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 BEULAH HILL WEBSITE – SOLOMON AND JAMES

I’ve just come across this one off website with some powerful words about the De La Salles.

Notably from readers’ comments:

Unlike Savile, no-one can be bothered holding to account the institution that nurtured and protected these destroyers of hundreds, possibly thousands of young lives. They preyed on the most innocent, the most vulnerable, with impunity. 11 fucking years old…That school and others like it should have been razed to the ground. Instead it carries on as if nothing had happened. No acknowledgement and no consequences. The effects of those times still haunt me practically every day.

Pat’s comment: Well said! We are holding them to account – through a work in progress on Brother James. Any one who remembers anything relevant on this man, do let me know.

BROTHER SOLOMON comment on this Beulah Hill site:

Solomon was a paedo I lived in fear of him. He would order me to come to his office at lunch time in my P.E. shorts with no underwear on. He would check by fondling me under my shorts. Behind the curtain in the office he would bring out from the bottom of a wicker basket/trunk lederhosen suede shorts and order me to put them on. For what seemed an age he would be stroking my bum. He threatened me with ‘six of the best’ if I turned around. I couldn’t tell my parents as my mother would have beaten me for telling lies.
The school and their so called Christian brothers have left me with major problems in my life.

Pat’s comment: This is the same vile pattern of behaviour Brother James used on two pupils at St J’s. ‘Don’t turn around’ for reasons I don’t need to spell out.

BROTHER JAMES comment on this Beulah Hill site:

You forgot brother James aka Jimmy Tremble a teacher so nervous he used to grind chalk into the palms of his hands presumably to give himself a form of stigmata.

Brother Wilfred a complete idiot who seemed to imply he was in the French Resistance.

Pat’s comment: This suggests that, by the time Brother James left Ipswich and went to Beulah Hill in 1970 he was in a poor state mentally. He may have had a series of breakdowns, according to one source.

There’s some confusion which may just be my source’s recollections. He remembers Brother James being 5’10 whereas I’d say he was 5’8 . My source says he was wearing different square glasses, but only some of the time. In fact, I know Brother James did change his glasses in later life.

Because his behaviour was identical, a crazed psychopath, I do not think there were TWO Brother James at Beulah Hill in the 1970s. That’s too weird, even for the De La Salles.

And – just to add to the confusion – my source says his Brother James also renamed himself Brother Wilfred. He may have done this temporarily. People who are having a crisis or breakdown do sometimes rename themselves. Or to escape justice.

Yet, as you see above, there actually was a Brother Wilfred!

I think it’s all symptomatic of the madhouse that was the De La Salle schools and I believe can be ‘unpacked’ and made sense of.

Any insights you have could be invaluable.

BROTHER SOLOMON/MIKE MERCADO – THE EVIDENCE

I want to be sure the Independent Investigator appointed by the De La Salles to look into their crimes has all the key testimonies. There are so many on this site, I’d hate the Investigator to miss important ones. So there’s a SUMMARY below on Brother  Solomon/Mike Mercado. If I’ve missed anything crucial, or made a major error, do let me know. Or if you have an additional testimony about Brother Solomon that is important. Your details – as always – can remain confidential and anonymous if you wish.

If the Investigator wants further confirmation, provided the Old Boy in question gives me permission, I can put them in touch, but the evidence against Solomon is so overwhelming in most cases it should not be necessary.

Mercado was a pupil at Beulah Hill in 1941 – 43.  Then, as Brother Solomon, he taught at St Joseph’s Birkfield Ipswich: late 50s to 1960/1.  Sacked ostensibly for drunken abuse, he went to DLS Jersey briefly. Then he took up a new post at  St Joseph’s Beulah Hill. In 1965 he lost his job and he was expelled from the order. After a short pop career there was an interim period where he may have gone to ‘The Missions’ : Boys Town in India. In the 1980s he went back to St Joseph’s Ipswich as lay teacher Mike Mercado. Once again he was sacked, ostensibly for drunkenness.

EVIDENCE OF HIS SEXUAL ABUSE AT ST JOSEPH’S IPSWICH

1)

There is an account of Solomon sexual abusing a group of boys that can be read in the link below. I have the original account which is more graphic and detailed and proves beyond any reasonable doubt that he was a twisted and evil pervert.

https://www.ipswichstar.co.uk/news/crime/st-josephs-ipswich-paid-off-monk-abuse-allegation-8569960

Solomon was ‘Prefect of Discipline’ and so had ample opportunity to pursue his perverted caning fantasies as described above.

EVIDENCE OF HIS PHYSICAL AND SEXUAL ABUSE AT ST JOSEPH’S BEULAH HILL

 There are 21 pages of accounts of DLS abuse on a Crystal Palace supporters site. Many feature Brother Solomon. See Brother James – the evidence – for the link. They need careful study by an Investigator. I’ve extracted two accounts below but there are many more.

1)

Solomon groomed and abused a pupil PAUL WILKINS who years later wrote a book of poetry about Solomon’s crimes. (The Truths of Unremembered Things. Amazon) On the Crystal Palace thread, Paul describes in shocking detail the nature of his relationship with Solomon which continued into Paul’s adulthood and lasted until Solomon’s death.

Here’s one account about this on the Crystal Palace thread:

Solomon was not a nice person. I recently got to know a lovely man, Paul Wilkins, who boarded at the same time as me. Paul had become an alcoholic and had suffered a number of nervous breakdowns before he found some peace with himself and went to work at a School in Ireland. He died last Christmas after a short illness.

Paul told me in detail of the abuse that he had suffered as a result of this man. Solomon tried it on with me as well when I started at the School, but I told my father who made a complaint and Solomon ignored me after that.

Solomon was a nasty piece of work: a bully and an abuser.

Comment by JamesM ( member )  22nd June 2011 … and another quick follow up. The documentary on the BBC last night ‘Breaking the Silence’ reminded me of this thread and DJA’s posting on the cpfc.org Forums a week or so ago. I decided to publish an email I received from Paul Wilkins (mentioned below) who suffered a great deal at the hands of Solomon. His account is very well written – but it makes disturbing reading. If DJA or anyone else is interested, they can read the letter here: w*w.cpfc.org/forums/showthread.php?t=220813 Again, I have replaced one of the w’s with an asterisk, so the link will now be deleted. If you want to read the report, please copy the link and replace the asterisk when pasting into your browser. James 
  
  
  
  

 2)

This account is also on the Crystal Palace thread.  

I was a pupil at St Joseph’s College, Beulah Hill, from 1955 to 1965 – I can confirm that it was an absolutely terrible experience – and in 1961, as if there weren’t enough very strange, totally weird, ‘Christian’ Brothers (all from the ‘De La Salle’ order) – they brought in Brother Solomon (they already had Brother Leo and Brother David, niether have been mentioned in these columns but I can honestly say, both horrendous, merciless, harshly-appalling people).

Brother Solomon was allowed total freedom by the school and by the order as ‘Master of Discipline’ – everything that has been said here about this man is true, however it all only just touches on his evil brutality, his mental and sexual perversion; I would say he was at least twenty times worse than anyone has stated here – over a period of four years he became worse and worse and by 1964 he was out of control. Despite what clearly must have been known by those in authority, he was allowed to continue with his sinful, vicious, atrocious, criminal, immoral, debauched, perverted, abhorrent, detestable, monstrous, foul, vile, disgraceful ways for a further full year – it was absolutely scandalous.

Finally, during the summer holidays of 1965 Brother Soloman was dismissed from St Joseph’s and at the same time expelled from the De La Salle order. Within a very short time he became known nationally as ‘The Swinging Monk’; he was in the Sunday papers and on Records, TV and Radio being described as pianist ‘Mike Mercado’.

Today he would have been in court, subsequently locked up, after just a couple of days in any school; he got away with it for so long by intimidation and because in those days, if you dared to say anything against this “incredible” school (in your Catholic parents view) you were immediately set-about by your father, as I was on several occasions – including once when I phoned my father (a complete bully) from the phone box at Crown Point and described an incident that had only just occurred in Bro’ Soloman’s locked and curtained office; “Stay right there, it’ll take me an hour to get to you!” shouted my father as he slammed down his phone – some time later, as he pulled up and dived out of his car I thought to myself (I was still in the phone box) this is it, at last, this will be the downfall of this terrible man, Soloman, but alas, my father ripped open the red glass-paned door and totally laid-into ME, beating me almost unconscious; I was lying on the ground as he turned for his car, shouting at me “get back into that school and don’t you ever tell such lies about people again, or I’ll beat you to death”; and then he sped off. I was helped into a nearby sweet shop by a GPO telegram boy who had seen the beating and so was very sympathetic but terrified for me of my father, saying you’d better get cleaned up and back into school in case he comes back….

I would say I was one of probably less than a dozen boys regularly (daily) picked on by Brother Soloman but those awful times have, on and off, affected my whole life – as a young 13 and 14 year old boy I was completely traumatized on many occasions, and left with absolutely no support from home, and that has returned to haunt me at various different stages of my life.

EVIDENCE OF HIS CONNECTION TO BOYS TOWN.

After his pop career, Mercado then went on to work to raise money for Boys Town in Southern India, run by the notorious abuser Joe Homan, an ex DLS brother. St Joseph’s Ipswich also helped raise money for ‘ a new tractor’ for Homan. I have a harrowing account of Homan’s abuse while he was a DLS brother.  He carried out a terrifying sexual assault on a child at St Joseph’s Oak Hill Ipswich.

I believe Mercado visited Boys Town to ‘assist Homan’, but in reality he was a sex tourist.  The new post-Homan regime at Boys Town are very helpful and may have records to help an investigator.

The close links between St J’s Ipswich, Mercado and Homan at Boys Town suggest there was something systemic going on between them.  It’s still a work in progress and cannot yet be proved, but I hope someone will come forward to tell us more.

EVIDENCE OF  HIS SEXUAL ABUSE AT ST JOSEPH’S SECOND TIME WHEN HE WAS MIKE MERCADO

1)

Comment on Crystal Palace site by Old Birkfeldian ( member )  28th June 2011:

Mike Mercado worked as a housemaster at another St.Josephs – namely St Joseph’s College Ipswich – in the 1980’s. After complaints for again being a bit ‘hands-on’ he was removed discretely, I am saddened that he was allowed to teach there with his previous history, the damage he did was immeasurable.

2)

The Ipswich Star account

https://www.ipswichstar.co.uk/news/crime/st-josephs-ipswich-paid-off-monk-abuse-allegation-8569960

EVIDENCE OF SYSTEMIC ABUSE  INVOLVING SOLOMON/MERCADO AND THE DE LA SALLES.

1)

The way Solomon was moved around from Ipswich to Jersey to Beulah Hill. Then returns to Ipswich as lay teacher Mercado.  His application to become a DLS brother again was turned down, but – even though he was notorious – he was still allowed to teach children. That suggests a typical Catholic abuse cover-up. 

I recalled as an eleven year old that he was briefly sent to a ‘reformatory’ in Jersey in 60/61 and an Old Boy of St Peter’s confirms there was a ‘rat line’ to Jersey for abuser brothers to escape the police.

 https: wordpress.com/post/patmills.wordpress.com/1440

2)

Mercado’s farewell letter is full of hints about cover-ups. I’ve tried to unpack it here:

https://wordpress.com/post/patmills.wordpress.com/1060

He also threatens, ‘I am fully aware of what goes on within the Order’

The Ipswich Star account also confirms a cover-up

https://www.ipswichstar.co.uk/news/crime/st-josephs-ipswich-paid-off-monk-abuse-allegation-8569960

3)

Deleted – as I’m looking again at that evidence (arbitration service offer to Solomon)

4)

At Beulah Hill they knew and did NOTHING  about Solomon for at least a year!

Here’s what that Survivor said again:

over a period of four years he became worse and worse and by 1964 he was out of control. Despite what clearly must have been known by those in authority, he was allowed to continue with his sinful, vicious, atrocious, criminal, immoral, debauched, perverted, abhorrent, detestable, monstrous, foul, vile, disgraceful ways for a further full year – it was absolutely scandalous.

5)

The DLS must have known about my blog and allegations about Brother Solomon for years yet did nothing until the media pressure became too great.

Accusations on the Crystal Palace site have been there since 2011 with Old Boys relating how they were actively trying to find out more about Solomon.

It’s unbelievable that the DLS didn’t know about this past interest in Solomon either on the Crystal Palace site, my own, or elsewhere and are only now looking into it.

https://www.ipswichstar.co.uk/news/crime/st-josephs-ipswich-paid-off-monk-abuse-allegation-8569960

Why now?

Answer: Because it’s in the media. So they are FORCED to act.  

This and so much else makes me and many other Survivors wonder how far the DLS have really changed today as they claim.

BROTHER SOLOMON/ MIKE MERCADO  – TALKING TO THE LOCAL PRESS

I’ve been talking again to the East Anglian Daily Times, the local Ipswich paper, about BROTHER SOLOMON aka MIKE MERCADO

The EADT are keen to speak to other St Joseph’s Old Boys about him and what their take is on the allegations about him.

Your own experiences and recollections about him.

Once again, I think that would be a great idea as I only remember him from my first year 1960/1961 when he was my music teacher.

There may be some Old Boys who remember him from this same era  – maybe 1958 (?) to 1961 during which he was ‘Prefect of Discipline’

Then younger Old Boys will remember him from his 1980s era when he was  Mike Mercado.

The EADT assure me your anonymity would be completely protected.

If you’d like to get in touch with them, their contact details are below.

EADT CONTACT DETAILS

Sarah Burgess

Investigations Reporter

M: ‪07809551238

E: sarah.burgess1@archant.co.uk

@sarahburgesss

DE LA SALLES – POSITIVE NEWS

I’m always a little wary of being optimistic where bringing Catholic child abusers to justice is concerned.  Even so, I think this is encouraging news and is certainly a big step forward, following the DLS not-so-public public apology.

Catholic Safeguarding have written back to me. As I’ve previously related, the allegations on this site are with Hydrant and Safeguarding confirmed this is the case.

But the key NEW information they gave me is as follows:

Firstly, they 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.”

I have to say I read this sentence several times before fully absorbing it. I really couldn’t believe it. This, surely, is progress, although I know we’re not at the end of the road yet.

Catholic Safeguarding also responded to my raising concerns about the Scottish DLS St Ninian’s case.

Here’s what they had to say:

“Thank you for bringing the latest court case to my attention, the concerns raised will be placed before DLS and communicated to Hydrant and I will bring it to the attention of the SCOE Commission at our next meeting.

In respect of SCOE, although the victim testimony is powerful, safeguarding matters pertaining to Scotland are not under our remit for any member religious orders within SCOE, only those pertaining to England and Wales, so this case or others that may exist, outside of England and Wales, are not considered by us.

Safeguarding matters in Scotland are overseen by the Scottish Catholic Safeguarding Service.”

So special thanks to the two survivors of St Ninians who wrote and told me what happened to them.  You are super stars!

I would hope there will be some traction as the English Safeguarding and the DLS and Hydrant presumably bring the Scottish Safeguarding into the loop.  If you don’t hear anything in a couple of months, do let me know.

Thanks also to all the survivors of all the De La Salles schools for writing into this site with your testimonies.  Hey – we finally got somewhere!

I think there is cause for a little cautious celebration all round.

BROTHER SOLOMON AND PAUL WILKINS

Thanks to Beulah Hill Old Boy Steve who sheds more light below on Brother Solomon who groomed Paul Wilkins as a child and they remained in a ‘relationship’ after Paul left school.

Paul, a distinguished poet, wrote

In the book – Truths of Unremembered Things – Paul writes about his negative ‘relationship’ with Solomon.

Steve also relates below that it was sixth formers who got Solomon thrown out of Beulah Hill. That’s good to know as an example of pupil power.

Solomon then later turned up as Mike Mercado back at his old Ipswich school St Joseph’s College.

Throughout his life he had been abusing children and also remained in some form of ‘relationship’ with Paul  Wilkins.

According to Old Boy Chris Mullins, Solomon spent his final years playing the piano at the end of a pier. A sombre image. This may have been the pier Solomon had a share in at Weston Super Mare.   Given how, pre-internet, fun fairs on piers were magnets for paedophiles that is not reassuring.

Thus far the De La Salles have nothing to say and no interest in this criminal in their ranks.

They hold onto the fake notion of the odd rotten apple, rather than their UK religious order – pre-millennium –  being a disgusting, rotten orchard.

The psychological cost to the De La Salles of living a lie must be enormous.

xxxxxxxxxxxxxxx

Hallo Pat. Thanks for hosting this website and lancing so many boils.

I’m glad you know about Paul Wilkins. He looked after Brother Solomon in his last days and organised his burial when he died. I didn’t know Paul, he was a year below me I think, but I have his poetry and read the letter he wrote before it was taken down.

I was a day boy at St Joseph’s Beulah Hill from 1959 to 1966. I was frequently physically abused by him and other emotionally damaged “brothers”, but was too gawky to be of interest sexually.

I don’t know whether anybody else has told you the circumstances of Solomon’s departure, but it was a playground coup by Sixth Formers that happened on a Friday and he was gone when we got back to school on the Monday. Away on a sabbatical, we were told.

St Joseph’s killed my faith and made me hate school. Fortunately academia was irrelevant for what I wanted to do, which was earn my living with my keyboard.

I’ve written about him somewhere. Maybe I’ll dig it out.

BROTHER JAMES: DARK NETWORKER

If you’ve just discovered this site, you may not be aware that organized Catholic sexual abuse networks are now proven beyond any reasonable doubt.  They’re called Dark Networks.  Most of us would call them paedophile rings.  

An academic study (see past post ‘Dark Networks’) shows a primary example in Victoria, Oz.

Muytjens, Sally (2019) An exploration of the existence of clergy child sexual abuse dark networks within the Victorian catholic church. PhD thesis, Queensland University of Technology.

She identified 16 Catholic child sex abuse rings in Victoria, Oz!

There was a separate investigation by the Age newspaper which covers further criminal Catholic networks in Oz, some of which may overlap with the academic study.

If you just want a quick read, here it is:

https://www.theage.com.au/national/victoria/revealed-how-paedophile-priests-in-victoria-worked-together-to-share-victims-20190916-p52rtz.html

Similarly, Brother James was part of a Catholic Dark Network of De La Salle Brothers at St Joseph’s College, Ipswich.  In his case, the Knights of St Columba Ipswich Province, and almost certainly a London Province, provided the necessary protection for him that is the hallmark of a paedophile ring. 

This is born out by my testimony, the testimony of another St Joseph’s Old Boy on this site, and by a private testimony I was given by a St J’s Old Boy.

You may well be aware of James as a violent psycho, but there are three testimonies on this site which show, beyond any reasonable doubt, that he was also a violent sex criminal.

Some years ago the De La Salle Brothers wrote an eulogy about Brother James after he died. Foolishly, when I discovered it,  8 years ago,  I didn’t download it. Shortly afterwards I started writing about James and it was promptly removed from the DLS site.  Sorry about that. I’m a bit more streetwise these days.

I do remember it said words to the effect that he was a shy, quiet, even timid man, a saintly man, and that he had a peaceful death from some unspecified condition.

Here are the two broken links.

http://www.delasalle.org.uk/James Ryan Eulogy July 2011 – web edition vs3.pdf

 It’s just possible someone out there knows if a Wayback machine can access the original post. If so, I’m sure we’d all love to read exactly what the DLSB wrote about this ‘saintly man’.

In the absence of the DLSB official eulogy, below are some eulogies from Old Boys. They are from St Joseph’s BEULAH HILL.  It sounds like he went there after Ipswich and they seem to be all Beulah Hill memories from the 1970s.

Crucially, if the Knights of St Columba hadn’t covered up his crimes at St Joseph’s Ipswich, in the 1960s and he was reported to the police, his vile acts in the 1970s would never have happened.

INSTEAD, BROTHER JAMES WOULD HAVE BEEN IN PRISON IN THE 1970S.

This is why exposing these Catholic Dark Networks is so important.

 Do not assume they’ve stopped because we now live in different times.  As the academic study makes very clear, Dark Networks are transgenerational. By definition, they always recruit a new generation of abusers.

I believe they are still out there and one police detective has indicated as much to me.

These eulogies are taken from an ongoing Beulah Hill thread on a football site. It’s still current.

https://www.cpfc.org/forums/showthread.php?t=161283

I’ve kept them anonymous here.

I, too, was polluted by this excuse for an educational establishment. Was there 73-78 and, I have to say, I’m shocked no-one has mentioned the monster that was Bro. James.

Brother James gave me the most savage beating I have ever had, five or six times across the face with a clenched fist, because someone had been whistling in class and he decided it was me. The experience, which still haunts me more than sixty years later, was made all the worse by the fact that he began by removing my glasses. Years later I met another pupil who was present at the time and who uttered the chilling words “You obviously didn’t know what he was like”. I also discussed the incident, a year or two ago, with a retired teacher who told me that even in the 1950’s such behaviour was illegal.

I confirm from first hand experience that he was a grade A c*nt.

A truly vicious piece of shit

Agreed. I promised myself I would pee on his grave. I had the opportunity to do so a few years ago and am glad to say I resisted the temptation. One sick evil c*nt is enough.

Brother James (Ryan) was my history teacher for two years around ’77 and we all saw his temper but after reading the above and this harrowing account he was a lot, lot worse in his earlier days

I was attacked by him in a school corridor, fists flailing in what can only be described as a bout of uncontrolled savagery and bloodlust. This was witnessed by two members of staff, neither of whom intervened. I received a black eye and a split lip. It was 1975. I was 13.

Upon seeing this when I went home, my mother merely said “well, you must have done something to deserve it”. Such were the times.

My abiding memory of this awful, awful school is the omnipresent threat of violence – not from your usual school bullies (that, I could handle) but from the staff themselves.

I’d love to know where the c*nt’s buried and, believe me, I would have no qualms about pissing on his grave to which I would add a liquid, noxious and maladorous dump.

I remember seeing Brother James assault a boy in the corridor and knock his teeth out. The psychopathic violence wasn’t even hidden.

It wasn’t just the Brothers, though.

Reading them over, these are not normal posts from Old Boys complaining about a cruel teacher.  

They are howls of rage from Survivors about a Monster, a major criminal who St Js Ipswich, St Js Beulah Hill, and the DLSB MUST acknowledge as part of their toxic past.

I’ll add my own eulogy now:

Brother James was a member of a Catholic criminal Dark Network.  In the 1960s, he was a member of an organized St Joseph’s College, Ipswich paedophile ring that included the De  La Salle Brothers and the Knights of St Columba.  

He’s filth.

And they, too, are filth for hiding his endless crimes.

And the relevant three Catholic  successor organisations today who now know about their school, their religious order, and their 1960s Knights’ disgusting past, but choose to remain silent, are little better. 

To which I’m inclined to ask, just how many more of these testimonies can their consciences take before it prompts them into doing something to acknowledge their organisations’ pasts? Or are their moral compasses so dead, so shut down, they can happily continue to look the other way? 

To which I would respond:

Knights, Brothers, and Teachers, I know your time will come, when you will be called upon to explain your  silence, but in the interim…

 Shame on all three of you.  

IN THE LASALLIAN TRADITION

Here’s a recent comment from an Old Boy, from my ‘About’ page, in response to a thread about St Joseph’s College, Ipswich.  I think he makes some interesting points.  I decided our exchange deserved its own blog status, so here it is.

Thanks.

Hi Pat,
I was at St Joe’s for many years. I remember them , Bros Cecil, James, Hugh, Damien, Owen, Gerard, Soloman, Denis Robert, Gregory, Benet, Cuthman, Peter, Terrence and others. They seemed all to have some sort of attitude or psychological problem or were perverts. Having spoken to others over the years about this it does seem that all the Del a Salle Schools and Catholic Schools were all the same. I am quite sure all the stories are pretty much true. The film Catholic Boys captures it pretty well. I’m in contact with a number of people from the 60s and early 70s from St Joe’s, I think some have tried to give details to the police. Interestingly and rather oddly one of the number listed above is still around and his partner (female) works for the police in relation to child abuse. Talk about poacher turned game-keeper! He waxes lyrical now about abuse saying ‘it only takes good men to do nothing etc etc’. He knew what was going on when he was at St Joe’s and did nothing. The pious hypocrite.

Hi,

Great to hear from you and thank you for making some truly excellent observations. As you say, the film Catholic Boys captures the tone of St J’s very well. Although I think it was actually worse in my time there in the 1960s.

As you say, hypocrisy is the thing that bothers us. Thus, I once looked up Brother James on the web. At first I thought it was a truly monstrous De La Salle headmaster named Brother James currently doing a long prison stretch for his crimes. But he turned out to be a different De La Salle Brother. The Brother James from St J’s has died and was described in his obituary as a shy and timid character. This is far from the truth and whoever wrote that obituary must have known it. I witnessed him explode with demented rage and violence when he attacked a classmate and his psychotic behavior still preys on my mind to this day. But despite his reputation for violence and rage, he was also a great maths teacher who knew how to reach kids like me who were hopeless at the subject.

Similarly, Brother Solomon who – confirmed by the tragic poetry of one his victims at Beulah Hill – abused many children. Yet I know I owe my deep love of classical music to him. He, too, is dead.

And I think their excellence as teachers combined with their perversions sets up confusion and cognitive dissonance in many pupils who thus try and block it from their minds, and that’s how so many Brothers have largely got away their crimes.

I do believe St J’s and the Order itself both owe Survivors a collective apology. It’s no good putting the blame on individual Brothers – there are just too many of them to use the ‘one rotten apple’ defence. It’s the College and the Order itself that is clearly responsible. Thus Brother Solomon was suddenly transferred from Birkfield because of abuse (and given a glowing tribute by Brother James in the school magazine), then sacked from Beulah Hill and returned – in the 1980s – to Birkfield as a lay teacher. Once again he was dismissed following allegations of abuse – but he should never have been reinstated.

One thing I find offensive is the caption on the school gates of St J’s today: “In the Lasallian tradition”. Although the College today seems to have distanced itself from the Brothers per se, nevertheless the uniforms, the motto, the history, the traditions, and the legacy are still proudly confirmed in those words. According to the College’s website, the caption pertains – with some dexterous semantics – to St Jean Baptise de La Salle, but significantly not to the Order of Brothers he founded. Whatever the intention, in practice, “In the Lasallian tradition” means the promise of an excellent Christian education but also that it has not disassociated itself from the De La Salle Brothers. So for many old boys up to relatively recent times those words stand for something terrible and dark. Only an acknowledgement of this really makes that caption acceptable in today’s world.

Thus I don’t agree with one famous St J’s old boy, who told me recently how different the school is today: it’s unisex, the Brothers have gone, and it’s properly run etc. I’m sure he is right but I took the subtext of his comments to be that the past is the past and everyone really needs to forget about it and move on. But in my opinion, closure is not possible until the successors to the Brothers have acknowledged what happened or until justice is done.

So I wish our fellow old boys well in pursuing the Brothers responsible for harming them before they are too old and infirm to be charged. I have a St. J’s old boy police detective contact who specializes in investigating crimes of this nature and it’s possible he might be able to help or point your contacts in the right direction. If that’s any help, do ask them to write to me and I’ll put them in touch with him.