Australia: Former Catholic Brother Jailed for Sexually Abusing Orphans

William Stuart Houston

As long as 50 years after Brother William Stuart Houston sexually abused six vulnerable boys at St Augustine’s Orphanage, operated by Christian Brothers Oceania in Geelong, Victoria, the 77-year-old has finally been sentenced to a 12 years and nine months jail term. The jury in Australia found Houston guilty of having abused three boys as he himself pleaded guilty to having indecently assaulted three others.

“He must serve at least eight years and may end up dying in jail. Justice was done,” declared the wife of one victim, who said, “We were just children. Totally defenseless, that's what we were, and him saying 'This is our little secret, don't tell anybody'.”

Chief Judge Peter Kidd said the terrified boys were weak and incapable of stopping Houston, who repeatedly displayed a contemptuous indifference towards their cries of pain and protest.

“Tragically the complaints or partial complaints of three of your victims were variously met with denials and physical punishment by other staff members at the orphanage,” Kidd said. “The reaction of staff simply serves to demonstrate how it was virtually impossible for a child in those circumstances to come forward and meaningfully pursue a complaint. It also explains how you were able to continue to offend in this disturbing atmosphere of impunity.”

Kidd further stated that the boys preyed upon by Houston were particularly vulnerable, as the former brother was meant to protect as well as nurture them.

“Instead you arrogantly abused your authority over each of them for your own perverse sexual gratification,” Kidd said. “What occurred here amounted to a disgraceful breach of trust.”

Christian Brothers Oceania described Houston’s offence as shocking, before offering an unreserved apology to his victims.

“That any young person placed in our care has been abused as these children were by this man is a matter of great regret and remorse for all Christian Brothers,” the order said in a statement. “The Christian Brothers Oceania views these actions as a deplorable betrayal of the trust of innocent children and their families.”

While Houston left the order in 2008 to teach young children at various schools across Victoria and Melbourne, Kidd said he has led an almost blameless life since abusing the six boys, aged 10 to 14 years over a period of seven years at St Augustine’s Orphanage during the 1960s. However, the judge ruled that Houston had shown no remorse.

“You have never really confronted what you did to these boys, let alone atoned for your wrongdoing,” Kidd said.

Leonie Sheedy of CLAN, a sex abuse victim support group, said she was very proud of the victims who recently came forward and told the police about their abuse.

“There is certainly an element of a victory here for victims that they've now been believed,” she said. “I hope that they can you know maybe just get some comfort knowing that he will die in prison.”

Photo Credits: The Age, Australia

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