Broken Rites in Australia are a potential role model for us here in the UK on whether and how survivors could go forward in the case of the three abusers above.
If you’re not familiar with Broken Rites, here’s their summary page
Our Catholic background
Broken Rites Australia is not connected with any religious denomination. However, each member of the Broken Rites executive team had a Catholic background and each of us has been hurt by Catholic Church sex-abuse – and by the church’s habit of cover-up. We are therefore motivated to do research on this problem.
The first Broken Rites cases, which we began researching in 1993, resulted in a number of Catholic priests and religious Brothers being convicted in the criminal courts. This news prompted more Catholic survivors to send information to Broken Rites about other cases.
The Broken Rites executive team are semi-retired professionals, with experience in research and advocacy. We donate our time to do this research.
Our articles are written in a professional, non-sensational manner.
Our articles expose the perpetrator (and the cover-up) but we protect the privacy of victims.
If you look at their case studies, you will be awed by their diligence, restraint and pursuit of abusers. Their evidence was the basis of the Dark Network academic study clearly showing that there were – and perhaps still are – a significant number of organised Catholic paedophile rings within the Catholic Church in Oz.
The studies can be a little overwhelming to read. There are so many. And, if that’s true for Oz, it’s surely also true for the UK.
In the UK, we don’t, alas, have any organisation like Broken Rites that collates and pursues these cases. Maybe because Australia has a larger Catholic population?
And what happened to us at St Joseph’s College, Ipswich has never locked into a wider group of UK Catholic survivors, with more expertise to draw on, so we’re at somewhat of a disadvantage.
Even so, Broken Rites are an encouraging and valuable role model and a possible source of advice on ways to go forward.
From looking at past correspondence, I have the strong feeling many of us would like to pursue this further, but are aware of our lack of time and expertise and also how the various organisations of the Catholic Church are expert at blocking, delaying and generally obstructing the path of a survivor seeking acknowledgement or compensation.
Whilst there are many clerical abusers detailed on my site, there are three who stand out above the others: Kevin, James and Solomon. I don’t think anyone could doubt the validity of these cases, based on the numerous testimonies on this site.
One thing that has held us back is the fact that these cases are ‘historic’. James and Solomon are dead. Kevin has dementia and may well be dead by now.
So I think it’s useful to quote from a Broken Rites case where the abuse was similarly ‘historic’ and the survivor still received compensation.
It concerns Father John Byrne, a Jesuit priest.
Byrne died in Melbourne on 23 December 1974 aged 62.
A church investigation confirms abuse
A former student, Mark, says that he was sexually abused by Fr John Byrne at Xavier College’s preparatory school (Burke Hall) in Melbourne in 1971 when Mark was aged 11. Mark says it was sadistic violent abuse. Mark says that this abuse, plus the church’s cover-up, disrupted his teenage development and his later life.
In 2005, Mark lodged a complaint with the Catholic Church’s Professional Standards Office (the PSO) in Sydney. On 23 December 2005 a senior Jesuit, Fr Geoffrey King, who was in charge of professional-standards matters for the Australian Jesuits, wrote to Mark, stating:
“I must say that your account of events at Burke Hall bears very much the ring of truth . . . It is certainly true that John Byrne was moved from Burke Hall during 1972, and there seems good reason to suspect that it was as a result of some problematic behaviour on his part.”
In May 2006 the PSO appointed a solicitor/mediator to investigate Mark’s complaint and to interview priests who were colleagues of Father Byrne. The Jesuits could not assist with the investigation but when Mark referred the solicitor/mediator to some of the pupils who were in his class, significant corroborative evidence was found. On 30 October 2006, the solicitor/mediator reported that Mark’s allegations “are justified”. The PSO then wrote to Mark, confirming that Mark’s allegations had been substantiated to the “adequate evidentiary standard”.
The PSO arranged a facilitation meeting with Mark at which the Jesuits offered Mark a “financial gesture”, provided that Mark signed away his rights to seek a more appropriate figure. Mark declined this “gesture” as it was an amount that he considered not to be commensurate with the damage done to his life.
However, eventually Mark and the Jesuits reached agreement about an amount of settlement, and the Jesuits then sent their compensation cheque to Mark.
The key points that jumped out at me were that Byrne died in 1974 and the case was pursued in 2005 and the survivor received compensation in 2006.
That’s encouraging. There may well be other cases on the Broken Rites site that are historic where the Church has acknowledged its crimes.
Of course the De La Salle Brothers and the structure in Oz are different, but it suggests there are similar ways forward.
From my point of view, I would dearly love to pursue this, but – for now – I have to keep my energies and researches focussed on the congregational and lay aspects of Catholic abuse.
But, if anyone wants to pursue the cases of one or all of these Brothers, or other Catholic abusers, because you seek acknowledgement, apology or compensation, I’ll happily help in any way I can.
And – of course – all the testimonies on this site are available to you. I can forward any requests you may have of them so their names and details remain strictly confidential.
That said, the evidence against these three criminal Brothers is so vast, I’m not sure it would be necessary.
I think the De La Salle organisation will already be very aware of their crimes. Brother Kevin, for instance, seems to have been driven out of his Suffolk village by local youths who knew of his behaviour.
If I was pursuing this myself, my primary objective would be an acknowledgement from the De La Salle Brothers that these three Brothers were abusers and to make a general apology on behalf of the order.
I would write to Broken Rites for advice in case they can steer me away from obvious pitfalls and then write to the DLSB at Oxford. Either quoting all three cases for a collective response. Or a case that affected me personally. namely Brother James
But other survivors will have different objectives and strategies, dependant on their circumstances, and I’m happy to assist them if I can.
What also prompted me to write this post was looking back at the case of Brother James Carragher, who I thought at first was our St Joseph’s Brother James Ryan. Carragher was a similar monster. He’s currently in prison.
Here’s some excerpts from a BBC report.
More than 200 men claim they were abused at St William’s residential school in Market Weighton between 1970 and 1991, run by the De La Salle order.
The order has apologised “unreservedly” to those affected by the abuse and for the actions of its former principal.
James Carragher is in jail for sex offences against children at the home.
If the compensation claim succeeds, the eventual payout could run into millions of pounds.
The school, which closed in 1992, provided residential care and education for boys aged 10 to 16 with emotional and behavioural problems.
It was run by the De La Salle brothers on behalf of Middlesbrough Diocese.
The order said it “deeply regrets what happened at St William’s”.
James Carragher, of Cearns Road, Merseyside, who was principal from 1976-1990, is serving his third prison sentence for physically and sexually abusing boys there.
Allegations of abuse continued into the 1980s. The BBC has seen written testimony from a boy at the home describing how Carragher hit him on the head “with his fist”, “dragged” him onto the landing and “kicked” and “pulled” him down the stairs.
Documents show Carragher was subjected to an internal disciplinary hearing following the assault and was given a warning.
According to a letter sent to Humberside County Council in 1992, complaints at the home were deal with by the principal, meaning that for 14 years allegations were dealt with by the man – Carragher – who was carrying out the abuse.
A spokesman for the De La Salle Order said: “We repeat our total condemnation of the serious criminal behaviour of James Carragher, a former member of the De La Salle Brothers, during his time on the staff at St William’s.
“We condemn, without reservation, any action or behaviour which harms young people.
“We deeply regret what happened at St William’s and the harm that was done there through the behaviour of James Carragher. We unreservedly apologise to all who have been affected by his behaviour. Our hearts go out to all victims of abuse and their families.”
A spokesman for the Diocese said: “Abusive behaviour has absolutely no place in the Catholic Church, or anywhere in society, and is against everything we stand for.”
The compensation case is expected to last three weeks at the High Court in Leeds.
The De La Salle order pointedly call him James Carragher, not Brother James as he’s now left the order.
They apologise without reservation for his crimes.
It’s worth repeating the words of the spokesman for the Catholic diocese.
“Abusive behaviour has absolutely no place in the Catholic Church, or anywhere in society, and is against everything we stand for.”
Let’s see if they mean it.