A Christian Brother has been jailed for two counts of indecent assault on a teenage boy 47 years ago while working at former St Patrick's College in Goulburn.
Thomas Rodney Sullivan, was sentenced at Sydney Downing Centre District Court on September 24. A jury found the 82-year-old guilty after a trial earlier this year.
He received an aggregate sentence of two years full-time imprisonment with a non-parole period of one year and two months.
Judge Kate Traill told the court Sullivan was a layperson at the time of the offences, who conducted maintenance at the college and did not teach students. She said the assaults occurred between 1975 and 1976 while the 13 to 14-year-old victim was a border at the school.
She said the first offence occurred in late 1975 when the victim went to see the offender at a maintenance shed with a group of other boys. The judge told the court the victim found himself alone with the offender who said "come with me" and took him to a room on the first floor of a building known as the 'Brother's House', an area out of bounds for students.
The judge said Sullivan sat on a bed with the victim facing him before he removed articles of the student's clothing and fondled him saying "you are a beautiful boy".
Judge Traill said the victim was silent during the offence because he felt "completely powerless and completely alone". She said these acts occurred numerous times.
The judge presented to the court that the second offence occurred in 1976 in the same room, where the victim was indecently assaulted and digitally penetrated.
She said the victim did not tell anyone about the assaults because he felt "embarrassed, ashamed" and was concerned about the impact on his parents. She told the court the victim did not make a complaint until both his parents had passed away.
The judge found that as a Christian Brother the offender was in a "significant position of trust".
She said Sullivan continued to deny the offences and claimed he had been "set up".
"I make a finding that the offender has no contrition or remorse," she said.
Judge Traill said in a victim statement previously read to the court the complainant had stated that his "memory was that of a terrified betrayed child who had no control of the situation and was completely alone".
She said he described St Patrick's College Goulburn as a "terrible place full of draconian practices administered by unfeeling bullies".
She told the court the victim originally saw Sullivan as a friend and stated that the offender took that "childhood innocence and manipulated it".
The judge said the victim had previously told the court the abuse had impacted his relationship with his children, saying "it took away forever some of the great bonding moments of parenthood."
She said the victim had stated "if there is to be any good to come from all this my hope is that other victims will be inspired to speak out".
"It is well established that sexual offences against children selfishly rob them of their innocence, sexualise them before they reach psychological and physical maturity, displace their sense of trust in adults, and create confusion that lasts well into adulthood," Judge Traill said.
"All too frequently sexual offences committed against a child are not revealed until the victim is an adult and the burden of abuse upon them ultimately overcomes them in later life."
The judge found that Sullivan had a low risk of re-offending due to his age, the fact that he was no longer in a position of trust and there was no evidence of re-offending. She also took into account that current COVID-19 restrictions in jails were "extremely harsh".
In determining the sentence, Judge Traill accepted that imprisonment would be "more arduous" for Sullivan due to his age and ill health. She also took numerous character references into account.
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