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Eight acquittals for Marist brother


After eight trials on child sex abuse charges, NSW Marist Brother John Maguire has been acquitted once more.

The Age reports today that jurors never being told of the other allegations against him.

Because of a court ruling on the risk of contamination of evidence, a judge decided that each case against Br Maguire had to be heard separately. The ruling followed defence claims that the students making the allegations had colluded at a school reunion in 1999.

The jurors at each trial before Judge Megan Latham in the NSW District Court since last November were therefore unaware of the extensive allegations against Br Maguire.

Prosecutors were also hamstrung by the 20 years that elapsed between the alleged offences and when the first complainant went to police in 1997. Legal rules prevented the Crown from calling several witnesses, such as psychologists, family members, girlfriends and other teachers in all but one case.

Br Maguire, 60, was accused of sexually and indecently assaulting six boys at St Joseph's College in Hunters Hill, Sydney 20 years ago. In all, he faced 17 counts of sexually related assault of boys aged between 11 and 13 while he was the year 7 dormitory and form master. He now lives on school grounds at Marist College, Ashgrove, in Brisbane. He was suspended as deputy headmaster when he was charged on February 13, 2002.

Yesterday, after the eighth trial ended in a not guilty verdict, some complainants, now aged between 30 and 33, said they were angry that the Crown had been unable to bring the allegations to trial together. One said: "I never expected to get a result out of the trial... it becomes one person's word against another."

Br Maguire, a former maths and religion teacher and coach of a rugby team at St Joseph's, denied all charges. He has said he cuddled some of the boys when they cried because they were ill or homesick but it was never of a sexual nature.

SOURCE
Eight acquittals for priest (The Age 2/7/04)

LINKS
Court told dormitory brother preyed on homesick boarders (CathNews 18/2/03)
Priests said to cross borders to escape abuse charges (National Catholic Reporter 29/6/04)
Vatican looking for ways to speed up processing of sex abuse cases (Catholic News Service 1/7/04)


2 Jul 2004