Paedophile priest gets 26 months in jail

Mark Mannix Brown, 74, was jailed when he appeared in the Hamilton District Court on Monday, on four charges of indecent ...
TOM LEE/FAIRFAX NZ

Mark Mannix Brown, 74, was jailed when he appeared in the Hamilton District Court on Monday, on four charges of indecent assault and attempted sodomy.

A former Catholic priest jailed for molesting boys in the 1970s and 80s has again been jailed for 26 months, on charges against three new historic victims.

Before Mark Mannix Brown was sentenced in the Hamilton District Court on Monday, one of his victims revealed harrowing details of the consequences of his abuse. 

Brown, 74, had earlier plead guilty to four charges of indecent assault and attempted sodomy. Some of those charges were representative, meaning they cover a variety of incidents.

He had been jailed for 15 months in 1990 for sexual offending against altar boys.

The devastating effects of Brown's molesting were detailed by the victim, who addressed the court on Monday and whose identity cannot be revealed.

"I feel that my self-worth and innocence were taken from me by someone who should have looked out for my best interests," said the man, who is now in his 40s.

He had been nine years old and an altar boy at a school where Brown was a priest.

At an unspecified date between 1982 and 1986, the boy was in the church when he became unwell and vomited on to the floor.

Brown led the victim to a nearby building, known as the Priests' Building, where he let the boy throw up into the toilet there.

Brown rubbed the boy's back as he vomited, but at one point began fondling his genitals instead.

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He stopped when the boy looked at him.

While that incident had been brief, the consequences were life-long.

"Every time I vomit from an illness, it reminds me of the abuse."

Before he was molested, he was an active member of rugby teams and Scouts. He subsequently withdrew from such activities and shunned friendships.

"I felt like my faith had been destroyed. Every time I was in a church, I felt unwell and I had to leave."

He felt compelled to misbehave, and began experiencing feelings of hatred for his parents, who were oblivious to what had happened.

He ran away from home and lived under a bridge in Hamilton for a time, stealing food and other items to survive. This had, in turn, spiralled into a life of crime, depression, self-harm and suicide attempts.

As well as the abuse robbing him of his sense of self-worth, he also feared the incident had made him homosexual, because he was unable to become aroused by women.

As he became older, he began sleeping for long periods, as this was the only way to blot out the memory of what had happened.

He also lived in fear of becoming the victim of another abuser and deliberately made himself unattractive by overeating.

The man was thanked for his bravery in reading out the statement by sentencing judge Simon Menzies, who had to balance the seriousness of Brown's offending with the fact he had not reoffended for almost 30 years, and had been assessed as being of minimal harm to the community.

From a starting point of three years and six months, the judge subtracted six months to reflect  Brown's remorse and participation in a restorative justice conference with one of his victims.

The other two victims did not want to take part in any such meeting.

The judge also subtracted two months in acknowledgement of Brown's age, and a further eight months to reflect his guilty plea - ending with a final sentence of 26 months in prison.  

The first and youngest of Brown's three new victims was aged between six and nine and was in the care of an orphanage in Auckland in the mid-1970s.

Brown's sister was a nun who taught at the orphanage at that time and he was a frequent visitor to the establishment.

Under the guise of having one-on-one "spiritual time" with the boy, he made him sit in his lap and kiss him.

On at least one occasion, he attempted to sodomise the boy.

He told the boy that their interactions were "our special secret" and if the boy told anyone, he would be separated from his siblings, who were also wards of the orphanage.

The other victim was aged 16 and 17 and was an invited guest at Brown's family farm in Te Mata, near Raglan.

Brown would make visits to the teenager at night, where he sexually abused him.

The victim said he was confused and did not know what to do, as he looked up to Brown as a father figure.

Prior to sentencing, defense counsel Mark Sturm said Brown had lived in the community without incident since the early 1990s and had assisted other sex offenders who had been released into the community.

"He has tried to make amends for his wrongdoing."

Brown also made headlines in 2008, when it was revealed he was living in a house in Auckland with brain-injured serial child molester Vivian Kitching.

The pair had been allowed to reside in a house on Mt Eden Road 700 metres from Three Kings School – in spite of a warning from Corrections Department psychologists.

 - Stuff

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