The real purpose of this post is the mechanics of a Catholic Dark Network.
How they operate.
And how this can sometimes mean a Catholic paedophile ‘taking one for the team’. I believe Brother Solomon had to ‘take one for the team’.
I’ll come back to that a bit later. But first to set the scene:
In case the tag ‘Brother Solomon’ has drawn you to this site for the first time, let me explain that a Dark Network is an academic term for a paedophile ring.
An academic study (see my past post ‘Dark Networks’) shows a primary example in Victoria, Oz. Muytjens, Sally (2019) An exploration of the existence of clergy child sexual abuse dark networks within the Victorian catholic church. PhD thesis, Queensland University of Technology.
Muytjens identified 16 Catholic child sex abuse rings in Victoria, Oz.
This, for me at least, validates my own recollections that there was a similar paedophile ring at St Joseph’s College Ipswich in the 1960s.
There was also a separate investigation by the Age newspaper which covers further criminal Catholic networks in Oz, some of which may overlap with the academic study. If you just want a quick read, here it is: https://www.theage.com.au/national/victoria/revealed-how-paedophile-priests-in-victoria-worked-together-to-share-victims-20190916-p52rtz.html
The evidence for Brother Solomon being in a similar paedophile ring is more circumstantial than Brother James where two testimonies specifically show the involvement of the Knights of St Columba who covered up his crimes . This resulted in more of James’s perverted behaviour being inflicted on pupils in the 1970s when he should have been in jail.
To briefly reprise on the evidence about Brother Solomon.
I knew as a first former in 1960/1961 that Solomon was a paedophile. All the kids joked about it and talked about him being sent to a Brothers’ reformatory on Jersey where shipwrecked sailors would be at risk from them. Brother James – a confirmed Dark Networker – wrote a glowing farewell to Solomon in the school magazine and I remember at the time thinking how it was simply untrue. Then Solomon went to Beulah Hill where he committed numerous crimes, had a brief interval as a minor pop star, then probably went to do ‘missionary work’ at Homan’s Boys Town in India, and came back to St Joseph’s Ipswich as lay teacher Mike Mercado in the mid-1980s. He was dismissed over further allegations of sexual abuse.
The endless shifting him from school to school is suggestive of a Dark Network of organized abusers. Then there’s his involvement with Joe Homan, a proven paedophile (I have the private testimony of one survivor from Oakhill which is heartbreaking to read). Homan may have won a libel case alleging abuse, but there is a great deal about him still left unanswered and strongly suggestive of a Dark Network, despite Old Boy Chris Mullin’s whitewash obituary on him in the Guardian.
There’s more about Solomon which is potentially relevant. His co-ownership of a fun pier at Weston Super Mare, for example. According to Mullin, he ended his days playing the piano on a pier. Maybe this was the one.
Before getting onto how Solomon ‘took one for the team’, here’s a reminder from Old Boys at Beulah Hill as to what this sick individual was like.
Bear in mind he’d just been thrown out of St J’s Ipswich because of some serious allegations which resulted in him disappearing literally overnight. So then he’s allowed to carry on at Beulah Hill doing exactly the same!
(I have a private testimony from an Old Boy from Ipswich describing a sexual assault Solomon made on him and a number of other boarders.)
I was a pupil at St Joseph’s College, Beulah Hill, from 1955 to 1965 – I can confirm that it was an absolutely terrible experience – and in 1961, as if there weren’t enough very strange, totally weird, ‘Christian’ Brothers (all from the ‘De La Salle’ order) – they brought in Brother Solomon (they already had Brother Leo and Brother David, niether have been mentioned in these columns but I can honestly say, both horrendous, merciless, harshly-appalling people). Brother Solomon was allowed total freedom by the school and by the order as ‘Master of Discipline’ – everything that has been said here about this man is true, however it all only just touches on his evil brutality, his mental and sexual perversion; I would say he was at least twenty times worse than anyone has stated here – over a period of four years he became worse and worse and by 1964 he was out of control. Dispite what clearly must have been known by those in authority, he was allowed to continue with his sinful, vicious, atrocious, criminal, immoral, debauched, perverted, abhorrent, detestable, monstrous, foul, vile, discraceful ways for a further full year – it was absolutely scandalous. Finally, during the summer holidays of 1965 Brother Soloman was dismissed from St Joseph’s and at the same time expelled from the De La Salle order. Within a very short time he became known nationally as ‘The Swinging Monk’; he was in the Sunday papers and on Records, TV and Radio being described as pianist ‘Mike Mercado’. Today he would have been in court, subsequently locked up, after just a couple of days in any school; he got away with it for so long by intimidation and because in those days, if you dared to say anything against this “incredible” school (in your Catholic parents view) you were immediatly set-about by your father, as I was on several occasions – including once when I phoned my father (a complete bully) from the phone box at Crown Point and described an incident that had only just occurred in Bro’ Soloman’s locked and curtained office; “Stay right there, it’ll take me an hour to get to you!” shouted my father as he slammed down his phone – some time later, as he pulled up and dived out of his car I thought to myself (I was still in the phone box) this is it, at last, this will be the downfall of this terrible man, Soloman, but alas, my father ripped open the red glass-paned door and totally laid-into ME, beating me almost unconscious; I was lying on the ground as he turned for his car, shouting at me “get back into that school and don’t you ever tell such lies about people again, or I’ll beat you to death”; and then he sped off. I was helped into a nearby sweet shop by a GPO telegram boy who had seen the beating and so was very sympathetic but terrified for me of my father, saying you’d better get cleaned up and back into school in case he comes back…. I would say I was one of probably less than a dozen boys regularly (daily) picked on by Brother Soloman but those awfull times have, on and off, affected my whole life – as a young 13 and 14 year old boy I was completely traumatised on many occasions, and left with absolutely no support from home, and that has returned to haunt me at various different stages of my life….. . Now, more optimistically, can anyone provide me with any actual evidence to confirm Brother Soloman is now deceased (an entry in death records; his place of death/buriel etc); in this respect please refer to this website: http://www.salfordonline.com/waywewere2.php?func=viewdetails&vdetails=239&os= which shows he went back to his home town of Eccles in 1968; it also shows that others seek to know where he is now. With my sincerest thanks, in advance, for any assistance that can be provided.
(Solomon is, of course, dead now)
This next quote may be relevant for indicating the transgenerational nature of Dark Networks:
Re-visiting my copy of St.Joseph’s College 1855-1955 Book, Beulah Hill, by W.J.Battersby [Senior History Master].
This bit of information that may interest you:-
Appendix III [p.92]
Old Boys Who Became Brothers:
extracted from the list……
At College 1941-43:
Brother Patrick Solomon (Michael Mercado)
If you find transgenerational abuse unlikely, let me assure you that it’s a proven characteristic of Dark Networks that they like to recruit a new generation to corrupt.
(Thus I believe Brother James was a De La Salle schoolboy)
The Network tried it with me, recruiting me to be a priest, and I resisted.
Here’s the transgenerational confirmation in the Oz academic study.
DN = Dark Network. Actors = abusers
The data chapter discusses clergy perpetrators who were placed in roles of recruiting boys into the priesthood. The importance of recruitment and mentoring to the DN is that the ability to be able to replace DN actors is crucial to DN resilience (Ayling 2009).
Back to Brother Solomon/Mercado.
I’ve been passed his letter of resignation when he was kicked out of St Joseph’s Ipswich as lay teacher Mike Mercado.
He sent this letter out to parents and it’s well written and cleverly worded to make him seem like an injured party. If we didn’t already know he was the Jimmy Saville of the De La Salle Brothers, we might even be convinced by it.
But what I found interesting was the threats he makes which he does not follow up on. So why not just keep your mouth shut? This is not a stupid man. Is he really just ‘mouthing off’ because he’s angry at losing his job? In my opinion, he’s hinting and mentioning certain individuals deliberately to make a point. There’s a code here which I can only partly decipher.
We already know Solomon is a clever and experienced paedophile. I’d say he weighed every one of his key sentences with care. With great care. Hence why he says he could write a book about it, which he mentions twice.
I’m only going to include relevant excerpts here:
A year ago I sent a Newsletter to all of the parents of my Boarders wishing the compliments of the season and giving a few hints and tips on the guidance of teenagers through their most difficult years…
It is not possible to explain in detail the events of the past six months. If I did so, I would have to write all of you a book! …
My problems started with an allegation being made against me by one of my Boarders that I had touched him in an indecent manner on his bottom…I was very hurt and insulted when the Headmaster indicated that he accepted the word of the Pupil and did not give me the opportunity of giving my version of the matter. These hurtful and insulting things were said by those with the Order one would have expected to support rather than condemn.
At this juncture I should point out that I had been a Christian Brother for some thirteen years prior to 1966 AND I AM FULLY AWARE OF WHAT GOES ON WITHIN THE ORDER. (Pat’s caps)’
Mercado then quotes a supportive Brother Damian who writes to Mercado, ‘I hope you will forgive the Community their lack of support.’
Mercado then relates how the Governors – whom he does not name – accepted he was innocent, but sacked him for drunkenness instead which he also denies. He goes on:
‘I also consider it was significant that the Chairman of the Governors Rev. Bro. Edwin, Mr Kearney (Senior Lay-Master whom I have known since 1958) and Bro. Cuthman Francis the Clerk to the Governors were not present at the Governors meeting on the 16th September. ‘
He’s making a point here by saying it was significant. Why was it significant? There’s a code here which I can only speculate about. Had they deliberately stayed away, knowing Mercado was going to be sacked?
Mercado continues that he was finally vindicated by the settlement. ‘I am not bitter but rather sad at the treatment I have received from certain Members of the De La Salle Order.
‘I have every intention of writing my experiences with the Order in a book. I would recommend the reading of “In God’s Name” by David Yallop which clearly indicates that even in the Vatican things are not always as Holy and as Perfect (Mercado’s capital letters) as one would expect.’
Mercado ends by wishing everyone a Happy New Year for 1986.
AMENDMENT HERE. My thanks to Rob for pointing out I had Edwin originally confused with Elwin. So I’ve removed that piece.
TEXT NOW CONTINUES AS BEFORE
I suggest Mercado’s reminding Kearney of their long association with each other for nearly thirty years. Whilst there could be other explanations why he should stress their connection, I know the explanation that I take away from this.
Mercado’s letter is definitely hinting and threatening that he could say a whole lot more and he’s letting certain individuals know this loud and clear.
He never wrote that book.
If he had blown the whistle, his own crimes would have been further exposed and he must have known that. His Dark Network of fellow abusers could also make life difficult for him. Or ‘bring you much pain’ – as one Survivor put it to me. And they would fail to support or rehabilitate him later.
So he had no choice. He shut up and took one for the team.
It could be that, in return, judging by this letter he was partly exonerated (his crime abruptly altered from unacceptable child sexual abuse to acceptable drunkenness) and financially compensated.
To quote him: ‘An out of Court settlement has been agreed and I have also received a glowing reference from the Headmaster… I believe that the settlement and the reference does vindicate me.’
The whole thing stinks to high heaven. The Dark Network looks after its members.
This is of personal interest to me because I need to understand just how these Dark Networkers function. Because when I was 15 and went to the police about the Catholic Dark Network I’d had the misfortune to be ensnared by, the cops did actually interview one Catholic Knight who I focussed most of my fury and accusing attention on.
Although he talked his way out of it, I did later see the fear and the anger in his eyes that he just might be in trouble and be thrown to the wolves by his fellow perverts. I was a ‘troublemaker’. (And still am, of course) And I’d singled him out as the pervert I was going after. He subsequently was very careful how he behaved in my presence.
I can still feel that buzz I had as a 15 year old when I had the power and my abuser was the victim for a change. Even if it was short-lived.
Currently I’m still gathering information on this individual. I hope to name and shame him in due course as a useful catharsis.
But in broader terms, I think it’s valuable to understand the mechanics of how Catholic Dark Networks operated and may still operate if they are – by definition – transgenerational.
Which means today’s Catholic children are still at risk from them.
We are deliberately – and endlessly – conditioned by Catholic influenced or Catholic funded ‘damage limitation’ academics and authors to think it’s just one rogue priest, one rogue Cardinal who acts in a moment of madness, that we find it hard to deprogram that obsolete thinking. That’s exactly what they want and why these books keep coming out which simply tread water and say nothing new. (See my ‘Sins of Omission’)
But the Dark Network study and the Age newspaper expose have changed that forever. They will lead to other Catholic Dark Networks, historic or current, being investigated and exposed as other academics and media follow up on the Australian groundbreaking work.
St Joseph’s College, Ipswich, and the connected Catholic laity in Ipswich would be a good place to start.