Creator and first editor of 2000AD, champion of girls' and political comics. Serial Killer, Requiem Vampire Knight, Marshal Law, Accident Man, Nemesis, Charley's War and much more. Visit millsverse.com for more info.
Andy Taylor recently interviewed me for his Voices of Awareness podcast. Previous guests on his podcast include lawyer Richard Scorer, author of Betrayed, about the English Catholic Church, Jonathan West who presented evidence to IICSA about Ampleforth College, and Carol Lawrence, the Catholic Church’s leading safeguard officer.
My interview is over three parts and is about St Joseph’s College, Ipswich and the De La Salle Brothers and how they – inadvertently – inspired my writing career. Hence the title of the interview: The Dredd-ful violence of the De La Salle Brothers. Judge Dredd is a character I developed and wrote when I created the British science fiction comic 2000AD. The interview also covers the stories of other Survivors from the school.
Here is Part One.
Pat Mills exposes the violence of the De la Salle brothers of St Joseph’s college, Ipswich that inspired the plots & character traits of Judge Dredd and 2000AD. He covers the catholic tumors of shame & guilt, coming out as a survivor, blowing the whistle, trauma memories surfacing in middle age, revenge ideation, the catharsis of lampooning abusers & the testimonies of assault by Brother Lawrence Hughes.
Pat Mills exposes the violence of the De la Salle brothers of St Joseph’s college, Ipswich that inspired the plots & character traits of Judge Dredd and 2000AD. He covers the catholic tumors of shame & guilt, coming out as a survivor, blowing the whistle, trauma memories surfacing in middle age, revenge ideation, the catharsis of lampooning abusers & the testimonies of assault by Brother Lawrence Hughes.
I think all of us are aware that there were cover-ups amongst the De La Salle Brothers. I remember how Brother Solomon suddenly – according to the playground grapevine at the time – went to Jersey, then onto Beulah Hill which he was thrown out from, subsequently possibly spending some time at Homan’s Boy Town (a disturbing location for this ‘Jimmy Savile of the De La Salle Order’) before returning to St Joseph’s as lay teacher Mike Mercado and then being thrown out again for sexual abuse.
I recall, as a boy, Brother James writing in the school magazine what a great asset Solomon was to the college and what a spiritual person he was. He clearly knew otherwise. It never rang true to me at the time.
Later, James himself got moved to Beulah Hill where his behavior was equally criminal. His obituary described him as a shy and timid man, not the violent rapist he really was. Once again, whoever wrote that obituary – almost certainly a DLS brother – must have known the truth and was lying through his teeth.
Similarly, when a startled Knight of St Columba (the Eminence Gris of St J’s) discovered the shocking evidence of violent abuse by James, he proclaimed ‘Oxford shall hear of this!’ I understand Oxford was and is the DLS centre of operations.
All these and many other references on this blog and elsewhere indicate a high level of collusion and cover-ups within the De La Salle Order. But it’s never been as clear cut and revealing a central control as the account below just in from Guy Lavender, an Old Boy of DLS school St Peter’s.
He refers to “an administrative organization” being responsible.
It could therefore be valuable in the days to come. Many thanks to Guy for this account and for allowing me to use his name.
FROM GUY LAVENDER
Just read your latest post regarding the abuse at St J’s. It is a reminder to me and a stark jolt to put pen to paper and add my account. As you quite rightly quote “If you are able to speak up, but remain silent then we are implicitly condoning the wrongdoing of others” something along those lines.
As I mentioned before, I did not attend St Joseph’s school. I was a boarder at St Peter’s school, Bournemouth (1975-1982) This was also a Catholic School run by the De La Salle teaching order as you know. After reading all the blogs, accounts i draw striking similarities to what happened at St Peter’s during my time as a border there.
But there is more than that. Before I attended St. Peter’s, I had 2 older brothers who attended another school, St John’s college, Southsea, also run by the De La Salle order. They were borders from 1970 to 1977. Their accounts of going’s on and wrongful abuse of boys during that time is equally harrowing.
Now then. Because of my brothers accounts of the behaviour of certain individuals at St John’s (namely Br Cyril) my experiences at St Peter’s (at the hands of Brother Kevin literally) together with reading all the stories, posts and blogs on your website, I am in a unique position to add an interesting perspective on all this scandalous abuse. This is what I have pieced together.
Let’s start with Brother Kevin. After reading the accounts by borders at St Joseph’s there was quite obviously some woeful wrongdoings involving Brother Kevin during the mid to late 1960’s. Then he was suddenly moved overseas and conveniently out of the way to France for 1 to 2 years. Long enough for the scandal to blow away and all be forgotten about no doubt. After which he was again re-appointed in a position of ultimate trust over young boys as junior housemaster at St Peter’s School, Bournemouth at around 1969-1970. There he was given a free hand to recommence his sinister and evil operations ie the abuse of young boys under the pious illusion and disguise of a religious white dog collar. I, as a border at St Peter’s from September 1975, was witness to much of his immoral behaviour.
Then there was the case of Brother Cyril. The notorious, weird and known homosexual housemaster at St John’s college, Southsea. According to my brothers there were several incidents involving improper conduct involving young boys at the hands of Brother Cyril during his time as housemaster of junior division there at St John’s. This was approximately from 1972 up until his untimely and abrupt transfer to St Peter’s school at around 1978. Now then, I do recall remarking to him that I had 2 brothers who were, at the time, still boarders at St John’s college. I strongly remember the frosty and uncomfortable response that I received on even mentioning this. With hindsight, it was probably because I had been privy to his previous behaviour at St John’s that he then wanted and thought he could bury.
So it seems like we have a clear pattern of similar events here in just two accounts. Whenever the bubble is about to burst and some unsavoury individual is about to be exposed and held account for his actions, then he is conveniently moved or re assigned somewhere else.
What is abundantly clear to me is that it was not just one individual who was responsible for moving these monsters around to avoid detection, but an administrative organisation. Someone somewhere knew exactly what kind of person Brother Kevin was/is and actively appointed him in a position of trust and authority over young boys, some as young as 6 or 7 years old. Even as 11 year old boys we were very aware of the pedophile nature of Brother Kevin. Indeed, the jokes and sniggering comments transcended through every corridor and classroom in the school. Yet not one teacher knew anything about his despicable tendencies?? Impossible. Of course they knew and were fully aware. Every single one of them. But this was the 1970’s and pedophilia behaviour and activities were a taboo subject. It simply did not exist. Sadly it did.
I hope that my account and perspective on events helps to explain things at the time. Ie coverups. I will later on send you my account at the hands of Brother Kevin. I’m working on it. I’m not shy. I will be in touch again soon
I’ve been reflecting on recent communications from Old Boys about the De La Salle Order. Now that I have a comprehensive range of testimonies, I’m starting to think about possible ways forward.
I’m reminded of the BBC documentary about the abuse by the Rosminian Order which has many similarities to the abuse by the De La Salle Order. Here’s how that documentary was introduced:
In 2009 over a hundred former pupils from two Catholic prep schools in England and Tanzania were reunited via the internet. Chatting in cyberspace they discovered they had all suffered terrible abuse at school: mental, physical and in some cases sexual. Now, as men in their fifties and sixties, and strengthened by the group, they want the truth to come out. Twenty two men have started legal proceedings against the Rosminian Order for compensation. They want justice. But half a century has passed and their abusers are now elderly. What will it take to repair the damage and for the victims to feel able to move on?
The documentary came out in 2011. It was entitled Abused: Breaking the Silence. I remember watching it at the time and it’s very powerful. It’s no longer on Youtube or BBC iplayer and, confusingly, there is at least one documentary with a similar title.
The details of what happened are below, but the short answer is the Survivors won.
Almost certainly that’s why the documentary is no longer available. I suspect it was removed as part of the settlement.
There’s a full account of the BBC documentary here
Newcastle barrister Donald MacFaul, who attended the Leicestershire school from 1954-59, said: “What was created by what happened at school was a permanent sense of fear and dread.”
He said Father Bernard Collins, who was in charge of discipline at Grace Dieu, “used to shoot at boys using an air pistol and occasionally actually injured them”.
“He could beat you one minute and then fondle you intimately within a space of hours.”
Mr MacFaul’s father wrote to complain to the school.
Within a few months Father Collins left for the order’s St Michael’s School Soni in Tanganiyka – now Tanzania.
In a letter to one of his victims obtained by the BBC, Father Collins said: “I have left behind a legacy of pain and violence and confusion by my behaviour.”
In secret filming for the BBC documentary, he refused to admit fondling boys and said he was only carrying out inspections for medical reasons.
Here’s how events concluded, according to Wikipedia:
Apology for English abuse by the provincial of English Rosminians
According to an online news story, issued on 23 June 2011: “Following the U.K. broadcast of a documentary detailing the abuse of some 35 boys by four Rosminian priests in the 1960s, the order’s provincial in England released an apology for the acts of abuse and for our “inadequate response.””
The audited financial statements for the year ending 5 April 2015 report under the heading “Legal and safeguarding related costs” that “Last year’s report referred to legal claims which had been brought against the Charity concerning the welfare of children between approximately 1940 and 1985. A settlement has now been reached in relation to these claims.” The Charity was liable also for the claimants’ legal fees. The matter has had a significant impact on the Charity’s finances with payment of their legal and settlement costs amounting to a total GBP 1,746,523 for the year.
For me, the next step with the De La Salles is to summarize key details and key offenders. The testimonies on this site are now numerous and sprawling and need collating. I’ll start doing that shortly and put summary page/s up which will be useful for quick reference.
Then I’m going to talk to a lawyer. He’s recognized as the top lawyer in this field. I want to see if the Rosminian example is relevant to the De La Salles.
My first thought was : I just want the Order to acknowledge and apologise for the serious crimes they have committed against children, including myself, at St Joseph’s College, Ipswich, and their other schools in the south of England. Then I realized they won’t mean a word of it. It needs a more meaningful response and that’s something a lawyer can advise on.
I suspect when the survivors won against the Rosminians, they had no choice but to sign an NDA in exchange for compensation. If I’m correct, they have my greatest sympathy, but that’s also saying to the Rosminians: ‘You, a group of men that includes dangerous criminals, have the right to dictate that your past crimes will be concealed in exchange for hush money.’ That is really fucked up, even if it is the way of the world, but at least the survivors got their stories out in the form of a major documentary. I notice there’s now not a word about Rosminian abuse after 2011 on the internet.
I hope there is a better way.
The lawyer may say that action can only apply if the De La Salle brothers are still alive (and compos mentis). Or he may say that action can still be taken against the Order as an entity. Or he may advise there may be other ways forward to expose their crimes that I’m not aware of. We’ll see.
There’s a lot of unknowns at this point. It may be that many or all other survivors won’t want to be part of the process and that’s absolutely fine. I’m happy to go solo on it if my own case is viable and if it’s financially feasible. It may or may not require a kickstarter. But if you do wish to be involved, be assured that, as always, your anonymity will be respected. And if the lawyer lays out a feasible road map and an achievable goal, you may then feel okay about taking part. Whatever he has to say, positive or negative, it will be valuable and informative to know just what’s involved.
If there’s anyone with legal knowledge of this field, I’d welcome your thoughts as it may help me in preparing the ground. Or even deciding it’s a non-starter, in which case I’ll continue with this blog, highlighting the Order’s crimes in preparation for a future Enquiry, like IICSA, which will inevitably happen. Their crimes are not going to go away. On the contrary, as time passes, the evidence is gathering.
I’m aware from the Ampleforth case with the Benedictines, and informed sources, that abuse crimes are still current in the Catholic Church and its entities, despite safeguarding. So my concern is also for children today who may still be at risk and that also makes this action worth taking.
My email address is firstname.lastname@example.org if anyone prefers to write to me direct. Your thoughts will be very welcome and, as always, your confidentiality is assured.
My twitter handle, by the way, is @PatrickEMills and I’ve made some valuable contacts and picked up some useful information via this social media.
I thought it was important to make a separate post of this new statement below from an Old Boy. This now makes four accounts of sexual abuse by Brother James at St Joseph’s. (As well as endless accounts of his extreme violence.) The implications of Brother James’s comment, ‘I can see you’re not ready,’ is troubling and confirms his role as a serial sex offender as well as a violent psychopath.
If I had confirming evidence in my own case against James, e.g. a witness, I would have already taken legal action against the De La Salle Order. Unfortunately, it’s a solo crime, but sooner or later the right case will come along as it does with other schools, and action can be taken.
I was reflecting today that I wish there were other sites or places where the crimes of the De La Salle Brothers and the Catholic Church in Ipswich could be recorded. I’m very happy to list them here because I know one day soon they will have to be acted upon, especially as the testimonies grow in numbers. But some Old Boys may prefer sharing with a different body.
For the record, I’m only aware of three options. But do say if you know of more.
1)The police. By far the best option if the De La Salle brother or lay teacher is still alive and compos mentis. Many of them are still alive, so if you’re a survivor and you can handle it, please don’t leave it too long. I can assure you from personal experience the police will take your statement seriously.
2) Diocese Catholic Safeguard Officer. In my opinion and personal experience, they are there to safeguard the Church, not survivors. I tried them some years ago and found the Officer was a complete waste of time and full of b.s. They might argue that the DLS brothers fall outside their jurisdiction. The Church’s ability to buck pass is impressive. But I would be very happy to be proved wrong.
3)The De La Salle Order. Its current head is Brother Laurence Hughes who has stated publicly how concerned he is for the well-being of children. See a past post. I’ve just read three harrowing accounts of his extreme physical violence against children when he was a teacher at St J’s. One account, where Laurence takes a bowler’s run up to beat a child, is identical to the violence the psychopath Brother James used on a boy. A man like this is a disgrace and should clearly resign, but until he does I don’t see how the DLS can take complaints of abuse seriously.
It goes without saying that the current St J’s would go into Pontius Pilate mode and say any complaints against the school are nothing to do with them. They’re very happy to draw on the great achievements of the school’s past but not its serious crimes against children.
It’s surprising how many famous and influential Old Boys who were at St J’s at the same time as myself but have nothing to say about the appalling abuse which we all know was endemic at the time. It may not have happened to them personally, but they’d have to be deaf, dumb and blind not to have seen what going on. At the time, with gallows humor, we’d all make jokes about Brother Solomon being sent to the DLS Jersey ‘reformatory’. Shipwrecked sailors arrived on the island, saw Brother Solomon, and ran from him in terror.
Now is the time to speak out, even if it duplicates what’s already been noted. It helps to confirm the truth beyond any reasonable doubt.
I’m reminded of the phrase: If you are able to speak up and you don’t, then you are implicitly condoning it.
THE LATEST ACCOUNT:
I’m coming to this very late. I had a fair bit of contact with Brother Elwin as I was Head Choirboy in the year or so leading up to his death, and I lived a long way from Ipswich so spent half term holidays at the college. During half term he would sometimes set up practice sessions with me and get me to sing music outside the usual Catholic repertoire. I was obviously lucky or just unattractive to him as even in those 1:1 situations he was never other than appropriate. I wish I could say the same of Brother Hugh. Actually I am slightly worried that I might be misremembering events because I have seen no reference to him as an abuser but when I was in the 3rd or 4th form he was in charge of our dormitory, and at night regularly positioned himself in a chair next to one particular bed after lights out and abused it’s occupant. One of the boys with a quick wit came up with a re-working of the tune to Dad’s Army which parodied this activity. Was Brother Hugh’s surname Leyland? I was groomed for a time in my first year by I think Brother James (I have buried the memory very deep) and ended up naked (him still dressed) in the laundry room off our dormitory, but bizarrely he then said “I can see you’re not ready” and told me to get dressed and didn’t touch me. That was my one and only near-miss although I was on the receiving end of much brutality during my years (1967 to 1973).
There is still a damage limitation exercise on the media’s coverage of Ampleforth. At the time of writing, no newspapers have covered the latest important development revealed by Channel 4 yesterday:
Channel 4 has seen a letter to the government from a solicitor for victims of historic abuse at Ampleforth College, alleging it has not fully separated itself from the Abbey as it had been told to. The school denies the claims.
Yet, despite this media partial blackout, it’s the biggest Catholic story of 2020 and 2021:Catholic Eton may be about to close down! The one exception to this media censorship is the Catholic Tablet, which, to its credit, has followed the Ampleforth case closely and shown honesty in its reporting and true diligence. Unlike the Catholic Herald, for example, who barely covered it.
What I take away from the Channel 4 story is that the Benedictine monks must still (still!) represent a threat to the safety of children.
And it reminds me that the De La Salle brothers may also still be a similar threat to children. Today.
In the case of St Joseph’s College, Ipswich, the De La Salle brothers have long gone and I’m sure the current regime would use the classic ‘get out of responsibilities for the past’ card. Namely: ‘The college is now an entirely different legal, financial and governance entity’.
Lawyers have tried challenging the adroit use of this card elsewhere – at Sherborne, for instance – but I doubt they’ll succeed.
So St Joseph’s can endlessly draw on the school’s proud heritage as a selling feature for today’s prospective parents. But have nothing to say about horrendous crimes which exceed the crimes of the Ampleforth monks. Any glance through past posts on this site will bear this out.
They see no need to acknowledge them and neither do the De La Salle brothers who still run many schools in the UK. I’ve read two testimonies from St Joseph’s old boys about the DLS current head, Brother Lawrence Hughes, which allege he inflicted serious physical abuse on children. One of these testimonies is featured in a past post on this site.
The crimes this order have committed outside St Joseph’s are endless. There are the approved schools in Scotland.
Boyle states, ‘We all knew instantly who’d been inside a De La Salle school because we all carried the same deep emotional and psychological scars. In our darkest moments we’d talk about our horrific experiences there. All of us agreed, no matter how tough any prison regime, none was as brutal as De La Salle.
‘The stories were the same from all the De La Salle schools.’
There are similar accounts about the DLS schools in N. Ireland.
And there’s the infamous Brother James Carragher, head of St Williams, who ran a ‘paedophile sweet shop’ making children available for the rich laity.
And there’s further revelations about the order now coming from Australia. And so on.
But we’re led to believe that the order is totally different today. That they really care about children and would never harm them. That’s like saying there were once bad S.S., but now there are good, reformed S.S. No, there is only S.S. and – by definition – they are the embodiment of evil. In my view, it’s impossible to reform organizations with proven track records of organized evil.
The role of the rich Catholic laity is certainly the gorilla in the corner where St Joseph’s, Ipswich, is concerned. They were the Eminence Gris that helped create the college and saved it from scandal. See my past posts and a survivor’s testimony in ‘The shocking truth about St Joseph’s.’
I hope and assume that the Catholic laity in the current St Joseph’s era, who have a role in governing and running the school, have no continuity or connection with these past Catholic laity who were guilty of the most serious crimes against children.
Unfortunately, there’s no way of knowing when or if the latter’s role of Eminence Gris directing the school’s affairs from the shadows ever came to an end.
Today, there is increasing evidence of this sinister role of the Catholic laity in Catholic schools elsewhere. The example of Brother James Carragher above, for instance.
Five years ago, when I first started writing about my experience of the Ipswich Catholic laity, I was very much a lone voice, which could be easily dismissed. Then others came forward and related similar experiences. Once again, see ‘The shocking truth’. Five years ago, I doubt this account of what happened in Catholic Germany and the central role of the laity– which is far from unique – could never have found its way into print. So the times are changing.
Returning to Ampleforth: personally, I have my doubts it will close, despite all the predictions. I believe it’s too important to the establishment – hence the media damage limitation exercises and the support of prominent Catholics like Rees-Mogg. But that could be because I’ve seen how the Catholic Diocese, the current St Joseph’s College, the De La Salle Order, and the Ipswich Catholic laity, including the Knights of St Columba, have all ignored the testimonies from survivors on this site. And have not been called to account. Yet.
It was also interesting seeing how the children of Ampleforth school have supported the current regime, handing in a letter to Number Ten, asking for the ban to be lifted. I’m sure St Joseph’s, past and present, would command similar loyalty and this may explain the silence of some who know what really went on in the past. But, like Ampleforth, it is misplaced.
These crimes are far too serious to put loyalty to the school and religion above the law of the land.
And inevitably, more St Joseph’s survivors will come forward and at some point – as it dovetails with the endless new revelations of the crimes of the Catholic Church emerging every day – there will be a new enquiry and all concerned will be fetched to give an account of themselves, just as happened at Ampleforth.
I watched Father Jamison, Abbot President, give evidence to IICSA and he was very smooth and convincing. But this was marred by what a survivor had told me about Jamison which painted a very different picture of him.
Similarly, I watched Cardinal Nichols – after being given a damning IICSA report – offer a very smooth and convincing apology to survivors. But this, too, was marred by how he reminded me so much of the three clerical abusers I knew as a child: Canon Burrows and Father Wace (St Pancras, Ipswich) and Father Jolly (Chaplain to St Joseph’s). Nichols reminded me how smooth and convincing these abusers were under very different circumstances. It was also marred by knowing Nichols had covered up the infamous case of Father Quigley which comes under the category of current, not historic abuse.
I’m sure at an enquiry, representatives of the De La Salle order, the Diocese, the laity, and the current St Joseph’s will be equally convincing and wring their hands and plead so convincingly, ‘We never knew’.
I think I’d have more respect for them all if, instead of their pious and heartfelt lamentations, they told the truth, and admitted what they really think and say behind closed doors. Their view of me and fellow survivors, aka ‘troublemakers’, for exposing the truth about them. Namely: ‘Pat – shut the fuck up.’
Or, to put it in their establishment language, ’We all need to be singing from the same hymn sheet.’
You may well have read that Ampleforth College, ‘the Catholic Eton’, has been banned from taking new pupils and that it intends to appeal. It was banned because of its appalling record on child sexual abuse CSA which was highlighted at the independent enquiry IICSA.
That was almost a month ago with all the media covering it from the same press release yet with no follow up on what is surely the biggest Catholic story of the year.
Soon after, Ampleforth decided NOT to appeal, but rather to try to satisfy the authorities that children were no longer at risk. There is a media blackout on this important development. I suspect this blackout will continue until when or if Ampleforth is back in business.
Thus the Catholic Herald didn’t report the original ban, never mind what happened next. I tweeted them three times to ask them why? With no response, of course. It’s so obvious why – everyone’s been ordered to keep quiet about the latest events at Ampleforth which involve not just historic CSA, but current CSA.
What I take away from this article is there a very real chance that Ampleforth may close its doors forever.
That the jewel in the Catholic Crown may end its existence and why, you might imagine would already be the subject of opinion pieces, further research and articles in the Guardian, Independent, Times, Mirror, Sun, and Mail, not to mention coverage by the BBC. It’s a huge story. But apart from predictably bilious articles in the Telegraph and Spectator alleging the Church is undergoing religious persecution, there is nothing in the mainstream media.
In my view, it’s because there is a behind the scenes veto as it brings an important pillar of the establishment into disrepute. So the public must know little or nothing about it. Or if they do, its significance must be seriously downplayed.
Serious Catholic crimes abroad may be written about, yes, but never such crimes in the UK. So two days ago the Mail covered a case of Catholic organised crime, a clerical, laity, and female (nuns) paedophile ring operating in Germany in the 1970s.
It’s the first time, as far as I know, that the British media has acknowledged ORGANISED CSA crime exists in the Catholic Church, albeit in Germany. And with a focus on the laity. So that, at least, is progress,
Regular readers of this blog will see the similarities to organised crime that I’ve written about as a survivor myself. These events took place in the 1960s involving the Catholic Church, St Joseph’s College Ipswich, the De La Salle brothers and the laity, cantered around a Catholic elite who were Knights of St Columba, Ipswich province.
I’ve cited similar Catholic organised CSA crime in Australia and the USA, including an Oz academic study which proves the existence of organized Catholic paedophile rings beyond reasonable doubt.
Thus far, no academic or media or survivors organisations or the IICSA itself has shown any interest in UK Catholic organised crime because it either steps out of the safe tramlines of the ‘just one rotten apple in the barrel’ theory or because they’re aware of the veto. And they want to keep their jobs.
In case you’re thinking, ‘Well it was just Ipswich in the 1960s that had a few Catholic wrong uns, but they’re all dead now, so what does it matter, get over it,’ let me disquiet your mind.
This year another important Catholic CSA scandal emerged that was barely reported on. Once again it involved the kind of players who featured in Ipswich in the 1960s. Specifically a Catholic school, a De La Salle brother, and a Catholic elite laity in a paedophile ring.
The DLS brother was the notorious school principal Brother James Carragher now on his third jail term. He’s been sentenced to a total of THIRTY years for CSA and physical brutality. He’s at the centre of the survivor’s allegations, so there’s no reason to doubt the veracity of the account.
The Sun mentioned the paedophile ring in passing and I followed it up in the survivor’s book they were reporting on: The Boy In The Cellar by Stephen Smith. In Chapter 24 Stephen describes the Catholic school he attended as a paedophile’s sweetshop. He relates how the friends of Brother James ‘all wore suits, drove Jaguars and spoke with a posh accent’…. ‘I’d often see men – visitors to the school – sitting on the bench choosing (I presume) who they wanted to rape or abuse… St Williams, it seemed, had become a sweetie shop for visiting paedophiles – a shop that Brother James held the key to.’
Although Brother James is now in jail, AFAIK the DLS order has not followed up this serious account of Catholic crime, a paedophile ring involving the laity. It’s just been treated as yet another rotten apple case. James is serving 30 years, case closed.
So the laity involved have got away with it. As they always appear to do. It seems it’s the priests or brothers who have to ‘take one for the team.’
The similarities to organised Catholic crime in Ipswich in the 1960s is remarkable. The Catholic elite laity I knew certainly drove expensive cars and were professionals. I remember them as doctors, magistrates, engineers and so on. As a kid, I always thought they were ‘posh’ because they all seemed to wear sock suspenders and have different, ‘expensive’ blue and white striped underwear.
There are four organisations that need to be held to account as detailed in my past posts:
1)The De La Salle Order who still teach children today. And whose current head made a serious physical assault on a child, according to an old boy’s account.
2)The Catholic Church through the Ipswich parishes of St Pancras and St Marks run in my era by three paedophile priests , two or whom are listed as Knights of St Columba.
3)St Joseph’s College, Ipswich, today, which has no connection with these historic crimes in Ipswich. It has cut itself free of the DLS order, just as Ampleforth is cutting itself free from its Benedictine monk founders. But today’s St Joseph’s still draws constantly on its proud past and achievements and proclaims its school is ‘in the La Sallian Tradition’. It has never acknowledged the endless CSA crimes that were committed at St Joseph’s at least until the end of the 1980s. Crimes the college is fully aware of. That has to be put right.
4)The elite Laity in the shape of the Knights of St Columba, Ipswich province. Today’s Knights, who presumably include similar professionals such as doctors and magistrates, would surely repudiate the crimes of their predecessors. Once again those crimes must be acknowledged.
And the question – when did these likely transgenerational crimes stop? – needs to be addressed by all of them.
The ‘sit tight and say nothing’ or respond with studied passive aggression is the usual approach used by the Catholic Church and it was remarked upon and criticised at the IICSA by lawyers for survivors. It goes almost without saying that this is the most likely response by the four organisations above. It’s served them well so far.
But consider this, gentlemen, If the bell can toll for Ampleforth, it can toll for you. If the greatest Catholic school in the land can be laid low by survivors, then you could be next.
If Ampleforth can go down, then there is hope for all Catholic survivors.
My older brother told me how the DLS at St Joseph’s Birkfield had a wine cellar and enjoyed fine wines. How he knew that he never explained! I always thought they lived grim lives of penance, wearing sackcloth and ashes in their spare time, with the odd bit of self-flagellation thrown in. But seems I am wrong. I guess I got them confused with the Trappists. Here another St Joseph’s Old Boy from my era vividly describes the reality. It’s a side of the De La Salle Brothers we rarely hear about:
‘The Black Monks and fine wine. Oh, I believe that one! You’ll recall that the furthest of the wooden dining halls from the school block had its entrance next to original building and, to be precise, right next to the large window of the Black Monk’s dining room. In the morning, one could see such a wide variety of cereals on display that it made your head spin. At best we got bog standard Corn Flakes but usually there was a vat of grey porridge. Actually, since you mention everyone remembering where they were when they got the news, it was while we were waiting to go into exactly that same dining hall for supper one evening that we first heard of the death of JFK. Good food and fine wine was not the only extravagance for the Brethren. It was all reminiscent of the exotic lifestyle embraced by the pigs in ‘Animal Farm’. In the writing I did during my post grad studies, I note that a number of the Black Monks (I say half of them, but I could not know that) belonged to Ipswich Golf Club and owned four or five sets of clubs. In time, the community acquired a Morris 1100 and a Ford Transit minibus. The Transit van made its debut on the light commercial vehicle market in 1965, so I think these vehicles probably came to Birkfield after you left. The vehicles were almost exclusively for use by the de la Salle bods who went off to the golf course in them and had first formers in tow to be slave caddies, or so I wrote but I have to confess that I don’t recall that now. I saw them using a hired MG Midget to play with during one half term, though, and the community owned five shotguns. There were two .410 guns and three twelve bores, as recorded in my writing, two of the twelve bores being expensive West German guns. There was a sort of ill-tempered and decrepit ‘Father Jack’ character called Brother Celsius who was retired and spent his time waving a walking stick round his head in permanently unsuppressed rage. I can’t remember much else about him apart from the fact that he had to be given a wide berth because of that flailing cane. The perception was that he constantly demanded to be taken on long rides in the Morris 1100 through the Suffolk countryside and I think his wish was always granted. These twats, you need to remind yourself, made a big thing of this vow of poverty, chastity and obedience that they all signed up to when they took the Pope’s shilling and became Black Monks.’
For several years now I’ve been highlighting the dubious role of the Knights of St Columba in Ipswich (and elsewhere) and the Catholic Laity in general in the 1950s, 1960s and possibly beyond.
Validation for some of my recollections of the Catholic Laity comes from a surprising and authoritative source that is hard to dismiss: The Catholic Weekly May 7 2020!
More details below with a link.
It’s an Australian newspaper, of course.
By comparison, Catholics in the UK will probably deny the truth even if an enquiry found beyond any reasonable doubt that the Laity not only covered up abuse but actually played a key role in it, which is my own recollection.
But when priests, monks and brothers were provably abusing children on an organised and ‘industrial scale’, why on earth would perverts in the Laity not only cover up these crimes but also want ‘their share’? Of course they would.
That was certainly my experience and with Catholic women, too. 1950s Catholic women were never the Ladybird book submissive characters we are led to believe. Many were strong, ballsy, truly admirable women. And some were every bit as perverted as their male counterparts. The myth that abuse is primarily a male vice and that women are only rarely perpetrators, usually as a result of male coercion, is pretty much debunked these days.
One abusive Catholic woman I had the misfortune to meet as a child was strongly associated with the influential Catholic Women’s League. That’s a matter of record. I suspect the other women I encountered were CWL, too. But they didn’t wear sashes like the Knights so they’re harder to identify beyond any reasonable doubt. The CWL is very roughly the female equivalent of the Knights of St Columba, but without the Masonic secrecy, and there were connections between members of the two organisations in Ipswich in my day. The CWL also seems to have had a more radical and reforming role which I can genuinely admire, even if that was not the case for all its Ipswich members in the 1950s who seemed to have used it as a cover for other activities.
If you look up the CWL on Wikipedia you will see a single photo of them showing their good works today in … St Pancras Church, Ipswich. This church was the hub of child abuse in my era as I’ve previously related. It’s surely just co-incidence that of all the hundreds of possible churches the Wikipedia entry should pick, they chose St Pancras, Ipswich.
And I’m sure the CWL are very different today and completely above reproach, just like all the other relevant organisations I mention, who endlessly congratulate themselves today on their entitlement and worthiness, with never a word of self-criticism. But none of them ever want to look at their past where a rather different story unfolds.
Anyway, back to this article from Catholic Oz. I’m so impressed the author had the courage to speak out. It doesn’t go as far as I’m going, but it’s a helluva good start. Especially in a Catholic newspaper. Bravo!
Let’s hope other Catholics have the courage to speak out and put their house in order. It seems to be a unique Australian Catholic phenomena to tell the truth. After all, their academics and national reporters first highlighted that there were transgenerational Catholic Paedophile Rings in Oz. Including the Laity. Other Catholic Paedophile Rings have also been revealed in the States. It would seem unlikely that the UK is different and my testimony and another survivor on this site show clear evidence of a ring.
My concern – and everyone’s concern – about such transgenerational rings is that they didn’t fade away with stricter protocols from the 1990s, but just went deeper underground.
I think that’s a valid concern which is ignored by the various organisations.
I fear in Catholic Britain the relevant Catholic organisations, schools and the Church will ignore, deny and lie until the very end. Then, when they are finally fetched, wring their hands with hypocritical horror and say ‘we never knew’.
This is specifically relevant to St Joseph’s College, Ipswich, The De La Salle Brothers, the Knights of St Columba, Ipswich and the East Anglian Catholic diocese. See my past posts.
Here are some highlights from the article by Doctor Philippa Martyr:
A difficult conversation – but necessary
If we are going to do real soul-searching about clergy sexual abuse, it’s time we turned the spotlight on to the laity and their role in enabling abusers.
This is a difficult conversation to begin. We are used to seeing ourselves as the good guys, and the solution, not the problem: that if we had lay-led parishes or diocesan offices, this would rid us of clergy abuse for good.
Unfortunately, history is not on our side. Cases of clergy sexual abuse in the English-speaking world reveal any number of compromised lay people who have helped with covering up and explaining away, either directly or indirectly.
The ‘lay clericalism’ of the insiders
They are usually wealthy and influential, or employed by the Church, or in useful professions.
There are longstanding networks of Catholic old boys and women everywhere: those who know each other from their private Catholic school, Catholic community social and welfare organisations, and countless other Catholic networks.
They all do good work – but the people in these organisations are human like everyone else. Sometimes networks can build up where people have information on each other that will never see the light of day for various reasons.
Time to face the truth
This is the ugly underside of our local vibrant Catholic community. Covering-up goes on all the time, for all sorts of things – and yes, lay people enable it. We just haven’t been brave enough to face this about ourselves yet.
An Old Boy recently sent in this story which I remembered well at the time because it was just before I started at St J’s. The teacher involved, Kevin Tracey, had previously been at St J’s, a year earlier, and it was all over the newspapers. Everyone was talking about it. My mother said it was the eleven year old boy’s fault leading the ‘silly man’ on! A common attitude then and even now, I’m afraid.
This is the story in summary. It happened in 1959 – 1960.
Kidnapped English boy Tony Stephens is found on the continent, where his abductor – his school art teacher- had kept him for fifteen months. Tony was 11 when he was taken. His father, a milkman in Earl Shilton, Leicestershire, left his job and dedicated his life to finding Tony. After a year and half’s search, he was successful.
Here’s the Old Boy’s recollection of the events:
I was at SJC from 53 to 61. Starting at age 7 1/2 I never saw or heard of any sexual abuse but some of the Bros were a bit fond of the cane. Bros Solomon, Kevin and Michael being the main ones. However they seem to employ some religious bigots the main one being Kevin Tracey, who taught Spanish and geography in 57- 59. He would cut bamboo from behind the 55 block and frequently cane the whole class for not learning well enough. He seemed to pick on Chris Prior the most. He spent large part of any lesson telling us how religious the boys of our age were in Spain. When he left SJC he abducted a boy from his next employment and ran away with him for best part of a year. Look on Google under Kevin Tracey.
Bros Solomon and Kevin were, of course, notorious and proven child abusers.
So I Googled the teacher Kevin Tracey.
I found this on line, by another Old Boy.
I was at St Joseph’s College, Ipswich, where Tracey taught Spanish and Geography in the academic year 1957/58. His contract wasn’t renewed. He was considered a religious fanatic, even at this Catholic school, and tried to start his Crusader group there. He said the organisation was strong in Spain. Tracey was an admirer of General Franco, at that time very much in power in Spain and vigorously persecuting former Republican opponents. I think some of his fellow teachers disapproved of Tracey’s enthusiasm for corporal punishment. Many years later I heard a rumour that he had become a priest. How much credence one can place on this, I can’t say
It’s remarkable to think this man Tracey was too violent and too fanatical for St Joseph’s in the same era as Brother James! I know James tried to set up his own religious cult.
I guess Tracey just didn’t fit in with the other religious bigots or pervert teachers for some reason. Either because he was competing for the same young boys or he was too blatant and therefore a risk to the St Joseph’s Paedophile Ring which undoubtedly existed at this time. See past posts.
The nauseating Pathe News report on the link is worth seeing because it demonstrates how easily Tracey got away with it. Just 18 months for kidnap. We are assured the boy was medically examined and showed no signs of abuse. Well, we don’t need to be graphic to know that means absolutely nothing.
Tracey’s eleven year old victim had been promised he’d be Head Crusader in Spain.
There are many disturbing aspects to the case. The boy had written a letter to Tracey which his father found and realized from the adult content that it wasn’t the ‘pure relationship’ he had been led to believe. So he put a stop to it. That’s why Tracey carried out his abduction plan which was well organized and involved faked passports and an epic train journey to London. It felt to me like this individual had done something like this before.
But what’s particularly nauseating is the way modern day commentators justify and minimize this crime.
Here’s an example:
I believe that Tony must have loved, or at least thought the world of Kevin to do what he did for him, to leave his home and his family and go abroad with him as he did, with no idea if he would ever return.
We should never make the mistake of believing that no child can feel so strongly about something as Tony did. All children are different. Kevin was very wrong to do what he did and had no hope of getting away with it and was eventually sent to prison for it. However, there was no medical evidence at the time that he had sexually abused Tony and, as unlikely as it seems to our modern way of thinking, it’s quite possible that the relationship between the pair was simply loving in a platonic way.
Here’s another one.
From what I’ve read, Kevin simply wanted to set up a Crusader Christian scout movement with Tony as the head Crusader in the hope of spreading the movement throughout the world. An admirable idea that looked fine on the face of it, but that when he tried to make it work, it fell down flat. At 68 years of age, I’ve lived long enough now to know that sometimes, things can look to be one way and turn out to be another way entirely.
As a survivor, I find it disturbing that Tracey’s crimes can be rationalized in this way. The boy was eleven years old FFS!
And these observers really believe it was all innocent, despite the evidence of the father; not to mention Tracey never wrote to the dad saying his son was alive and well.
So when, in the same era, I reported a lay teacher and his female associate (twice) to the cops, you can imagine the police response had a similar Pathe News tone and included the suggestion, roughly as follows, ‘Just keep away from them. Find someone your own age to play with, sonny.’
Good advice but not realistic if the scum have a financial hold over you, through ‘the Church’ paying my school fees (a matter of record).
But what I take away from this is how Tracey’s Scout Crusaders were disturbingly similar to the Squires of the Knights of St Columba. Now defunct. Although the Squires of the Knights of Columbus (complete with oaths of secrecy) still exist today with the inevitable numerous child abuse cases resulting.
Secondly, how there was something clearly unwholesome going on at St Joseph’s in this era when I had the misfortune to be enrolled (in 1960).
And it shows how lay teachers were just as likely to be paedophiles as the more notorious DLS Brothers. In the 1960s that was certainly my experience, and, I gather, subsequently, right through to at least the 1980s, as a search of this site will show.
Whether from me, or from others, there is clearly far more to come about the serious crimes of St Joseph’s College and its associated organisations. SJC ostriches should continue burying their heads.
If you’re not familiar with the Brother Kevin case, he was outed on this site by numerous Old Boys in the last five years or more as an Abuser. It then transpired that he had been driven out of his village by local youths because he was seen there as an Abuser.
He is now suffering from dementia and is ending or has ended his days in a home in Ipswich.
All this has some relevance to my interest in Kearney, my old chemistry teacher.
First, let me show you some relevant comments about Kevin that I think are extremely important, otherwise I wouldn’t be publishing and republishing them.
ONE. I received this comment this morning from an Old Boy. Many thanks! I don’t think it requires any further comment from me.
There was a creepy old woman by the name of Ashton, with an even creepier character. Why she was employed as a school matron, I have no idea. It was always such an arduous chore if any of the kids got ill. She would often join Kevin in the boys shower block and strangely watch us all having a shower. Did she know what Kevin was up to after lights out, I couldn’t honestly say, but she certainly wasn’t playing with a full deck I was abused at the hands of Kevin and believe it is not possible to leave it in the past and forget. I went on to have a very long and successful career in the Royal Marines, and seen many horrors in the world. Discussing my abuse helps me as a survivor, deal with it and ‘move on’. It is certainly something one can never forget
TWO. This comment came from a lady back in 2017, presumably before Brother Kevin was forced to leave his village.
I’ve checked her email address and Angela is indeed Angela Ashton.
Angela commented on IN THE LA SALLIAN TRADITION 3I wanted to write a new post in response to further comments on my About page from St Joseph’s old boys Nick and NW1 – … Another pupil of Br. Kevin contacted me about your comments. We were both appalled to read them. I was in charge of the boarding in the 80’s at Oakhill with Kevin and am in touch with people of that time. My son had been a boarder before my time. The boarders were a very happy bunch on the whole and Kevin very popular and we can honestly say completely trusted . I saw him constantly with the boys and everyone was completely relaxed round him. We are absolutely convinced nothing of the above mentioned went on. As my son and his friends and other pupils say, Kevin was the very last brother they would suspect. At the end of the holidays the boys from unhappy homes would run up to him as they were so thrilled to be back to what they felt was safety and it was. The years I had there with the boarding were very happy. I stayed some nights if anyone was unhappy and if I wasn’t there Kevin was there for them and if I’d suspected anything with having 3 boys myself I’d have gone straight to the top. My son tells me he was homesick the first night of the term and would go to Kevin’s room but then gave that up as the other boarding master had better comics! Kevin didn’t know me then. He came out of the Order and settled locally and is a very popular figure in the community. My twin grandchildren would call on him after school, other children in the street would run up to him. Nobody had any worries.when he left Oakhill, before me, he had the largest number of presents and letters I’ve seen. When the police questioned him many of his old boys wrote to the police to support him as they were horrified and some are still in touch with him and visit him, some from way back.The solicitor you refer to was not organised by Kevin but by friends. I don’t know who. The school dentist visited the school professionally and socially and knew Kevin as well or better than me and he still talks about the happy place. I know these phaedophiles can hide their ways and are clever but none of us believe Kevin is one and I can’t obviously comment on the past but it is all so far from the Kevin we all know. Surely if you are a paedophile you just don’t stop?
THREE. At the time, I wrote back to Angela in some detail and pointed out:
It’s often hard for survivors to come forward and share what happened because they feel they won’t be believed. Sometimes we doubt our own memories because they don’t square with the public persona that abusers have. And all too often they are supported by respectable members of the community or by other boys who weren’t assaulted.
But we only have to look elsewhere in the media to see how that can be quite fake.
I don’t pretend to be an expert, but as a survivor of another DLS abuser, Brother James, and clerical abusers, I can certainly say abusers are very good at covering their tracks or ensuring their victims remain silent. And the reaction of others is invariably disbelief until enough people come forward and confirm it happened to them, too.
I’d have thought three survivors accounts, independent of each other, was sufficient to make the case and for this matter to be taken seriously
Angela didn’t reply to me.
Regarding Angela’s agenda, in the light of the first comment, once again I don’t think it requires any further comment from me.
We can all draw our own conclusions.
But I think both needed highlighting and are extremely relevant to us Survivors today.
They show just what we are all up against.
I personally need to understand how easily Abuse can be covered up and I think it is shown very clearly here.
The whole matter of Brother Kevin is now proved and closed because of his dementia. It’s a great pity because I know NW1, several Old Boys like the first commentator above, and another survivor in LA rightly wanted justice for Kevin’s crimes against them.
They should have had their day in court and I’m sorry they didn’t.
(Needless to say, everyone’s email above remains private and confidential and I won’t pass on to anyone.)
The personal relevance for me is that a similar process may now be taking place where Kearney is concerned.
A while back, one lady wrote to me and asked where my research and evidence was going regarding Kearney.
Now another lady, an Old Girl of St J’s, has asked me the same thing and seems to want to know more, too.
Both women said how Kearney was ‘strict but fair’ and a good guy, which is not my experience of him.
Or indeed the experience of many Old Boys, one of whom said he was ‘terrified’ of him.
Clearly Angela above had her own personal agenda in defending Brother Kevin.
This has made me wonder whether the two women wanting to know about my research into Kearney have their own personal agenda – e.g. are they connected with Kearney or his family in some way.
As I’ve explained to them both, I’m happy to be as transparent as I possibly can.
Revealing the Truth is the full extent of my own personal agenda.
Until then, I can’t, as the Old Girl suggested: ‘Get on with my life’.
The Truth has to come out first, I’m afraid.
But if they have any questions I’ll happily enter into a dialogue with them and tell them something of my truly grim experiences of Kearney privately.
Do ask away, ladies. I promise you I will treat your questions with respect. And, if you knew Kearney well, perhaps you can answer some of my questions.
There may well be details I’ve got wrong that you could correct.
I’m genuinely sorry if it’s unpleasant and upsetting for you, but I’m sure we all, ultimately, want the same thing: the Truth.
Not a cover-up.
And do please consider – why would I waste my time laboriously writing about Kearney for these past few months and more unless it was true?
What other possible motive could I have after all these decades?
So here’s where I’m currently at:
I have a very comprehensive account of my experiences at the hands of Kearney. And I think I’ve got the whole thing down on paper now, although there may be one or two details I’ve missed or I may have the exact order of events wrong.
Some of it is quite shocking.
That’s why I’m waiting for someone else to reveal other aspects of Kearney, apart from his extreme violence (punching a 13 year old in the face), and his racism, both of which are now a matter of record.
I’m trying hard not to be too mysterious here. So here’s the kind of thing I’m looking for – his possible use of chemicals outside the lab, for instance.
Because I don’t think it’s right to put up such a shocking account without some independent corroboration of at least some elements of my story.
My word is not enough, I feel. Look at the Cardinal Pell case and how he got off on appeal because it was just one person’s word for what Pell had done.
It’s why I waited years in the case of Brother James and the Knights of Columba and what they did to me until others had ‘spilled the beans’ first. Then- and only then – did I tell my story.
For those Survivors’ courage in coming forward, I thank them from the bottom of my heart.
Based on these previous testimonies, it could take a few months, even a year, before an Old Boy comes forward with his recollections of Kearney. Meanwhile, there are other avenues I’m also pursuing regarding my old chemistry teacher.