17 Dec 2010

Former Marist brother jailed for sex assaults on boys

7:10 pm on 17 December 2010

A former Marist brother has been jailed for two years and six months for indecent assaults committed on boys while he was a teacher at a Catholic boarding school in Masterton.

Bede Hampton, 62, had pleaded guilty to two counts of indecent assault.

In November, a High Court jury in Wellington found him guilty of a further 11 counts of indecent assault.

On Friday, the Crown sought a starting point of imprisonment, saying Hampton continued to deny his offending while a teacher at St Joseph's College in the 1970s.

Justice Miller said Hampton claimed the offending arose because he was living in a dysfunctional religious order, was ill-suited to religious life and was lonely.

However, the judge said that did not reduce Hampton's culpability for his exploitation of boys over whom he had authority.

Neither of Hampton's victims was in court on Friday. However, Sharon, a sister of one man did attend, and is pleased Hampton has been jailed.

Sharon says her brother rejected an offer of financial compensation from Hampton because the case was never about money - rather, he wanted to make sure Hampton took responsibility for his actions.

Protocols in place

A spokesperson for the Marist Brothers in New Zealand says the Catholic religious order has robust procedures in place for dealing with complaints of sexual abuse.

The order's spokesperson, Lyndsay Freer, says safeguards and protocols are now in place at Catholic schools in an effort to keep pupils safe from sexual abuse.

Ms Freer says most teachers nowadays are lay people and have to go through a screening process before they are employed.

Anyone who makes a sexual abuse complaint against a Marist Brother is encouraged to go to the police so the accusations can be investigated fully, she says.