ACT News

Molester unmasked at child sexual abuse inquiry and apologises to victims

It has taken almost 30 years but two women, abused as 10-year-olds by then Marist Brother Gregory Sutton, have finally received an apology from their molester.

Sutton, whose identity was disclosed for the first time at the Royal Commission into Institutional Responses to Child Sexual Abuse in Canberra on Tuesday, had told one of the two he would kill her family if she ever spoke out.

The offences occurred while Sutton was a teacher at St Thomas Moore School in Campbelltown in 1984 and 1985. Before this he had taught at Marist College Junior School at Pearce in Canberra from 1980 and 1983. It has been alleged that while in Canberra, Sutton had abused seven boys aged 10 and 11.

Sutton's lawyer, Greg Walsh, contacted the former Marist Brother during the lunch break and told him earlier attempts to apologise to witnesses ADM and ADQ had not been passed on.

Addressing ADQ, the second witness to appear, Mr Walsh said Sutton wished to convey his sincere apology for what he had done to her. "He wants you to understand he should never have done that to you," Mr Walsh said.

The lawyer passed on a similar apology to the first witness who, like ADQ, had been abused over an extended period of time.


The commission was told the girls had been made to perform sexual acts on each other and that on occasion both had been molested at the same time.

"I have spoken to Mr Sutton; he wants to express an apology to you. It [his action] was an outrageous breach of trust," Mr Walsh told ADM.

In what was a dramatic day in the Canberra Magistrates' Court building, it was also revealed that Marist Brother Kostka Chute had been abusing children at least as early as 1960 and that the Marist Brothers (or their insurers) have paid out $8.66 million to victims of Chute and Sutton – $6.84 million to 38 of Chute's victims and $1.82 million to 16 of Sutton's. 

Sutton's name was made public after a last ditch attempt to continue to have his name suppressed was rejected by Commissioner Justice Jennifer Coate at the beginning of the day.

Sutton has been known only as "ZA" since 1996. The order was lifted following an application to the NSW District Court by the royal commission last Thursday. That decision took effect at 10am on Tuesday.

Mr Walsh applied to have his client's identity kept secret on the basis that disclosure could cause him psychological damage and put him at risk of physical harm.

Justice Coate ruled against the application, saying the issues raised had not been sufficient to shift the balance away from the obligation for a clear and open inquiry.

Sutton pleaded guilty on November 8, 1996 to 67 charges of child sexual abuse. He was sentenced to 18 years in jail with a 12-year non-parole period. Sutton was released in 2008 and now lives in the community.

Witness ADQ told the commission she had never doubted Sutton would kill her family.

"[He told me], 'I will kill your parents and brother and sister, and then you will have no -one to love,' '' she testified on Tuesday afternoon. "I was only 10 years old and I believed he would kill my parents [if I told anyone]. I also felt no one would believe me if I told them anyway. I was vulnerable and easily influenced."

ADM, the first witness to give evidence, said she was unhappy with the $93,000 compensation payment she received through mediation in the late 1990s.

"I do not think it was fair that others received more [in compensation] than I did," she said.

She said the Marist Brothers' lawyers had told her lawyer if she wanted more money than what was being offered "we will see her in the stand". This had been very intimidating as she did not want to testify publicly.

Sutton's abuse was exposed in 1989 when ADQ went to the police. The police then spoke to ADM and both girls provided statements that were subsequently lost or misplaced.

Sutton, meanwhile, had allegedly admitted his offending to the then vice-provincial of the Marist Brothers, Brother Alexis Turton, and been sent for counselling at Southdown in Canada.

He did not return until he was extradited from Missouri, where he was the headmaster at a school, in the mid-1990s.