Catholic brother nicknamed 'The Rat' jailed for sex abuse of four Traralgon schoolboys
Marist brother Gerard Joseph McNamara, 82, has begun his second stint in prison after pleading guilty to indecently assaulting Traralgon school boys in the 1970s.
McNamara was working at St Paul's Catholic College in Traralgon when he indecently assaulted more than 15 students between 1970 and 1975.
He abused his victims while giving them massages in the monastery, his office and a sports equipment shed, and many were targeted multiple times.
Prosecutors have described how many of the abused boys were left smelling of McNamara's massage liniment, which made them identifiable as victims and open to ridicule by their peers.
McNamara was sentenced in the Victorian County Court on Friday to 35 months in prison, with 28 months suspended, after pleading guilty to four charges of indecent assault and one count of common assault.
'The Rat' a notorious offender
McNamara was in his mid-30s and worked as headmaster and sports master at St Paul's when he sexually abused the boys.
Since 2006, he has been sentenced three times for sexual offences against pupils but, until Friday, had only served nine months in jail.
On June 17, 2006 McNamara was sentenced to 36 months in prison, wholly suspended, for indecently assaulting seven boys aged between 11 and 13.
In December 2016 he escaped jail time again when he was given a wholly suspended prison sentence for abusing two young brothers at the school back in 1975.
It was not until September 2018, when McNamara came before the courts again, that he was ordered to serve nine months in prison for assaulting four boys aged between 11 and 15 years.
Boys abused during 'sports massage'
McNamara lured his victims with the excuse of massaging them after sports injuries.
After injuring his knee, one of the boys was ordered to a sports shed for a massage when McNamara touched the boy's genitals.
The same boy was targeted another two times after games of football.
In 2018, the man revealed to his wife the details of the abuse he had suffered as a child.
A second victim, aged 13 at the time, was practicing karate when McNamara took him to a small room in the brother's quarters.
It was there where McNamara instructed the boy to remove his shirt and lay on the bed "to be examined".
McNamara went on to touch the victim's genitals.
'Why is this happening to me?'
One boy was indecently assaulted during a massage that lasted 20 minutes.
Judge Ryan said when McNamara was "done" he ordered the boy to go back to class.
"Your victim left the room and then commenced crying, wondering why this was happening to him," he said.
Another boy was ordered to leave the school corridor and go to a room in the monastery where he was directed to undress "as he needed a massage".
That assault lasted 15 minutes.
The court was told during sentencing that McNamara also punched a 13-year-old boy in the ribs.
The court heard, when McNamara was asked by police if he was sorry for what he had done, he replied that, "Times were different and I don't want to go into all the implications of that."
"I think, in a lot of cases, we do things in the way it was done to us," McNamara said.
Lives in ruin
Laird MacDonald, a lawyer at Rightside Legal, said the Marist Brothers had paid out more than $4 million in compensation to some of McNamara's victims.
"The judge said it was an open secret. He was notorious in terms of his offending," Mr MacDonald said.
"The nickname was The Rat, and he was a feared person amongst the students, and they didn't want to go anywhere near him — they knew about the sports massages [and] all those sorts of things."
Mr MacDonald said the assaults had permeated the victims' lives.
"The damage that they suffered infected all parts of their lives, ranging from sexual confusion as an adolescent, to broken relationships, alcoholism, depression, suicide attempts," he said.
"All that goes back to what Gerard McNamara did to them."
In sentencing, Judge Ryan said McNamara deliberately orchestrated situations where he could be alone with his young victims.
"It is plain, you were notorious for this type of conduct among the pupils at St Paul's College," he said.
McNamara suffers glaucoma, skin diseases, prostate cancer, anxiety and depression.
He will be eligible to be released from prison before Christmas.