Christian Brothers raped and tortured boys in WA, commission told

Boys who reported sexual and physical abuse at the hands of Christian Brothers in Western Australia were often abused by the brother to whom they complained, a royal commission has heard.

The Royal Commission into Institutional Responses to Child Sexual Abuse has heard that boys have been subjected to torture, rape and beatings by Christian Brothers in four childcare institutions since the 1950s.

The two-week Perth inquiry is investigating the responses of the Christian Brothers and relevant West Australian state authorities to the abuse allegations at the residences at Bindoon, Castledare, Clontarf and Tardun.

"For some boys, the knowledge of the abuse was well enough understood between the boys, if not necessarily openly discussed," council assisting the royal commission, Gail Furness, said in her opening statement.

"Other boys never shared their experiences with anyone else.

"However, common to all of those men who will give evidence is the shame, guilt and fear that they experienced as a result of the abuse."

One man, VG, who was sent to St Mary's Agricultural School, Tardun, will tell the royal commission he went to hospital after being violently assaulted by a brother who tried to rape him.

He reported the abuse to a nurse at Mullewa Hospital, but he was beaten with a strap when he got back to Tardun.

After complaining to a priest he was told he had a dirty mind and had to perform penance in order to be purified.

The priest tried to sexually abuse VG about a month later.

Another survivor, Edward Delaney, who was forcibly sent from the UK to Australia without his mother's knowledge, was physically and sexually abused by Christian Brothers at St Joseph's Farm and Trade School, Bindoon.

On one occasion, he had the fingers of both hands broken and was left with a permanent disfigurement when a brother, named as Brother Doyle in the commission, hit him repeatedly with a leather strap with a hacksaw blade stitched into it.

When he went to police at age 18, he was not believed and was told he would be charged if he continued the allegations.

The commission will also hear evidence of how the Christian Brothers responded to allegations of abuse, and hear evidence from representatives of the WA government and the acting director of public prosecutions about the department's response to complaints.

So far, four WA Christian Brothers have been charged with sexual abuse at one or more of the institutions.

One, Brother Dick, was convicted in 1994 on 10 counts of unlawfully and indecently dealing with five boys under 14. He was sentenced to three-and-a-half years’ jail.

Another, Brother William Marchant, was charged in 2000 with sexual abuse offences while at Tardun. He was convicted and received a non-custodial sentence.