The former principal of the old St Joseph's Primary School in Warrnambool has pleaded guilty to new sex assault allegations.
Rex Francis Elmer, 75, also known as Brother Ignatius, pleaded guilty in the Melbourne County Court last week to the indecent assault of two boys while he was a dormitory master at the former St Vincent's Boys' Home in South Melbourne.
It was not his first case.
Elmer entered his guilty plea on Monday last week and his bail was extended until his next court appearance in July.
The Age reported court documents showed Elmer was charged in 2018 with 19 counts of indecent assault and one of false imprisonment in relation to three victims in 1975.
Allegations of sex abuse in 1975 led to Elmer being moved from St Vincent's to take up the position of principal at St Joseph's Primary School in Warrnambool.
In 1981 he was moved from Warrnambool after more allegations were made of abuse at St Vincent's.
The old St Joseph's Primary School was previously run by the Christian Brothers under the umbrella of the Warrnambool Christian Brothers College.
It was a separate entity from the current St Joseph's Primary School in Botanic Road.
Emmanuel College principal Peter Morgan said he had nodetails or information in relation to the current Elmer case.
"However, I endorse the legal process underway and trust justice will be done in this and all cases of abuse towards children," he said.
"The college continues to stand in solidarity with the victims and survivors of abuse and we are supportive of victims having the access and opportunity for legal redress and the support of their community in doing so."
St Joseph's Primary School principal Michael Gray referred to the case in this week's school newsletter.
"In The Age story the reporter mentioned a St Joseph's school, I believe this was one of the original schools started by the Christian Brothers in Warrnambool," he wrote.
"In 1935 our current St Joseph's Parish Primary School was started at the old Lava Street site, now Koala Childcare. Our St Joseph's Parish Primary School was then re-located to the Botanic Road site here in Warrnambool and opened in 1986.
"At the time of the charges against a Brother Elmer he was at the Christian Brothers College which did have a boys primary school section.
"In 1981 the Christian Brothers ceased providing primary education. From my understanding, when the junior section of CBC was closed some of the boys transferred to local Catholic parish primary schools.
"The early sponsors and founders of our St Joseph's Parish Primary School were lay parishioners, various parish priests and the Sisters of Mercy. The principals in the early days of St Joseph's Parish Primary School were Sisters of Mercy and in our latter year's laypeople.
"With the above said St Joseph's Parish Primary School continues to vigorously support sex abuse disclosure and will support all victims of any abuse.
"We acknowledge the monumental betrayal of trust these events cause and that truth is important to on-going support and help. Our current procedures, policies, culture and action support and build a child-safe community.
"St Joseph's Parish Primary School is both a nurturing and happy environment for all and we are ready to support whoever needs our help."
According to The Age, in 1988 Elmer was sent to Tanzania to set up a new Edmund Rice school (named after the order's founder).
He left Africa after yet more accusations surfaced, and was sent to the United States in 1995 for treatment at a centre for pedophile priests.
Elmer was first charged in 1997 with 69 counts related to the indecent assault of 12 boys at the orphanage. The next year he admitted to 12 counts of indecent assault.
He was sentenced to five years in prison, with a minimum of three years and four months.
In 1976, he was removed from his post at the Cecil Street orphanage, where he had been responsible for up to 40 children at a time, days after a visiting welfare officer complained to the head of the home that he had "interfered with" boys there.
In a letter to the orphanage's superior, the Provincial of the Christian Brothers, Brother Patrick Naughtin, wrote a week after the complaint: "I have interviewed Br Elmer and discussed this position with him. He is clearly aware of the serious nature of his actions and I took pains to point out his legal and moral obligations in the matter. It seems to me extremely unlikely that there will be any recurrence of what had happened."
He suggested delaying any announcement of Elmer's transfer in "consideration for his reputation which would undoubtedly be harmed by a sudden transfer at this time".
Since his release from prison in the early 2000s, Elmer has lived in a Brunswick property owned by the Christian Brothers.
He was placed on 'restrictive ministry' and was employed by the order in an administrative role. He is now retired.
The church has received at least 22 claims for redress in relation to allegations of child sexual abuse by Elmer.
Catholic Church Insurance documents show the order knew that a number of victims had alleged that other clergy had participated in the abuse by Elmer. "Five of the claims indicate that there were allegations regarding multiple alleged perpetrators."
CCI refused coverage for the Christian Brothers for any claims in relation to allegations against Elmer after June 20, 1976, due to their "prior knowledge" of his offences.
The Christian Brothers have declined to answer media inquiries about Elmer, citing "ongoing legal proceedings".
In 2016, the Royal Commission into Institutional Responses to Child Sexual Abuse heard 853 Australians had claimed child sexual abuse against one or more Christian Brothers, with 75 per cent of victims under the age of 13 and 98 per cent of them male. The church had paid out more than $37 million in compensation, averaging $64,000 per victim.
St Vincent's orphanage closed in 1997. It was home to more than 6000 boys over 140 years.
In September last year The Standard revealed that the order had sent two Christian Brothers - Kenneth Paul McGlade and Donald Paschal Alford, both now deceased - from Victoria to the US in the 1980s and '90s to run a Connecticut church-run boys' home, where they were each accused of sexually assaulting children.
Lawsuits have been lodged over the past year by 24 former students from the Mount Saint John Academy in Deep River in relation to abuse allegations involving McGlade and Alford.
McGlade was also accused of sexually assaulting a boy in Warrnambool.
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