ACT News

Marist headmaster Richard Sidorko meets sex abuse victim

The headmaster of Canberra's Marist College Richard Sidorko has asked parents and students to pray together after meeting a sex abuse victim currently giving evidence at the Royal Commission into Institutional Responses to Child Sexual Abuse in Canberra.

In an emotional letter sent to Marist College families dated June 11, Mr Sidorko said he was shocked by statements from witnesses at the commission.

"When listening to these statements I experienced a variety of emotions including shock, disbelief, sadness and anger," Mr Sidorko said.

At the hearing this week he said he approached witness DD - a former student of the college who had been assaulted while he was a year 7 student - after DD gave his testimony. Mr Sidorko said in the letter that he thanked DD for intervening when he was in year 12 and saw another boy in year 7 being groomed by his abuser.

Mr Sidorko said: "I'm sure DD's memories of Marist College are not positive. That saddens me because in him I saw qualities that I believe are Marist."

Mr Richard Sidorko said he wrote the letter to the college community to show support for the victims.


“The sense of shame is very strong around here and there is a great sense of sadness for the victims. Who we are today is very different to the events that are talked about in the Royal Commission,” Mr Sidorko said.

Mr Sidorko has apologised on behalf of the college to victims and is holding meetings with students about the royal commission.  A statement on the website also said the school is fully cooperating with the process.

This week has seen the dramatic revelation of the identity of alleged child molester previously known as "ZA", Brother Gregory Sutton, who taught at Marist College Junior School at Pearce in Canberra from 1980 to 1983. While in Canberra, is it alleged Sutton abused seven boys aged 10 and 11.

Tuesday's hearing revealed Marist Brother Kostka Chutehad been abusing children as early as 1960 and the Marist Brothers have paid out $6.84 million to 38 of his victims since 2008.

Brother Kostka pleaded guilty in that year to 19 counts of sexual abuse against six former students.

This week's hearing is focused on the response of the Marist Brothers to allegations of child sexual abuse in schools across the ACT, NSW and Queensland. According to a spokesperson from the commission, an interim report will go to the government later in June.