BROTHER ELWIN GERARD AND BROTHER IVES

More thoughts on Brother Elwin from an Old Boy:

I too (and presumably lots of others) had the pleasure of the “little chat” with Bro. Elwin Gerard (or Decky, as we used to call him). It was a squirmy affair. The irony of a supposedly celibate religious giving us advice on sex was not lost on this cowboy. As ridiculous as the chat may have been, I don’t think it ranks anywhere on the abuse spectrum. Odd, bizarre, even inappropriate, yes, but not abuse. Ives on the other hand was a grim piece of work and any manoeuvre that got us out from under his sway was a good move. The only person more miserable than those of us under Ives was Ives himself; a casualty of war, Irish religious bollox, the perversion known as religious vows, and his own inadequate personality. I have often wondered if our parents, having relinquished their responsibilities as child rearers to a gang of simple-minded religious black-robes, ever doubted the wisdom of their abandonment of us at (in my case) the age of seven. Funny thing: my father never ever broached the subject of sex with his children. Do you suppose he put Decky up to it?

SAFE SPACES

Many thanks to a St Jo’s Old Boy for suggesting the link below to Safe Spaces.

I really should have known about this site, but am embarrassed to say I didn’t.

I’m talking to Catholic Safeguarding tomorrow and they may suggest Safe Spaces could look at some of the matters on this blog. We’ll see.

www.safespacesenglandandwales.org.uk

From their site:

How can we help?

Remote support is provided nationally through our helpline and Live Chat for as long as our clients feel they need it and it is deemed to be helpful.

We can help with advocating with authorities and other agencies, giving you emotional support, providing information (including information on church and police procedures), understanding your needs and working together on individual support plans.  If face-to-face support is wanted local to where you live, we will try to make contact with appropriate agencies depending on need.

Safe Spaces comprises a team of trained support advocates who have also undergone specialist training in supporting survivors of sexual violence. The team have received additional specific training in how the churches respond to abuse cases, the way in which faith and church-related settings have been used to carry out abuse, and the particular issues affecting people who have had or still have, a relationship with the church.

ST PETER’S SOUTHBOURNE

An Old Boy from the school above just wrote in with a recollection, triggered by the post The Shocking Truth about St Joseph’s (my old school) which mentions a Brother Elwin at St Jo’s who I can recall very well. 

Here’s the link to the Shocking Truth:

https://wordpress.com/post/patmills.wordpress.com/1029

But to quote from one just element in this testimony I still find hard to read:

I went through the main entrance and climbed the wooden staircase up to Brother Elwins Office, which was immediately above the main entrance. I did not knock I was in no mood to be polite. There was no one in his office but the door to his bedroom was ajar. I heard a kids voice saying “there is someone in the your office”
I just flung the door open and there was Brother Elwin naked on his bed with a naked kid of only about 12 sitting on his stomach.

The dreadful nature of this testimony is why I’m urging Catholic Safeguarding to look at the whole De La Salle Order NOW.

Not to mention the modern St Jo’s still connected with the DLS. They can’t keep ignoring their past.

There may just possibly be two Brothers with the same name, I suppose.

Anyway, my somewhat chaotic blog (!) linked the recollection below to ‘The Shocking Truth’ which means it may not be seen by many new readers who are only looking at current and fairly recent posts.

So I thought I should feature it here.  I think the post below speaks for itself and requires no further comment from me.

I was a boarder at St Peter’s Southbourne 1961-65. Brother Elwin was Head for a couple of years and then Brother Edwin. I was surprised to be told at the beginning of an afternoon’s lessons that Brother Elwin wanted to see me in his office. He sat me down on the other side of his desk and told me the facts of life. Even as a 13 year old I thought it strange that I had been singled out. I was a boarder with Brother Ives and on returning to school after summer holidays he said I would be moving to Brother Elwin’s house as I was in his choir. Again that seemed strange to me but at least it was an escape from Ives. Brother Elwin was always on duty in my new dormitory when I got changed for bed. No physical abuse occurred but it is only now some 60 years later that I realise things were not as they should have been and possibly I had a lucky escape.

ST JOSEPH’S COLLEGE: OUR SHARED HERITAGE

In the coming months, as various matters proceed, the De La Salle Connection to modern St Joseph’s College, Ipswich, may well be relevant.

Originally, the school appeared to me to just be ‘In the La Sallian Tradition’. But my previous post featured information which indicated, to me at least, that there was still a La Sallian Connection.

Certainly the school is STILL listed as a La Sallian school.

Anyone who can shed further light on all this, do please let me have your thoughts. Any information will be treated in complete confidence and your anonymity respected.

Meanwhile, I’ve looked at two similar examples which I will shortly be citing to Catholic Safeguarding should the modern school disclaim or fail to acknowledge its past. Hopefully their moral compass will not make that necessary.

Firstly, Sherborne. A school previously run and owned by a transgenerational paedophile headmaster, Lindsay,it was sold for £1 (!) to the current school. Lindsay still maintained a close geographical connection with the school.

The current school Sherborne Prep School gained charity status and became a limited company.  

Current chairman of governors at Sherborne Prep School, Nigel Jones, said: “It is a completely different financial, legal and governance organisation.

“We don’t know what happened (in Lindsay’s era) because we are not in any way party to things that went on.”

https://www.somersetlive.co.uk/news/local-news/lawyer-argues-change-legal-status-3378220

It would appear that St J’s Ipswich has a stronger connection to its past and I would hope they would not use a variation on these dismissive words of indifference to survivors.

The second example is  Celtic Football Club who were criticised in a review. It, too, separated itself from its abusive past – in this case its junior club.

‘Celtic Boys Club also featured in often distressing personal accounts of sexual abuse.

Celtic FC has previously said that while it shares “historic contacts” with the boys club, the two are separate organisations.

But the review concludes: “If the relationship and history between the youth football club and the senior club was so shared, so close, and so inextricable then when sexual abuse of young players formed part of the history of one then it too formed part of the history of the other.

“A SHARED HERITAGE IS NOT CONFINED TO TROPHIES, VICTORIES AND CELEBRATION. IT ALSO EXTENDS TO DEFEATS, FAILURES, AND DEFICIENCIES.”’

https://www.bbc.com/news/uk-scotland-56019232

I don’t see how anyone with any morality, never mind a Catholic, would disagree with the review’s conclusion and how this applies to our own school in a remarkably similar way.

This fairly widespread practice of attempted disassociation amongst schools and youth organizations that seek to remove themselves from their historic crimes is likely to come under increasing public scrutiny and criticism because it is so blatantly a financial ploy to evade responsibility and lacks real substance.

We, the survivors of the historic De La Salle St Joseph’s College, clearly have a shared heritage with the modern, still DLS connected, St Joseph’s College.

The history of one forms part of the history of the other.

And so we seek their acknowledgement of what has happened in the past.

Remaining silent with so many shocking abuse cases identified and confirmed beyond all reasonable doubt seems inexcusable.

I’m quite sure there’s a form of words which acknowledges the crimes of its past without accepting financial liability which, presumably, is a matter for the De La Salles.

I would urge today’s St Joseph’s College to respond now. Don’t wait to be fetched.

THE LA SALLIAN CONNECTION?

Information I’ve recently looked at would suggest that today’s St Joseph’s College, Ipswich, is not just ‘In the La Sallian Tradition’ but there may be a current financial La Sallian Connection.

If so, it might explain why the current school has shown no interest in the serious and numerous allegations against the De La Salle Order when the latter were in charge.

St Joseph’s College Ipswich was the centre of widespread sexual and physical abuse by the De La Salle Order and associated lay teachers from the 1960s to 1980s.

Today’s College is not connected and has shown no interest in this past, even though it is ‘In the La Sallian Tradition’, has the same uniform etc. and honors the positive achievements and teachers of the past, but never their crimes. Thus it has a current prize for Chemistry, honoring 1960s to 1980s sadist teacher Kearney who, amongst other instances of violence, punched a boy in the face and was forced to apologize.

In fact, it would seem, the school is STILL linked financially with the De La Salles.  Companies House link here). It appears to me from this that the DLS are the ongoing financiers of the school.

However, the local Ipswich paper in 2014 presents the same information as a final total separation of today’s school and the DLS.

https://www.eadt.co.uk/news/ipswich-st-joseph-s-site-sold-to-school-in-multi-2121066

If so, why are the DLS still listed as the financiers on the Companies House records?

I’m confused.

St Joseph’s is also STILL listed on Wikipedia as a Lasallian educational institution.  One of eighteen schools, when I was under the impression they only  physically operated eleven now.

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Lasallian_educational_institutions#United_Kingdom

That doesn’t fit with how the school is currently presented. It suggests they are still very much part of the DLS portfolio, even if it’s only through finance.

If anyone knows of further connections to the DLS or can illuminate these contradictory positions, do please let me know.  Perhaps I’m missing something in which case I will happily pass on any clarification.

Originally the Knights of St Columba also seem to have funded the establishment of St J’s in the 1940s, but they seem to have dropped out of the school’s financial records afterwards, although, possibly, there is an ongoing investment there, too.

All this is relevant, too, because of various events. For example how the Knights possibly protected their investment in the school to help cover up CSA  (Child sexual abuse) by the DLS at St J’s in the 1960s. Or perhaps they simply saw it as their Catholic duty to protect the school against scandal.

See my blog.

https://wordpress.com/post/patmills.wordpress.com/1029

And there’s the exploitation of poverty for the purposes of CSA by the Knights to pay my school fees, as I’ve previously described, born out by how the Old Boy in the case above had his school fees paid in a similar manner to silence him.

In view of this, the Knights’ financial involvement in the DLS school is relevant to future investigation. Especially when or if they withdrew their investment or if it still ongoing in some form.

To summarise, there are three organisations relevant to the finances of St Joseph’s and two of them – the De La Salles and the Ipswich Knights of St Columba – have a provable past record of corruption and abuse as illustrated on this site.

How they affected or continue to affect the last organisation – the current school – should be a matter of concern to them and to any investigating body.

One thing is certain: the current school is still connected with the DLS to a lesser or greater extent and therefore must acknowledge its responsibility to survivors whom it has currently shown zero interest in. 

And also to condemn the DLS and lay abusers responsible, which it has, once again, shown zero interest in doing.

At the time of writing, they are continuing to ignore this clear responsibility and that is something I will be taking up with Catholic Safeguarding and other relevant organisations.

Meanwhile, a statement from the current St Joseph’s College addressing and clarifying all these matters I’m sure would be welcomed by survivors, other Old Boys, and parents of today’s pupils.

BROTHER LAURENCE HUGHES: REQUEST FROM CATHOLIC SAFEGUARDING

Update from a St Jo’s Old Boy below. My emphasis on his post.

Jules Gooch commented on BROTHER LAURENCE HUGHES: NEWS UPDATE

Update – Had a good conversation with Jo Norman today who is looking into this matter. I recounted my memory of the swimming pool assult and she would like to hear from anyone else who had experience of or witnessed the kind of behaviour that we are discussing here. We also briefly discussed a number of other individuals who were involved in similar matters. I think this is possibly a good opportunity to see some kind of consequence / justice for what these people got up to. If you feel you can and want to I recommend you in the first instance contact Des Bill with details. Des Bill deacondesb@gmail.com

BROTHER LAURENCE HUGHES – CATHOLIC SAFEGUARDING INFO.

The posts below from St Jo’s Old Boys reminded me I should have given details of Catholic Safeguarding as they are a complex organization https://www.csas.uk.net/links/

The relevant department for the De La Salle Order is the Safeguarding Commission for Orders in Education (SCOE).

The St Jo’s Old Boy who heard from SCOE that Brother Laurence has been suspended was officially informed by:

Rev Dcn  Des Bill

Independent Chair,

SCOE

desbill.SCOE@gmail.com

He advised that an independent safeguarding professional has been commissioned to manage the case.

So I would suggest that Old Boys who want to share information about Brother Laurence contact  Rev Dcn Des Bill direct at the above email address.

……………………………..

James commented on BROTHER LAURENCE HUGHES   Brother Laurence Hughes , He should leave the order and retire . I am a old boy from St Joseph’s Ipswich. He beat a boy around the head at the swimming pool & gave him six of the best with the slipper. He is a sadist. I know the boys name , I watched what happened to him . This is 43 years later. 

I received this post today:

My attention has been drawn to this by another old boy who reached out to me. I am the boy at the swimming pool and want to share the story. I can confirm directly that BLH was a bully and a savage. What is the best way to proceed?

BROTHER LAURENCE HUGHES: NEWS UPDATE

Brother Laurence Hughes is  Provincial (Head) of the De La Salle Order in Great Britain and Ireland. Following recent posts about Brother Laurence on this website, a fellow Old Boy of St Joseph’s College, Ipswich, Suffolk, sent me a copy of an email from the Chair of the SCOE – the Catholic Safeguarding Commission for Orders in Education. To quote from this email, dated 12th August 2021:

‘I can confirm that since we have been in receipt of your allegation that Bro Laurence has been suspended from all public ministry and roles he performed’ 

Rev Dcn  Des Bill

Independent Chair,

SCOE

The email also states that the case will be managed by a senior and independent safeguarding professional ‘to ensure recommendations and actions taken are objective and not influenced by any person within SCOE or the De La Salle congregation.’

ST JOSEPH’S COLLEGE memories 1970s – 1980s

I just received this comprehensive memoir about school life at St Jo’s. It was typewritten, with no origins address, unsigned and was posted to my old address where I haven’t lived for many years. The current owner photographed the pages and emailed them to me, so the only way I can show them is as photographs, I’m afraid.

PAGE ONE OF LETTER FROM ST J’S OLD BOY
PAGE TWO OF LETTER FROM ST J’S OLD BOY
PAGE THREE OF LETTER FROM ST J’S OLD BOY

There’s nothing controversial or confidential in the contents and so I feel it is safe and appropriate to share.

My thanks to ‘Anonymous’ for his observations. Do send me an e-mail another time and I assure you your name and address will remain confidential.

I found Anon’s recollections of Kearney interesting. I didn’t know about his early retirement to Greece and his subsequent death in his 50s. I believe Anon is the second Old Boy to say Kearney wasn’t a good chemistry teacher; he also says Kearney wasn’t actually interested in the subject. This makes it all the more remarkable that he has a current chemistry memorial prize named after him by today’s St Joseph’s College.

I recall Kearney getting us to drink heavily diluted acid, which was, of course, perfectly safe. I’d forgotten that he also got pupils to dip their hands in similarly diluted acid. Anon says he put ‘the fear into you without actually doing anything.’

At the time, I regarded such behaviour as clearly ‘sadistic’. Today his actions would also be recognised as abusive.

It’s the limits of his sadism that interest me. Was his classroom sadism, as confirmed by various Old Boys as well as myself, the full extent of his disorder? Was he a normal person outside the classroom?  Not in my experience. I believe sadists can’t actually ‘switch off’ from their disorder, although they can control it in most – but not all – circumstances.  But I wait for other accounts before elaborating. This makes a unique Kearney defender very angry and impatient with me. She remembers Kearney as a kind and good teacher and he seems to have made a strong and positive impression on her. She regards complaints about him as ‘hearsay’ and unfair as he’s no longer here to defend himself.  In response, I’ve told her the same was said about Jimmy Savile directly after his death. I’ve also told her repeatedly, it’s for me as a survivor to evaluate and decide my best strategy on my PTSD recollections of Kearney, not for her to dictate it or tell me to ‘forget it and get on with my life’.

Anon also doesn’t believe Kearney engaged in systematic physical abuse. He certainly did in the 1960s, using a Bunsen burner tube to whack kids with. It was not so much the actually whacking, but his sadistic glee that I remember thinking at the time was entirely inappropriate.  I shall never forget that leering grin on his face as he would excitedly yank the rubber tube off a burner – although he never whacked me with it. And also his smiling with delight at a boy’s fear as he applied a blackboard duster to his knuckles. And there is, in the 1970s or 80s, the testimonial of the Old Boy who was punched in the face by Kearney, resulting in him having to apologise to his parents and –  hopefully – the boy himself. I can’t believe this was a ‘one off’ and – in any event – that is a serious criminal assault for which he should have been prosecuted, even in those times.

Anon believes the aberrant behaviour he describes at St Jo’s was typical of private schools in the late 20th century  and St Jo’s shouldn’t be singled out.  It’s true that there were others – other De La Salle schools, Benedictine schools, and Sherborne prep school.  And doubtless many more.  The fact that it was ‘normal’ doesn’t make it acceptable and I believe abusive teachers should be fully exposed. Thus there’s a testimony on this site – concerning an incident in the 1980s, I think – where another lay teacher from St Jo’s had a cat o’nine whip he used on a boy. That’s a specialist sadistic device.

Please do share your recollections of St Jo’s on my site. They can be positive or negative – it all helps to produce a rounded picture of the times and the school before its ‘new management’.

For instance, no one ever mentions Mr George, my history teacher from my 60s era.(Not to be confused with the later rugby teacher) I’m curious to know if he moved onto another school.

I’m planning to write a chapter about the De La Salles for the forthcoming  ‘The Unturned Stones of IICSA’ book which looks at the shortfalls of the inquiry. The book is introduced by Richard Scorer who wrote ‘Betrayed’ about RC CSA in the UK.  So any relevant thoughts, positive or negative, would be invaluable, especially if I can quote them, anonymously if necessary.

How survivors feel about IICSA

There’s a forthcoming Webinar planned about the considerable shortcomings of IICSA. And a planned book THE UNTURNED STONES OF IICSA where survivors can write a chapter about issues they feel were neglected by IICSA. Currently I’m writing a chapter about the DE LA SALLE BROTHERS, but if anyone else wants to cover the same or similar ground, I’m fine with giving them a voice instead and I’ll take a back seat.

There are so many other areas of the Catholic Church that I want to look at.

Here’s the link to a brief podcast explaining in more detail.  And there’s an email address included for you to write to.

Episode Description

TRIGGER WARNING: STRONG FEELINGS EXPRESSED. Listening to the Pioneers of Authentic Change express their formidable concerns about the integrity of the independent Inquiry into Child Sexual Abuse. Lisa Nandy MP, Raymond Stephenson from Shirley Oaks Survivors Association, (www.shirleyoakssurvivorsassociation.co.uk) Ian Mc Fayden, Andy from Newcastle, Malcolm Mansfield QC & Lloyd Evans from JWatch (see Youtube video IICSA:Part of the Problem