Ex-Monivae priest jailed for sex crime: Arrest in Hamilton

By Alex Johnson
Updated November 7 2012 - 11:53am, first published November 7 2008 - 9:22am

A FORMER priest at Hamilton's Monivae College has been jailed for six months in Queensland for indecently touching young girls. Michael Francis Reis, 66, pleaded guilty in the Brisbane District Court to five counts of indecent treatment of girls under 14 and two counts of indecent treatment of girls under 16. The court was told the first victim was aged 13 in 1984 when she was assaulted five times at her Brisbane home. Police arrested the Catholic priest while he was working at Monivae College in January. A Sydney-based church leader, who travelled to Hamilton to deal with the fall-out from Reis' sentencing, said letters were being sent to all parents informing them of his jail term. Prosecutor Maita Aylward told the court Reis, who has also taught at private schools across Queensland, would hug the 13-year-old girl and touch her on the breasts and vagina. Reis taught at Monivae College on and off for about 20 years, according to provincial leader of the Missionaries of the Sacred Heart of Australia Father Tim Brennan."There has never ever been any other complaints come forward from any of the schools that he has worked in," Father Brennan said.Father Brennan said Reis returned to Monivae College in the late 1990s after teaching for a number of years in Queensland. The initial complaint was received while he was working in Hamilton and a report was prepared which found he posed no threat as a teacher. "That report did say that he should only be assigned to senior students, not younger students," Father Brennan said. "Since the late '90s he's worked here, he's only been with year 11 and 12 students." The court was told Reis eventually stopped his offending of his own accord because he realised his actions were wrong. However, in about 1994 he relapsed and assaulted a second girl at Caboolture, north of Brisbane. The court was told the second victim was aged between 10 and 13. Ms Aylward said the victims were so upset upon hearing he was still in contact with young girls that they reported their abuse to police, prompting Reis' arrest in Hamilton. The court was told Reis was extremely remorseful for his behaviour and that it had cost him his career. But Judge Kerry O'Brien said Reis had breached a position of trust and had to be jailed. He was sentenced to 18 months' jail, with a minimum term of six months.