BROTHER LAURENCE HUGHES – UPDATE

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

within DLS.

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.

BROTHER JAMES RYAN AT BEULAH HILL. PHOTO.

Finally got into the Crystal Palace site (thanks!) and there are some shocking accounts of violence by Brother James. One account cites him as Brother James Ryan history teacher. I’m assuming that the other accounts also relate to James Ryan, although that will need confirming.

There’s also the photo below. Marked with an arrow.The text says it’s Brother James, but once again I want to be sure it’s Brother James Ryan.

It certainly looks like him to myself and another St J’s Ipswich survivor. But we were in the 60s and this photo is in the 70s. He’s changed his glasses, I think, and his hair is longer, understandable in the 70s. The hairstyle is pretty much the same, though. I’d say it was him.

Anyone who is positive it’s Ryan, do let me know – just to be 100 per cent on this and do due diligence.

ST JOSEPH’S COLLEGE IPSWICH – INCIDENT IN 1972/73?

An Old Boy wrote in with this question below which someone may be able to help him with.

I left St Joseph’s at 16, in 1972.  At some point after that, I am fairly convinced that I was told by one of my contemporaries who’d stayed on, that one of the brothers had either been caught in a compromising position with one of the boys (kissing was mentioned) or otherwise news of what had happened had got out.  I had known the boy concerned.  Somewhat randomly I remember being told that the incident took place in a large area of wild bamboo, a location I recall from when I was there.  I was also told that the brother concerned had been removed from the school.  I seem to remember being not remotely surprised at the identity of the brother, in fact I think I felt some satisfaction that he had finally been caught.  

Does this ring any bells with you or anyone please?  I would really like to know which brother it was.

ST JOSEPH’S COLLEGE IPSWICH. 1960s

Just to keep everyone up to date, see this tweet from Dino below.

@DinoNocivelli

I have been instructed to investigate allegations of childhood sexual abuse in the 1960s at St Joseph’s College in Ipswich. I would be grateful if any potential witnesses could contact me in respect of this – dnocivelli@leighday.co.uk / 020 7650 1397. Many thanks

11:26 AM · Aug 9, 2022·Twitter for Android

TONY HARDY  LAY TEACHER AT ST JOSEPH’S COLLEGE IPSWICH 1986 – 1990

Also – MRS KEARNEY and a visiting Spanish DE LA SALLE ABUSER

First below is the testimony by Old Boy CS  who, along with other children, was harmed by Tony Harding.

Given the relatively recent nature, it is possible Harding is still alive.

I’ve yet to contact the RLSS, the new De La Safeguarding organisation, about abusers who may still be alive.

Harding would be such a case.

I’m currently focussing on gathering evidence about  Brother James but I hope to get around to Harding in time. And another teacher. Meantime, anyone affected could report him by contacting the RLSS or DLS direct – the details were on my last blog.

Or the police.

In other countries there would be mandatory reporting to the police because if he is still alive, children could be in danger.

That’s not a ‘maybe’. Police take these matters seriously.

The second testimony about Harding below also mentions Mrs Kearney  and rings true to me  – it tallies with a private conversation I’ve had in recent years with another Old Boy who was taught by her.  He told me how she would call in her husband to whack kids which is a bit weird but not illegal AFAIK. Being a tough kid, he laughed it all off with a kind of gallows humour. But not everyone can or should laugh it off.

I’d say Mr and Mrs Kearney were well suited to each other.

The second testimony below also describes a De La Salle sexual abuser from Spain.

Once again it’s evidence of DLS crimes towards the end of their era of control. Once again this DLS abuser could still be alive.

Therefore it should be of concern to the RLSS who safeguard the DLS and I will certainly bring it to their attention in due course.

Doubtless they will dump it on Operation Hydrant/Suffolk police without reference to their own files.

But it will be noted and they will have to answer for any minimal response or recalcitrance.

My thanks to the Old Boy who wrote the Second Testimony below. I found it very powerful and moving. And important as a description of the appalling final years of the DLS at St J’s.

FIRST TESTIMONY FROM A POST MAY 2021

TONY HARDY. Lay teacher St J’s Ipswich. Era 1986 – 1990. Sexual and physical violence.  One testimony in comments – see: CS commented on ROLL OF DISHONOUR:

I attended St Joseph’s College from 86 – 90. I was at the school when David Hennesy became headmaster, he was a very relaxed guy and I liked him a lot. After our GCSE’s a few of us got our ears pierced – stupid, but hey we were crazy teenagers. We were in Birkfield house, Tony Hardy was the housemaster. He was a well known drinker and had a ferocious temper. After being told to take our ear rings out which we ignored as we were so close to school holidays we thought nothing more of it. One night Hardy had been out at a BBQ and came back after lights out, he pulled me and the other lads who had pierced their ears out of bed and made us stand in the corners of his living room. We were made to stand there when he went on a screaming rampage around the house. He came back to his quarters where we were all waiting frankly sh*tting ourselves. One by one he called each of the lads into his bedroom where he gave them all slippers. He then made me stand in a cupboard which he locked me in and then again went on another rampage around the house, when he came back then made me stand in his bedroom drop my pyjama bottoms and then took a cat-o-nine tails out of his draw. He lashed me about 10 – 12 times with it till I was bleeding. The next morning when in the showers the other lads saw the state of what had happened to me and they took me to see Mr Hennesy, when we explained what happened he sent us to his cottage on the grounds and Hardy was got rid of that day. My parents were dealt with by the school’s solicitors and unbelievably agreed that as long as he never taught there again, wouldn’t involve the Police.

SECOND TESTIMONY. NEW POST, FROM ANOTHER OLD BOY WHO JUST SENT THIS TO ME:

Firstly, I would like to say a massive thank you to CS for having the courage to speak about his experiences. What happened to CS was not his fault, it was a criminal act perpetrated by a predatory man with a violent temper and an alcohol problem that should have been dealt with appropriately by the school several years before this incident happened. CS had the courage to speak out at the time and the courage to speak about it here. It is an exceptional thing to do. Secondly, I would like to say thanks to Pat Mills, for speaking out about his own experiences and also creating a platform for others who have shared experiences. Many people were voiceless at the time these events occurred, either through fear of speaking up or knowing that it would be swept under the carpet.

I went to St. Joseph’s at the age of eleven, starting in the 1st Year with Brother Owen. In the grand scheme of things Brother Owen was one of the better ones, in my experience. He gave out the slipper, but he was generally alright from what I can remember. He did keep a lot of contact with Mr and Mrs Kearney, which was odd given many of the comments about them on this blog. I was scared of Mrs Kearney as she had a vicious temper and would humiliate kids in her class. That may just have been standard fare in the mid 1980s at private school though.

It was the experience of going to boarding school that shook me that year though, and I had to learn to adjust and cope like many other children who had left their home at a young age. The school taught a lot of the paradoxical messages that are staple in British boarding schools, ‘It will be the making of you’, ‘the friends you make here will be with you for life’, and all the other messages about being special and elite. These messages create a bind when your experiences don’t match up to them and it is easy to assume there is just something wrong with you. They are also messages that help to keep children compliant when faced with abuse.

Tony Hardy joined the school when I was in the 1st Year as the Housemaster for the 2nd & 3rd Year at Birkfield House in the centre of the school. The dormitories were above the main building. I knew from the children in the year above that he was unstable and had a violent temper. I felt anxious that I was going up to the 2nd Year and wasn’t picked as a prefect to stay down with Brother Owen for a year to look after the new intake of 1st Years.

The 2nd Year dormitory was a large open hall packed with beds in rows. The 3rd Year dorms were smaller spread down corridors across the old building. The whole place was dilapidated and creaking.

Tony Hardy wasted no time imprinting himself on my psyche as a man who was unpredictable, with a violent temper. He rampaged down corridors; you could hear him screaming and shouting from the other end of the building, getting louder and closer until he would burst into the dormitory, slamming doors and desks. Often, he would pick on individual kids for no discernible reason, so that it was impossible to read how to best keep out of his reach. He would scowl and stare at you before deciding whether to single you out for abuse or move on to someone else. He was like this throughout the 2nd and 3rd Year. Sometimes it would go on for days, literally the only respite was when the school day began. If it was over a weekend there was very little respite. Once during my 2nd Year, the bathrooms got blocked up. He ranted for days, accusing kids of deliberately blocking up toilets, demanding the whole year went down to the TV lounge whilst he shouted endlessly, waiting for someone to crack and admit to it. The culprit ended up being a rat that had died in one of the drains.

I remember the sickening feeling, when after a brief lull in his temper, something would trigger him and he would start another campaign of berating the kids for some usually imagined discretion. Sometimes one of the kids would do something that landed them in genuine trouble. I remember two lads writing on the shower windows, which later steamed up to reveal some crude comments about the deputy housemaster Paul Andrews. They were rooted out and punished with the slipper. One of them told me how he had tried to escape Tony Hardy’s clutches whilst the slippering went on, only to be grabbed by the shoulder and dragged back into the room. It went on for ages, you could hear the sound of it and it was just sadistic. I remember seeing the horrific bruises when they the kids showered the next day. I have never seen bruises like them in my life, it was horrific.

Tony Hardy has complex personality and metal health problems, coupled with a severe problem with alcohol. He would go from being a monster to selecting kids for special treatment. At other times he would hold these weird night prayer vigils at the chapel where he would get kids singing Taize Chants by candle light. It was always paradoxical and always unpredictable.

(Note from  Pat – https://www.thetablet.co.uk/news/11760/-prior-admits-to-cases-of-sexual-abuse-by-taiz-brothers)

At the end of the 3rd Year, I had a year of respite at Goldrood, with Paul Begg. He got a bad rap from many of the kids but he was harmless and could be quite kind at times. It felt safe at Goldrood at least.

By the time I was in the 5th Year, a decision had been made to turn Goldrood into the house for the 3rd and 4th Years, if I remember correctly and the 5th Year was to go back to Birkfield and to Tony Hardy. I don’t know what the rationale was, perhaps Brother Hennessey, the Headmaster, and Mr John Reagan, the Deputy Head, had decided that Tony Hardy was not safe to look after younger children, but that is pure speculation. We returned to Birkfield and to Tony Hardy’s escalating unpredictability, violent temper and out of control alcohol use.

In some respects, Tony Hardy seemed to get on better with older kids, but it didn’t stop his violet outbursts. He could be something of a rebellious character, challenging aspects of the school, whilst also berating the kids. I think I developed an element of Stockholm Syndrome at that time, but was always fearful of his wrath. Unfortunately, I also had him as an English teacher and he would shout and scream at the class, flinging desks about and picking on anyone he took a dislike to in the moment. I learnt to show no emotion. Any expression on the face could lead him to accuse you of smirking, or showing some other sign of disrespect, and he would loom over you screaming. I remember the feeling of weariness that pervaded that year. It was exhausting on the nervous system.

At the same time, he would often have kids in his flat drinking with him. I remember a party after a confirmation ceremony where several teachers and us kids stayed up late drinking whisky and getting obliterated. It was wrong.

The incident that CS endured happened not long after this time. The teachers and the school authorities knew that Tony Hardy was a risk to kids. Everyone could see it and hear it. They were utterly complicit and failed to act to safeguard children under their watch. I recognise this was the 1980s and it was different then, but I’m afraid that doesn’t wash with me. Tony Hardy was psychopathic and needed to be stopped. And people failed to act in good time. I also recognise that the school preached paradoxical values about being tough and not showing emotion, as if somehow, we were supposed to put up with this stuff. I imagine some of the kids still live by these rules.


Tony Hardy’s legacy for me is one that I still wrestle with. For years after, and I left the school at the end of the 5th Year, I had nightmares in which he was stalking me down the corridors, shouting and throwing things. He was a looming and menacing presence in my dreams. I still do get dreams in which he appears, particularly if I am stressed. When I am in any conflict situation, I can feel myself locking down, my facial expressions go into neutral and I can feel myself dissociating. It doesn’t have to be a major conflict; it can be someone just raising their voice. I get a fight or flight response. It impacts on my ability to trust people and form attachments, although I accept that even a good boarding school experience can have that impact too. (Nick Duffell’s ‘The Making of Them’ is a good book to read about the whole boarding school experience).

Whilst at St Joseph’s I was also sexually assaulted by a visiting religious Brother from Spain, who had come over with a group of Spanish students. He groomed me into coming back to his flat to help him translate a book he was reading into English. For years I felt ashamed and stupid for having fallen for his ruse. It was naïve, but I had no idea. At his flat he sat groping me whilst I read the English translation, until I was finally able to get away. It could have gone a lot further but it left me angry and ashamed. I didn’t tell the school; I think I knew they would have swept it under the carpet or somehow blamed me. They certainly wouldn’t have involved the police.

A quick note on the De La Salle Brothers – they were on their way out by the time I was 13 or 14. Brother Cuthman was there, Brother Damien was retiring and Brother James was mostly out of the way keeping bees.

(Note from Pat. I’m wondering if this is the same Brother James from my era, the 1960s. It’s possible he could have returned to St J’s  after some years at Beulah Hill to retire and keep bees. 

If anyone can confirm this, it would be useful because it would mean that he was still potentially in contact with children at this later period.)

 Brother Owen was around for a few years; he was still teaching the 6th Form. Strangely he wrote to me a few years after I left wanting to meet up. I don’t know what for or why me. I ignored it. I had better things to do with my time, like sitting in the park drinking bottles of Thunderbird wine.

Like CS concludes, there were certainly good times. I was lucky to have some good friends, although I don’t keep in touch with many people from that time now. When I left, I was scarred by the experiences and I didn’t want too much to do with the place. I had something of a breakdown as I was leaving and I knew I couldn’t go back. I do go back to Ipswich for work from time to time and it evokes a lot of memories.

I hope CS has managed to find some peace. I remember him as a good person and he didn’t deserve to be singled out that night. Nobody did.


A breakdown can be a breakthrough to a new beginning, so I hope the people get the life they are owed if they have been through tough times and are still waiting. Get help if you need it. It is not a sign of weakness; it is a sign of courage and strength.

DE LA SALLE UPDATE – BROTHER LAURENCE & MORE

Here’s an email from the 15th July from Des Bill, SCOE. I’d guessed SCOE was no more as I couldn’t find their website. Quite a lot to absorb, but my first thought is it means a delay in outstanding DLS matters as new connections are made with RLSS, the successor to SCOE, and they take time getting into their stride.

A couple of months, maybe?

Meantime, it will be interesting to know more about Brother Laurence.

Dear Pat,

I am sorry for the delay in getting back to you.

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

within DLS.

In respect of other allegations and complaints I would ask any victim to

consider disclosing any abuse to the police and to return to the police if

they felt their allegation was not addressed appropriately at the time.

DLS will report any allegation received to the relevant police force via

Operation Hydrant.

I would advise Rafael to make contact again with DLS if he felt he was not

listened to or offered any support from them, outlining what he would seek

from them in tangible support.

He could also consider talking again to the police about this or seek

further legal advice to help him.

I would also encourage Rafael, or others , to consider accessing support and

advice from Safe Spaces the independent organisation managed by the charity

Victim Support who support, advise, and walk the journey with any person who

was a victim of abuse within the Catholic or Church of England Church in

England and Wales.

Since the end of June, the safeguarding commission for religious orders in

education (SCOE) is no longer functioning and its work has closed.

This includes my involvement with SCOE Orders.

DLS, along with most religious orders, are now members of the Religious Life

Safeguarding Service (RLSS) and receives support and advice on all aspects

of safeguarding including allegation management.

It will be through this joint working that any decisions on safeguarding

matters will be addressed in the future.

*As this relationship is only beginning it may add some initial delay in

communications being made by DLS.

Further information can be found on:

www.safespacesenglandandwales.org.uk

<http://www.safespacesenglandandwales.org.uk>

Best wishes,

Des

MIKE KEARNEY (1): RECOVERING MEMORIES

I’ve been prompted to write again about Mike Kearney, the lay Irish chemistry teacher at St Joseph’s College, Ipswich. For anyone not familiar with this man, he taught from the late 1950s to the 1980s. There’s plenty of accounts of his brutality on this blog, seen by apologists as ‘normal’ for the time, and one account by an Old Boy of his racism. Whether this is connected to Kearney having spent some time in apartheid South Africa, I have no way of knowing.  It has been challenged by a white Old Boy as ‘not true’. Several Old Boys also thought he was a poor chemistry teacher. Personally, I thought he was ‘okay’, but then I was a poor chemistry pupil. I think Old Boys generally are divided between seeing him as ‘stern but fair’, ‘his bark worse than his bite’ and others regarding him as a violent, cruel sadist. Given that he punched a boy in the face and had to apologise to him, I subscribe to the latter camp.

i don’t accept these were ‘different times’. Punching a child in the face, then and now, is a criminal offence.

St Joseph’s today, although it claims to have no connection with its dubious and  criminal De La Salle past, where organised sexual abuse in the 1960s and beyond is now a matter of record, had a Mike Kearney Memorial Chemistry prize. I think this has now been withdrawn, I certainly hope so because this individual does not deserve to be remembered in a positive light.

But my concern has always been about a much darker side to him which resulted in my spending considerable time and money in therapy trying to make sense of really terrible memories about him. The more I looked into them, the worse they got.  Daymares, nightmares, PTSD flashbacks, you name it. I tried blocking my memories of him, but it  didn’t work.  My experience of recovered memories was similar to the account below.

Where other St Joseph’s abusers are concerned, I’ve pretty much laid them to rest. Although, I’m touching wood here, of course.  Kearney was more problematic and there’s a reason for this. The awful events concerning him happened outside the school, so there were not the usual witnesses to validate my recovered memories.

 Nearly all survivors who write into this site are boarders and I used to thank my lucky stars I was a day boy.  In fact, it’s an illusion I used in order to survive. Day boys could also be in danger and I’m sure I wasn’t alone.  My mother was a devout, Irish Catholic widow with no income, no job and recurring mental health problems, probably worsened by medication both legal and illegal. Father Jolly, our parish priest and St Jo’s chaplain, whose crimes have been detailed on this blog by at least one other Old Boy, was a drug supplier which may sound unlikely but I can assure you is true. He was not the only one. Leaving aside for now the question of how my mother could afford to send her two sons to a posh Catholic grammar school (neither of us had passed the eleven-plus), it meant we were a prime target for Catholic predators.

These predators, from my primary school days through to secondary school, were sometimes given the right to act  ‘in loco parentis’. It was felt boys needed ‘a strong fatherly hand’, especially in 1950s Britain and –if they had been genuine – I would possibly agree.  It’s also the supposed norm in Catholic communities that the poor and the widowed are supported and so a series of predators used this to their advantage. In our tightly knit Catholic community, Catholic widows were also considered ‘fair game’ and a better alternative to having affairs with Protestants or not ‘sullying’ unmarried Catholic women. I’m pretty certain it also had some pseudo-religious rationalisation.   

I’ve been able to prove the conduct of a number of these predators to my satisfaction: Canon Burrows (Knight of St Columba), Father Wace (probably KOSC), Father Jolly (KOSC, St Joseph’s chaplain and our local parish priest), two or more lay Knights of St Columba, and… a couple of lay teachers from St Joseph’s. That sounds like an awful lot, but we’re talking over a fifteen year childhood and some of these characters may have only had brief involvement as ‘do-gooders’ or rather ‘do-badders’.

Kearney had such a ‘loco parentis’ role.

The predators’ exact terms of reference and their relationships with my mother must have varied considerably.  Some may have been interested in my mother, others her sons, yet others in both. Certainly widows – then and now – are prime targets for predators and it’s a well-known technique for abusers to relate romantically towards the mother in order to get at the kids.  Canon Burrows, the first, typically always around our house doing ‘little jobs’ and mysteriously paying for school extras,  was a truly vile sexual abuser. So were most of the other ‘father figures’ that  I’ve listed that followed him, although not necessarily all. Some may well have just been interested in my mother and not her children.  It’s not easy to be sure every time. In some cases I’ve had to speculate about the real nature of the relationships and, of course, it’s impossible to know with absolute certainty. Much of the time everyone was very ‘discreet’.

The dynamics of just how Catholic predators exploit Catholic widows like my mother and the way she would have been groomed to fulfil a certain role in her Catholic community, I would only have been dimly aware of as a kid.  It’s a role Catholics will, of course, deny then and now.  Like they’ve denied so much abuse that’s subsequently been proven.

Here’s a brief example. She was ‘put in charge’ of a young French Father Gonnet who, mysteriously, was having an extended ‘holiday’ in our industrial town. She was told to ‘look after him’, so he was always round our house having tea when I came home from school. They got on extremely well and he was always making a fuss of me, too. We would also go on picnics to Stratford St Mary, a couple of miles down the road from East Bergholt where Gonnet was staying with the local Franciscans . Their place was a very convenient location for him to abuse.  Gonnet and these far from holy Franciscans left a deep trauma scar on me, which I still resent, because my abiding recollection of this particular predator is ‘The bastard was only staying in Ipswich for a few weeks.’  A few weeks is all it takes.

 I knew my mother had a kind of exalted status in the parish and this was certainly her own perception of herself, but I knew also there was something ‘not right’, something ‘odd’, ‘evasive’ and ‘mysterious’ about her. Trying to make sense of her behaviour, her constant absences for instance, I was a latch-key kid yet she had no job, I read everything I could about fictional women like her and that helped considerably. As an adult, I can  fill in the blanks from my life experience and examples such as Gonnet. Doubtless you can do the same. I’ve had to outline the role of my mother because it’s most relevant to Kearney as he, too, had this loco parentis role which will be more defined in later posts.

Kearney was a particular threat because I was older when we clashed and starting to make sense of the world.  And, unlike the previous men, he didn’t have a  typical ‘cover story’ for his involvement with my mother AFAIK,  e.g. he wasn’t in the church choir. In fact his cover story was to go boot camp on me, to ‘bring me to my senses’, to stop being a rebellious teenager. But there was much more to him than this.

As you can imagine, in such a world, everything is ‘smoke and mirrors’, everything is deliberately mysterious, vague and hard to pin down in order to keep victims off balance.  

My agenda in writing about Kearney is firstly as a catharsis. Secondly, because it may help other survivors dealing with recovered memories and highlight how predators work. Thirdly, it’s to name and shame him.

Finally, because it may resonate with other Old Boys who may have other information about Kearney that dovetails with my account, although – as I’ve said – because this happened outside the school, it’s far less likely. But do get in touch if you can shed any light.

And this account, of course, bears out that I have no financial agenda. The De La Salles can’t be held responsible for or be financially liable for what this creep got up to outside school hours.  And so it adds to the validity of my case. Why would I spend so much time and energy on Kearney, when I have far better things to do with my life?

I’ll write more about Kearney in subsequent blogs.

This woman’s experience below of recovered memories (she’s not a Catholic AFAIK) pretty much dovetails with mine and I’m sure with many survivors of the De La Salles.

I realise all this may be upsetting or triggering to read for some, so I’d like to end with a cheerful anecdote to show how, despite everything, we survivors can beat these scum.

I was sixteen. I would leave home a few months later and Kearney’s connection with my family was over, as short-lived as all the previous predators.  My brother and I were drinking beer in a pub by the Old Cattle Market –I think it was the Plough.  I was excitedly talking to my brother about a gig we were going to at the Assembly Rooms next door. I believe it was Murray and the Mints,  they were St Jo’s boys who had a real ‘Animals’ sound, mouth organ etc, and I’m a huge fan of the Animals. ‘We’ve got to get out of the place’ wasn’t just an anthem for Vietnam soldiers, it was my anthem to escape the Catholic Church.

Then Kearney came in, ordered a pint and sat at a table on his own. We both recognised each other but said nothing.  There’s a look lonely men who drink alone in pubs have, which we all recognise, and Kearney had that look big-time. His shoulders were rounded, drooping with depression, as he stared down into his pint. I think his first-wife had died some years earlier, but that was something I’d been told on the playground grapevine, so I may well be wrong.  Whatever the reason, he was definitely down in the dumps.

Then he looked across and I could see he was weighing up whether or how to rain on my parade. As he had done until recently. In those days, there was no ID and anyway, like any self-respecting 16 year old, I’d have lied. And bar tenders don’t care. So he knew his options were limited.

I knew he was going to do something, because he always had to win, but I was ready for him. I’d taken more than enough shit from him and I was a very feisty teenager.

He finished his pint and came over. He looked sternly down at me, hoping to intimidate me.

‘Does your mother know you’re here?’

‘Yes,’ I lied defiantly, ready for him to use physical force on me.  Again.

The expression on my face was clearly saying, to paraphrase the Animals, “It’s my life and I‘ll do what I want. Drink what I want. I’ve left school, you’ve got no power over me anymore.’

There was an awkward pause. Then Kearney nodded, defeated, impotent to do anything other than show his disapproval. He stumbled off into the night. A sad, lonely loser.

That was the last time I ever saw Kearney and I can still remember the feeling of exhilaration that I’d defeated him.

Then I got back to talking about much more important matters than this odious prat – like that forthcoming gig watching Murray and the Mints.

I was finally free.

Below is a survivor’s account on Instagram which I found incredibly useful and sums up how recovered memories work.

 BROTHER KIERN – THE WORST ABUSER?

Brother Kiern is described below by an Old Boy of Oak Hill. Kiern was on temporary secondment to Oak Hill, maybe that’s why we haven’t heard of him before. But making children play PE and swim in the nude is very disturbing.

The Old Boy also indicates Kiern was unpredictably violent and had other ‘abnormalities’.

If anyone has anything to add on this man it could be relevant and I’ll certainly pass it onto the SCOE Safeguarding people – although I’ve yet to receive a reply and discover what current progress they are making.

Brother Kevin may have been absent in 86/87 when he went to France to escape justice. Part of the De La Salle Rat Run that has been discussed on an earlier blog.

If Safeguarding are trying to ignore us all that would be a mistake because I’m not giving up until the De La Salles have properly acknowledged their crimes and publicly hung their heads in shame.

A terse ‘sorry for whatever’ posted rather late on an obscure website doesn’t cut it and they should know it.

Hello Pat, I was in the same year as Zach, we were friends and partners in crime (small fish). What surprises me is that the worst abuser in our time at ‘Oak Hill’ has not been mentioned nor hinted at. Bro Kevin was absent in 1986/1987 for at least a term but a certain Brother (Bro Kiern as I recall, but Mercado fits the bill) was present and his abnormalities and penchants were manifested in unpredictable violence (Bro Kevin was a disciplinarian within ‘reason’) and making us boys play PE and swim in the nude. This temporary clerical staff member was a monster in look and action, yet he has not even been hinted at in your survivors testimonies. Bro John was not violent, rather indolent and lazy (as a teacher). Mr Mack was a violent man who beat me on my first night (aged 8) for having the temerity to question the cooks expertise. I suffered insomnia at Oak Hill and Bro Kevin used to find me late at night on the landing and invite me to his rooms in the tower where we would discuss religion.literature and high fantasy, he didn’t abuse me sexually then (though he did beat me often in public; I was and still am a rebel). Unlike you and some others I am a Catholic yet. I see things through the lense of humanity. Nobody is Perfect. Not me, not you, not the clergy. That is the whole point in Catholic faith learned the hard way, it is a human and living faith. Everyone falls short but love, truth, wisdom and faith overcomes all of the BS.

INVESTIGATION INTO DE LA SALLE ABUSE 

CURRENT POSITION

desbill.scoe@gmail.com

SCOE  – Safeguarding

Dear Des Bill

I wanted to see what the latest situation was regarding the numerous allegations of abuse by old boys, including myself, at the hands of the De La Salles. Not only at St Joseph’s Ipswich, but also Beulah Hill and elsewhere. As you know, they are all recorded on this website and have also been available in summary for an investigator’s convenience.

I’m aware that they have been sent to police Operation Hydrant, via yourself and Catholic Safeguarding, and I look forward to their response in due course. 

The DLS have also contacted Suffolk police  – see below – and this may be part of the Hydrant investigation or separate. It’s not been made clear and it would be useful to know.

It was also stated by the DLS spokesperson that an independent investigator would be commissioned to look into these allegations which he said were  ‘unheard of’.

‘ most of the accusations made on Mr Mills blog were “completely unheard of”, he (Hudd) said. 

See EADT December 11 2021

https://www.ipswichstar.co.uk/news/st-josephs-ipswich-abuse-monks-ask-police-8553626

“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. 

In fact ‘most’ allegations were ‘heard of’ and were  familiar to the DLS as survivors of Brother Kevin’s abuse prove on this site. And the Beulah Hill survivors who have made numerous allegations on line about Brother Solomon. 

For the DLS to claim they were unaware of these allegations and more is unconvincing.

The DLS own records will confirm that ‘most’ were ‘heard of’ as I’m sure Hudd knows only too well.

Moving onto the investigation, I have not had any contact from an investigator. But how else are they to reach the authors of the various allegations on my site?

We have been waiting these many months and nothing has happened. Who the investigator is has not been revealed to us.

I have the strong feeling that the investigator – six months later – has done nothing.

Is that the case?

You will recall that when the DLS provincial Laurence Hughes was being similarly investigated for allegations of his violent abuse of children, I put your independent investigator’s details on my site. Consequently, several Old Boys got in touch with the investigator.

As a system, it worked well and I have no complaints.

Surely that is the way to go here?

On which subject, I’m sure survivors of Hughes’s alleged violence would like to know what is happening. I understand that police action against Hughes is not proceeding? Is this correct? But I believe you said that – whatever the legal outcome – there would then be an internal inquiry? 

Is Hughes now reinstated as head of the DLS or has he ‘retired’ ? I think the survivors of his alleged assaults would like to know. 

I’m putting this letter up on my blog so survivors can be kept in the loop. I look forward to hearing from you.

Pat Mills

TWO MORE ST JOSEPH’S COLLEGE SCANDALS

The first one is ‘indirect’, in as much as the appalling abuser Timothy Cox, who called himself ‘Son of God’– from a wealthy Suffolk family  – was ‘only’ a pupil at St Joseph’s.

As my St Jo’s Old Boy source told me:

 ‘Just chatting to ex St Joseph’s guy who told me about this guy. I didn’t  know about it til now but he said he sat next to him at St Joe’s. Shudder’

This is something that none of the newspapers I checked referred to. Cox’s education and his background surely helped make him the person he is. But this doesn’t surprise me – such connections are rarely included in national or local papers. We can only speculate about why this is and what strings were pulled to keep St Jo’s out of the papers. I’ve demonstrated this elsewhere with the Colchester Knights of St Columba who managed successfully to keep a very low media profile when one of their Knights was convicted of major paedophile offences.

Of course it could be coincidence and nothing more. But predators not only abuse but also recruit new members, so it continues from one generation to the next.

And, as they say in Catholic seminaries, ‘They did to us. So now it’s our turn to do it to others.’

This transgenerational factor in Catholic abuse has been proven by the academic Oz Dark Network study of Catholic abusers I often refer to.

Of course no one, including Cox, is going to admit there’s a connection, but – given so many circumstantial factors – I’d lay money Cox was introduced to his vile practices by others. He didn’t just dream it up solo or entirely via the internet. Who his mentors were, we can only speculate. But St Jo’s – when he was there in the early 90s – seems to have been as foul as it was in my day in the 1960s. See the second scandal below.

Although, reassuringly, we’re constantly told the ‘New’ St Joseph’s of today is very different and truly religious and holy.  Different board of governors…?  Acknowledgement of the crimes of the past…? No financial connection with the De La Salle paedophiles…? No connection with the paedophile lay teachers of the past…?

Anyway, this is the link to Cox’s story.

https://www.theguardian.com/society/2007/sep/09/childrensservices

Cox was released after less than  five years – which is surprising, more strings pulled? – and is ‘now’  (2018) living in Ipswich, just yards from a primary school.  That school is on Chantry Estate where I was brought up which is – of course – very close to St Joseph’s College.

Pure coincidence, I’m sure

https://www.mirror.co.uk/news/uk-news/paedophile-behind-online-abuse-ring-13137391

My  ex-St J’s source went on to tell me that this other St J’s old boy revealed:

‘He also said that around 1991 half the staff were sacked after another pedo scandal,  most of the sports  and arts, English and music were subject to a major cull. New head brought in , Mr Hennessy. All news to me as I was avoiding anything to do with the place then.’

Half the staff? WTF?!

Gosh! That took me by surprise. They managed to cover that one up well.  And no reporting to the police, of course. I think this was the same era as the St J’s lay teacher who recently killed himself, just before facing trial for paedophile offences.

It suggests to me, at that time, some kind of ‘ring’/organized abuse of at least 4 Catholic lay teachers.

And that excludes the smarter Catholic lay teachers who kept their heads down and avoided the cull.  That was my experience looking back to the 60s– the eccentric characters like Solomon, James and Kevin have now been outed, but I know of at least two other, ‘normal’ lay teachers, who successfully avoided the spotlight.

If I named either of them today, there’d be a howl of outrage from old boys of my generation, ‘He couldn’t have been an abuser because he was such a really great bloke and a brilliant teacher, too. I’d know if he was a wrong un.’

Sure you would.

Well, in one of those two cases, the police thought otherwise. At this stage, I can’t say more.

What is it about St Joseph’s that seems to attract more abusers than the average Catholic school?

I’d say it’s the transgenerational factor again. These predators hear on their grapevine that St J’s is a good place to find victims. After all, it was just a few years earlier IIRC that one Catholic lay teacher was using a cat o’ nine whip on a boy and getting away with it.

So these vile individuals were drawn to St J’s like moths to the flame.

If they were sacked in the early 90s, some of them could still be alive…

Food for thought?