I’ve just sent SCOE and DLS Safeguarding – the two relevant Catholic Safeguarding organizations – the summaries of evidence on Brothers Kevin, James, Solomon, Father Jolly the DLS school chaplain, and a summary of other DLS abusers.
These summaries will greatly facilitate the work of the investigations detailed below. It’s hard trawling through the numerous testimonies posted on this site over several years and my summaries are designed to make life easy for DLS Safeguarding and SCOE.
Here’s my understanding of what is currently happening: There are THREE strands of investigation into the DLS which is encouraging. However, they appear to overlap which – hopefully – won’t be a problem.
The three strands are:
1.The DLS Safeguarding Inquiry.
Here’s the newspaper account revealing the inquiry.
But to quote from it:
Barry Hudd, head of safeguarding at the De La Salle Brothers, said the order wanted to “clear the whole thing up”.
He added that while there have been more than 200 abuse claims made against the order from across the UK, until now only a handful have come from St Joseph’s.
One of these, he said, was settled recently outside of court, but most of the accusations made on Mr Mills blog were “completely unheard of”, he said.
“With regards to St Joseph’s, we’ve put the ball in Suffolk Constabulary’s court”, Mr Hudd said. “It’s up to them to work out what happened and if the abuse truly was systemic.
“We’ve also hired our own independent and experienced child abuse investigator to assist the police.
Previously, DLS Safeguarding had set up an Independent Investigator to look at De La Salle Brother ‘A’ which may still be ongoing, so I won’t comment on that matter. Other than to say their Investigator was Jo Norman whom I found tremendously helpful to talk to. Other Survivors have said the same thing.
However, no one from DLS Safeguarding has been in touch with me thus far regarding this new investigation, even though I understand it’s based entirely on the testimonies on this site.
And one survivor recently wrote direct to DLS Safeguarding with his well documented account of abuse and was disappointed by their brief response.
So I have a question for the DLS:
Has the DLS independent Investigator been appointed?
Because we were told by SCOE when Jo Norman was appointed. I think we should be similarly told by DLS Safeguarding what is going on and who the Investigator is.
2. The SCOE. Safeguarding Commission for Orders in Education (SCOE).
Its Independent Chair is Rev Dcn Des Bill. He informed me:
“De La Salle have now written to the police asking them to investigate all allegations and concerns made about the order and any members of it.”
The SCOE themselves have also already been dealing with complaints of DLS abuse. Des Bill has been forwarding the testimonies on this site to the police of Operation Hydrant (see below).
Possibly DLS Safeguarding will do the same separately via their Investigator or will co-ordinate with SCOE?
Des Bill was also involved in the investigation into De La Salle Brother ‘A’. In fact, I thought it was SCOE who had initiated it. But a reporter told me that De La Salle Safeguarding had advised her that they initiated it not SCOE.
So I assume that SCOE acted at the original ‘front person’ for DLS Safeguarding and that they liaised behind the scenes.
However, here’s what Jo Norman said herself:
I am an Independent safeguarding consultant who has been commissioned to provide management of all complaints against Brother ‘A’ and to support the SCOE (Safeguarding Commission for Orders in Education) in making decisions regarding these complaints.
Catholic Safeguarding (Chair: Nazir Afzal ) are NOT involved. Their full name is Catholic Standards Agency: CSSA. They are a completely new and separate organization. They deal with abuser priests and are not involved with religious orders like the DLS.
3. Ipswich police
If an abuser is still alive, it’s relatively simple for a Survivor of the abuse to get a response without going through this complex system. Ipswich police will deal with you direct. I found them helpful and pro-active.
But if the abuser is dead, the complaint goes to Operation Hydrant. This is an umbrella police organization dealing with historic and systemic abuse.
It is still handled from Ipswich, but the police tell me they require an authorised intermediary – like Jo Norman – to present the information to Hydrant.
That sounds simple enough, but there are inconsistencies. Thus Des Bill has been sending testimonies from my site to Hydrant without such an intermediary.
Maybe this happened because the information was already summarized which would usually be the job of an intermediary.
And at least two DLS Survivors have reported historic abuse – where the DLS abuser is dead – to Ipswich police who have responded direct to them. Maybe they didn’t need an intermediary because they were ‘one off’ cases.
The three strands are confusing, a little contradictory, and there is a noticeable lack of detail.
But I’m hoping these two Catholic Safeguarding organizations will make things clearer for us all in the future.
We need full transparency to avoid going round in circles and in line with the recent Elliott Report which said Safeguarding Officers should adopt a more compassionate, communicative and respectful attitude to Survivors.
The lack of communication I’ve described is certainly not in line with the Elliott Report.
WHAT DOES A SURVIVOR OF DLS ABUSE DO NEXT?
I’m asking both DLS Safeguarding and the SCOE for some guidance here and I think we all need some answers from them to the questions and my suggestions below.
Here is an example of a key case.
Survivor Z has written a detailed and important testimony about a dead DLS sexual and physical abuser. It’s been backed up by supporting evidence by other Survivors. It’s in the evidence posts I’ve sent the Safeguarding agencies.
And it should be backed up by further evidence in the DLS files. There is no way this DLS abuser’s sexual and physical abuse crimes could have been unknown by Oxford (The DLS HQ). There would be many complaints about him.
As with all the evidence I have presented, I strongly dispute that they are ‘completely unheard of’ as the cases themselves make clear.
So what happens next?
1)Does Z wait until Hydrant gets in touch with him ?
Or will the DLS Safeguarding independent Investigator seek to also get in touch with him before passing the same evidence to Hydrant?
2)The Investigator or Hydrant can get in touch with Z by contacting me and I will pass on their request.
And the Investigator can ask me – from looking at the evidence summaries I’ve provided – who else they would particularly like to get in touch with. I will happily act as facilitator for them.
If that is not acceptable, we need to know why.
3) An alternative would be for the Investigator to place a request for information on my blog, asking survivors to come forward. This has been done before and I believe it worked well.
But a few important testimonies will need addressing separately. For example, if a Survivor who made a key testimony rarely reads my blog, so he’s not going to know about the Investigator’s request. Then I would need to contact them.
4) Or should Z write to the DLS Investigator or DLS Safeguarding? Bearing in mind his testimony has already gone to SCOE and thus onto Hydrant.
5)Can SCOE and DLS Safeguarding tell us how they avoid this possible duplication and a Survivor like Z telling his story twice to two overlapping organizations?
6) The DLS files in Oxford will be bulging with information on the most notorious DLS abusers: Solomon, Kevin and James. If an Investigator goes to those files FIRST, it should confirm many of their crimes.
So how necessary is it for all Survivors to be contacted and repeat their allegations which are painful to recount?
Bearing in mind the Elliott Report asks Catholic Safeguarding agencies to have a more compassionate and kindly approach in future.
For example, the DLS Investigator should be able to confirm from the DLS files alone that Brother James was a violent abuser who had psychotic episodes.
There must also be a dozen accounts of Brother James’ violence on my blog which bear this out. Contacting all survivors would be laborious and may be unnecessary when the DLS already know he is guilty.
In my opinion, the DLS acknowledging that James was guilty of psychotic violence should be a relatively simple matter, irrespective of Hydrant. Then it’s up to individual Survivors to decide what to do with that DLS acknowledgement next.
In fact, it hardly needs to go through Hydrant, taking up valuable police time, especially when they seem overloaded with work which may mean it could take some considerable time before they respond – this is according to Barry Hudd, the DLS Safeguarding Officer.
If that proves to be the case, I will have to look at the implications. Namely : are the DLS being obstructive and against the recommendations of the Elliott Report?
There is a simpler solution if the DLS genuinely want to get to the bottom of all this.
A simple but specific admission of James’ guilt by the DLS would suffice.
The position is similar where Brothers Solomon and Kevin are concerned.
Their cases are provably and emphatically NOT ‘completely unheard of ‘.
7) DLS lay teachers are the responsibility of the DLS, as confirmed by DLS Safeguarding saying that they are looking into Mike Mercado. But I think we want to be sure.
So here’s another key question to DLS Safeguarding:
Will you please confirm that DLS lay teachers detailed in the relevant evidence summary are included in your investigation?
8)DLS Safeguarding started off on ‘the wrong foot’ with Survivors as I’ve previously exampled. (e.g their not-so-public ‘public’ apology). It would be good if we can put that behind us now.
I’m prepared to do so, if I see there’s a change of attitude from now on.
Bearing in mind the sensitivity of the issues, the opening of old wounds, the huge emotional toll to Survivors of DLS crimes, and the recommendations of the Elliott Report for Catholic Safeguarding agencies to do much better:
Is there anything DLS Safeguarding and/or the Investigator would like to say to help Survivors just now? I will happily post it on my blog without comment.
9) Finally, there’s the whole issue of proper DLS apologies and proper DLS acknowledgement of crimes, but I think that’s worth addressing in a later, separate post, possibly as the investigation proceeds.