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Scottish prosecutors have begun extradition proceedings against a former monk accused of abusing boys at a residential school over 50 years ago.
Alleged victims who accused the De La Salle monk of a catalogue of abuse were told the former teacher had died but new information revealed he had, in fact, spent years teaching in Canada.
Moves are under way to bring the man, now in his 80s, to Scotland to face abuse allegations. A petition warrant has been raised in Scotland and passed to the Crown Office’s international unit which will attempt to begin extradition proceedings in Canada.
Something is clearly badly wrong with the CSSA:two key members have mysteriously resigned and in the wake of the shaming IICSA report Nazir Afzul was surprisingly upbeat.
Let me remind what the IICSA final report had to say: The investigation into the Roman Catholic Church in England and Wales revealed a sorry history of child sexual abuse where abusive priests and members of religious orders and institutions preyed on children for prolonged periods of time. Between 1970 and 2015, the Church received more than 3,000 complaints against more than 900 individuals connected to the Church. In the same period, there were 177 prosecutions, resulting in 133 convictions. Millions of pounds have been paid to victims and survivors in civil proceedings. Since 2016, there have been more than 100 reported allegations of recent and non-recent child sexual abuse every year. The true scale of abuse over a 50-year period is likely to be much greater.
Responses to disclosures about child sexual abuse have been characterised by a failure to support victims and survivors – in stark contrast to the positive action often taken to protect perpetrators and the reputation of the Church.
The reactions of Church leaders over time were marked by delay in implementing change, as well as reluctance to hold individuals to account or to make sincere apologies. On occasions, they conveyed a grudging and unsympathetic attitude to victims and survivors. In order to shake off the failures of the past, real and lasting changes to attitudes are needed.
Although there have been some improvements to current safeguarding arrangements, more recent audits have identified weaknesses. The culture and attitudes in the Roman Catholic Church have been resistant to change.
Nazir Afzal. Chair of Safeguarding, shows no signs of regret or contrition or apology on behalf of the Church he represents. In fact, his tone is onwards and upwards, business as usual. Here he is:
But in another interview with the Tablet he goes further. He notes the importance of Canon Law which – if it defies the Law of the Land – is a criminal offence. That’s what de facto he is supporting even though IICSA have recommended the confessional be unsealed and it is the law in Australia. He didn’t know about the law in Oz! Here’s how I covered it in a tweet
When @nazirafzal talks about sanctity of ‘canon law’ in context of the confessional he is de facto placing it over Law of the Land. He has previous – obliquely defending categories of paedophilia and showing that organisations like the Church are not as bad abusers as families.
I would refer you to a past post where he actually comes out with a tweet in support of those who would mitigate the crimes of paedophiles by categorising them in different age groups. A classic device by the Catholic Church and also by paedophiles themselves.
It gets worse!
In the other interview with the Tablet he is dismissive of IICSA’s recommendations where the confessional is concerned. That’s a very serious matter.
Here’s how I tweeted about it:
@nazirafzal claims predators’ confessions to abuse in the confessional are ‘extremely rare’. Academic Marie Keenan proves him wrong : 8 out of 9 clergy abusers she spoke to ‘disclosed their abuse during confession.’ When is someone going to hold this Fraud to account?
Marie Keenan’s information is in the same article! Keenan is Ireland’s leading academic on abuse and is highly respected. Nazir is clearly and knowingly guilty of spreading disinformation. That’s appalling when you are head of the CCSA.
A group of Catholic survivors were so disturbed by his behaviour we recently wrote a letter with a great deal of thought, detail and restraint.
Concerns re CSSA
Following the publication of the IICSA report and the Elliott review (Elliott, 2020), which was accepted in full by the Catholic Bishops’ conference, survivors were hopeful that finally change was going to take place within the RC church in its dealings with safeguarding matters.
We welcomed the appointment of Nazir Afzal as the first Chairperson of the new Safeguarding structure, trusting that he and the new board would work to drive through the very necessary changes that were so badly needed.
Over the last year, while there have been some small signs of progress, the spirit of optimism, which survivors had, has steadily waned away as we have witnessed what is happening at grassroots level.
Our experience over the last year is that survivor engagement is generally not following Ian Elliot’s recommendations.
Instead, survivors’ experiences have included
-being redirected to the body within the Church who was responsible for their original abuse and then re abused them when they summoned up the courage to come forward to disclose that abuse.
There was an attempt to set up of a new survivor reference panel last autumn. Survivors known to Catholic Safeguarding were not made aware but stumbled across an advertisement on CSSA website by chance. Immediately, they could see many flaws in what was being proposed. Additionally, it was not advertised in a way that was likely to be seen by survivors.
Survivors wrote collectively to the new board raising their queries. It was only after a considerable amount of chasing that a date was set for a meeting. The way it had been proposed that a new panel would be set up, and then the difficulties in trying to engage with the board to voice concerns began to seriously undermine trust in CSSA.
At the meeting they were told that the board “had got it wrong” regarding the way it proposed to set up the new survivor panel.
The board met with them on 2 further occasions. They were told that until a new panel was formed that they would be used as an “informal panel” and that the board would send an invitation to meet with them in April, to introduce them to a Communications officer who CSSA had appointed and would be the point of liaison with survivors.
Survivors have never received the promised invitation. One survivor chased with regard to it and has now met with Board members. The onus should not lie with survivors to have to keep chasing and no attempt has been made to offer survivors the opportunity of an introduction to the Communications officer.
It has become clear that there is lack of understanding among the board members that clerical abuse carries with it additional and very far-reaching impacts on survivors, because of the spiritual dynamics inherent in it. This issue demonstrates the need for CSSA to engage with survivors in the way Ian Elliot has described, but at present that engagement is not happening (except perhaps in a very limited way with a very small number of survivors)
There is little or no evidence of an interest or willingness to engage with or listen to survivors to try to understand the reality of our abuse, or of trying to live with it since it happened, and the way in which that has been compounded by the church’s unwillingness to provide any meaningful help or support. Many live with a sense that they are not even believed, others are left with the sense that they are troublemakers.
There have been inappropriate and extremely insensitive comments about paedophilia on social media by a board member. When challenged no attempt was made to either apologise or withdraw the comments.
We were told by one board member
“One thing it is important to say is that the CSSA is formed to implement robust standards for safeguarding in the Church going forward from 2021. We will not be able to right the wrongs of the past but to look forward to make sure things are done well in the future.”
A representative for a survivor spoke to Nazir Afzal recently and relayed back that she was told
“CSSA will not be providing support for any survivors.
Any disclosures re matters that occurred prior to CSSA forming would need to be taken to the police for investigating.
When CSSA starts auditing it will not look at anything which has happened prior to June 2021
CSSA is not independent as actions will have to get clearance from Rome”
These comments suggest that CSSA intends working in a way that is a far cry from the sort of survivor engagement Ian Elliott recommended.
Over the last year survivors have experienced a repetition of the ignoring and marginalising tactics which the Church has used for so long with survivors. If this continues nothing will change in the way the Church responds to survivors and their suffering and pain will continue to be lifelong.
In the Elliot Review it was recommended that a formal case consultation service would be set up to manage allegations and concerns and that this entity would be a ‘critical friend’, able to support and encourage but with a major change of emphasis from it being advisory, to being empowered to challenge and uphold professional standards, holding the constituent(s) to account.
We cannot find evidence of this being implemented.
The complaints procedure which we have had sight of falls far short of that described in Elliott review. It permits recommendations on the part of CSSA, but does not seem to have powers of enforcement and will also only become involved in a complaint when every other avenue has been exhausted-thus leaving survivors with no option but to continue re engaging with a body who has been harming them.
Nazir Afzal publicly encouraged survivors to contact him saying he wants to hear from them (Tablet article-24th March 2022). Our lived experience is somewhat different and is endorsed by Danny Sullivan, a former Chair of NCSC in the same article.
“It is welcome that at last after some almost nine months in post Nazir Afzal is making public comments about his role”.
Citing a “thoroughly disheartening” recent experience with the safeguarding process, Sullivan, speaking to The Tablet, criticised the Church’s continued intent to “self-police” regarding abuse allegations. “Nazir Afzal talks about protecting children but so far there seems no urgency about supporting current victims of abuse who are not apologised to for their abuse or worse still not treated with the care and sensitivity due to them according to CSSA’s current protocols. They are certainly not treated as the priority bishops said they would be after the IICSA report.”
Can CSSA answer the following questions so survivors have full clarity on how it proposes operating.
1.If CSSA is not going to provide support for survivors how does it envisage that things will “be done well in the future”?
2.Why is CSSA saying that it will not to provide support for survivors, given that it was recommended so strongly in the Elliott review ( which was accepted in full by the Catholic Bishops’ conference?
3.Survivors generally take many years to summon up sufficient courage to disclose their abuse, meaning that almost all disclosures are historical. Can CCSA confirm whether they perceive that it is an important part of Catholic Safeguarding’s role to support survivors when they disclose their abuse, to then pass it to the police?
Survivors who have disclosed their abuse to Catholic Safeguarding prior to CSSA being formed have very frequently been revictimised. Can you describe the service you are going to offer to these survivors? This is not a matter where the police will become involved. However, it is imperative that CSSA addresses the serious trauma that survivors have experienced to enable them to begin to recover from it. If CSSA is not going to provide this service, can they explain the reason for this decision?
4.Why is CSSA not going to look at anything which happened prior to 2021? This will cover up a great deal of the Church’s catastrophic failings possibly forever. It is extremely protective of the body who has abused a great many very vulnerable people and will serve only to help those who are responsible for abusing. Does CSSA believe this is acceptable?
5.What steps is CSSA going to take now to put right the serious breakdown in trust with survivors which has occurred since it was formed in 2021?
6. When is CSSA going to actively engage with a wide number of survivors, including all those who indicated interest in working with CSSA in autumn 2021?
7.Does CSSA intend to rewrite the present complaints procedure so it is in line with Ian Elliot’s recommendations and protects the interests of survivors. When will this be done?
8.If CSSA needs clearance from Rome for its actions how does it justify describing itself as being a regulator?
Thank you for your open letter ‘Concerns re CSSA’ this week.
On behalf of Nazir Afzal (Chair) and the Board we were very saddened to read it. Thank you for stating your concerns clearly for us to consider.
In the first instance we will table your letter for discussion with our new Survivor Reference Panel at our next meeting which is likely to be in November to seek their advice and guidance.
We welcome your input; we may not be able to answer all of your queries in detail at this time but again assure you of our wish to engage with survivors on an ongoing basis
With our very best wishes,
This is typical of the prevarication and dismissive tone of the CSSA of which Nazir is Chair. As we have chronicled in the past, the CSSA have endlessly stalled in the manner above. And will go on doing so.
The CSSA needs investigating as a matter of urgency and Nazir needs to resign.
He said to me that he received a standing ovation from the Bishops when he took the job.
He will not get a standing ovation from survivors.
Let me state the obvious to Nazir:
In your interview you are remarkably upbeat after the IICSA report summarised the disgusting crimes of the Church you are safeguarding.
IT’S FOR SURVIVORS TO SAY IFYOU ARE DOING A GOOD JOB . NOT YOU. AND NOT YOUR PAYMASTERS, THE PRINCES OF THE CHURCH.
THE ANSWER IS : NO. YOU ARE DOING A TERRIBLE JOB AND SPREADING DISINFORMATION AND IGNORING SURVIVORS IS UNACCEPTABLE.
YOU DO NOT HAVE THE CONFIDENCE OF SURVIVORS. YOU HAVE ENDLESSLY PREVARICATED. YOOU HAVE PROVIDED DISINFORMATION. YOU HAVE NOT FULLY ENGAGED WITH US. YOU HAVE BEHAVED LIKE A SPIN DOCTOR. YOU HAVE SAFEGUARDED THE PRINCES OF THE CHURCH, NOT SURVIVORS OF ITS CRIMES.
Often on this site, there are graphic accounts of abuse by lay teachers, priests, monks and De La Salle brothers.
What is more rare, though, is the psychological abuse that often goes with it. And how it can be triggered today by relatively minor incidents.
Catholics, abusers or not, always seem to seek control over children. Maybe it’s the same with other religions.
But it is especially heinous in Catholic communities because they are so authoritarian, so convinced of their rightness and even holiness, they cannot and will not be challenged.
Their role model, of course, starts with the Vatican and the Pope when he speaks ex-cathedra.
Thus, as I’ve related some time ago, a staunch Catholic doctor (a functioning alcoholic) and his hospital matron wife needed to bring their typically rebellious sixteen year old daughter ‘to her senses’. This involved her being drugged and incarcerated in the general ward of a mental hospital over Christmas.
Her rebellion was the usual thing – staying out late, bad company, surly attitude, punk clothes and so on. I don’t recall anything unusual or horrendous. But in any event, if every rebellious teenager was sectioned to bring them to their senses, the mental hospitals would be filled to overflowing. What I do recall that was horrendous was her parents’ close examination of her clothing which, in my view, crossed boundaries.
Undoubtedly they used their connections to get the necessary two Doctors (IIRC) to have her sectioned. When my daughters told me this, I was so appalled, I contacted the hospital and said the girl could stay at our house with her friends, my daughters, over Christmas. The hospital agreed. I just had to ask her parents’ permission.
This I duly did. Their response I believe is so typically Catholic, it’s worth writing about again. They told me they were bluffing when they intended to keep her in a mental ward over Christmas, alone with seriously disturbed teenagers. They were going to have her released on Christmas Eve when she’d learnt her lesson and promised to behave herself in future. I told them I was delighted that the family would be united. ‘No, you’ve spoilt it now,’ the matron mum glared at me. ‘So we don’t want her back.’ The girl duly spent a happy Christmas with our family and IIRC now has a couple of university degrees and a successful career. But I happen to know she still bears the scars of her ghastly Catholic family.
Similarly I bear the scars of my ghastly Catholic family. And that’s probably why I chose to intervene. It was triggering me.
My Catholic family circumstances were different, yet ultimately the same. My mother was mentally ill, so she had delegated her authority to a group of four or five Catholic worthies to similarly ‘bring her rebellious teenage son to his senses’. Some, but probably not all, were Knights of St Columba. All were sexual abusers of children. And they controlled the financial purse string to my fee-paying education at St Joseph’s College, Ipswich, and thus my destiny.
If you look at photos or film of the Knights today, they’re still puffed up with their own arrogance and so were these gentlemen. They saw no contradiction between sexually abusing children and their own self-proclaimed ‘holiness’. I have no idea how that works. I suspect they compartmentalised their lives and didn’t make any connection between their conscience and their vile crimes. Or they think if it’s good enough for bishops, priests and De La Salle brothers to sodomise and sexually molest children, so it’s good enough for them. Or they see it as an initiation rite, like a frat club.
If anyone has any insights, knowledge or theories, I’d love to hear from them. I think my theories above are correct, but Catholics are hardly going to explain their crimes today.
What is truly remarkable is how I fought back and how they wouldn’t give up. They were determined to impose their will on me. I’ve no real idea how I survived and eventually won, albeit at a price. They stopped paying my school fees and so I left at age fifteen and became a messenger boy for R and W Paul in Ipswich. Even then, they still tried to impose their will on me, which I find astonishing. If I was them, I think I’d be pragmatic and say, ‘We’re not going to win with this annoying little shit. Let him go. There’s plenty more where he came from.’
But Catholics simply don’t think that way. They have to win. Maybe the challenge of ‘breaking in a wild horse’ appealed to them.
It was only when I was sixteen and left home that I was finally free of them.
In my healing work in recent years, I realised I was dealing with at least four sexual abusers, and it was necessary to understand each one’s style, as I was being psychologically assaulted from four different directions. Sometimes separately. Sometimes in unison. That takes some unpacking. Thus one, a violent thug teacher, used the heavy-handed, boot camp disciplinarian approach. A second, a barrister, used legal threats combined with suggesting I’d be better off moving to an Ipswich hostel where he’d have me all to himself. A third, an English teacher, appealed to my writing ambitions before ultimately turning on me. A fourth, seemed to be the treasurer of the Knights and I can only remember two things about him. First, his impressive marbled Parker pen with its gold nib, ready to write out a much needed cheque for my school fees. ‘On certain conditions, young man…’And second, the terror his two sons – who also went to St J’s – regarded him with. Let’s not talk about the fifth man. Too big a subject other than to note he was always whining, Uriah Heep style, ‘I always tried to do the best for you boys.’
I clearly won my battle against these five Catholic heavies, although I still find that remarkable. But I didn’t get off Scot-free, it left a scar and that’s where the Triggers come in.
Some months ago, I was triggered when some of my readers said I shouldn’t even be researching Web3 ‘because it was evil’. They were outraged! It triggered memories of the Catholic Index and reading Heaven and Hell by Swedenborg. When the teacher thug I’ve described found out, he was outraged! He went nuts. I’d completely forgotten it, but now the memories came rushing back.(More in an earlier blog)
Naturally, I ignored the Triggers. After all, if I could stand up to a thug when I was 14, I wasn’t going to let anyone today dictate what I should or should not read.
Recently, the same thing occurred when I brought out my Web3 book, a minor project, ecologically and ethically valid. The complexities and rights and wrongs of Web3 needn’t concern us here, only the attempt by a small group of readers to stop my project, to mould me into someone I’m not, to insist I behave differently, to impose their will on me, without any debate, adopting a ‘holier than thou’, finger-wagging, moral standpoint just like those awful Catholic worthies I’ve described when I was a kid.
They weren’t interested in polite discussion, only in reacting emotionally and dumping their emotions on me. Angry, sad, reproachful, etc. Doubtless triggered by something in their own pasts that makes them act disproportionately. Maybe they needed an outlet, a scapegoat, for whatever is wrong in their lives.
As you might expect, it, once again, triggered emotions in me from long ago.
But it also reminded me of one way I defeated the finger-waggers as a boy.
Music. There were so many battle hymns against authoritarian bullies and I still sing them in my head to this day.
The words of Lesley Gore were a life-saver.
You don’t own me You don’t tell me what to do Don’t tell me what to say
Don’t try to change me in any way You don’t own me
I don’t tell you what to say I don’t tell you what to do So just let me be myself That’s all I ask of you I’m free and I love to be free To live my life the way I want To say and do whatever I please
Such music helped me survive as a kid and those words are particularly relevant today and I shall direct them at today’s Triggers if necessary.
If you’re wondering why I’m fairly relaxed about it, then I should let you into my secret. Over the years I regularly use such Triggers in my stories and they make for excellent negative characters. I’ve written them into two of my current published series. For example, a science fantasy series where the High Priest of the Archeologists, who bury all forms of progress, has banned technology, and has an especial hatred for Web3. Needless to say, he comes to a bad end which I found most cathartic to write. I’m now thinking of a third way I can use them.
It’s a great way to deal with the finger-waggers and turn their lead into gold.
I hope others have found similarly constructive ways of dealing with Triggers.
Just received this passionate appeal from a survivor of the monster Brother James which I’d like to pass on.
Thanks to all those who have already been in touch. Your revelations about James have been an eye-opener. He’s far worse than I realised.
Two things are now established beyond reasonable doubt which many of you may not be aware of. Firstly, James had one or more nervous breakdowns following his ferocious sexual assault on a boy at St J’s Ipswich in around 65, which caused him to leave the school in a hurry and – after an interval – end up at Beulah Hill. From his behaviour there, he was clearly mentally ill, although I believe he was also mentally ill in the early 1960s at St J’s Ipswich.
He was also a functioning alcoholic. I have a detailed testimony which makes a convincing case for this.
I’m told this is true for many of the DLS. Solomon, for example. My older brother who went to St J’s Ipswich, too, blocks his trauma memories to survive. So I can’t discuss them with him. But over the years he constantly refers to the DLS well-stocked wines at St J’s Ipswich. And I find myself asking why? When otherwise the subject of our school and what happened to us is strictly off limits.
James was obviously much worse at Beulah Hill because two accounts there describe how he ground chalk into the palm of his hand as a kind of stigmata.
It’s clear the De La Salle organisation knew all this and yet continued to allow this dangerous, perverted and mentally ill maniac to teach children.
Here’s the appeal from a survivor of this evil man:
“I would appeal to all persons on this blog that have suffered abuse at the hands of Brother James Ryan and other De la Salles to have the courage to swallow your fear and inhibitions and hold theses abusers to account by taking legal action against the order. Or to pass on any relevant information to firstname.lastname@example.org‘
Here’s the latest on the RLSS . Survivor Kevin contacted them. They are the safeguarding organisation that has the Cistercian monks as their client. Not a good sign for the future dealings with De La Salles
I spoke on phone tonight to RLSS safeguarding, she did not do her homework about Caldey and knew nothing other than the video and letter on your blog.
They have no powers to force Caldey Monks into safeguarding children etc so cant help other than writing to caldey Abbot and the police regarding their concerns.
Shattering video about the Cistercian Monks on Caldey Island. It includes some actual footage of Caldey Island which brings it alive. How these organised criminals are still operating is beyond me. As Kevin O’Connell says, it needs a public enquiry.
The powerful account below is by Kevin, a survivor of abuse by Cistercian monks on Caldey Island and by Catholic priests. It is the most defining and important example of organised Catholic sexual abuse of children.
It is damning evidence that Catholic paedophile rings exist, hitherto denied or ignored. These priests and monks are not one-off individuals, one rotten apple, but a whole rotten orchard. It shows how Catholic predators focus their criminal attention on vulnerable families.
Although it has been exposed in Kevin’s local media, nothing has been done. Catholics just ignore these crimes which are hardly unique and are replicated in other Catholic communities, certainly amongst the De La Salles in Ipswich and in my Ipswich Catholic diocese when I was growing up.
But this is surely amongst the worst.
Kevin’s contact details are at the end of his account. Anything anyone can do to help – such as getting this account in the national media – do let Kevin know. Or passing this story on in your own social media. It is really important and needs to be known nationally.
Special thanks to Sonia Poulton, who had Kevin on her Rise with BNT show and put me in touch with him.
The year 1968
At 6 years old we lived in a rural village called Tregroes.
Tregroes was about 20 miles from the market town of Carmarthen.
I lived there with my family, my mam and dad, also a younger brother and sister as well as an older brother and sister.
I loved Tregroes as it was the first home we stayed longest in. I loved playing in the woods and the stream with my youngest siblings. We would help the local farmers bringing in the harvest.
We, the youngest siblings, went to Tregroes primary school.
It was a Welsh speaking school and it felt bit alien to us.
My home life was us spending as much time as we could out playing as we feared my dad as he was a horrible man and would beat us for any reason, so avoiding him was our quest.
We knew he had spent time in prison, but we still don’t know why.
My mam kepted us clean and fed and we ran in for jam butties and out we go in any weather. Our mam never stopped dad from beating us, maybe she feared him.
My dad never worked as he would not take orders from anyone, so we lived a poor life and dad relied on handouts from social services.
I never knew until 2021 I was under the court of protection and social services.
Social services introduced my parents to the local Catholic priest whose parish was in a small town a few miles away from us.
The Priest started to give my parents food, second clothes, toys and cash.
We young ones started to go to his church every Saturday for Bible lessons and Sundays for Confession and Mass.
The Priest was very keen to get me to be an Altar boy, so he decided to send my parents, my youngest siblings and me for a free holiday on Caldey Island.
I know that my parents left me with the Monks for a few months.
They became lifelong friends with Father (Thad) Thaddeus and Father (C) Charles.
I don’t have much memory of staying on Caldey, only the private garden in the Abbey ground where I played, and my memories have been hidden in a dark part of my brain which is probably best.
I remember Father C taking me home from Caldey Island. When I got home, I made my way upstairs to my bedroom and saw that my brother’s bed was taken out into my sister’s bedroom.
I also saw a bolt on the inside of my room at the top of the door.
I wouldn’t dare question it.
Before supper Father C said grace, and off we went to bed as that was the routine in our house.
The one thing I missed while on Caldey was my bed.
At some time during the night, I got woken up by someone getting into my bed, I soon realized it was Father C, he started to touch me in my groin area and then he started to rape me even though I did not know at the time what he was doing.
I screamed and cried for my dad and mam, but no one came to rescue me.
The following morning, I woke up alone in my bed, I got dressed and went downstairs, everyone was acting normal morning except my dad took me to another room, pulling down my pants and put some sort of cream on my private bits, he did not say a single word to me.
After breakfast Father C wanted us to do confession with him.
When it got to my turn he just spoke sexually and upset me.
Father C went back to his parish on the Sussex/Surry boarders.
My parents arranged for my 2 youngest siblings and myself to go back with Father C to spend some time with him there.
So, in time Father C came and picked us up and took us back to his parish.
Father C Parish
I was scared to go but had no choice.
When we arrived there, we were treated well and Father C did not abuse me which I was glad of.
He did bath the three of us. Father C ,over the holiday, took me to see other priests and Bishops in different parishes.
I knew then that he was showing them his prize, me.
Father C took us back home and again he raped me in my own bed.
The next day he went back to his Parish.
Now I was living in a world I did not understand.
A few weeks later Father C turned up and this time he had Father Thad with him.
That night Father C was in my bed again. God knows where Father Tadd slept that night, but I had my fears.
For the next 4-5 years Father C would abuse me at my home and now was taking me back to his Parish where priests and Bishops gang raped me. It was a terrifying time and the only escape I had was to go into fantasy world where my mind mode would protect me from the horrors. It lasted for hours or days.
I remember the room I slept in and I used to look out the window at what I thought then were Christmas trees, I also watched the birds as they were an escape, too.
I also saw another boy there once as I went to the toilet.
Around same age and blond hair wearing white Y fronts, we looked at each other and knew what we were there for.
Most mornings I woke up naked and there’d be underpants on the bed. Father C or someone else used to come in with breakfast and a tablet and it seemed like days turned into nights, I had no notion of time, as the skies darkened, my fear would start, and I just watched the door handle, knowing any minute someone would come get me.
When the evening got darker, I would be taken into a living room were there’d be up to a dozen priests and bishops waiting for me. I’d be given another tablet and some sweet drink ( Mead ) then a bishop or priest would go to the back of me and take my underwear off and then I would just go into safe mode.
At the age of 9
When I became an altar boy in my Parish, I was given a free holiday to Caldey Island, and I was going without any family members.
When I first saw Caldey Island from the boat from Tenby it looked like paradise, the long beach loads of children playing and having fun.
I felt very happy now and away from Father C etc and I settled in that night struggling to sleep from excitement.
The following day after early prayers we went down to the main beach, and we were put in groups and played games.
A Monk came over and said to me he was a friend of my parents, and I did recognize him as Father Thadd.
He gave me some chocolate that the Monks made on Caldey. It was a real and very rare treat. Father Thadd starting taking me away from my group of children. We spent lots of times over the week just sitting in the sand dunes, eating chocolate and Father Thadd stroking my hair and kissing top of my head. I felt a love from him that I was not getting at home. Even though he never said much, I grew fond of him.
The week went fast and soon I was on the beach waiting for the Tenby boat to arrive to take me home. Father Thadd hugged me, gave me loads of chocolate to take home.
I felt a sadness in my heart as Father Thadd disappeared from view.
Arriving back home I told everyone about my holiday and Father Thadd and shared my chocolates which were gladly received, but I was now back into the clutches of Father C.
I spent more time away from home than I was at home even the neighbours remember that today and remembering Father C’s car been at our house.
Our Parish priest soon told me that I would be going back to Caldey Island the following year for two weeks this time and my youngest sister would be going with me. I could not wait till that day arrived as it was not just escaping Father C and his evil friends but meeting Father Thadd who I loved so much.
At the age of 10
We arrived on Caldey Island and Father Thadd was waiting for me. He hugged me and said hello to my sister. I told him I like to see him the next day.
Father Tadd came down to see me on the beach next day, waving chocolates and taken up to the sand dunes.
Eating the chocolates sitting on Father Thadd’s knees he started to grope me between my legs and kissing me wildly on the lips, I was so scared and upset that he was no different than Father C.
Every day now he came and dragged me away, while our carers and the Nuns watched and did nothing to stop it.
Now I was taken to the old ruins where other monks were there waiting. Father Thadd gave me Mead and sat down on what I have always called an Altar stone where he groped and masturbated over me. The other monks also masturbated over me.
Now I hated Father Thadd and Caldey Island.
Every day he took me to the ruins, I used to stare at old bottles while I was being abused, nothing else I could do. Nowhere to run and hide, I felt like trapped and often thought I would try to swim back to Tenby, but I would have not survived the crossing.
Each day I cried coming back to the beach, but no one cared, my sister would run up to me and we’d hug, she had been raped by Father Tadd. I knew then what this so-called Holy Island was.
What I saw on the beach was industrial abuse of children dragged away into dark damp caves to be raped, the ruins and the woods by not only monks and priest but men coming onto the island as it was a safe haven for them to abuse and rape children as young as three years old. When we left Caldey I never wanted to go back there. I hated everything about it.
Our lives now will never be the same.
In my Parish church before Mass, I went to confession and told the priest that horrible things had happened to me on Caldey and I felt disgusted with my body. I did not mention my sister was raped and I glad I had not told him for the following reasons.
When I went into the vestry to change into my Altar boy gowns the priest took to one side and told me if I ever mention anything about Caldey Island and the Monks, three things will happen to me.
God would turn his back on me.
The devil would come and take me either from under the bed or through the mirror at night.
A severed hand would come through the letter box climb up the stairs onto my bed and strangle me.
The nightmares I had were terrifying and still today I will not have a letter box in my front door even though I know i be ok, it’s my mind mode.
At 11 years old
My parents and the Parish priest made me return to Caldey Island.
I cried and did not want to go back but again I had no choice, I was living in fear.
My youngest brother came with me.
Arriving on Caldey it was not long before Father Thadd came looking for me and wanted to take my brother with him. But I would go with Father Thadd instead as I did not want him to start on my brother.
My brother remembers this and what Father C was doing to me.
Again, Father Thadd would take me to the ruins, and it all started again abusing me with others watching on the Altar stone.
This time I started to think that they would kill me as how could they hide this abuse from being discovered? And maybe this explained a mystery I had about an incident that happened that week on Caldey.
One dark evening my carer found me outside our accommodation with Father Thadd leaning over me. I had suffered a fractured skull and was taken to hospital. I still carry that scar.
I do remember waking up in hospital with my parents by my side.
I did not return to Caldey.
What happened is always been on my mind.
We were not allowed out at nights in the accommodation on Caldey. Father Thadd was also not allowed out at nights as their bedtime was 8pm.
I was told by my parents that I was running away and hit my head.
Who and why was I running away from when I should be asleep in my bed?
I have written and searched for my history of this and there is no record of it anywhere. It has been well hidden. My parents never talked about it and would not let me discuss it.
I still think that Father Tadd was involved and that he caused me my injury.
Social Services and Court of Protection.
When I was three years old, we sibling were abandoned at home by my mother as my father was in prison. We survived two days before our neighbour heard our cries and came to rescue us. But I do remember eating Bonio dog biscuits from the cupboard and back then it was food.
Because of this we were put into a Council children’s home for a short period.
I know now that we were under the Court of Protection, and Social Services till I was 12 years old.
We were put back with our mam and dad when he came out of prison.
I never knew this until 2021 when I got my records.
The Court of Protection and Social Services totally failed me
Allowing me and my sister a life no better than hell itself.
Home life 1969-1973
Since the first visit to Caldey Island and meeting Father C and then Father Thadd, I was no longer a happy, smiling, blond-haired boy.
I become a recluse in my world, a loner both at home and school.
Because of this I was bullied at school and had no friends, but I did have Tom the Action man.
I told Tom about my abuse and buried him so he keeps my secret, and my problems would go away. My problems never went away, but Tom kept my secret and I still know where he is buried today.
Father Thadd wrote to me a few times telling me about our special place, I kept one of them all my life close to me for I knew one day I will tell the world about it.
After my last visit to Caldey I made a choice to get away from the abuse from Father C and his Friends, and Father Thad. I ran away to Swansea, and I knew my eldest brother had left home at 15 to get away from our dad.
I begged him if I could stay there, I never told him why and he probably thought it was because of dad.
I stayed a while but his partner at that time made me feel bit uneasy, so I spent most time outside apart from school.
For some reason that I never found out was my parents decided to move to a part of Swansea called Port Tennant.
My father came to fetch me home.
Back living with my parents and my younger siblings, it was not too bad until I heard that Father C was coming down to visit us.
I thought no way I was going to be his special boy anymore.
So, I decided when he would turn up, I would disappear and not come back until he gone. I knew my father would beat me bad but rather that than Father C abusing me.
It was a no-win situation, but the slipper was the only option.
My youngest sister was my spy bringing me bits of food and letting me know when Father C went home.
Every time Father C came down, I disappeared to the point my father gave up beating me as it started to make no difference to me.
My father developed cancer and within a year he died from it.
I did not cry for him and when he was buried a small bit of peace came over me.
I did not know at this time that my mum was a secret drinker, hooked on communion wine.
She started to get violent, and the drinking increased, it got so bad spending money on wine that the food cupboards were becoming empty. The only meals we had were school dinners and I made best mates with the dinner lady as she always gave me extra on my plate.
She asked me one day why I was always hungry, and I told her my mam does not feed us as she is an alcoholic.
I did not know at that time the dinner lady went and told the headmaster who contacted Social Services and they went to see my mam and laid down the law.
When I got home after school, I opened the front door, and everything went dark.
I was found by my sister on Kilvey hill in Swansea near to death.
My mum paid a bad gang of lads to attack me and ram tablets down my throat and leave me to die on Kilvey hill.
I spent time in hospital recovering and the police came and told me they know who done it and my mam paid them by giving them her Benefit book.
The police wanted me to make a statement about it all so they could arrest my mum. I refused because in my heart I could not do that to her for many reasons including I don’t know what drove her to drink, but I suspected it was my dad and the priests.
I decided never to go back home.
I started to live on the street called Wine Steet in Swansea which was quite a rough area.
I became good friends with what I called ladies of the night.
I knew what they were doing there but it never bothered me.
There were drunks and druggies there, but I was under the protection of the ladies of the night. No man would dare come near me.
I still went to Cefn Hengoed school and there was my daily food intake.
During weekends and holidays, I would have some food from the ladies and a lot of the times I’d go up to the Smith crisps factory as they gave me out of date crisps etc to take back with me.
There was always kindness if you looked for it. Free laundrette and
keeping myself clean.
My youngest sister came to be with me for a while and my youngest brother went to live with my eldest sister.
My sister stayed with me a couple of weeks then she was picked up as a vulnerable person and taken to a children’s home.
Young boys were not seen as vulnerable persons in those days.
When I was old enough, I decided to go back to the countryside as the other option was going to be a life of pinching and robbing food and possible prison.
I regret never saying goodbye to the ladies of the night, but I know in my heart that if I did, I would not leave.
I will be grateful to them forever and I will never forget them.
Back to countryside.
When I arrived back to be near Tregroes living in a small caravan but was very happy as it was my home, my sanctuary.
I got a job straight away as a labour in the building trade.
I felt sad sometimes as I afraid of getting too close to girls so would back shy away.
On November 4th, 1983, I met Carol who I fell in love with and got married in 1991.
Carol always knew that I had a bad upbringing as I’d just say my dad was nasty.
Carol also knew that I had tried to kill myself due to many bad dreams and the pressure of life at that time.
We have been together for almost 40 years and Carol has always been there through my hard times.
My coming out about my abuse.
I had been waiting for decades for someone to come forward about the abuse on Caldey Island.
When they did, they got ignored by the police, so I had enough of living these lies to hide the truth of this horrible abuse of children on Caldey Island.
I sat Carol down and told her and she said she knew my problems were not just my dad.
I then went to my GP and got the help I needed so badly for so many decades. Just before Christmas 2018 I told my family.
They knew there were things not right at home during my childhood.
Dyfed Powys Police.
I then approached my local MP to make contact with the police who stated that they were not going to open a investigation on my historic abuse on Caldey Island.
So, I decided to investigate the abuse of just not me, but what I had witnessed on Caldey Island.
I went back to the police with my MP with 80 pages of evidence and
made them do an investigation into my abuse etc.
I made a film which I went back to Caldey for the first time in nearly 50 years, I ran into the ruins of the Abbey and there it was, the Altar stone still there after 50 years. I was shocked and horrified.
I told the BBC filming crew that I entered the ruins this day as a young boy but left as a man.
In 2019 I made a 6-hour police video evidence of my abuse by Monks on Caldey Island and Father C and his friends gang raping me for years.
But during this time the police were planning to try to discredit me by getting a proven corrupt police officer and his family to make false allegations.
They treated Carol and me horribly/ disgustedly, harassment and intimidation.
But thank God 3 top British lawyers came on board to help us and it was to be free as they knew what I was doing about Caldey etc was right and the police soon left me alone.
Even though I told them that Father Thad hade raped my sister, they ignored it.
I know now the police have totally ignored victims and witnesses.
I explained that a man I known all my life, in same Parish as me, went to Caldey Island as a child on retreat same period as me.
He was woken one night by Father Thadd trying to pull him out of bed, but he made so much noise that Father Thadd took the boy in the next bed because he was timid.
After this man saw my programme, he went and gave a statement to
the police and has never heard back from them and as far as he knows the police have never searched for that other boy/victim.
So, it also proves that Father Thadd was actively abusing children at night.
I have now over 30 victims due mostly to our campaign, all of them
Have been rejected by the police.
How many victims have died from drugs etc and suicide because of the lack of safeguarding when they needed to be protected.
The police have a safeguarding monk on Caldey who is a retired police officer . Well, that’s not independent safeguarding. The police are failing in their duty to safeguard children staying and visiting Caldey Island. I asked the new Chief Constable to come on board with us. Also I asked him what does he see when he closes his eyes at night, because what I see is the children’s eyes as they been dragged away to be raped/abused. He never replied to me.
After collecting over five thousand signatures for a Public Inquiry into historic abuse on Caldey Island after 3 times it was put to their committee, even though a public inquiry was done on the Catholic Church they would not include Caldey Island.
I have since discovered that 2 MPs lived at some point on Caldey and also a serving police officer also lived on Caldey in late fifties.
There is no way that he not heard about the abuse, coppers nose ?
We started this campaign back in 2019 mostly due to the failures of the authorities to act on Caldey.
Since the beginning many more survivors have come on board and their stories of horrific abuse and the failing of the police.
The campaign, even though delayed by Covid, is gathering speed, millions of people are aware of the failures and everyone I chat to will never go back or go to Caldey.
Saturday the 10 of September 2022 I decided to go back to Caldey on my own to film in secret the new evidence that has come to light.
I was in disguise and thankfully no one recognized me, the Island was bare of tourists which proves what I was told in the summer that our campaign is having an effect on tourists visiting Caldey.
I will never give up; we are the voices of the victims including my sister.
Caldey Island Survivors Campaign.
The more they try to hide from us, the harder we shall seek.
The more they try to bury the truth, the deeper we will dig.
The more they try to blind us, the truth we will see.
The more they try to bully us, the stronger we will become.
No real news yet, but I wanted to let everyone know that the issue is ongoing.
It’s now with the RLSS – the new Safeguarding organisation that represents the De La Salles.
Just to remind you, here’s what their predecessor, the SCOE, said
on the 15th July in a somewhat guarded response to my enquiry:
I have been waiting for confirmation on the outcome to the investigation
following receipt of allegations made against Bro Laurence Hughes (LH).
De La Salle (DLS) in the near future will be making a statement about of the
outcome of the investigation and I understand this statement will contain an
apology to victims and will be published. I will ask DLS to make the
statement easily accessible, through their website or to others if/as
requested (* see note below).
I understand that LH no longer holds any leadership or safeguarding role
I think the promised ‘near future’ has come and gone!
The RLSS has a meeting scheduled with the DLS for the 14th October when I assume this will be raised.
There may be further prevarication, but I’ll wait a month to see.
I want to give everyone an opportunity to fulfill promises before responding and complaining.
Given the wretched track record of the DLS, their considerable skill at avoidance and obfuscation, that’s probably naive of me, but I think it’s important to show due diligence before taking it further.
I’m indebted to a De La Salle Old Boy who sent me details of a BBC doc as follows:
You may like to listen to BBC radio Foyle from today because there was a man on who is 78 and was born in Convoy in Donegal.
His story was fascinating. He was born illegitimate and ended up as an orphan who went to a school run by nuns in Derry. Early in his time at secondary school he was sent to Australia and went to a school in Perth, Western Australia, that was run by The Christian Brothers and from what he said it was the De La Salle Brothers.
There he suffered terrible abuse. Since then he has gone on to start a company and he made a great deal of money and he has used his time to help investigate the abuse in Australia and here in the UK. He helps run various organisations that are focused on exposing abuse by the Brothers and claiming recompense.
The details of the programme are:
BBC Radio Foyle (based in Derry)
The programme was The Mark Patterson Show (Mark was not there today and the show was run by a woman)
the programme starts at 13.00
The interview was from about 14.10 until 14.30
You can access it on BBC Sounds and it will be there for 30 days
Some valuable thoughts, insights, and great advice from Christopher in his account below. Writing a book is feasible for many of us. I have already published a number of commercially successful titles via Amazon and Kindle. To reach an audience, though, you need some marketing skills and a background in editing or publishing helps.
In my case, my book would be more about the Knights of St Columba, how they interacted with the DLS and the sexually abusive role of Catholic laity. It’s the Catholic gorilla in the corner that still needs fully exposing.
And much of my material is already written. So I will get around to it.
But there probably is a case for a collection of De La Salle survivor stories – from the 1950s and 1960s onwards, whether it’s at Ipswich, Beulah Hill, Southsea, Bournemouth, Blackheath, the DLS approved schools and so on. Not to mention accounts of notorious DLS abusers like Brother James Carragher now in prison. (Not Brother James Ryan). And the organised Ratrun where the brothers could escape to France when the police were on their trail. There is probably enough for two books from the accounts on this blog if the relevant survivors gave their permission. Especially if Brother Solomon was included. He would take up 25% at least of any book.
I couldn’t find the time to do it, alas. A single narrative is probably easier and more practical. Hope someone might consider the challenge.
Just been reading your site dealing with sexual abuse at St Joseph’s Ipswich .
In your columns you mention a brother Wilfred and a brother Cuthman.
I was a day pupil at St Johns Southsea. Wilfred had three brothers in the order.The second youngest Leo was the worst. He made us all bleed after a beating.
But then ALL the brothers there were sexual perverts and sadists.
I was fed up of shitting myself wondering what was going to happen during the coming day. So, I played hookey for 90% of the following two and a half years.
When it came to light my abusive stepfather hit the roof. So, I was shipped off to Sweden to be with my mother’s family to see if they could do anything with me there.
It was meant as a punishment but it’s the best thing that ever happened to me.
The Swedish teachers all the way through really liked their pupils. I stayed here and became a psychiatrist specialising in young children’s problems.
I had sessions on Harley Street for 30 years, once a month . Many of the young people I saw were DLS pupils and what was common to them was sexual abuse and being terrorised by the brothers.
Looked back, I see the brothers as inadequate homosexuals who punished their pupils to take their revenge on them for the lack of respect that they generally received.
Brother Dennis Robert came for a visit one of the few days that I was there. He was a slimey and hands everywhere inadequate trying to persuade the boys to join them.
No wonder that the RC orders are in crisis in the UK because nobody wants anything to do with them.
The best release that you and your friends can obtain is by talking through your experiences with a compassionate psychiatrist or doctor. Therapy has come a long way since your days at school.
The other way is to write a book specifically about your experiences of the DLS brothers and either publish it for a general audience or for yourselves. Getting it all out there and cleaning
out your inner houses is much the best way of getting rid of the memories.
Prof. Christopher Frey
PS. I found your site while reading several contributions from fellow pupils who like me had been badly sexually abused and beaten at our prep school.