Brother Rex Francis Elmer was one of the most sadistic and disturbed paedophile offenders within the Christian Brothers.
Elmer repeatedly abused two boys at the St Vincent’s Boys Home in South Melbourne, an orphanage-like institution run by the Christian Brothers. He would sneak into their dormitories at night and fondle them, or take the boys straight off the playground to show them sex education books.
Elmer joined the Christian Brothers in 1961 when he was 16-years-old. He belonged to the Victoria-Tasmania province and worked at various schools over the next decade until he was appointed as principal of a Catholic primary school in South Melbourne in 1971.
At the same time, Elmer started living at St Vincent’s Boys Home. The displaced boys were sorted into dormitories by their age.
Each dormitory was allocated a Christian Brother to watch over them — and one of the Brothers was Elmer.
Elmer took advantage of his role to fondle and abuse the boys in their dormitories
As a boarding house carer, Elmer had unlimited access to orphaned boys. He fondled and raped them, thinking no one would ever believe them — until some of the boys reported Elmer to the Victorian Police, leading to Elmer’s first charges in 1998 and then again in February 2020.
In the 1998 court case, it was revealed Elmer had access to the boys’ dormitories from 1971 to 1976. He often had dormitories for boys aged seven to 12 and at night, he would sneak in and touch the boys under their blankets. Sometimes Elmer would force the boys to masturbate him.
Over the years, Elmer raped, fondled and assaulted 13 boys. Each boy was abused once or twice a week for years at a time.
In 1998, Elmer was charged with 61 offences including buggery and indecent assault — but the Christian Brothers hired a barrister to defend Elmer who was successful in reducing the charges down to a plea bargain.
The prosecution dropped the buggery charge and Elmer pleaded guilty to one count of assault against 12 of the 13 victims. He was jailed for five years.
The Christian Brothers continued to support Elmer after a five-year jail stint
After his release in the early 2000s, Elmer lived in a house owned by the Christian Brothers in Brunswick, Melbourne. He was given an office role at the Christian Brothers Victoria-Tasmania headquarters in Parkville.
The Christian Brothers continued to support him until retirement.
In 2020, Elmer was charged again. In a Melbourne Court, the 75-year-old pleaded guilty to two counts of unlawfully and indecently assaulting boys under the age of 16. Elmer also admitted to assaulting a boy repeatedly between January 1st 1971 and December 31st 1972.
The survivor was between 11 and 13-years-old at the time of the assault. According to court documents, he was asleep in his dormitory when Elmer stormed in, “throwing [the victim] off the bedding and demanding that he do what he was told to”.
Elmer then put his hands in the boy’s pants and masturbated him.
A second victim was assaulted between January 1st 1972 and December 31st 1974. He was between nine and 12-years-old. The boy was playing in the courtyard after school when Elmer took him into the dormitory, showed him a sex education book and then masturbated with the child on his lap.
A third victim (known as “Lionel”) told the Age about his experience with Elmer. Lionel said Elmer would kiss him on the forehead after molesting him and say “well done”. Lionel was also warned if he told anyone, Jesus would be coming for him.
“This sort of incident happened at least two to three times a week,” Lionel said in his witness statement to police.
“The same sort of thing. I would piss the bed scared at night that [Elmer] would come to me. I was petrified of him. I couldn’t tell anyone because I was scared of getting a flogging and being taken away by Jesus.”
Elmer was sentenced and jailed again in 2021
In February 2021, Elmer faced the County Court of Victoria in a white forensic suit and blue gloves. He was sentenced to an additional two years in prison and will be classified as a “serious sexual offender” for his “abhorrent” and “depraved” actions at St Vincent Boy’s Home.
In a victim impact statement read to the court, one of Elmer’s victims said he was too scared to complain about the abuse as two other Christian Brothers were known to be very violent to boys in their care.
The victim said he self-medicated for years to cope with the memories of his time at St Vincent’s.
“This abuse has ranged inside of me for 46 years. The road ahead for me will be difficult,” he wrote.
“Always for me this abuse has been in the shadows of my mind.”
Another victim said:
“Through this loosely fashioned arsenal of authority… Elmer brought to bear empowerment for his own sexual satiety,” the second victim wrote.
“His twisted interference became a habit of customary privilege that does not stand alone.”
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Image: The Age