Michael Beaumont, pictured outside the North Shore District Court on Wednesday. PHOTO/NZME
Marist brother worked in Masterton
Victim says church became place of trauma
Auckland Catholic Diocese employee has been sentenced to home detention after admitting historical sex charges against young girls.
Michael Beaumont, who appeared in the North Shore District Court yesterday, also faced further charges over possessing objectionable material.
The 72-year-old pleaded guilty to charges of indecently assaulting two 12-year-old girls and a nine-year-old girl in 1977.
He did so just moments before standing trial in February.
Judge Jonathan Down sentenced Beaumont to 11 months home detention for the three indecent assaults, and one month for possessing objectionable material.
He also ordered Beaumont to be registered as a child sex offender.
Beaumont worked in Masterton and Wairarapa in the 1970s and also coached sports teams.
Beaumont’s charge of possessing objectionable material was a centre of debate at sentencing.
The material was literature depicting sexual violations against children.
Crown lawyer Nick Webby said it undermined the previous argument that Beaumont had not offended since the 1970s.
“There has not been 40 years when the offender has stayed out of the police’s attention.”
Webby said although it was literature, the acts depicted were at the most serious end of the spectrum.
But Beaumont’s lawyer James Olsen argued it shouldn’t land him on the register.
“Certainly if there had been some other contact with a child, that would be a real concern,” Olsen said.
“But in terms of just possessing the material alone … there are no victims.”
In delivering the sentence, Judge Down concluded he could pose a continued risk to children in the community.
“The further offending demonstrates that your perverse thinking is still in place and requires further assessment.”
One of the victims – who has name suppression and is 50 years old now – read out her victim impact statement in court.
“As my family sat in a circle and prayed the rosary, respectfully with closed eyes, I sat beside Brother Michael,” she said.
She was initially excited that a man of God wanted to sit beside her, but that quickly changed once the abuse started.
“In trying to process this abuse, I concluded I was a naughty child before God. I had sinned.”
She said despite her love for the church as a child, the abuse made it hard to continue living as a practising Catholic, and she eventually left.
“Every time I went to church I was taunted by images of the clergy. Church became a place of trauma.
“I walked away in anger and shame, as my decision to leave also meant my children couldn’t go to Mass.”
Beaumont was last year listed under administration support for tertiary education provider The Catholic Institute of New Zealand on its website.
“Michael was a teacher for many years and is now working part time for TCI in a support role and part time for the Auckland Diocese in a similar role for the RE [religious education] Team,” it said.
“He has also, since its inception, been involved as a member of the team fielding calls to the Family Violence Information Line, part of the ‘It’s not OK’ campaign helping to increase awareness around family violence and abuse.”
Beaumont also formerly worked part-time for the Auckland Catholic Diocese.