Our top stories
Black Collar Crime
Current court cases
Broken Rites Australia helps victims of church-related
By a Broken Rites researcher
The Catholic Church's professional standards office has received complaints that Brother Stephen Farrell molested boys. The Sydney head office of the Marist Brothers (covering New South Wales and Queensland) has accepted (and settled) some cases about Farrell.
Farrell was a teacher and sports coach at:
*St Joseph's College, Hunters Hill, Sydney, in the 1940s;
*Marcellin College, Randwick, Sydney, in the early 1970s;
*Ashgrove, Brisbane, in the mid-1970s; and
Broken Rites is now researching Farrell's record. We have heard accounts from several generations of students, who encountered him from 1944 to 1975.
As a rugby and athletics coach, Farrell was notorious for giving a rub-down to boys who damaged a leg muscle at sport. Farrell liked to do the "massage" while the boy was naked.
"James", a former student of St Joseph’s College, Hunters Hill, told Broken Rites: "After a leg injury at athletics when I was thirteen, Farrell ordered me to get into a bath, where he 'massaged' me. This was an indecent assault. But in those days you could not say anything against a Marist Brother.
"Farrell was also sometime a dormitory master, which gave him easy access to boys. I encountered Farrell again in my final year at St Joey's, when I was 17. That year, he was my domitory master. My dorm had about 40 beds. Farrell slept in a partitioned-off room at one end of the dorm. Fortunately, I was able to keep clear of him that year."
Farrell also accompanied boys on school sporting trips, which could involve a journey out-of-town or interstate. Some of the indecent assaults occurred during these trips.
Broken Rites has ascertained, that according to Marist records, Brother Farrell's real first name was not "Stephen". His birth name is listed as "Keith Boyd Farrell, date of birth 27 March 1922". On joining the Brothers, it was normal for Marists to adopt a "religious" name, often a name associated with a "saint". Thus Farrell adopted the religious alias of "Brother Stephen Edan". (There have been several "saints" called Stephen and there was an ancient Irish "Saint Edan".)
Victims of "Brother Stephen" say that there was nothing "saintly" about him. As well as being a sexual molester, he was also violent, they say.
A number of ex-students say that Farrell disrupted their early teenage years, causing serious ongoing psychological damage in some cases.
Marist Brother Stephen Farrell died 27 January 2004, aged 81 (according to an inscription on his grave, which is in "Row A" in the Marist Brothers section of a Catholic Cemetery at Lower Mittagong, New South Wales). A death notice, published in the Sydney Morning Herald on 28 January 2004 described his location as "late of Campbelltown" (in Sydney"s south-west), where the Marists had a presence (St Gregory's College).
"Stephen" Farrell wrote a history of the Marists' founder, Marcellin Champagnat, which was published by the Marists in Australia in 1984. He also wrote articles about the Marist Brothers for other publications. Broken Rites discovered an article about the Marists' founder, in which Farrell wrote: "The loving relationship which Marcellin inspired in his young Brothers has continued to this day."
Farrell's victims say that they would query any "loving relationship" involving Stephen Farrell.
It is significant that Marist Brother Stephen Farrell's ex-pupils still feel hurt by the fact that the church inflicted a violent child-abuser upon them. This life-long impact is not unusual. For another memorable Marist child-abuser, see our article about Brother Norbert Mathieson.
Marist Brother Stephen Farrell is not to be confused with a Christian Brother of the same name, who taught in Christian Brothers' schools in Victoria and who was convicted in Victoria in 1997 for child-sex crimes committed in the 1970s.