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The Marist Fathers are a male Roman Catholic clerical religious congregation founded in France in 1816.
In 1931, Bishop John Carroll, along with the Marist Fathers, established and opened St John’s College at 203 Woodlawn Road in Woodlawn, NSW located near Lismore. St John’s College is a Catholic co-educational boarding high school. St John’s College was previously an all boys’ boarding college until 1998 when it became co-education and closed it’s boarding. St John’s College is administered by the Catholic Education Office of the Diocese of Lismore.
In recent years, survivors have told their stories of suffering sexual and physical abuse whilst students at St John’s College. The abuse allegations have been for abuse perpetrated by both former lay teachers and also members of the Marist Fathers.
In 2014, James (Jim) Sampson Doran was charged by NSW Police with 19 charges that were in relation to allegations that he had engaged in homosexual intercourse and had also committed other forms of sexual assault on students when he was an English teacher and boarding master at St John’s College. By 2015, the charges against Doran had increased to 46, including further engagement in homosexual intercourse without consent and soliciting or inciting a male to commit an indecent act. These charges were alleged to have occurred in the 1980s against 10 boys. Doran contested all of the charges and denied abusing any of the boys. In 2017, Doran was found guilty of 41 charges and was sentenced to 13 years imprisonment with a non-parole period of six years. Doran died on 13 October 2018 of prostate cancer whilst in custody.
In 2014, Richard O’Connor was arrested by NSW Police and charged with sexually assaulting 12 students at St John’s College in the 1980s. O’Connor was an English and Art teacher and discipline master at St John’s College. In 2015, O’Connor plead guilty to 40 charges of rape and sexual assault of the former 12 students and was sentenced to 12 years imprisonment.
Survivors have also reported sexual abuse by Father Ian Stick. Stick worked in various positions at St John’s College, including dormitory master, teacher, Infirmarian and School Chaplain between September 1968 and December 1981. Stick died in 1987.
In October 2015, The Australian revealed that, sadly, at least seven former boarding students of St John’s College had committed suicide amid allegations of sexual abuse by staff members.
We are specialist abuse lawyers and can help you receive acknowledgement, meaningful apology and financial resolution from those institutions and systems of power that failed to protect you from harm. If you would like advice in relation to a childhood or adult sexual, physical and/or psychological/emotional abuse claim in any jurisdiction in Australia, please reach out to the author, Emily Wright, at Littles Lawyers today.
Further Abuse Law information written by our Emily Wright can be found on our website.