FOR more than 15 years Marist Brother Romuald – Francis William Cable – hunted children down and molested them, with what a judge described as ‘‘frankly breathtaking audacity’’.
He left children bloodied.
He terrified them.
But in a Sydney court on Thursday his victims, now men in their late 50s and 60s, cheered as Judge Peter Whitford sentenced Cable, 83, to 16 years’ jail, and he was led away.
‘‘I was bleeding after he raped me one day and he said to me ‘You’ve got the blood of a jackal in you. Your mother must have been a jackal’,’’ said a victim, who cannot be identified, who was 12 when he was brutally raped on a weekly basis for at least a year from 1965.
‘‘I’ve never forgotten it. He said I was Satan because I wasn’t a Catholic. It takes it out of you, having to tell people what happened to you, but it was worth it. He’s gone. The mongrel’s gone.’’
Cable must serve at least eight years’ jail for crimes against 19 former students at Marist Brothers schools at Maitland, Hamilton and Pagewood between 1960 and 1974.
He was found guilty of 13 serious offences against two boys at Maitland and Pagewood after a trial in March.
Cable entered guilty pleas to crimes against 17 other victims several days later.
Judge Whitford said Cable’s ‘‘determined predatory conduct’’ over 15 years represented ‘‘a systematic and flagrant abuse of his position of trust and authority’’ over vulnerable young boys.
The former Marist Brother, who left the order in 1978, smiled on entering the court, and sat unmoved as the judge recounted the shocking detail of his crimes.
Two boys begged him not to rape them in the early 1960s.
The boy who was told he had the blood of a jackal was gagged and ‘‘hit about the head’’ when Romuald forced him to commit oral sex during a school beach excursion in the early 1960s.
Nightmares leave the man ‘‘prowling’’ his garden with knives, an axe and sometimes a machete, because ‘‘I think the Marist Brothers are out there still’’.
Romuald pushed his thumbs into the boy’s eye sockets ‘‘to prevent him from biting’’ during forced oral sex, the court heard.
‘‘The boy begged him not to do anything,’’ Judge Whitford said.
Brother Romuald favoured attacks in the water. Boys were abused at Bar Beach, La Perouse in Sydney, Merewether and Maitland baths and the Myall Lakes, where the Marist Brother put on a keg of beer at father-and-son camps.
He targeted children in families where a parent or relative had died, or fathers were violent or absent, or parents were extremely devout.
Brother Romuald showed ‘‘little concern about being detected and certainly no concern for the welfare, wellbeing and security of the victims’’, Judge Whitford said.
‘‘Many of the offences involved cruelty, which included physical violence on occasions, and at times actual harm.
‘‘It is impossible to believe the offender had any motivation beyond his own sexual gratification.’’
Judge Whitford acknowledged the lifelong consequences the men experienced because of the abuse.
Cable inflicted ‘‘considerable suffering, pain and humiliation on individual victims, not just at the time of the offending, but in the decades since’’.
‘‘All of the victims have demonstrated extraordinary resilience and depth of character in coming forward and giving their accounts of experiences that have had inevitably profound effects on their lives.’’
Judge Whitford described Cable’s crimes as ‘‘abominable’’.
‘‘It’s impossible to conceive that the offender had any motivation beyond his own sexual gratification, which he pursued without any consideration for the childhood, innocence, and future of his victims,’’ Judge Whitford said. Cable will remain in jail until at least 2023.
TWO men in their 60s sat in a corridor outside a Sydney District courtroom on Thursday and talked about their school days more than 50 years ago.
They exchanged photos of Marist Brothers school at Maitland, and talked about teachers and the friends who had committed suicide.
Then they talked about Brother Romuald.
‘‘He’s as evil now as he was 50 years ago,’’ said one of the men, 66, who was a timid boy, vulnerable and eager to please when Romuald made him a target.
‘‘As far as I’m concerned, he’s Satan. He did anything he liked without any fear of comeback, without any sign of remorse. He just didn’t care. This is not an idle comment – he’s the most evil person I’ve ever known.’’
The second man, also 66, was a talented child with a gift for drawing.
His parents were very strict Catholics who revered priests and thought they could do no wrong.
Brother Romuald was his teacher in 1962.
‘‘He set us a task one day to draw the ‘Hand of God’ [depicting a reclining, naked male body],’’ the man said.
‘‘I actually did a perfect copy but when he saw it, he called me out, tore it in two and flogged the shit out of me in front of the class.
‘‘He used to do things so that he could flog kids and he took great pleasure out of it.’’
Brother Romuald would sit in an office watching boys play cricket.
‘‘You weren’t supposed to go beyond the line. When enough boys had gone over the line, he would blow the whistle so that everyone had to freeze. Then he’d come down and cane kids. And he was violent.’’
The man who was a timid boy told his wife only two years ago that he had been sexually abused as a child.
‘‘I just put it behind me for all those years, but then there was so much out there about it, it all came flooding back – how vulnerable we were, how young,’’ he said.
‘‘It came up on the news that he’d been charged and I said to my wife: ‘That’s him’.’’
He cheered with other victims and their families after Romuald was sentenced to 16 years’ jail. But outside the court, he cried and hugged his former classmates.