of the matter and said he accepted the accused did sexually assault the complainant.
Christopher Rafferty, 65, of Ryde, left immediately after Judge David Frearson handed down his decision in Sydney District Court on August 25.
He was acquitted on three counts of indecent assault and three of homosexual intercourse. Police alleged this occurred on a St Patrick’s College, Goulburn student aged 14 to 16 between 1984 and 1987.
Rafferty pleaded not guilty to all charges.
Judge Frearson was not satisfied the Crown had proven each charge “beyond reasonable doubt”.
He said the complainant’s testimony was at times “vague and inconsistent”. While this was sometimes understandable with historical sex charges, he was not convinced of the totality of evidence.
The complainant took his allegations to police in 2014.
The court heard the man also complained to the Christian Brothers in 1999 about the alleged abuse.
In 2012 the Brothers enlisted an “independent” investigator, a former policewoman under contract to the Order.
Judge Frearson said he had a “problem” with this system.
“I do accept that he was dissuaded from going to police (at this time),” he said.
Earlier he told the court it was “a great pity the complaint was not explored at the time and was handled in-house with no police scrutiny”.
“Time was of the essence,” he said on several occasions.
The Christian Brothers paid the complainant a total $200,000 in three compensation payments “without liability”.
Rafferty had also told the court he had identified as homosexual for many years, but undertook counselling for this in 2004 when the complainant’s allegations re-emerged.
Judge Frearson said the counselling so many years later “didn’t make sense”.
He also detailed evidence given to the court by the complainant’s ex-wife.
She said she had called Rafferty when her husband told her he was going to leave the marriage in 2004 because he was homosexual and “had been abused.”
“She said ‘you have ruined my life. How would you like me to ruin yours?,” Judge Frearson said.
“You are clearly upset. I’m going to hang up,” she claimed Rafferty replied.
“You’re not hanging up on me. If you do I’ll go to the next person up and the next person up,” she said.
At this point she claimed Rafferty had said ‘it wasn’t me’ and asked how much money she wanted.
The ex-wife said she replied that she wasn’t interested in money, only in the children and that he not teach any longer.
She claimed that he was “stuttering and stumbling” his words and responded: “Alright, I won’t teach anymore.”
But Judge Frearson said Rafferty’s account of this conversation was quite different and denied ever making a monetary offer.
He also strongly denied any sexual contact with students whatsoever.
The court also heard the complainant had suffered depression and suicidal thoughts.
Rafferty was described by one witness as a man of good character who had the “highest standard of integrity.”
In addition, he did not have any prior convictions, except an earlier drink driving charge.
While questioning the complainant’s evidence, the Judge also accused Rafferty of “untruthful” testimony at times.
“I well accept that the accused did sexually assault the complainant,” he said.
But he described the complaints as too “imprecise and vague” to accept beyond reasonable doubt.
Rafferty did not comment as he left court.
The Christian Brothers also declined to answer the Post’s questions about the complaint’s handling and compensation payments to the alleged victim.
Rafferty left St Patrick’s College in 1987 and later taught at St Pius X College at Chatswood.