Creator and first editor of 2000AD, champion of girls' and political comics. Spacewarp, Requiem Vampire Knight, Marshal Law, Accident Man, Nemesis, Charley's War and more. Get in touch: patmillswriter (@) gmail.com. Go to millsverse.com for comics stuff.
I’m indebted to a fellow survivor who sent me this image of the current advert for St J’s.
It would appear that the La Sallian connection is no longer there.
So that’s progress.
Although I’m not alone in thinking the finances of the school and the De La Salles may still be linked in some way (as seems to be the case with St J’s Beulah Hill), at least they’re no longer flaunting their connection to a shamed religious order which – at the time in question 1960s – 1980s – had a strong organised criminal element.
That said, last time I checked, two weeks ago, St J’s Ipswich was still listed as a La Sallian school – presumably because there’s some financial association.
And, of course, according to a recent media report, the current St J’s knows nothing of the DLS organisation and its past crimes from which they say they are entirely disconnected. So the Wikipedia entry is an error? But St J’s is still connected with the great DLS achievements of the past. Just not the bad stuff. Not the disgusting sexual abuse and the psychotic violence of the brothers. That’s classic moral double-think and hypocrisy which I had a gut full of as a pupil at St J’s, so that at least hasn’t changed.
The advert used to be depicted like this (‘providing Christian education in the La Sallian Tradition.’)
It only took some seven years approx for them to change a sign that was deeply offensive and inflammatory to me and many survivors. They might as well have said ‘In the Jimmy Savile tradition’.
Ironically, if they’d taken notice of my complaint at the time, this blog would never have taken the form it has – exposing the numerous crimes of the DLS and the Catholic laity with some positive results.
I hope not just ‘The La Sallian Tradition’ has gone away, but also the Kearney memorial prize – a teacher from my era who most certainly does not deserve to be remembered in such a complimentary and positive way. As far as I can tell that prize, too, is no longer in existence. If so, that, too, is progress.
Exposing the crimes of the DLS and the laity and RC lay teachers with whom the order were closely connected is still a work in progress and I hope to update with more news soon.
As always, any information about them all will be useful and valuable not just to survivors, but also to investigators.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
As you’ll see from the page below Durham University are keen to talk to survivors and other informed people about abuse in the Catholic Church and its various organizations.
There’s also a link with further information.
I talked to the organizers this week and recounted some of my experiences as an Old Boy of St Joseph’s College, Ipswich, and also the central role of the Catholic laity, specifically the Knights of St Columba.
I found it a valuable and cathartic experience. Valuable firstly because it was useful to interact and explain some of my childhood history to researchers connected to but independent of the Church. But secondly because it means this website has been noticed and is finally being taken seriously. It needs to be. It’s a unique platform and resource with a considerable body of important evidence about abuse and abusers.
So thank you to everyone who has contributed their recollections of Catholic abuse so far, some of which must have been quite tough to relate.
The project is funded by a charitable foundation with further contributions from other Catholic institutional funders, but as the organizers made clear to me, the University is a public secular institution, and the Centre for Catholic Studies which is behind the research is part of the University and independent of the Church.
All research is conducted in line with the University’s expectations of integrity and impartiality and is subject to ethical review; confidentiality and anonymity is maintained.
Durham University’s Boundary Breaking Project is looking for research participants.
Boundary Breaking: Ecclesial-cultural Implications of the Sex Abuse Crisis within the Catholic Church in England and Wales
Boundary Breaking is a project of the Centre for Catholic Studies (CCS) within the Department of Theology and Religion at Durham University. It is a three-year research project, working in collaboration with survivors and organisations in the Catholic Church in England and Wales. Our task is to explore the role of Catholic culture and theology in contributing to the creation of an environment in which abuse by clergy and brothers, and its subsequent denial and mishandling, was and is possible. The project is led by Dr Marcus Pound as Principal Investigator, working with Dr Catherine Sexton, Dr Pat Jones and Prof. Paul D. Murray.
Our aim is to examine the possible relationship between the abuse crisis and weaknesses or distortions in the culture, organizational realities, and ecclesial self-understanding of Catholicism in England and Wales. We hope to produce theologically informed reflections and recommendations on aspects of safeguarding and culture within the Catholic Church, to help the whole Church to respond proactively to the sexual abuse crisis. We will host an international conference (planned for January 2023) to present our research findings and generate discussion and action.
We are engaging with people from across the Catholic community and beyond: survivors, secondary victims including affected families, and individual lay members; parish groups (particularly in parishes where abuse has occurred) and key voices in both secular and Catholic safeguarding agencies; clergy and members of religious orders. We know that those who have been sexually abused experience devastating and lifelong effects, with clerical sexual abuse having a particular impact. The voices of victim-survivors, along with secondary victims, are potentially prophetic for the Church, and are essential to our study. Their testimonies directly inform the research.
If you are a victim or survivor of child sexual abuse by Roman Catholic clergy or a religious brother (member of a religious order) then we would like to invite you to participate in our research. We can reassure you that everything you say is regarded as confidential. We pay careful attention to ethical issues, and work within Durham University’s ethics frameworks which ensure that strict confidentiality and anonymity protocols are in place in all aspects of our work.
We are working within the limitations imposed by COVID-19, which means currently working online, through Zoom and other digital platforms.
This was a post from a Survivor of a De La School in Liverpool in the 1980s.
Presumably it’s now the DLS Academy in Carr Lane East, Liverpool which is still being run by the DLS.
I felt it should have a separate post for two reasons. Firstly, in case it helps to highlight or explain the disappearance of a missing boy the author mentions: Mark Garvey.
Secondly, because it highlights how there is so much more to come out yet where Catholic abuse is concerned. Thus there were two missing children from my era connected with the Catholic community. (Not the De La Salles) I don’t have enough hard information (yet) to go into details and I don’t want to distract from this important post.
But my premise is that ‘brutal sadistic paedophiles’ of whom there were plenty at St Joseph’s College, Ipswich, don’t necessarily know when or how to stop at ‘just’ abuse. So there are some potentially awful implications.
For this reason, the De La Salle Order when in Ipswich, the Knights of St Columba in Ipswich who backed the DLS, St Joseph’s lay teachers from the 60s to the 80s (one of whom used a cat o’ nine whip on a child – see my summary) all need properly investigating.
It’s all on my SUMMARY THREE PAGES ready for investigators to look at.
Hello, i just want to mention i too went to a De La Salle school in Liverpool although it was not a boarding school their were Brothers, of worst sort you could imagine. They were brutal sadistic pedophiles in which One of them was convicted twice of sexual assault named brother Paul. In no way im i exaggerating when i say i was strapped easily Fifty times for the slightest infractions, they would get off on it. There was also a brother who would try to proposition you by sidling up next to you an sing under his breath the Pet Shop Boys i got the brains you got the looks lets make lots of money ?. This took place for me in the 1980s. One thing all ways comes to my mind and that is the disappearance of a young man called Mark Garvey who apparently would frequent the brothers house that was attached to the school i dont know if that was looked into it should be.
There are now so many testimonials, threads and comments on this site about De La Salle Brothers in Ipswich, Beulah Hill and elsewhere it could be confusing for newcomers and for INVESTIGATORS to make sense of it. So I’ve done a quick SUMMARY which I can add to and improve as time goes on. The testimonials can all be found on this site.
I believe this Summary makes a strong case for the De La Salle (DLS) Order to be investigated, not only for the historic harm it’s done, but also because it is still in charge of many schools today. The transgenerational nature of some of these crimes means they are relevant today and children could still be at risk. Plus there’s the endless shocking cases against DLS schools elsewhere in Britain and Ireland.
Old Boys feel free to add anyone I’ve missed or add to this List.
MR TONY HARDY. Lay teacher St J’s Ipswich. Era 1986 – 1990. Sexual and physical violence. One testimony. To quote from it: ‘Took a cat-o-nine tails out of his drawer. He lashed me about 10 – 12 times with it till I was bleeding.’ This crime was covered up by St J’s, Ipswich with no reporting to the police.
JO HOMAN. De La Salle Brother, Ipswich, who then left DLS to establish BOYS’ TOWN in India. Maintaining links with DLS. While still a DLS Brother at Oak Hill (St J’s prep school) he committed a shocking sexual assault on a child. Full testimony. There are other testimonies of his physical violence. Possible connection with Brother Solomon who, from my researches, probably visited Boys Town as a sex tourist. Homan successfully sued media who made extensive allegations about his abuse and exploitation of children at Boys Town. Reported in Times, Mail and elsewhere. These media accounts have now been removed from the web. Glowing obituary by St J’s Old Boy MP and author Chris Mullin in Guardian does not refer to Homan’s crimes at St J’s or to his alleged crimes at Boys Town.
Boys Town charity is now under new management, new systems, new safety protocols, and a likely new name.
BROTHER JAMES RYAN. 1950s to 1980s approx. Endless testimonies of pathological violence. Strongly indicating this man was a dangerous psychopath. Four testimonies of sexual abuse. Teacher at St J’s Ipswich and later at Beulah Hill. Connected to St J’s DLS paedophile ring -see Knights of St Columba, survivor’s testimony. And author’s testimony.
MR KEARNEY. Lay teacher. Irish, spent time in South Africa. At St J’s Ipswich, 1950s – 1980s. Several testimonies of sadistic physical abuse. One describes how he punched a boy in face and was forced to apologise. Also described as a racist, burning a black or mixed race pupil, a claim disputed by a (white) Old Boy. Work still in progress by the author. Further allegations against Kearney likely to follow.
This man is commemorated with a ‘Mike Kearney Memorial Chemistry Prize’ by the current St Joseph’s College, Ipswich, proving they have not cut links with their school’s criminal past.
BROTHER KEVIN 1960s onwards. Several testimonies of physical abuse. More testimonies of sexual abuse. At Oakhill (St J’s prep school). St J’s Ipswich. St Peter’s Bournemouth. At least one Old Boy took police action against him. Kevin initially admitted, then denied charges. Other Old Boys were considering police action when we heard that he had been driven out of his village by local youths for abusing children. He went into an Ipswich home, suffering from dementia, and may now be dead. The Oakhill MATRON wrote to this site to strongly defend him. She herself has been accused of questionable behaviour by an Old Boy.
KNIGHTS OF ST COLUMBA. IPSWICH PROVINCE. The Knights appear to have funded the establishment of St J’s Ipswich in the 1940s and maintained a close connection with the school ever since. The main allegation against them is in ‘The Shocking Truth about St Joseph’s.’ There is more information on this case available from the author. In summary, they covered up a violent physical and sexual assault by Brother James and provided London private hospital care. They paid for the boys’ school fees as compensation and for his silence. (They paid for my school fees and my brother’s for reasons I am still investigating.) The testimony indicates their ‘troubleshooting’ is not limited to Ipswich and dealing with such crimes has happened on more than one previous occasion. Possibly nationwide. The author has been informed that another province – today – has oversight on the lives of parishioners without proper safety protocols. I also have evidence that any negative report about them – e.g. a Colchester Knight sexual abuser given a long prison sentence – is either not reported or has been removed from the web. The Knights were provably connected with Jimmy Savile and that has not been investigated.
There is no evidence when the Knights stopped their connection with St J’s Ipswich. Theoretically they may still be involved today – e.g. governors, ‘troubleshooters’ etc.
BROTHER LAURENCE HUGHES. Teacher at St J’s Ipswich in 1980s. He is currently HEAD of the DLS Order in UK and Ireland. Three testimonies of physical abuse against children.
One testimony where Hughes attacks a boy with a cricket bowler’s ‘run up’ is identical to Brother James’s attack on a boy witnessed and testified by the author.
Such extreme violence is often associated with other forms of abuse. Therefore this man should not be head of the DLS and should be removed as a matter of urgency.
In view of its importance, I’ll quote one of the survivor’s account here. He is referring to BROTHER LAURENCE HUGHES
Does anybody remember the night of my beating by the C**t?
1980 2nd year boarder.
There were double doors into the TV room, he set up a chair on one side of the doorway, told me to bend over it & walked off holding a plimsole, he got to the back of his office and began his run. As he passed me he hit me with all his might and put his hands in front of him to cushion himself against the wall of the TV room – rather like those indoor 60m runners after they’ve crossed the line.
He did this to me 6 times. My colleagues, in bed, way down the corridor heard it all.
I could not sleep on my back for a week.
Now I feel sick and am shaking. I’m a 50 year old man… I was 13 when he did this – he was 32.
BROTHER LEO. Headmaster St J’s Ipswich. 1960s. Three testimonies sexual abuse. Known as a ‘nocturnal groper’.
PAEDOPHILE RING @ ST JOSEPH’S, IPSWICH. The evidence for this is primarily the Survivor’s post: ‘The Shocking Truth about St Joseph’s’. On this blog. 1960s era. There are private follow ups to this post available to investigators from the author. This is clear evidence of ORGANISED CRIME and CRIMINAL CONSPIRACY. A physical and sexual assault by BROTHER JAMES. Sexual abuse by the HEADMASTER. Cover up by THE KNIGHTS OF ST COLUMBA and FATHER JOLLY, School Chaplain. There are two seperate testimonies of sexual abuse by Father Jolly.
Extensive academic research proves such school paedophile rings are TRANS-GENERATIONAL and therefore this cannot be ignored as ‘historic’. The era when it stopped at St J’s must be identified for safety reasons. See my post the Dark Network and https://eprints.qut.edu.au/132822/2/Sally_Muytjens_Thesis.pdf
ST JOSEPH’S COLLEGE IPSWICH TODAY. The school has made it clear that it has no connection with the criminal DLS era. Yet it continues to ‘have its cake and eat it’ with prizes and proud references to its past and proclaiming on an external sign it is ‘IN THE LA SALLIAN TRADITION.’ Harvey Weinstein made some successful films and the DLS were successful teachers , so to survivors, like myself, that is like proudly saying ‘IN THE HARVEY WEINSTEIN TRADITION’.
That sign should be removed and all connections with the school’s criminal past confirmed as severed. Today’s school doubtless has records from the criminal era which ended late 1980s, possibly early 1990s, that should be available to investigators.
BROTHER SOLOMON aka MIKE MERCADO aka SWINGING MONK. 1950s – 1980s. Endless testimonies of extreme physical and sexual abuse at Ipswich and St J’s Beulah Hill. Started off as Brother Solomon in Ipswich. After abuse charges transferred to Beulah Hill. Had to leave after more abuse charges. Had short pop career in 1960s. May have been a ‘sex tourist’ to Joe Homan’s Boys Town in India. Returned to St J’s Ipswich as Mike Mercado lay teacher. More abuse followed. Left under questionable circumstances 1980s.His resignation letter threatens to ‘spill the beans’ and tell all about the DLS. He appears to have been paid off by St J’s College, Ipswich.
Here’s a new post from Old Boy Michael, who I would assume went to Beulah Hill.
‘I went to a De La Salle school in London and experienced violent behaviour throughout my time at the school. In Northern Ireland they are having a Truth and Reconciliation Commission as part of letting go of the troubles and they asked that we report any violence or other misdemeanour. I emailed the Diocese Office in London and was put in contact with the current head of the De La Salle order in England, a brother named Lawrence Hughes. I then saw that your article named a Brother Lawrence Hughes as a violent teacher. Needless to say I have had a less than satisfactory dialogue with him and I wondered if the current head of the order is the same man that you mentioned.
I cannot remember any teacher who did not cane, strap, beat or punish me. I would appreciate your thoughts.
As I’ve replied to Michael, it is indeed the same man: Hughes.
Here’s my current thoughts on the De La Salle order which Hughes is head of.
The problem many survivors face is similar to Michael’s: the Catholic Church and the De La Salle Order passes the buck endlessly and this is what’s happened here.
However, there is a small ray of hope. A very small ray.
There’s the NEW Catholic Safeguarding Organisation now known as The Catholic Standards Safeguarding Agency CSSA which replaces two earlier systems.
Its head is Nazir Afzal who is an excellent choice – a Muslim who pursued the Rochdale paedophile rings and he is clearly an honourable and genuine man.
I’m sure the Church’s reason for appointing him is pure window dressing to make them look good and they must have factored in that they can still carry on as before: sweeping everything under the carpet.
I think it may be different with Nazir, even though there is no current mandatory reporting of abuse.
I’ve listened to an excellent audio podcast of Cardinal Nichols’ safeguarding officer a few weeks ago and whilst the lady concerned is clearly genuine it was so obvious her hands were tied.
Nazir is not a Catholic and he has a reputation to uphold, so I’m not sure how far they can restrict him.
Even so, the terms of his remit and the likelihood that endless survivors will come forward means that more buckpassing is likely. And the Clergy are experts at this. They’ve been doing it for centuries and they’re not stupid. They will have thought about this long and hard before appointing Nazir.
However, I think there’s a case that could be made to the CSSA that the De La Salle Order UK is suspect with a man like Hughes at its head with three testimonies of violence against him. See a past post.
Given that the DLS still run UK schools that does not seem appropriate.
Hughes should resign.
Furthermore, that historic cases against the DLS which have been ignored – such as Michael’s and the endless DLS abuse cases on this blog – should be investigated in order to ensure the DLS is now safe.
It’s no good saying that’s all in the past. It’s still relevant to today.
It’s surely the CSSA’s responsibility to do this, especially given that the DLS have fobbed off survivors as Michael’s post also suggests.
That could be a way forward, Michael. Feel free to use anything on this site, including this post.
Be prepared for the CSSA to buck pass. To say it’s another department or refer it to the safeguarding at Diocese level. But they just might respond, given that they know their boss is Nazir and they must be scared of more bad publicity.
Nazir is also on Twitter, so if you get screwed around (which I bet you will) you could always approach him direct. Go over their heads.
It’s something I plan to do myself at some point, but my first stage is to do a summary page of the crimes of the DLS for quick reference. Currently there’s far too much for an investigator to read. This includes an example of DLS serious organized crime which may be transgenerational and thus especially relevant today. (‘The Shocking Truth About St Joseph’s’). In that example, a child nearly died. If he had, it would have been manslaughter. At least.
Summarising will take a while and I need to have the patience to deal with buck passing that will follow. Plus I’m also pursuing Catholic abusers from a different direction.
But the DLS are still on my radar and I will deal with them soon. Not least because children today in DLS UK schools could still be at risk if a physical abuser like Hughes is still in charge.
For several years now I’ve been highlighting the dubious role of the Knights of St Columba in Ipswich (and elsewhere) and the Catholic Laity in general in the 1950s, 1960s and possibly beyond.
Validation for some of my recollections of the Catholic Laity comes from a surprising and authoritative source that is hard to dismiss: The Catholic Weekly May 7 2020!
More details below with a link.
It’s an Australian newspaper, of course.
By comparison, Catholics in the UK will probably deny the truth even if an enquiry found beyond any reasonable doubt that the Laity not only covered up abuse but actually played a key role in it, which is my own recollection.
But when priests, monks and brothers were provably abusing children on an organised and ‘industrial scale’, why on earth would perverts in the Laity not only cover up these crimes but also want ‘their share’? Of course they would.
That was certainly my experience and with Catholic women, too. 1950s Catholic women were never the Ladybird book submissive characters we are led to believe. Many were strong, ballsy, truly admirable women. And some were every bit as perverted as their male counterparts. The myth that abuse is primarily a male vice and that women are only rarely perpetrators, usually as a result of male coercion, is pretty much debunked these days.
One abusive Catholic woman I had the misfortune to meet as a child was strongly associated with the influential Catholic Women’s League. That’s a matter of record. I suspect the other women I encountered were CWL, too. But they didn’t wear sashes like the Knights so they’re harder to identify beyond any reasonable doubt. The CWL is very roughly the female equivalent of the Knights of St Columba, but without the Masonic secrecy, and there were connections between members of the two organisations in Ipswich in my day. The CWL also seems to have had a more radical and reforming role which I can genuinely admire, even if that was not the case for all its Ipswich members in the 1950s who seemed to have used it as a cover for other activities.
If you look up the CWL on Wikipedia you will see a single photo of them showing their good works today in … St Pancras Church, Ipswich. This church was the hub of child abuse in my era as I’ve previously related. It’s surely just co-incidence that of all the hundreds of possible churches the Wikipedia entry should pick, they chose St Pancras, Ipswich.
And I’m sure the CWL are very different today and completely above reproach, just like all the other relevant organisations I mention, who endlessly congratulate themselves today on their entitlement and worthiness, with never a word of self-criticism. But none of them ever want to look at their past where a rather different story unfolds.
Anyway, back to this article from Catholic Oz. I’m so impressed the author had the courage to speak out. It doesn’t go as far as I’m going, but it’s a helluva good start. Especially in a Catholic newspaper. Bravo!
Let’s hope other Catholics have the courage to speak out and put their house in order. It seems to be a unique Australian Catholic phenomena to tell the truth. After all, their academics and national reporters first highlighted that there were transgenerational Catholic Paedophile Rings in Oz. Including the Laity. Other Catholic Paedophile Rings have also been revealed in the States. It would seem unlikely that the UK is different and my testimony and another survivor on this site show clear evidence of a ring.
My concern – and everyone’s concern – about such transgenerational rings is that they didn’t fade away with stricter protocols from the 1990s, but just went deeper underground.
I think that’s a valid concern which is ignored by the various organisations.
I fear in Catholic Britain the relevant Catholic organisations, schools and the Church will ignore, deny and lie until the very end. Then, when they are finally fetched, wring their hands with hypocritical horror and say ‘we never knew’.
This is specifically relevant to St Joseph’s College, Ipswich, The De La Salle Brothers, the Knights of St Columba, Ipswich and the East Anglian Catholic diocese. See my past posts.
Here are some highlights from the article by Doctor Philippa Martyr:
A difficult conversation – but necessary
If we are going to do real soul-searching about clergy sexual abuse, it’s time we turned the spotlight on to the laity and their role in enabling abusers.
This is a difficult conversation to begin. We are used to seeing ourselves as the good guys, and the solution, not the problem: that if we had lay-led parishes or diocesan offices, this would rid us of clergy abuse for good.
Unfortunately, history is not on our side. Cases of clergy sexual abuse in the English-speaking world reveal any number of compromised lay people who have helped with covering up and explaining away, either directly or indirectly.
The ‘lay clericalism’ of the insiders
They are usually wealthy and influential, or employed by the Church, or in useful professions.
There are longstanding networks of Catholic old boys and women everywhere: those who know each other from their private Catholic school, Catholic community social and welfare organisations, and countless other Catholic networks.
They all do good work – but the people in these organisations are human like everyone else. Sometimes networks can build up where people have information on each other that will never see the light of day for various reasons.
Time to face the truth
This is the ugly underside of our local vibrant Catholic community. Covering-up goes on all the time, for all sorts of things – and yes, lay people enable it. We just haven’t been brave enough to face this about ourselves yet.
If you’re not familiar with the Brother Kevin case, he was outed on this site by numerous Old Boys in the last five years or more as an Abuser. It then transpired that he had been driven out of his village by local youths because he was seen there as an Abuser.
He is now suffering from dementia and is ending or has ended his days in a home in Ipswich.
All this has some relevance to my interest in Kearney, my old chemistry teacher.
First, let me show you some relevant comments about Kevin that I think are extremely important, otherwise I wouldn’t be publishing and republishing them.
ONE. I received this comment this morning from an Old Boy. Many thanks! I don’t think it requires any further comment from me.
There was a creepy old woman by the name of Ashton, with an even creepier character. Why she was employed as a school matron, I have no idea. It was always such an arduous chore if any of the kids got ill. She would often join Kevin in the boys shower block and strangely watch us all having a shower. Did she know what Kevin was up to after lights out, I couldn’t honestly say, but she certainly wasn’t playing with a full deck I was abused at the hands of Kevin and believe it is not possible to leave it in the past and forget. I went on to have a very long and successful career in the Royal Marines, and seen many horrors in the world. Discussing my abuse helps me as a survivor, deal with it and ‘move on’. It is certainly something one can never forget
TWO. This comment came from a lady back in 2017, presumably before Brother Kevin was forced to leave his village.
I’ve checked her email address and Angela is indeed Angela Ashton.
Angela commented on IN THE LA SALLIAN TRADITION 3I wanted to write a new post in response to further comments on my About page from St Joseph’s old boys Nick and NW1 – … Another pupil of Br. Kevin contacted me about your comments. We were both appalled to read them. I was in charge of the boarding in the 80’s at Oakhill with Kevin and am in touch with people of that time. My son had been a boarder before my time. The boarders were a very happy bunch on the whole and Kevin very popular and we can honestly say completely trusted . I saw him constantly with the boys and everyone was completely relaxed round him. We are absolutely convinced nothing of the above mentioned went on. As my son and his friends and other pupils say, Kevin was the very last brother they would suspect. At the end of the holidays the boys from unhappy homes would run up to him as they were so thrilled to be back to what they felt was safety and it was. The years I had there with the boarding were very happy. I stayed some nights if anyone was unhappy and if I wasn’t there Kevin was there for them and if I’d suspected anything with having 3 boys myself I’d have gone straight to the top. My son tells me he was homesick the first night of the term and would go to Kevin’s room but then gave that up as the other boarding master had better comics! Kevin didn’t know me then. He came out of the Order and settled locally and is a very popular figure in the community. My twin grandchildren would call on him after school, other children in the street would run up to him. Nobody had any worries.when he left Oakhill, before me, he had the largest number of presents and letters I’ve seen. When the police questioned him many of his old boys wrote to the police to support him as they were horrified and some are still in touch with him and visit him, some from way back.The solicitor you refer to was not organised by Kevin but by friends. I don’t know who. The school dentist visited the school professionally and socially and knew Kevin as well or better than me and he still talks about the happy place. I know these phaedophiles can hide their ways and are clever but none of us believe Kevin is one and I can’t obviously comment on the past but it is all so far from the Kevin we all know. Surely if you are a paedophile you just don’t stop?
THREE. At the time, I wrote back to Angela in some detail and pointed out:
It’s often hard for survivors to come forward and share what happened because they feel they won’t be believed. Sometimes we doubt our own memories because they don’t square with the public persona that abusers have. And all too often they are supported by respectable members of the community or by other boys who weren’t assaulted.
But we only have to look elsewhere in the media to see how that can be quite fake.
I don’t pretend to be an expert, but as a survivor of another DLS abuser, Brother James, and clerical abusers, I can certainly say abusers are very good at covering their tracks or ensuring their victims remain silent. And the reaction of others is invariably disbelief until enough people come forward and confirm it happened to them, too.
I’d have thought three survivors accounts, independent of each other, was sufficient to make the case and for this matter to be taken seriously
Angela didn’t reply to me.
Regarding Angela’s agenda, in the light of the first comment, once again I don’t think it requires any further comment from me.
We can all draw our own conclusions.
But I think both needed highlighting and are extremely relevant to us Survivors today.
They show just what we are all up against.
I personally need to understand how easily Abuse can be covered up and I think it is shown very clearly here.
The whole matter of Brother Kevin is now proved and closed because of his dementia. It’s a great pity because I know NW1, several Old Boys like the first commentator above, and another survivor in LA rightly wanted justice for Kevin’s crimes against them.
They should have had their day in court and I’m sorry they didn’t.
(Needless to say, everyone’s email above remains private and confidential and I won’t pass on to anyone.)
The personal relevance for me is that a similar process may now be taking place where Kearney is concerned.
A while back, one lady wrote to me and asked where my research and evidence was going regarding Kearney.
Now another lady, an Old Girl of St J’s, has asked me the same thing and seems to want to know more, too.
Both women said how Kearney was ‘strict but fair’ and a good guy, which is not my experience of him.
Or indeed the experience of many Old Boys, one of whom said he was ‘terrified’ of him.
Clearly Angela above had her own personal agenda in defending Brother Kevin.
This has made me wonder whether the two women wanting to know about my research into Kearney have their own personal agenda – e.g. are they connected with Kearney or his family in some way.
As I’ve explained to them both, I’m happy to be as transparent as I possibly can.
Revealing the Truth is the full extent of my own personal agenda.
Until then, I can’t, as the Old Girl suggested: ‘Get on with my life’.
The Truth has to come out first, I’m afraid.
But if they have any questions I’ll happily enter into a dialogue with them and tell them something of my truly grim experiences of Kearney privately.
Do ask away, ladies. I promise you I will treat your questions with respect. And, if you knew Kearney well, perhaps you can answer some of my questions.
There may well be details I’ve got wrong that you could correct.
I’m genuinely sorry if it’s unpleasant and upsetting for you, but I’m sure we all, ultimately, want the same thing: the Truth.
Not a cover-up.
And do please consider – why would I waste my time laboriously writing about Kearney for these past few months and more unless it was true?
What other possible motive could I have after all these decades?
So here’s where I’m currently at:
I have a very comprehensive account of my experiences at the hands of Kearney. And I think I’ve got the whole thing down on paper now, although there may be one or two details I’ve missed or I may have the exact order of events wrong.
Some of it is quite shocking.
That’s why I’m waiting for someone else to reveal other aspects of Kearney, apart from his extreme violence (punching a 13 year old in the face), and his racism, both of which are now a matter of record.
I’m trying hard not to be too mysterious here. So here’s the kind of thing I’m looking for – his possible use of chemicals outside the lab, for instance.
Because I don’t think it’s right to put up such a shocking account without some independent corroboration of at least some elements of my story.
My word is not enough, I feel. Look at the Cardinal Pell case and how he got off on appeal because it was just one person’s word for what Pell had done.
It’s why I waited years in the case of Brother James and the Knights of Columba and what they did to me until others had ‘spilled the beans’ first. Then- and only then – did I tell my story.
For those Survivors’ courage in coming forward, I thank them from the bottom of my heart.
Based on these previous testimonies, it could take a few months, even a year, before an Old Boy comes forward with his recollections of Kearney. Meanwhile, there are other avenues I’m also pursuing regarding my old chemistry teacher.