Maltese child migrant gets €53,000 in damages for Christian Brothers abuse

Australian commission finds Christian Brothers failed to prevent child sexual abuse

Raphael Ellul was one of the child migrants abused by the Christian Brothers [Source: ABC]
Raphael Ellul was one of the child migrants abused by the Christian Brothers [Source: ABC]

An inquiry into child sexual abuse at four Christian Brothers institutions in Western Australia – to whom Maltese child migrants were entrusted to in a bid to build themselves a new life – has found that the organisation was aware of abuse allegations for decades, and the damage it could cause, but did not stop it.

The Australian Broadcasting Corporation reported that the Royal Commission into Institutional Responses to Child Sexual Abuse examined abuse at Christian Brothers institutions in Bindoon, Tardun and Perth between 1947 and 1968 and found management failed to prevent the sexual abuse of children living at the schools.

Some of the victims were as young as seven when they were sexually and physically abused by brothers and older boys.

Eleven of the schools’ former residents gave evidence at hearings in Perth throughout April and May.

The men recounted stories of painful abuse and psychological damage they have suffered as a result, which led to depression, post-traumatic stress disorder and alcoholism.

Sixteen brothers were named as perpetrators of sexual abuse, but only four were ever charged and of those, only one was jailed.

Maltese child migrant Raphael Ellul, who was abused at St Mary’s Agricultural School in Tardun, said he hoped he could now move on but he would never forgive.

“Well what do I do, do I sort of stay angry for the rest of my life? I’ve had 54 years of it so I think it’s time,” he said. “I may forget but I’ll never forgive them for what they did to me, but I’ve got to get on with my life.”

Ellul was a child migrant from Malta when he was sent to the Christian Brothers school in Tardun as a 10 year old.

He was physically and sexually abused by brothers at the school and older boys, and now describes himself as damaged goods.

He said his time at Tardun cost him his culture, family and any chance of a decent career.

“What I’m amazed by, is how they shift these brothers, you know perpetrators, from one place to the other. I am surprised that it started back in 1919 and it sort of went on until the 70s. The trouble is, it’s a little bit too late.”

Ellul applied for more compensation after being earlier given $35,000 (€23,100) by the Christian Brothers. He has now accepted another $80,000  (€53,000) from the organisation.

“I’ve never been a high wage earner so $80,000 to me is like a million, and that’s why I accepted it,” he said.

Earlier this year, Ellul told the hearings he ran away from Tardun and attempted to report the sexual abuse to police at Mullewa.

He was told not to tell lies about the “good Christian men”, and said he was “belted” when he returned to the school.

“What does it say when a 14 year old goes to a police station and gets slapped in the face?” he asked.

“Nobody wanted to listen to you back then in the 1960s, they knew exactly what was going on, they just protect each other.”

Since 1980, the Christian Brothers have paid over $20 million to people who alleged sexual abuse or a combination of sexual abuse, physical or psychological abuse.

In Western Australia, about 100 complainants were paid an average of $36,700 each, relating to abuse at the state’s four institutions.

The royal commission has also found the brothers had an obligation to provide the children with an education but in many cases subjected them to physical labour instead.

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