Gerringong-based Catholic brother charged

Gerringong-based Catholic brother David Standen is arrested at Sydney Airport. Picture: supplied
Gerringong-based Catholic brother David Standen is arrested at Sydney Airport. Picture: supplied

A Catholic brother and former principal of a Sydney school has been charged with child abuse offences dating back more than three decades.

Police will allege David Standen, 65, molested eight boys, all aged 12, when he was a teacher at St Patrick's, Goulburn, between 1978 and 1980.

Brother Standen, who also goes by the name William Peter Standen, was the principal at St Mary's Cathedral College for a decade before he retired in 2010.

He cared for thousands of boys during his 37-year teaching career, during which time he spent six years as the deputy principal at St Dominic's College, Penrith.

Detectives arrested Brother Standen at Sydney Airport on August 19.

He appeared before Waverley Local Court charged with 11 counts of indecently assaulting a male and was granted conditional bail.

Brother Standen, who lives at Gerringong on the state's south coast, must report to his local police station five days a week.

He was also ordered to surrender his passport and is not allowed to enter any international airport.

This means he will not be able to travel to East Timor, where he has been volunteering for Comunidade Edmund Rice since 2002.*

"Our team helps schools, health clinics, coffee growers and many others in the hills about 90 minutes' drive from the capital, Dili," Brother Standen wrote online this month. "It is a privilege to live among these very poor but happy, appreciative and energetic people." 

Detectives attached to Strike Force Charish started investigating the indecent assault allegation in February.

Brother Standen is expected to face Goulburn Local Court on September 17.

Christian Brothers Oceania has confirmed Brother Standen was a member of their order. 

"These are serious allegations which are now rightly before the courts," Brother Peter Clinch, province leader of Christian Brothers Oceania, said.

"It is important that we respect the judicial process now under way and make no statement that could undermine it," he said.

Brother Clinch said Christian Brothers condemned child abuse of any form, without exception.

"Further, I would ask any person who has evidence of criminal conduct to take that to the police for the appropriate investigation," he said.

"Child protection is the Christian Brothers' highest priority and the stringent policies and procedures in place, backed by mandated government regulations, give full effect to that commitment."

Investigators said they encouraged any victims of indecent or sexual assault to report their cases to police, no matter how long ago they were abused.

* This story has been amended by correcting the name of the organisation in East Timor for which Brother Standen had been doing volunteer work.  That organisation is Comunidade Edmund Rice and not as previously reported Edmund Rice Foundation.