Royal Commission into Institutional Responses to Child Sexual Abuse in the Newcastle Anglican diocese | live blog

Former Bishop of Newcastle Roger Herft at day one of the royal commission in Newcastle.
Former Bishop of Newcastle Roger Herft at day one of the royal commission in Newcastle.

Tuesday, August 2

Day one recap:

  • There was a full court room for the first day of the Royal Commission into Institutional Responses to Child Sexual Abuse in the Newcastle Anglican diocese with lawyers and members of the public standing.
  • Today’s hearing focused on Father Peter Rushton and St Alban’s youth worker James (Jim) Michael Brown
  • Evidence was given by victims Paul Gray and Phillip D’Ammond and Suzan Aslin, the mother of an abuse survivor
  • Abuse survivor Mr Gray broke down in tears as he told the comission that on many occasions father Peter Rushton would cut Mr Gray’s back with a small knife and smear his blood on his back – which was symbolic of the blood of Christ –  as he continued to rape him
  • In an emotional speech, Mr D’Ammond told the commission Jim Brown would take him out during the day to do normal things like going shopping and working on his hot rod, but at night Jim would assault Mr D’Ammond
  • Mrs Aslin and her son Ian went to dinner at Jim Brown’s house, where Mrs Aslin found stacks of pornographic magazines under Mr Brown’s bed
  • Counsel assisting Naomi Sharp said it was expected that former archdeacon Colvin Ford would tell the commission that he perceived that Rushton was protected by the gang of three.


Day one of the Royal Commission into Institutional Responses to Child Sexual Abuse in the Newcastle Anglican diocese has finished. Day two will start on Wednesday, August 3. 

You can follow and join in the conversation on Twitter using the hashtag #shinethelight.


Barrister Peter Skinner for Bishop Richard Appleby asked Ms Burns about what exactly was said at the meeting in the 1980s. She was 19 and naive, she said, “and I’d never been around anything like this before”.

Mrs Burns told the commission that they were telling here what they were doing and that she wasn’t to say anything to Jim about anything that she knew and she was not to tell any of the parishioners if they’d asked her questions.

Mr Skinner said “My instructions are that neither my client (Bishop Appleby) nor anyone else in his presence ever discussed with you in 1987 or, indeed, at any time, ever, the proposition that they were aware that CKZ had been assaulted.”


Former Newcastle Anglican diocese youth worker Teresa Burns gives evidence

She started in the diocese in 1987 and came to know victim CKZ. The victim’s father was reverend of the parish. Ms Burns gave evidence she knew Jim Brown who helped at church.

During a conversation with CKZ Ms Burns discovered “something happened” between CKZ and Brown, when the boy was 14. “I’m pretty sure I remember him saying sexual assault,” she said.

“Just after, I was called into the Reverend’s office and there was himself and Richard Appleby (Bishop of Newcastle at the time),” she said. Ms Burns said the conversation was about moving Jim Brown from Kurri to Maitland.

“I was just made to understand it was because of the allegations CKZ raised,” she said.

"He was at that meeting. He can say he wasn't, but he was,"

Ms Burns

She said she could not remember which man made the statement. Ms Burns was told not to tell anyone.


Bishop Holland’s representative asks Mrs Aslin if there was a possibility she had not been speaking to Bishop Holland on the phone.

Pete with CLAN CEO Leonie Sheedy outside the royal commission day one.

Pete with CLAN CEO Leonie Sheedy outside the royal commission day one.

The chair said in response: “When someone else at the other end of the phone said they are Bishop Holland, where is the person supposed to go? All she can tell you is this is what that person said to her.”

Some responses to the public hearing on social media


Witness: Suzan Aslin speaks

Suzan Aslin, mother of abuse survivor, to give evidence.

Mrs Aslin moved to Kurri Kurri in 1972 with her husband and five sons. Two boys involved with Scouts, and from that they became involved in the Anglican Church. 

Jim Brown arrived at her door one day. Mrs Aslin met Peter Rushton at Morpeth with some younger priests. 

“I observed that everybody kow-towed to Peter Rushton,” she said.

“He was in the centre of this group.”

Mrs Aslin and son Ian went to dinner at Brown’s house, at Brown’s invitation, when Ian was 15. “It must have been in a very weak moment when I agreed to go.”

Mrs Aslin went into Brown’s bedroom after going to the toilet.

Brown was absolutely furious with me.

“At that point it was time to go,” Mrs Aslin said.

Mrs Aslin and her son decided not to tell her husband because he was ex-Army, “he had a temper. I didn’t want anything to happen to my husband”.

Mrs Aslin said the pornographic magazines represented homosexual acts.

“I went into his bedroom and under the bed were stacks and stacks of pornographic magazines,”

Mrs Aslin.

“There were, you know, sort of rampant penises,” she said.

She suspected Brown was preying on one of her children. 

“I was trying to work out exactly which one of my children he was preying on,” she said.

Suzan Aslin with her son Ian outside Newcastle Court House on Tuesday, August 2.

Suzan Aslin with her son Ian outside Newcastle Court House on Tuesday, August 2.

“He turned up too often. It was just wrong. He was the odd man out.”

When asked by general counsel if Mrs Aslin reported the incident to anyone else, she replied with: “no because i felt like a twit for having put myself in that position in the first place”.

Mrs Aslin said she was horrified when she discovered Brown was involved with St Alban’s home.

Mrs Aslin told the commission that boy was Phillip D’Ammond.

Mrs Aslin decided to act. She told the commission that in 1979 she had Professor David Frost as her lecturer, who was part of the Anglican synod.

She said she told Professor Frost about Rushton and Brown fostering children and taking a “sex tour of Europe” visiting gay bars. 

She told the professor she thought it was “inappropriate for Peter Rushton to be doing a sex trip of Europe”, and he was “absolutely astounded”. The professor said he would ring the bishop. 

“I saw one of the boys and it was one of the saddest-looking kids you’ve ever seen and he was being - he wouldn’t join in with the other children. He was one of the St Alban’s boys. Jim was going to become his guardian and he was going to move in with Jim and that, I thought, was absolutely, you know, beyond the pale,”

Mrs Aslin.

Mrs Aslin said soon after, she received a phone call from a man who identified himself as Bishop Alfred Holland.

Mrs Aslin told the bishop about St Alban’s, that the two men were fostering children, about their “sex tour” in Europe and she named Peter Rushton and James Brown in the conversation.

She did not know what, if anything, happened after that call.

She said she spoke to Father John West about the “sex tour” and the fostering but with little positive response.

After Brown was charged after 2010 Mrs Aslin told her son Ian.

 Former Newcastle Anglican Bishop Alfred Holland.

Former Newcastle Anglican Bishop Alfred Holland.

“The effect on Ian was to dredge the whole thing up again. We may as well have been back in 1979,” Mrs Aslin said after her son Ian made a statement to police after Brown was charged with child sex offences after 2010.

Victim Phillip D’Ammond shares his story

“I don’t know what the bishop did and as far as I was concerned, who else was I going to tell? Yes, i probably should have gone to the police which I mentioned to the police years later, but at the time I thought I have done the right thing, I have told the bishop. The bishop will fix it,"

Mrs Aslin


Counsel assisting Naomi Sharp has asked Mr D’Ammond about the lump sum payment he received from the church.

Sharp: “Can you describe what effect it had on you receiving that lump sum payment?”

Mr D’Ammond: “Oh, if someone - a normal person receives the lump sum that I got, they wuld have gone ahead in life. All that did to me was open up the heroin habit again. I’d been clean for four years before I got that settlement, and all of a sudden I’ve got a bank full of money and no financial advice, no advice what I should do. There it is, see you later.”

Mr D’Ammond told the commission he received $210,000 from the church.


Mr D’Ammond has asked the commission to look into medical and scientific research into the causes of pedophilia. He told the commission children need to be educated on signs to look out for and greater awareness needed to be taught. 


Mr D’Ammond says Jim introduced him to alcohol when he was 13. He told the commission that Jim supplied drugs while he was living with him.

After Mr D’Ammond left the house, he started using heroin, he told the hearing.

He has had six jail sentences totalling 18 years.

“”I have been involved in acts of violence including armed robbery, multiple assaults, malicious wounding with intent to cause grievous bodily harm. I was harbouring a lot of pent-up anger towards Jimmy and I was misdirecting it at others,” Mr D’Ammond told the royal commission.

The church needs to learn to live by the laws of the land and not make their own laws. They seem to make it up as they go,"

Mr D'Ammond.

“I did not think I could tell anybody about Jimmy’s abuse. At the time, I thought I would not be believed by the matron at St Alban’s. I thought I just had to comply with Jim’s behaviour to survive.”


"I had no good role model to learn how to express my emotions honestly in close relationships. I learnt to hide my emotions with Jim because I feared he would see it as a weakness and a reason to attack me sexually,"

Mr D'Ammond.

Philip D’Ammond is now giving evidence. 

He was in a dormitory of eight boys at St Alban’s. Mr D’Ammond was made a ward of the state in 1975, aged 13, and committed to St Alban’s Children’s Home, Cessnock because his mother was dying. Ron and Dulcie Barry were caretakers at the time, and James Michael Brown was a youth worker.

Brown, who liked to be called “Jimmy”, was about 25. During school holidays in 1975, Mr D’Ammond was to be the only boy left at the home. Brown offered to look after him.

Mr D’Ammond has told the royal commission he said yes because Brown had a hot rod.

The inquiry has heard Brown knew Peter Rushton.

James Brown was a volunteer with the Anglican Church at Kurri Kurri.

James Brown was a volunteer with the Anglican Church at Kurri Kurri.

Mr D’Ammond says this sexual abuse went on for two weeks, getting worse and worse.

Mr D’Ammond told the commission Jimmy started to take him out on weekends regularly but there were many times when Mr D’Ammond would muck up at the boys home so the matron would ground him and not allow him to leave for the weekend.

James Brown became a board member of the children’s home. Mr D’Ammond said he was openly naughty and did wrong things in an attempt to stop Brown from taking him away from the home for weekends, but it didn’t help.

"I see Rushton as a tradesman and Jimmy as his apprentice. Rushton infiltrated the boys home by just being a priest and brought Jimmy in,"

Mr D'Ammond.

“1975 and 1976 were the bad years. I did not tell anyone and I had no-one to tell,” Mr D’Ammond said.

Survivor: Phillip D'Ammond.

Survivor: Phillip D'Ammond.

He has told the commission Brown took him to Rushton’s house where he was abused. Sometimes married Anglican priest Michael Cooper “would come to Jim’s house and watch hard core pornographic videos that Jim had. He would do this while I was in the room with him.”

"Within 20 minutes of being in his home, he offered me alcohol, which I took. By the time it was bed, I was drunk,"

Mr D'Ammond.

Brown stopped sexually abusing Mr D’Ammond after he punched him at the age of 15. Soon after, Brown became his legal guardian.

Mr D’Ammond said he started using marijuana and LSD. Drug abuse “later became a way of life for me to avoid facing reality and memories of Jim’s abuse”. He became addicted to drugs, got involved in crime and was jailed. Brown visited him at Cessnock jail.

“During the day it was about working on the hot rod, going shopping, normal things, but at night Jimmy would assault me,”

Mr D'Ammond.

Mr D’Ammond explained why he continued to have contact with Brown, despite the abuse. Brown was MC at his wedding.

“I didn’t want to be in the world on my own and this was a dilemma about reporting him,” Mr D’Ammond said.

"It was like he was putting me on a pedestal to show me off, what he had, but didn't want to share me with Michael Cooper,"

Mr D'Ammond.

In 1989 Brown visited Mr D’Ammond in jail and told him he had moved to the Baptist Church.

“I put two and two together with this. The Anglican Church knew about him and he just moved down the road to the Baptist church.”

"I was 15 and did not want him to do this anymore,"

Mr D'Ammond.

Mr D’Ammond decided to stop Brown abusing boys. In 1996 he made a complaint to Newcastle police station, but he did not want to pursue the matter while he was in jail on another matter.

In 1997 he made complaints to Cessnock, Newcastle, Maitland, Kurri Kurri and Burwood police stations.

“The barrister for Jim used to be the Bishop’s private legal adviser, Paul Rosser,” Mr D’Ammond has told the commission.

The matter against Brown did not proceed. In 2010 Brown was charged with further offences involving other victims.

In 2012 Jim was convicted of abusing other victims including Mr D’Ammond, who told the commission Jim pleaded guilty so he didn’t have to go to trial. The commission heard Paul Rosser represented Jim again.


Hearing resumes after lunch.

“He was aggressive and hammered me. He made me out to be like the devil saving I was just looking for money. He went hard representing Jimmy. The defence went through each charge and just ripped me apart,"

Mr D'Ammond.


The commission is breaking for lunch. We will be back with our live coverage shortly. If you would like to join the conversation on Twitter, use the hashtag #shinethelight.

For background information on the hearing, here are some stories written by Joanne McCarthy in October and November 2010.

  • Newcastle Anglican Bishop Brian Farran has revealed allegations that well-known priest Father Peter Rushton was a serial child sex abuser throughout his 40-year career in the Hunter. More here.
  • It has been revealed that Newcastle Anglican priest Father Peter Rushton priest whose long-term "involvement in the sexual abuse of minors", sat on church panels that investigated child sex abuse allegations for more than a decade, church records show.
  • Shock allegations of a possible paedophile network that included the late Newcastle Anglican priest Peter Rushton have been heightened after confirmation a former Wallsend parish colleague of Father Rushton's was jailed for child sex offences.
  • The Anglican diocese of Newcastle announced Professional Standards Board hearings involving a former church worker and four clergy, including retired dean of Newcastle Graeme Lawrence.

Survivor Paul Gray tells his story


Newcastle Anglican Bishop Greg Thompson was at day one of the hearing.

Newcastle Anglican Bishop Greg Thompson was at day one of the hearing.

Mr Gray has asked for one minute silence for all victims who could no longer face the struggle of carrying the scars of their childhood abuse another day and chose to end their suffering by taking their own lives.

A one minute silence was granted.

“We’re very happy just before we take the luncheon adjournment we might just all reflect upon these matters and the tragedy that it represents for so many people who have suffered in this way,” Justice McClellan said.


Barrister for Bishop Farran, Mr Hazlewood, has asked Mr Gray if he might have been mistaken about a meeting Mr Gray said he had with Bishop Farran.  Mr Gray said he was not sure. He was told it was Bishop Farran.

Mr Hazlewood told the inquiry Bishop Farran retired in 2012.


Mr Gray was questioned about a full page advertisement placed by the Newcastle Anglican diocese, in which it said it had paid $5 million on redress.

He said if you divided $5 million by 250 victims, it represented $20,000.

“What’s the real cost to families? What’s the real cost to society?

"We are deeply conscious of the impact which the sexual abuse of children may have upon their subsequent lives,"

Royal Commission chair Justice Peter McClellan.


Royal commission resumes.

"This article triggered me and I felt a lot of anger after seeing it,"

Mr Gray.

Mr Gray said he was told in 2010 about a newspaper article in which Peter Rushton was identified as a child sex offender.

Mr Gray had a breakdown in the period after that.

Mr Gray said diocese professional standards director Michael Elliott arranged for the diocese to pay for support at a private hospital and the Heal for Life Foundation.

Mr Gray said when he asked for further support from the church it was refused. He was treated at James Fletcher Hospital. He later took legal action against the diocese after he was told the church would no longer pay for his treatment.

Mr Gray has told the inquiry about communication with the diocese from April, 2012 after a psychologist recommended he have intensive treatment.

The diocese, in a letter, said it would not pay for the treatment “Where no notable outcomes were apparently achieved”.  The diocese settled in June 2013.

“Throughout the process of dealing with the church, I felt that the response of the church was not adequate in any way, shape or form,” Mr Gray said.

It had not shown an understanding how long it takes for survivors “to come to terms with, and attempt to address their abuse”, he said.

“What is the cost of losing your friend, your parent, your partner, your sibling or your child to suicide because of sexual abuse. Now tell me the real cost,"

Mr Gray


Mr Gray has asked to take a short break. Justice McClellan has left the inquiry room to allow Mr Gray time to compose himself.

Read more about Mr Gray’s story here.


"On August 25, 2012, i was admitted to the trauma and disassociation unit at Belmont Hospital...I paid for the admission myself,"

Mr Gray.

Mr Gray said on many occasions father Peter Rushton would cut Mr Gray’s back with a small knife and smear his blood on his back – which was symbolic of the blood of Christ –  as he continued to rape him.

After the sexual intercourse, Mr Gray said Mr Rushton would clean his wounds.

Mr Paul Gray tells the inquiry a woman walked into a room where he was performing oral sex on Father Peter Rushton, and walked out.

“I’m not aware whether she reported this incident to anyone, or to the police,” Mr Gray said. He was just a child at the time.

Mr Gray  is in tears giving evidence about being sexually assaulted by five men at a church camp.

He said he recalls a man saying “We are going to get you”, and being chased to a cliff and raped by two men.

"Heal for Life Foundation is a place that's mainly supported by volunteers who are all survivors of childhood sexual abuse and that's why it works,"

Mr Gray

Justice McClellan has just asked Mr Gray if he would like counsel assisting to read his statement.

Mr Gray said “No, I need to read it. It’s important to me.”

Paul Gray was abused by Anglican priest Peter Rushton and a paedophile ring in Cessnock in the 1960s. He is calling on other survivors to share their stories to the Royal Commission.

Paul Gray was abused by Anglican priest Peter Rushton and a paedophile ring in Cessnock in the 1960s. He is calling on other survivors to share their stories to the Royal Commission.

Mr Gray said Rushton was his godfather as well as being an Anglican priest.

When he was 13, he said Rushton took him to St Alban’s Children’s Home at Cessnock, took him to what was called the “ room”, where he was raped by three men.

He was taken to St Alban’s by Rushton on a regular basis, where he would be assaulted by different men.

“While at St Alban’s I would usually be locked in the room at the end of the hall, sometimes for hours at a time. Different men would visit me in this room and either rape me or make me perform oral sex on them,” he said.

"When i was about 10 and a half years old, father Peter Rushton anally raped me at his bedroom at his property in West Cost Street,"

Mr Gray.

From time to time one of the caretakers at St Alban’s Mrs Barry, “would let me out of the room”.

“I also recall that Mr Barry, the person I call the gatekeeper, would keep me quiet before and after the abuse by beating me.”

Mr Gray has told the inquiry about a man called Frank who raped him with a wooden implement while two others watched.


The Royal Commission is taking a short break. We will be back to continue with our live coverage shortly. In the meantime, you can join in the conversation on Twitter using the hashtag #shinethelight.

Care Leavers Australia Network (CLAN) outside the Newcastle Royal Commission on Tuesday, August 2.

Care Leavers Australia Network (CLAN) outside the Newcastle Royal Commission on Tuesday, August 2.

In the meantime, read Joanne McCarthy’s story on the Anglican Day of reckoning here.

Opening address 

"When i was about 13 years old, Father Peter Rushton took me to St Alban's Home for Boys and left me with three men. The men led me into what they called the 'fucking room' and took turns raping me,"

Mr Gray.

Evidence given by Bishop of Diocese Greg Thompson

Bishop Greg Thompson will give evidence that in 1976, when he was 19, he met Canon Eric Barker, a senior member of the diocese. Canon Barker made sexual advances to him that he rejected.

Bishop Thompson was introduced to Bishop Ian Shevill. He is expected to give evidence both clergymen indecently assaulted him on one occasion and that Canon Barker told him if he wanted to get into ministry in the Newcastle diocese, “he would have to have a relationship with Barker”.

Bishop Thompson will give evidence people who have historically held positions of influence in the diocese have also “acted as advocates or legal representatives of alleged offenders”.

“It is expected that such potential conflicts of interest will be explored during this public hearing”.   

Culture at Morpeth College

The inquiry will hear from Professor Patrick Parkinson, who says a study by him identified 135 alleged perpetrators across 17 dioceses. He said 14 were identified as having trained at Morpeth College, which he described as a “troubling anomaly”.

Evidence will show Peter Rushton, Graeme Lawrence, CKC and convicted offender Reverend Alan Kitchingman were at Morpeth college at the same time, in around 1963.

Bishop Brian Farran was also at Morpeth college in that year, the hearing was told.

Former Morpeth College principal Reverned Lance Johnston will give evidence his two daughters were sexually abused by a college student, Robert Ellmore.

The inquiry will hear evidence that Graeme Lawrence held key positions on Anglican Church.

The inquiry will also hear evidence about allegations that Lawrence sexually abused children. The allegation was raised with Sydney Archbishop Harry Goodhew, who in turn raised it with Bishop Roger Herft in 1996, the inquiry heard. A file note suggests that Lawrence denied the allegation to Bishop Herft. Bishop Herft and Goodhew will be asked about the matter.

Critical delay by church

Retired NSW magistrate Colin Elliot will give evidence critical of the delay by Bishop Farran to enact the board’s recommendations against the four priests and a teacher. 

The inquiry will hear there was a considerable delay in enacting a risk management strategy after the hearings, and while Lawrence and Goyette were at the parish of Adamstown.

Adamstown priest Rev Chris Bird will give evidence on that matter.

Mrs Jean Sanders was the chair of the diocesan committee for allegations of sexual misconduct between 2001 and 2004 .

She has outlined the steps she took to do her work.

Mr Michael Elliott will give evidence the diocese is “harbouring a large number of active offenders with little or no accountability in place”.

Mr John Cleary, the diocese business manager, will give evidence there has been a “culture of support” for offenders.

Experiences of survivor CKH

Hearing will consider evidence about survivor CKH. He will say that in 1980, when he was 14, Reverend Andrew Duncan performed oral sex on him. He will give evidence the sex continued for years.

When Duncan moved to Newcastle diocese he came into contact with Graeme Lawrence, Bruce Hoare and Graham Sturt. 

Hunter Anglican priest Robert Ellmore.

Hunter Anglican priest Robert Ellmore.

“It is anticipated that CKH will give evidence that Duncan’s sexual abuse of him led to sexual encounters with each of these men.”

CKH will give evidence that when he was 15, Lawrence became aware of the sexual relationship involving Duncan. Lawrence commenced a sexual relationship with CKH from that point.

The inquiry will hear when CKH was 17 he also commenced a sexual relationship with Greg Goyette, Lawrence’s long-term partner .

CKH will say he first outlined the sexual abuse in a complaint to the diocese of Melbourne in 2009.

Newcastle Bishop Brian Farran stood down the five men. Professional standards director Michael Elliott referred matters to police.

Bishop Brian Farran's final service at Christ Church Cathedral on Saturday. It was his 68th birthday. Picture: Ryan Osland

Bishop Brian Farran's final service at Christ Church Cathedral on Saturday. It was his 68th birthday. Picture: Ryan Osland

Police requested Mr Elliott not to proceed with a professional standards inquiry. By August police advised no charges would be undertaken and Mr Elliott initiated a professional standards investigation and hearing.

Hearing recommended clergy be deposed from holy orders and Goyette be permanently banned from holding any position within the Education Department.

The inquiry heard the professional standards board announced the findings publicly.

Bishop Farran later wrote to the president of the professional standards board that this placed him in “unnecessary and unfortunate pressured environment”.

There will be evidence that Bishop Farran was reluctant to act on some of the board’s recommendations.

The hearing will consider evidence about a confidential file note from 2010 recording that Bishop Farran intended not to act on the recommendations on the basis that it would be “catastrophic” for the diocese and that “Lawrence’s sphere of influence in the diocese was extremely large”.

Evidence from Ian Barrack

Former Dean Graeme Lawrence.

Former Dean Graeme Lawrence.

The commission will also hear evidence about Ian Barrack, a student priest at St John’s Theological College at Morpeth. He was convicted of sexually assaulting the son of a college student and later jailed. The royal commission will hear evidence that Barrack was fixated on the boy.

The boy, CKU, will give evidence he reported the abuse to police in 2002 but did not hear from police for three years. 

"CKH says at this time he had no awareness of the differences between gay sex conducted in secret and sex with a minor conducted in secret,"

Ms Sharp

CKU is expected to give evidence that Lawrence, the then Dean of Newcastle, wrote a reference for Barrick at his sentencing hearing. CKU will also tell of his distress when the diocese provided support for Barrack at the court case, but not CKU or his mother, a priest.

The mother, CKR, will give evidence that Barrack gave her son a toy “which consisted of a man with an erect penis thrusting his penis into a sheep’s backside”. CKR said she reported this to archdeacon Bruce Hoare and he laughed, although he was in a supervisory role at Morpeth college.

Hoare said he would speak to Bishop Herft, the inquiry heard.

CKR will give evidence she later discovered that day was the selection conference for Barrick at Morpeth college.  Despite her complaint, Barrack was permitted to remain at the college for another year. CKR reported the abuse to Hoare in 2002. The inquiry was told Hoare said he would report it to Bishop Herft.

In early 2003 CKR helped another family where the son had been sexually abused by a man associated with the diocese. CKR observed Mr Rosser, QC at the court during the Barrack case. She is expected to give evidence about the unfair processes adopted by the diocese during this time. 

Archbishop Roger Herft is expected to give evidence about this.

CKA, CKB to give evidence of sexual abuse by priest CKC

Boys CKA and CKB from a devout family, became altar boys.

CKA will give evidence of sexual abuse by priest CKC between the ages of 10 and 14, between 1971 and 1975.

CKA will tell the inquiry the abuse occurred at least fortnightly and included digital and anal penetration and oral sex.

CKA and CKB will both say they were sexually abused by priest CKC when they had to stay for a weekend at the priest’s house. They will give evidence they told their mother.

"Barrack told CKU he loved him. Barrack showed CKU pornography including child pornography,"

Ms Sharp.

Royal commission will also hear evidence about  priest CKC, licensed in the 1960s, worked closely with Newcastle Dean Graeme Lawrence. CKC sexually abused two brothers, commission told.

The boys’ older brother, CKL, will give evidence that a few months after the abuse, he took his mother to a “churchy-looking sandstone building”, which he assumed was Bishop Ian Shevill’s house.

"In October 1998, CKR discovered that Barrack had given her son a toy which consisted of a man with an errect penis thrusting his penis into a sheep's backside,"

Ms Sharp.

CKL will say his mother went in to “tell off” the bishop, but returned to the car after 20 minutes crying uncontrollably. CKA will tell the inquiry he told Bishop Richard Appleby about the abuse in 1984. Bishop Appleby will say he was not made aware of the allegations. CKA is also expected to say that in 1996 and 1999 he phoned the diocese’s sexual abuse hotline, and the calls were answered by Dean Graeme Lawrence.

Graeme Lawrence consulted Bishop Roger Herft. A meeting was arranged, but CKA will say he did not trust the church. Chancellor Paul Rosser, QC, was consulted and a letter from the diocese acknowledged CKA’s right to report the alleged abuse to the police.

In 2000 CKA and CKB went to police. The priest CKC retained Mr Rosser as his defence counsel and Mr Keith Allen, a senior diocese member, as his solicitor.

The case was eventually no-billed. 

The diocese released a statement after the case that incorrectly stated CKC was acquitted.



In 2010 CKA received a public apology from the diocese.

Over the next two years he alleged he had been sexually assaulted to a much larger extent than he had previously disclosed.


Bishop Roger Herft made aware of various allegations that Rushton sexually abused boys, royal commission public hearing told.

Ms Burns will give evidence Bishop Appleby and the boy’s father said they were aware of the allegations and that Brown would be moved to a parish being run by Rushton.

Colvin Ford will give evidence. He was the archdeacon of the upper Hunter in the diocese in 1998. 

Ms Burns will give evidence Bishop Appleby and the boy’s father said they were aware of the allegations and that Brown would be moved to a parish being run by Rushton.

Ms Therese Burns, a diocese youth worker, will give evidence about being called to a meeting in 1987 after she was told about a 15-year-old being abused by Brown.

Royal commission will hear from Susan Aslin who will give evidence she was concerned about Rushton and Brown fostering boys from St Alban’s.

Mrs Aslin will say she expressed her concerns to Bishop Alfred Holland.

Commission will also hear from Ms Pam Wilson, a parishioner, who will say a priest told her his son was abused by Rushton.

Counsel Assisting Naomi Sharp gives the opening address at the opening day of the Royal Commission into Institutional Responses to Child Sexual Abuse public hearing into the Anglican Diocese of Newcastle. Picture: Jeremy Piper

Counsel Assisting Naomi Sharp gives the opening address at the opening day of the Royal Commission into Institutional Responses to Child Sexual Abuse public hearing into the Anglican Diocese of Newcastle. Picture: Jeremy Piper

Bishop Holland will be asked about her allegations.

Ms Wilson will give evidence Rushton threatened her when he became aware of her speaking to others about her concerns.

Philip D’Ammond will also give evidnece that in 1975 he met Father Michael Cooper at Brown’s house.

It is expected that Philip D’Ammond will say that during 1976 and 1977 he sometimes watched hard core pronographic vidoes with both Cooper and Brown.

Paul Gray will give evidence of being taken to children’s home to be locked in a room and raped by men. Mr Gray will say Peter Rushton took him to St Alban’s home and one of the caretakers, Ron Barry, would keep him quiet by beating him.

Bishop Roger Herft greets Br Samson Amoni in 2005. Picture: Brock Perks

Bishop Roger Herft greets Br Samson Amoni in 2005. Picture: Brock Perks

The Royal Commission will hear evidence from Paul Gray - a survivor of Rushton and others.

Background information on James Michael Brown:

James Michael Brown - Jim Brown - currently in jail. In the 1970s Brown was a youth worker at St Alban’s and became a management committee member in 1977.

Former Newcastle Anglican Bishop Richard Appleby will give evidence at the royal commission.

Former Newcastle Anglican Bishop Richard Appleby will give evidence at the royal commission.

Brown interviewed by Bishop Richard Appleby for an honourary deacon’s position, but went on to become involved with the Baptist Church.

Paul Rosser, QC then deputy chancellor of Newcastle diocese, acted for James Brown during committal hearing in late 1990s.  All charged dismissed at committal.

Brown charged again in 2010 and convicted of offences against 20 boys. Paul Rosser QC represented Brown again. Ms Sharp will say more about Mr Rosser, she told the royal commission.

Brown told professional standards director Michael Elliott said he “felt groomed into a culture within the Anglican diocese of Newcastle where sexual abuse of boys was accepted as the norm”      

Background information on Peter Rushton:

Peter Rushton named. Born in 1940, completed diploma in theology at Morpeth college in 1963. Ordained as a priest in 1964. Met survivor Paul Gray in Cessnock at that time. In 1967 Rushton transferred to Wyong, then to Weston in 1968.During this period Rushton became chaplain to St Alban’s Children’s home at Cessnock.

Rushton retired in 2001 and died in 2007, having never been charged with child sex offences, although the diocese later acknowledged he was an offender.

"Cooper rubbed Philip on the inside of his leg but Philip rebuffed his advances,"

Ms Sharp.


Counsel assisting Naomi Sharp opens her address.

"Paul was locked in a room for hours at a time and men would enter the room and rape him. He says that one of the caretakers Ron Barry would keep him quiet by beating him,"

Ms Sharp.

Newcastle diocese established in 1847, stretching from the Central Coast to the Manning and Paterson areas in the north, and the Hunter region. 

Newcastle Anglican diocese is largely Anglo Catholic in theology, explains why many of the priests in the diocese refer to themselves as Father rather than Reverend.

"Philip D’Ammond will say that in the holidays, during 1977, Brown took another boy from St Alban’s as well. He saw them having anal sex,"

Ms Sharp

Newcastle Bishops Ian Shevill (1973-77), Bishop Alfred Holland (1978-1992), Bishop Roger Herft (1992-2005), Bishop Brian Farran (2005-2012) and current Bishop Greg Thompson (2012 to the present.)

The Chancellor’s canon 2001, makes explicit he acts primarily as legal advisor to the bishop.

"Brown generally met the boys through church activities and often got them intoxicated prior to engaging in sexual activity,"

Ms Sharp.

This case study focuses on nine clergy and laypeople who offended against boys.


State of NSW applying through Ian Temby, QC asking for a pseudonym and non-publication direction in relation to the lifting of a pseudonym for a witness known as CKC. Mr Temby has told the commission if the order over CKC is lifted, it is likely to interfere with the course of criminal justice - something the commission “would wish to avoid”.

Peter Rushton.

Peter Rushton.

Justice McClellan told Mr Temby the commission would be reluctant to do other than proceed in public. He asked why this particular person would fall into a category requiring a suppression order.     Justice McClellan said CKC does seem to “fall perhaps into a different category”, but there are no present charges against him.

Mr Temby said the matter “is presently under consideration by senior counsel”.

"He was never charged with any child sexual abuse offence although the diocese acknowledges he was a child sex offender,"

Ms Sharp

Said it was likely there will be fresh charges against CKC, perhaps by an ex officio indictment, a “likelihood that there will be fresh proceedings commenced”.

At some stage “there is likely to be a jury trial”.  

Justice McClellan asked “How could the royal commission prejudice that trial?”       

"This is the sixth public hearing that relates to the Anglican Church,"

Ms Sharp.

Mr Temby: "we make clear that we have no interest in protecting the individual concerned or any other individual and so far as we are concerned, let the evidence emerge, but we do submit that the safe and prudent course is to maintain the pseudonym and non-publications directions so far as CKC is concerned."

Justice McClellan has ruled it would be imprudent for him to do anything at this point on CKC pending further advice.

Justice McClellan has raised questions about another five people who may have been the subject of a non-publication order, but Mr Temby has said he may wish to re-apply further.

Mr McClellan said anonymity for the five “would strike at a very significant part of the hearing that is about to commence. I would be very reluctant to do that.”

"The diocese has a professional standards board and committee, dealing with disciplinary matters involving clergy,"

Ms Sharp.


Royal Commission chair Justice Peter McClellan is seated and the Newcastle Anglican diocese public hearing has started.   


Good morning and welcome to The Herald’s live coverage of the Royal Commission into Institutional Responses to Child Sexual Abuse public hearing in the Newcastle Anglican diocese. 

The commission will hear the past and present systems, policies and practices in place within the Anglican Diocese of Newcastle for responding to child sexual abuse. The experiences of survivors of child sexual abuse perpetrated by clergy and lay people involved or associated with the diocese will also be heard.

The commissioners will be Justice Peter McClellan, Commissioner Bob Atkinson and Commissioner Robert Fitzgerald. Counsel assisting will be Naomi Sharp.

"It's rather ironic for you to be making this application Mr Temby, given your previous professional roles,"

Royal Commission chair Justice Peter McClellan.

Reporter Joanne McCarthy will have live updates as the commission unfolds.

You can follow our coverage and join in the conversation on Twitter using the hashtag #shinethelight.

Confirmed: Royal Commissioner Justice Peter McClellan. A public hearing into the Newcastle Anglican diocese will be held in Newcastle from August 2.

Confirmed: Royal Commissioner Justice Peter McClellan. A public hearing into the Newcastle Anglican diocese will be held in Newcastle from August 2.

This story Live coverage: Day one of the Newcastle child sexual abuse royal commission first appeared on Newcastle Herald.