THE Christian Brothers paid $1 million to defend paedophile Brother Robert Best.
A further $500,000 was spent on legal fees for other shamed brothers, including Edward Dowlan and Stephen Farrell who, along with Best, taught at Ballarat East's St Alipius school in the 1970s.
The parliamentary inquiry into institutionalised child sex abuse also heard the Christian Brothers paid a private investigator to look into at least one victim's "bizarre behaviour" to use in Best's defence.
In front of a packed gallery at Parliament House, Christian Brothers Oceania Province deputy province leader Brother Julian McDonald said Best, who is still a Christian Brother, was often visited in Ararat jail.
"You don't just add further to the judgement," Brother McDonald said.
"Family members should visit another family member in jail. He is still a brother."
Evidence was also given that Dowlan, who is no longer a Christian Brother, was set up with a discretionary trust fund and housed by the brothers after his conviction and up until 2008.
However, Brother McDonald, who became very emotional during his closing statement, said he wasn't going to "defend the indefensible" and said the placing of four paedophiles at St Alipius was a "terrible, terrible situation".
But he said the Christian Brothers had no evidence of collusion between the four, describing it as "an accident of history"."
Institutions do attract, consciously or unconsciously, people who have paedophilic inclinations.
"There were spartan and repressive conditions when these people joined the congregation. We were taught to be tough and have little communication with our families.
"It was clear some paedophiles found their way into the Christian Brothers."
Inquiry chairman Georgie Crozier said it was extraordinary nobody noticed.
"The leadership was not trained in those days to know what the signals of paedophilia were," Brother McDonald said.
He said there were strict rules of conduct though, including never being alone with a boy and not touching children.
"Some mistakes were made that had dire consequences for the victims.
"He said until the 1990s, only two cases of child sexual abuse by a Christian Brother had been reported.
But he said church leaders at the time treated them as cases of "moral failure" and only issued reprimands.
Committee member Frank McGuire asked what selection processes were now in place.
Brother McDonald said a "rudimentary" process had been replaced with the need for at least a tertiary qualification and psychological screenings.
He said 250 complaints had been made about Christian Brothers, with the first in 1934 and only reported in 2000, and the last in 1987 and reported in 2008.
Of those, six brothers have been convicted, with four remaining in the order, and another six were found not guilty but no longer have access to children.
Mr McGuire pointed to an early report showing Brother Dowlan was "immature, spending more time with boys than other Christian Brothers".
"Why was that not picked up?" Mr McGuire said.
"It was a red light flashing from our perspective now. It should have been a red light then," Brother McDonald said.
Committee member Andrea Coutt said it was clear the order had looked after the priests and "pushed" them around parishes.
"We made mistakes. Our records indicate those mistakes. We didn't try and expunge anything," Brother McDonald said.
"In hindsight, (a cover up) is certainly what it looks like but I don't think that's what it was thought of at the time."
Outbursts from the public gallery followed this remark.