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Convicted of child sexual abuse, and sent to Rome

Posted by on 18/07/2018

Jailed: Brother Desmond “Neil” Richards

CHRISTIAN Brother Desmond “Neil” Richards committed his first crime against a child in 1962, was found guilty of crimes against another child in 2006, escaped a jail sentence, moved to Rome, and was caught when he returned to Australia in 2013.

On Friday he will be sentenced for crimes against threemore students, including two from St Edward’s College, East Gosford, where Richards worked in the 1970s.

Richards, 75, is already in jail after pleading guilty in November, 2014 to indecently assaulting four boys at Catholic schools in Albury, Wagga Wagga and Strathfield between 1972 and 1982.

A former East Gosford student who spoke to police in 2014 and heard Richards recently plead guilty to crimes against him, said it was sickening to hear in court this week that the first allegations against Richards were “on record” as early as 1962, only a year after Richards startedteaching as a Christian Brother.

Richards sexually abused the former student more than 15 years after he first sexually abuseda child, a period during which he movedhis way up the ranks of hisorder.

“The Christian Brothers hid hisabuse and kept moving him from school to school. His abuse of young boys continued so theysent him to Rome (in 2009) to hide him from the police and former victims,” the former East Gosford student said.

While in Rome Richards was responsible for the Christian Brothers Oceania (Australia and the Pacific) website. He was arrested when he returned to Australia in late 2013.

The former East Gosford student said he was in years 5 and 6 in 1977-78 when Richards was principal of the St Edwards College primary school.

“I was 10 years of age and suffered twoyears of physical and sexual abuse very much on a daily basis,” he said.

In 2014 Richards pleaded guilty to sexual offences against four boys between 1972 and 1982, although he said he had no memory of the incidents.

The court in 2014 heard evidence Richards regularly strapped boys after sexually abusing them, and the Catholic Church and the Christian Brothers were repeatedly warned that Richards was sexually abusing young male students.

‘‘He was brutal,’’ a victim said.

Richards was given a two-year suspended jail sentence in March 2006 after a Gosford jury found him guilty of indecently assaulting a former Central Coast student.

He will be sentenced at noon on Friday in Sydney for offences against two other East Gosford students and another three former students from schools in other parts of NSW.

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