A priest in New Zealand who admitted to sexually abusing multiple children in the 1970s and who had illicit child-related content on his computer when he was arrested has now been punished… with one year of home detention and a fine.
Michael Beaumont, who was a former member of a Catholic order called the Marist Brothers, admitted to several abuse charges, including one involving a nine-year-old girl while her family had their eyes closed in prayer.
When he was arrested in May, 2018, the police found a USB stick in his pocket.
The small hard drive contained eight paedophile fantasy stories that detailed the sexual abuse of children.
On Wednesday, at the North Shore District Court, Beaumont was sentenced to a year home detention at his unit in Onehunga.
Judge Down also ordered Beaumont to pay $3000 in emotional harm payments and that his name should be added to the child sex offenders’ register.
“I am satisfied that you do pose an ongoing risk to the sexual safety of children generally in the community.”
The judge recognized the ongoing risk of letting Beaumont go free, but it’s shocking that no jail time was given considering the severe and ongoing abusive behaviors. He assaulted the nine-year-old right in front of her parents’ faces after they invited him to their home!
After dinner the family gathered in the living room to recite the rosary. Their custom was to sit on the floor and hold hands while saying their prayers.
Beaumont sat on the sofa, overlooking the family, and invited a 9-year-old girl to sit next to him.
While everyone had their eyes closed, Beaumont put his arm around the girl’s shoulder. He then moved his hand under her [pajama] top before slipping his hand into her [pajama] pants.
“The complainant did not understand what was happening and wished for her parents to look up,” the agreed summary of facts said.
That’s just one of several incidents that this priest has admitted to. There’s no telling if other children who suffered because of him are too scared or embarrassed to come forward about their experiences.
No serial child abuser should be let off the hook with little more than a slap on the wrist. He shouldn’t get special treatment because he was part of a respected religious order. Yet the court documents said the Marist Brothers are highly respected to the point of being “unquestioned” by members of the order.
(Image via Shutterstock. Thanks to Brian for the link)