VICTIMS of sex abuse at a Hamilton school in the 1970s will sue the Catholic Church for failing to protect them.
A former brother, Edward Mamo, has been jailed for ordering five students to remove their pants and bend over before striking them with a leather strap.
Mamo, 68, was jailed for two years and three months yesterday after pleading guilty to seven counts of indecent assault at Monivae College over a four-year period in the 1970s.
Three of his victims — some now living in Warrnambool — have accused the school’s operator, Missionaries of the Sacred Heart (MSC), of covering up the abuse.
“When we reported it, did (MSC) tell the authorities?” one victim asked outside the court.
“Did they even tell our parents or give us any counselling?
“They just enabled it to go on night after night. ”
The victims are now preparing a civil case against MSC and urged any other victims to come forward and join the action.
“We worry that we are the tip of the iceberg,” one said.
“We are gravely concerned that these crimes were covered up at the time.”
The Victorian County Court heard Mamo would often touch himself and make comments to the students while hitting them, under the guise or corporal punishment.
He also assaulted two other boys by seductively massaging the chest of one and fondling the genitals of the other while wrestling with him on a school bus.
In a statement released after Mamo was jailed, the victims said: “After more than 30 years we can now rest with the satisfaction that Edward Mamo has been brought to justice.
“We take comfort in knowing he will never be able to perpetrate sexual abuse on any children in the future.”
The victims’ statement said if the MSC had referred these matters to the police when Mamo’s sexual abuse was originally reported, “we would not have had to live with this shameful and painful secret for all these years”.
“Any responsible person would understand that child sexual abuse should be referred to the police.
“It should not be asking too much to expect the church to report child sexual assault to the police.”
Mamo was aged 31 to 35 at the time of his offending and assaulted schoolboys as young as 11.
Judge Leckie said Mamo was guilty of a serious breach of trust.
“You breached that duty of care by sexually interfering with them,” he said.
As a brother, Mamo had been “responsible for the welfare and safety of these boys” and the impact of his offending on his victims had been profound, he said.
“They suffered and continue to suffer emotional and psychological trauma as a result of your offending.”
Judge Leckie said Mamo, of Sydney, had demonstrated a measure of remorse by offering his guilty plea as an apology for the hurt and harm he had caused the victims.
He was jailed for a total of two years and three months with a non-parole period of 18 months and placed on the serious sex offenders register for life.
THE AGE and AAP