Marist Brother Alexis Turton was unaware if child abuse was a criminal offence
Former Marist Brother provincial Alexis Turton has denied shipping a known paedophile out of the country on three days notice in order to foil a police investigation.
According to a memo presented in evidence to the Royal Commission into Institutional Responses to Child Sexual Abuse, Brother Turton had learnt on August 13, 1989, that police were investigating claims Greg Sutton had molested students at St Thomas Moore Primary School in Sydney in 1984.
Sutton was put on a plane to a counselling centre in Canada on August 18.
Brother Turton did not deny he first spoke to the manager of the centre, known as Southdown, on August 15.
He denied writing the incriminating memo which refers to Sutton as ‘Bart’, but accepted that Bart was Sutton.
According to the memo, another brother had told Brother Turton on or about August 13, he had been contacted by a parent who had seen written evidence “Bart” had interfered with 10 to 12-year-old children in a serious manner about five years before.
Children, and the parents of children, who had been at the school at that time were being questioned and the situation was looking “extremely serious”.
Brother Turton said he was not aware that on August 9 and 10, two students at St Thomas Moore Primary in 1984, ADM and ADQ, had given statements to police detailing abuse at Sutton’s hands.
“I was not aware of that then,” he said.
Simeon Beckett, the counsel assisting the commission, presented a record of an interview between Sutton and a member of the Southdown staff in which he said he had been shipped out of Australia because of the police investigation.
“He [Sutton] told me that his provincial had decided that he should come to Southdown for assessment two weeks ago. This was due to the fact that investigations were occurring on himself for school activities five years ago regarding his child abuse,” the history of present Illness report stated.
“When I asked him about the investigations he stated that they had not finalized their results.”
Another report made a direct link between Sutton’s departure from Australia and the police probe.
“Shortly before Greg came for an assessment in September of this year, investigations began to surface regarding his sexual activities with children some five years earlier. Greg states that within three days he was on a plane heading for Canada.”
Brother Turton said that while this may have been Sutton’s understanding it was not correct and he had not shipped him out of the country to hinder the police investigation.
“Are you saying Sutton is wrong when he indicates the purpose he was sent to Southdown was to avoid the investigations that were occurring?” Mr Beckett asked Turton.
“That is wrong. He was sent there as a result of the sequence [of steps] we had been working through,” Turton replied.
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