ACT News

Marist brother among four men to face court on charges of child sex abuse in ACT

Brother John "Kostka" Chute, 83, who worked at Marist College in the 1970s, '80s, and '90s.
Brother John "Kostka" Chute, 83, who worked at Marist College in the 1970s, '80s, and '90s. Photo: Martin Jones

A Marist brother is one of three men who will face court on Tuesday for fresh claims of child sexual abuse in ACT schools in the 1980s.

Police working on Operation Attest, an experienced squad of child abuse detectives, revealed a major breakthrough in their investigations into institutional abuse in the ACT on Monday.

Four men, aged 60 to 83, have now been accused of separate historical child sex offences, committed mostly on boys under 16 in what police described as "educational institutions".

Three men will face the ACT Magistrates Court on Tuesday, and another will appear on Thursday.

Little other detail of the allegations was offered, and police said they would not comment further due to the pending court proceedings.

But Fairfax Media understands one of the men summonsed was Brother John "Kostka" Chute, 83, who worked at Marist College in the 1970s, '80s, and '90s. Brother Kostka is facing charges of two indecent assaults on a male and two indecent acts on a person under 16.

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Two others – a 69-year-old and a 64-year-old, both from NSW – will each face three charges of indecent assault. A 60-year-old Kaleen man will be charged with three indecent acts on a person under 16. Marist's response to past allegations of abuse by Brother Kostka was a major focus of the Royal Commission into Institutional Responses to Child Sexual Abuse hearings in Canberra.

The school was found to have shuffled Brother Kostka between schools upon learning of complaints that he inappropriately touched children. In a statement on Monday, police commended victims who have come forward since the royal commission began.

Until recently, an archaic provision in ACT law meant some offenders could not be charged if their victims, whose trauma and vulnerability often make them unwilling or unable to make a complaint, did not come forward soon after their abuse. The statute of limitations required female child sex victims, aged 14 and 15 between 1951 and 1985, and male victims between 1976 and 1985, to report crimes within 12 months of their occurrence. The ACT government removed that limitation in 2013, and new prosecutions have been launched as a result.

Acting Station Sergeant Marcus Boorman, part of Operation Attest, said police were still conducting additional investigations and would continue to take complaints from victims. "I'd like to commend the people who have already come forward for their bravery in speaking out; I'm certain that your courage has been an inspiration to the people around you," he said.

"I'd also like to acknowledge the ACT government for its work in introducing legislation which removed the statute of limitations and allowed prosecution of these types of crimes. Importantly, we must now allow the courts to hear these matters in a manner that ensures judicial fairness and will not comment further on these matters."

Anyone wishing to make a report can contact police on 131 444 or Op-Attest@afp.gov.au.