Known sex abuse priest was appointed headmaster of Catholic junior school
Elmer is now retired and the junior school is closed, but former students and staff have expressed outrage that the Christian Brothers gave him a leadership role overseeing children, despite knowing of his previous abuse.
“I’m disgusted,” said one who spoke to The Age. “It’s hard to believe children could be put in harm’s way like that.”
The latest revelation comes in the wake of the scandal at St Kevin’s which made headlines this week when a Four Corners investigation exposed how its headmaster – who quit on Wednesday – and dean of sports backed a volunteer sports coach convicted of grooming a student.
None of Elmer’s existing convictions relate to Parade College, but in a letter to parents on Wednesday, Parade College principal Andy Kuppe said his school “abhors” the abuse of children, and “that any child was abused – no matter how long ago – is a tragedy”.
The Christian Brothers declined to answer questions about Elmer’s term at Alphington or their knowledge of his prior offending.
“Brother Elmer is subject to ongoing legal proceedings and the Province does not comment publicly on any matters relating to any ongoing court matter or any person subject to ongoing court proceedings,” said a spokesman for the Christian Brothers’ Oceania Province.
However, documents submitted by the group to the Royal Commission into Institutional Responses to Child Sex Abuse suggest the Christian Brothers knew about Elmer’s behaviour from 1973, three years before it removed him from St Vincent’s, when it sent him to treatment programs “to reduce the risk of recidivism”.
Parade College yearbooks also show how Elmer was appointed to the preparatory school just after another notorious paedophile, Ted Dowlan, left the Alphington campus to attend Cathedral College in East Melbourne.
“Earlier in the year, Brother Elmer was welcomed to the college by our committee and assured of our full support during his stay,” wrote the school’s father’s association in 1982. “We are lucky to have such a man as our administrator and our boys at Alphington will profit by his leadership.”
The case serves as yet another example of how notorious paedophiles were shuffled around by religious orders and churches seeking to conceal their crimes.
Elmer was first convicted over a string of sexual offences in 1998, for which he was sentenced to a minimum of three years and four months. After his release from prison in the early 2000s, the Christian Brothers continued to employ Elmer as an administrator, including at its Treacy Centre in Parkville, until his retirement.
He is due to be sentenced in July over his latest offences. The order has housed him at one of its properties in Brunswick, where he continues to live while on bail for his current case.
Debbie Cuthbertson is a senior writer and Saturday chief of staff at The Age.
Farrah Tomazin is a senior journalist and investigative reporter for The Age, with interests in politics, social justice, and legal affairs.