Gregory Sutton. Royal Commission.
Gregory Sutton. Royal Commission. The Northern Star Archives

Teacher who sexually abused 10yo told her he would kill her

A CHILD-abusing teacher told a 10-year-old victim he would kill her entire family if she outed him when he took a transfer to a Lismore Catholic School, the royal commission has heard.

Gregory Sutton, a former Marist Brother who was allowed to teach at schools across Australia and the US before finally being extradited to NSW and jailed in the late 90s, already had a swath of victims when he was given a job at St Carthages in1985.

At his previous school, St Thomas Moore at Campbelltown, two young girls had endured a year of being fondled, abused and forced to commit sexual acts on Sutton and each other while he watched on.

One witness, known as ADM, told the commission she and her best friend were in Sutton's Grade 5 class when he befriended them and began asking them to sit on either side of his lap before eventually asking if he could "go inside" her pants.

As time went on, Sutton became more aggressive in his behaviour, asking the girls to see him before class or after hours and abusing them in the school storage room, often asking them to kiss each other and sending them back to class with a bottle of glue or paint to hide what had really occurred.

ADM recalled an occasion where Sutton took her into the storeroom, told her the best friend was "a better kisser but you are better at the other stuff", took off his robe and forced her to masturbate him.

When another teacher became suspicious she was warned "we have to be more careful" and when her parents asked her why her teacher wanted to see her of a weekend, ADM lied and said it was because she and her friend - known to the commission as ADQ - were in trouble.

"My parents were so angry at me...at the time I knew what Brother Greg was doing to me was wrong but I felt I couldn't tell mum and dad because it shouldn't have been happening" she said

"I thought that I would be the one that got into trouble".

In her submission to the royal commission ADQ said Sutton had gone as far as to warn on may occasions - including a time when he forced her get on the ground as he removed his pants and said "kiss it" - that "if someone sees us, I will kill your parents and brother and sister and then you will have no one to love".

"What he said was enough to scare me from telling anyone other than (ADM) about what he was doing to me...I was only 10 and I believed he would kill my parents if I told them," she said

"To this day, I still find it hard to talk about."

One morning, before class had started, Sutton told ADM "I'm leaving and going to Lismore at the end of the year".

When she asked "are you going to do it to anyone there?", Sutton replied "I'm not sure".

In the years to come Sutton would abuse three more children at St Carthages.

The commission will explore whether the Lismore Catholic Education Office knew of Sutton's past when they hired him and whether Sutton was sent away on a one-year "renewal program" "because of the concerns about sexual offending with children" and if his superiors were aware of that offending when he was allowed to return to the school and commit further offences.

Former education director John Kelly will have the chance to answer those questions when he takes the stand later this week.

Victims of abuse can seek support and counselling by calling the Victim's Access Line on 1800 633 063 or Heartfelt House Northern Rivers on (02) 6628 8940


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