News State QLD News Priest used ‘cult group’ to groom girls

Priest used ‘cult group’ to groom girls

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An abusive priest set up a cult-like group based on the comic Peanuts and used it to groom convent school girls in Brisbane, an inquiry has heard.

The Brown group was created by Father Francis (Frank) Derriman, who was chaplain of the Sacred Heart Convent at Sandgate in Brisbane in the late 1960s.

Joan Isaacs, now 60, has told the Royal Commission into Institutional Responses to Child Sexual Abuse that Derriman used the surname ‘Brown’ in reference to himself, three other children and herself.

“I believe that this conduct by Fr Derriman is what today would be called grooming,” she said.

Ms Issacs, who is a teacher, told how Derriman wrote her letters telling her he was dying from a lung disease and needed her to have sex with him before he died and when she was 16.

“I was terrified of turning 16 to the point of being suicidal,” she said.

Once Derriman acted out a fit in front of the Brown group.

“I understand that Frank Derriman is still alive,” Ms Isaacs said.

She told how her boyfriend, Ian, whom she later married, told her mother about the abuse and they went to see the parish priest of Zillmere, a Father Doyle.

His response was “How come you are going to Holy Communion through all this”.

He also told her “it is time for you to look for someone your own age”.

Derriman was transferred to another parish and maintained a relationship with one of his victims, who had his child, she said.

Ms Isaacs told of years of depression and difficulties as a result of the abuse, which were compounded by engaging in the Church’s Towards Healing process.

The commission is examining the efficacy of that process.

Ms Issacs said it retraumatised her.

Deeds of release put to her by the church when $30,000 was accepted, tried to silence her from discussing her abuse even with her husband and children and prohibited her from making “disparaging remarks” about the process and the Archdiocese of Brisbane.