FORMER youth worker and convicted child sex offender James Michael Brown "should have been taken out of circulation" from the 1970s when the first allegations against him were raised directly with Newcastle Anglican Bishop Alfred Holland.
Instead Brown went on to commit crimes against at least 25 boys through the Anglican Church, and later at Hunter Baptist and Salvation Army churches and a Hunter pipe band, after Bishop Holland failed to act.
"It was wickedness. Holland knew this stuff was going on from scratch and Jim Brown should have been taken out of circulation. Instead he was protected along with Father Peter Rushton," said Maitland pastor Bob Cotton, after Brown entered guilty pleas on Thursday to 13 serious child sex offences while a Hunter Salvation Army youth worker in the late 1990s.
"Jim Brown was blatant. He wasn't hiding anything because he was with Peter Rushton, and he knew Rushton was a protected species," Mr Cotton said.
Brown, 70, is already serving a 12-year jail sentence after he was convicted in 2011 of serious child sex offences, including buggery, against 20 boys aged 8-17 in the Hunter.
He was charged with the new offences in 2019 after the Royal Commission into Institutional Responses to Child Sexual Abuse in 2016 explored Newcastle Anglican Diocese's failure to respond to repeated allegations about Brown over many years during a shocking Newcastle public hearing.
The royal commission found 13 of the 20 boys named as victims in the 2011 trial were sexually abused by Brown after reports to Bishop Holland in 1979. The latest victims, during Brown's time as a Salvation Army youth worker in the late 1990s, were also after the diocese knew of his crimes.
Newcastle Anglican Bishop Peter Stuart said the extent of Brown's offending was "truly appalling" and "continues to make a horrendous impact on those he assaulted".
"The Anglican Diocese of Newcastle was rightly shamed by the Royal Commission for its failure to address Brown's offending while he worked in Anglican parishes. The people of the Diocese express profound regret and apology for the harm caused and for the failings by people in positions of authority and the Diocese as an institution," Bishop Stuart said.
The royal commission heard Brown, born at Kurri Kurri, was in a long-term sexual relationship with the late child sex offender Anglican priest Peter Rushton while both men also sexually abused boys and male teenagers they met through the church and the Anglican St Alban's home, where both men held senior positions.
The royal commission found there was a "do nothing" approach to child sex allegations in Newcastle Anglican diocese while the late Alfred Holland was bishop, after evidence he failed to act when a woman and a diocesan synod member both raised serious child sex allegations about Brown with him in 1979.
"Bishop Holland's failure to act at the time in relation to Brown was another tragic lost opportunity to prevent further abuse by Brown," the royal commission found.
Brown was first charged with offences against a St Alban's boy in 1996, in a trial where the then Newcastle Anglican Diocese deputy chancellor, barrister Paul Rosser, represented Brown.
The victim, Phillip D'Ammond, told the royal commission Mr Rosser "ripped (him) apart" and had "made (him) out to be like the devil".
"Mr Rosser, QC, clearly gave no consideration to any perception that the victim may have had that the Diocese was 'protecting its own' rather than offering him pastoral support," the royal commission found.
The royal commission heard evidence that the diocese's insurer declined to pay out a claim involving one of Brown's victims - leaving the diocese to pay the claim - because the church "was effectively put on notice of the risk posed by Brown from the mid-1990s and took no steps to mitigate that risk", because of Mr Rosser's representation.
The royal commission was told the diocese subsequently received many claims for compensation by Brown victims that the diocese was required to pay because the insurer declined.
Former Newcastle Anglican Bishop Roger Herft said he was unaware of Brown until his name was raised for the royal commission, and was also unaware Mr Rosser had acted for Brown in 1997.
Mr Rosser told the royal commission he did not believe his representation of Brown related in any way to his role at that time as deputy chancellor of the diocese.
Mr Cotton said he first worked with Brown for a few months in 1981 when both men were at Maitland electrical firm Davis and Spence.
"Brown used to chase the young apprentices around the place. He used to put his hand up their pants legs to touch their genitals," Mr Cotton said.
He believed many victims of Brown's would never come forward because of shame and fear of how people would respond.
In 2012 the NSW Court of Criminal Appeal re-sentenced Brown to 12 years' jail for offences against 20 victims, after finding a District Court judge's sentence "significantly failed to reflect the seriousness" of Brown's "multiple offences against many victims over a very long period of time".
Brown will be sentenced for the new offences in May.
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