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Marist abuser known for giving 'rub downs'

AAP logoAAP 14/11/2016 Kaitlyn Offer

The suffering and humiliation for sex-abuse victims of Victorian Marist brother Gerard Joseph McNamara was two-fold.

As principal and sports master of St Paul's Catholic College in Traralgon, the man described by a victim as a "scumbag", would use a pungent cream to massage and abuse boys who had injured themselves.

The boy would then return to class, the smell of the cream a giveaway - he had been "getting a rub down from Brother Gerard".

McNamara, 78, pleaded guilty in the County Court on Monday to three counts of indecently assaulting a male under the age of 16 over the abuse of two boys in 1975.

The younger victim was 11 or 12 at the time and pounced on by McNamara as the child stood pantless in the school's office.

The court was told the boy, now a man in his 50s, went to the office after injuring his knee playing soccer.

He was standing in the school office in his underwear while a female staff member repaired his pants, prosecutor Brett Sonnet said.

McNamara then came into the office and used Dencorub to massage the boy's leg, assaulting him in the process.

"The victim returned to class smelling of liniment and was laughed at by the other students," Mr Sonnet said.

"Unfortunately, the accused had a reputation among the students - a common expression used was 'getting a rub down from Brother Gerard'."

During Monday's plea hearing, that victim addressed McNamara from the bar table to give an impact statement.

"The reason we're here, scumbag, is because of me," the victim said as he turned and pointed to McNamara in the dock.

"You took the innocence of a 12-year-old boy."

The second victim was attacked twice after getting a corked thigh playing football.

McNamara abused the teenager in the sports shed and told him to return two days later.

The boy returned and was abused again.

Both men told the court on Monday how McNamara's actions had left them emotionally scarred, and they still carried the consequences of the abuse decades later.

It is the second time McNamara has pleaded guilty to indecently assaulting students.

In 2005 he was convicted of seven counts of indecently assaulting a male under 16 between 1972 and 1975, Mr Sonnet told the court.

The offences were "identical in nature" to the latest charges, he said.

McNamara read an apology to the men and the court, saying he was "deeply sorry" for the harm he caused.

His barrister, Trish Riddell, told the court McNamara's deputy principal at St Paul's warned him massaging students would lead him to be scrutinised.

She said McNamara has not offended since that warning.

In a statement issued on Monday afternoon, the Marist Brothers apologised to the victims.

"It is a matter of shame and regret that any child in our care has had their trust and innocence betrayed in such a grievous manner," the statement reads.

"They have suffered greatly as a result of these actions and we extend to them, and their families, our heartfelt sorrow for what has taken place."

McNamara will be sentenced on December 6.

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