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Catholic Church authorities knowingly kept a child-molester (Father Michael Aulsebrook) in the priesthood and even promoted him to be in charge of a school, according to statements made in an Australian criminal court.
Michael Scott Aulsebrook, aged 55, appeared in the Melbourne County Court on 22 August 2011 for sentencing after he pleaded guilty to multiple incidents of indecent assault, committed against a 12-year-old boy.
The court was told that this was not the only boy who lodged a complaint about Aulsebrook. A separate complaint in 1993 by another boy had been settled by the church, in private, out-of-court.
Aulsebrook's lawyer conceded that Aulsebrook's offending was not isolated, the court was told.
Representatives of the church gave character evidence for Aulsebrook and were in court at the sentencing to show their support for him (rather than supporting the victim).
The court was told that Michael Aulsebrook joined the Catholic religious order of Salesian priests and brothers. At first, he was a religious brother (Brother Aulsebrook) and later (even after the church authorities knew that he was a danger to children) he was ordained as a priest (Father Aulsebrook).
The offences, for which he was sentenced, happened during a period of several months in 1983 when Brother Aulsebrook was in charge of Year 7 and 8 students at Salesian College, "Rupertswood" (a boarding school in Sunbury, north-west of Melbourne).
When sentencing Aulsebrook, Judge Tim Wood told the court some details about the offences. He said Aulsebrook met this victim on the boy's first day at the school, when the child's mother told her son that if he had any problems he should take them to "Brother Michael".
In the next few months, Aulsebrook groomed the boy, buying him treats from the school tuck shop and spending lunch and recess breaks with him, Judge Wood said.
The first assault occurred when the boy and three classmates were ordered to stand outside Aulsebrook's room over a disciplinary matter, the judge said.
After dealing with the others, Aulsebrook invited the boy to sit on his knee and attempted to handle him indecently until the boy hastily left the room in fright.
The next day he told the boy everything was all right, later telling him that their meetings were secret and that he shouldn't tell anyone.
Classmates interrupted the abuse on more than one occasion when they came looking for the victim. He was frightened and told his mates that he had been in trouble.
Judge Wood said that, sometimes, after lights out in the school dormitory, the boy would be lured to Aulsebrook's bedroom, where he would be directed to sit on Aulsebrook's knee. Then, as they listed to the radio or watched television, Aulsebrook would handle the boy's genitals.
Judge Wood said Aulsebrook would give a secret signal when he wanted the boy to join him in Aulsebrook's bedroom, which adjoined the dormitory.
On two occasions he also attempted to kiss the boy and on others he lay on top of him after removing his victim's pants.
In his sentencing remarks, the judge said that Aulsebrook admitted that another complaint of sexual abuse had been made against him by another boy in 1993 and Aulsebrook received "counseling" from the Salesian order but no criminal prosecution occurred.
After he had a period away from teaching, the Salesians then appointed him to St Mark's College in Port Pirie, South Australia, where he served as school principal until 2003.
In the years after the assaults in Victoria, Aulsebrook maintained contact with the Victorian victim's family and even attended the victim's wedding where he blessed the couple's rings.
Judge Wood said Aulsebrook would also meet the man and his wife socially until the complaint was made against him.
The judge said the victim had a nervous breakdown in 2000 and said he had been molested but his family did not believe him at first. He eventually reported it to the church, and the Salesian Order then gave him a payout to "settle" that matter.
Meanwhile, Aulsebrook resigned from the priesthood and worked as a public servant in Canberra.
JailedWhile sentencing Aulsebrook, Judge Wood said that there were several aggravating features of his case, including a gross breach of trust, his exploitation and lack of insight.
Aulsebrook, who had pleaded guilty to assaulting the boy on five occasions from May to August in 1983, was sentenced in relation to three "representative" charges.
Judge Wood sentenced Aulsebrook to a total of two years' jail with 15 months suspended, meaning that he would serve nine months behind bars.
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