MARIST Brothers, Hamilton school was an "environment of evil", said a Newcastle District Court judge today at the sentencing of notorious child sex offender Brother Romuald.
"That whole environment, instead of being a Christian environment, which it was supposed to be and purported to be, it was actually an environment of evil," Judge Roy Ellis said as he considered how much longer Romuald - real name Francis Cable - stays in jail for crimes against another five students.
Judge Ellis compared the trajectory of his life as a public school student free of sexual abuse, fear and violence, after hearing from two of Romuald's victims subjected to serious crimes between 1972 and 1974 which had profound negative impacts on their lives.
"This man has ruined the lives of a plethora of young boys," Judge Ellis said.
"His crimes were crimes of pure evil. What he has done to so many young men, actually boys when the offending occurred, and the whole situation at that school."
One of the boys who complained got "six of the best" from another Marist Brother who is also the subject of allegations, Judge Ellis said.
"I'm 64 years of age and I wonder sometimes where would my life be had I suffered what these boys suffered?" the judge said.
Cable, 86, was jailed for 16 years in 2015 after he was found guilty of sexually abusing two Hamilton Marist students, and entered guilty pleas to offences against 17 others at the Hamilton school and Pagewood Marist between 1960 and the 1970s.
Cable can be released from as early as 2023 because he was sentenced for those crimes under the regime that existed at the time, with a parole period of eight years that would not apply today after sentences were significantly increased after the child abuse royal commission.
During the commission the Marist Brothers accepted that Hamilton Marist student, Andrew Nash, was probably sexually abused by Cable, his year master, before committing suicide in 1974, aged 13.
Cable was charged with 14 new offences against another five victims in March, 2017, but did not enter guilty pleas until October, 2018.
In court today one of Romuald's victims said: "The moment I could get out of Newcastle, I left", after cruel sexual abuse by the Marist Brother teacher.
Romuald would sexually abuse the boy in circumstances including after calling him to his room for sex education.
"I was scared of Brother Romuald," the former student said.
"If I told my father he would have hit me and told me not to say such things against the church and the brotherhood."
Another victim wept while reading a statement about the impact of the crimes against him.
The consequences of being sexually abused as a child and feeling powerless to get help affected his two marriages, his interaction with others, his trust of people, and a relationship with his best friend at school who went on to be a priest and bishop.
It was important to confront Romuald and see him convicted and sentenced for his crimes, the man said.
"I can never forgive or forget what you did but hopefully now I can move on," he said.
A Marist Brother superior, who cannot be identified for legal reasons, told the royal commission Romuald was “6 foot 3 and a very confrontational personality”.
The superior agreed children at the school might have been “absolutely terrified” of Romuald.
“It’s probably true that many of the people in the classes that he taught were afraid of him,” the superior said.
He agreed that for students targeted by Romuald for sexual abuse, life at the Hamilton Marist school would have been a “nightmare”, and it would have taken “an incredible amount of courage” for a child to have made a complaint about being sexually abused.
The royal commission was told Romuald moved schools two months after Andrew Nash’s death in October, 1974.
Cable made his first vows in 1952, aged 20, and worked at various Marist schools before leaving the order in the late 1970s and working as a lay teacher for the Christian Brothers at St Edmund’s College, Canberra for 10 years before retiring in 1989.
Judge Ellis will sentence Cable at 2pm today, after telling the court the new sentences will conform with new legislation requiring significantly higher sentences for child sex crimes.