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 full story is here

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.


  1. Useful to know Kearney and his wife were in charge of boarders. That wasn’t so in my era. Back then he lived down Belstead Road . As a day boy, coming across him outside school hours, my impression of him was that he was out of control and a dangerous man for several reasons, which I hope will be confirmed by others in time. Mad, racist and violent would seem like bad enough, but I’m afraid there’s more to come. I’ve no motive and nothing to gain by saying this, other than it’s true. He doesn’t trouble my thoughts particularly, but I do think it’s important to challenge his official legacy

  2. Hello Pat, I hope you and yours are safe and healthy. I’ll get to the point of this email shortly. I was surprised and pleased when I came across your Cartoon Kayfabe episode a couple of days ago, and relieved. It was a terrific interview, very revealing and answering a lot of questions an old time Action and 2000 AD fan never even thought to ask. My sole contribution to 2000 AD was a story I wrote and drew for the 1980 Sci-Fi Special, a gig I might have got because it paid less than the regular comic, they stiffed me on the writer’s fee, and they probably felt guilt because when I went there in 1979 at the tender age of 17 I took in the first illustrations of female Judges. Anyway, the best part of it was to hear you speak, which I haven’t heard since that transatlantic phone call in 1989! Your energy and enthusiasm for the medium after all this time should be an inspiration and encouragement to pros both young and old. Now the point of this email. For the past few months your postings about the horrors at St Josephs have been increasingly depressing, and I was truly concerned as to your state of mind. I have one or two childhood memories that I fortunately seem to have been able to suppress to the point that I question as to whether the incidents actually happened or not, and hopefully if they did the effects seem minimal (I think). I’ve been a bit out of touch with the current comics scene, and was totally unaware of Spacewarp so that has been great news. I was unaware of how much you had kept your focus on your career as the postings seemed almost consuming, which is not unexpected when thinking of the subject matters. Just reading about it is emotionally draining, so I could only imagine it from your position. The seriousness of the topic and all it implies has to be a lot to cope with, especially with the vigor that you are pursuing accountability and justice. Seeing you so on point during the interview was a relief, as you were laughing and having a good time, which made my day. One day, I’d love to collaborate on a 5-pager with you, as I always regretted not being able to work with you on World War 3 in Crisis, though I’m glad Alan worked out. Next time you have a submission call, I’ll send you some samples from my son who’s very good.

    Take care Pat, stay strong and keep fighting the good fight in both the comic world, and the often far too real world.

    Best, Floyd

  3. Where are they my friend.

    I spent 20 years in service. if i ever find kevin or ashton they will wish.

    mr kearney was a nutter. very racist. he was married to the equally nuts marge kearney who taugh english.

    i knew him as an older man than you. he was still a horror story,

    him and his mad wife looked after us in the 1st yr boarding

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