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Royal Commission to focus on Marist Brothers in Canberra

The Royal Commission into child sexual abuse in the ACT will focus on the response of the Marist Brothers to allegations of child abuse by Brother John Chute and another former brother whose name has been withheld.

The commission, which will hold a public hearing on June 10, will conduct a forensic analysis into what steps Marist Brothers took to report the allegations of sexual abuse to the police and relevant authorities. 

The hearing will also assess the response of agencies including the NSW Department of Family and Community Services when alerted to the allegations of abuse by the two brothers. 

The settling of compensation by Catholic Church Insurance and the Marist Brothers will also be assessed at the public hearing. 

The allegations of child sexual abuse relate to incidents at Marist and Daramalan colleges from the 1970s to the 1990s. 

In June 2008, Brother Chute, who is also known as Brother Kostka, was jailed for at least two years followed by a year of weekend jail for molesting six boys at Marist College in the 1980s.

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The Catholic Church’s Truth, Justice and Healing Council chief executive officer Francis Sullivan said the history of child sexual abuse and the church was confronting and shameful.

"This has been a high-profile and massively concerning issue in the Canberra community and has undermined the confidence of Catholics with church leadership," he said.

"It is essential that the Marist Brothers come forward, fess up, explain what happened, and demonstrate that children in the Catholic Church are safe and secure."

Mr Sullivan said the handling of child sexual abuse allegations had brought shame on the church and the public hearings had tremendous importance for parents.

"It’s terribly important for families and parents who have children at Marist schools to know that we’re talking about the Marist of the past, not the Marist of the present," he said.

"We know that many people have come forward to speak against the behaviour of Brother Kosta who was removed from the school in 1993," he said. "This isn’t ancient history we’re talking about here."

The public hearing is open to the public and will be live-streamed on the Royal Commission's website for those who cannot attend.

The Royal Commission has encouraged anyone interested in making a submission to the commission or in appearing before the hearing to lodge a written application via email by May 30. Emails should be sent to solicitor@childabuseroyalcommission.gov.au