Christian Brother 'a sadistic predator'

AAP/July 25, 2011

A Christian Brother who pleaded guilty to horrendous, serial sex offences against boys he taught has been labelled a "mentally deranged sadist" and the Catholic Church accused of complicity in his crimes.

In an emotionally-charged pre-sentence hearing, victims of Robert Charles Best, 70, told a Melbourne court on Monday how he had destroyed their lives, their self worth and their families.

"He is a mentally deranged sadist...a f***ing pervert and his Christianity doesn't mean a thing," one of his victims said.

Now in his 30s, the man was in grade 6 at St Joseph's in Geelong when Best, whose name he can't bear to utter, repeatedly assaulted him.

On one occasion in 1986 Best assaulted him in the presence of another Christian Brother, referred to as Brother W, who also participated in the assault.

The court heard that the man asked Brother W if he should tell his father what happened.

He was told: "No you can't do that, this is our secret."

"You did really well, we will call you again for another meeting."

The same man condemned the church's support of Best through his latest and previous trials.

"In choosing to battle, the church's and (Best's) dogged defence of their crimes has worked to rub salt into the wounds they inflicted," he said.

"The church's support of this monster during his crimes and later during his defence demonstrates complicity in the assaults."

Another of Best's victims turned in the witness box, his face twisted in anguish, to directly face the man who had violated him when he was a primary school student.

"You coldly exploited me," he said as he pointed at Best.

"You set off an erosion of my psyche."

The man, who was a primary school student at St Alipius in Ballarat, one of three Victorian schools at which Best committed his crimes, broke down and was unable to complete his statement.

Yet another victim, who was a nine-year-old in grade three at St Alipius when Best raped him, said he was bashed by another brother and a priest when he told them what had occurred.

The court heard the boy first told another of his teachers, Brother Fitzgerald, who responded by beating him.

Brother Fitzgerald, who is dead, asked the boy again what happened. When he repeated the claim he was struck again.

Prosecutor Amanda Forrester told the court the boy could not bring himself to tell his parents so he approached a Catholic priest.

Ms Forrest said the priest responded with a "backhander" and threatened his life.

"He told him 'If you tell anyone what happened I will f***ing kill you'," Ms Forrester said.

On one occasion, Brother Fitzgerald walked into a room where Best was raping a boy and forcing one of his schoolmates to lick the victim's buttocks.

Brother Fitzgerald merely chuckled and closed the door, the court heard.

After initially being charged with 43 offences against 14 boys and maintaining his innocence through a number of trials, Best admitted 27 offences against 11 boys.

But the prosecutor said he had demonstrated no remorse and shown no insight into his crimes.

He had also declined to participate in a sexual offenders' rehabilitation course.

In court he sat impassively, listening to his victims as they told their stories of despair.

They spoke of the sometimes uncontrollable anger that has stayed with them, sometimes for more than 30 years, of hostility toward authority, chronic depression, alcohol and drug abuse, inability to maintain relationships and of the loss of their families.

One man said he had attempted suicide and the court heard of one of Best's alleged victims who had taken his own life.

The prosecution has called for a sentence totalling at least 16 years.

County Court Judge Roy Punshon will sentence Best on August 8.

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