THE TRUTH ABOUT NAZIR AFZAL

The Chair of the CSSA – Catholic Safeguarding

Something is clearly badly wrong with the CSSA:two key members have mysteriously resigned and in the wake of the shaming IICSA report Nazir Afzul was surprisingly upbeat.

Let me remind what the IICSA final report had to say: The investigation into the Roman Catholic Church in England and Wales revealed a sorry history of child sexual abuse where abusive priests and members of religious orders and institutions preyed on children for prolonged periods of time. Between 1970 and 2015, the Church received more than 3,000 complaints against more than 900 individuals connected to the Church. In the same period, there were 177 prosecutions, resulting in 133 convictions. Millions of pounds have been paid to victims and survivors in civil proceedings. Since 2016, there have been more than 100 reported allegations of recent and non-recent child sexual abuse every year. The true scale of abuse over a 50-year period is likely to be much greater.

Responses to disclosures about child sexual abuse have been characterised by a failure to support victims and survivors – in stark contrast to the positive action often taken to protect perpetrators and the reputation of the Church.

The reactions of Church leaders over time were marked by delay in implementing change, as well as reluctance to hold individuals to account or to make sincere apologies. On occasions, they conveyed a grudging and unsympathetic attitude to victims and survivors. In order to shake off the failures of the past, real and lasting changes to attitudes are needed.

Although there have been some improvements to current safeguarding arrangements, more recent audits have identified weaknesses. The culture and attitudes in the Roman Catholic Church have been resistant to change.

Nazir Afzal. Chair of Safeguarding, shows no signs of regret or contrition or apology on behalf of the Church he represents. In fact, his tone is onwards and upwards, business as usual. Here he is:

https://www.thetablet.co.uk/news/16043/-we-are-here-to-stay-questions-to-the-director-of-the-cssa

But in another interview with the Tablet he goes further. He notes the importance of Canon Law which – if it defies the Law of the Land – is a criminal offence. That’s what de facto he is supporting even though IICSA have recommended the confessional be unsealed and it is the law in Australia. He didn’t know about the law in Oz! Here’s how I covered it in a tweet

When @nazirafzal talks about sanctity of ‘canon law’ in context of the confessional he is de facto placing it over Law of the Land. He has previous – obliquely defending categories of paedophilia and showing that organisations like the Church are not as bad abusers as families.

I would refer you to a past post where he actually comes out with a tweet in support of those who would mitigate the crimes of paedophiles by categorising them in different age groups. A classic device by the Catholic Church and also by paedophiles themselves.

It gets worse!

In the other interview with the Tablet he is dismissive of IICSA’s recommendations where the confessional is concerned. That’s a very serious matter.

Here’s how I tweeted about it:

@nazirafzal claims predators’ confessions to abuse in the confessional are ‘extremely rare’. Academic Marie Keenan proves him wrong : 8 out of 9 clergy abusers she spoke to ‘disclosed their abuse during confession.’ When is someone going to hold this Fraud to account?

Marie Keenan’s information is in the same article! Keenan is Ireland’s leading academic on abuse and is highly respected. Nazir is clearly and knowingly guilty of spreading disinformation. That’s appalling when you are head of the CCSA.

A group of Catholic survivors were so disturbed by his behaviour we recently wrote a letter with a great deal of thought, detail and restraint.

Concerns re CSSA

Dear Sirs,

Following the publication of the IICSA report and the Elliott review (Elliott, 2020), which was accepted in full by the Catholic Bishops’ conference, survivors were hopeful that finally change was going to take place within the RC church in its dealings with safeguarding matters.

We welcomed the appointment of Nazir Afzal as the first Chairperson of the new Safeguarding structure, trusting that he and the new board would work to drive through the very necessary changes that were so badly needed.

Over the last year, while there have been some small signs of progress, the spirit of optimism, which survivors had, has steadily waned away as we have witnessed what is happening at grassroots level.

Our experience over the last year is that survivor engagement is generally not following Ian Elliot’s recommendations.

Instead, survivors’ experiences have included

-being redirected to the body within the Church who was responsible for their original abuse and then re abused them when they summoned up the courage to come forward to disclose that abuse.

There was an attempt to set up of a new survivor reference panel last autumn. Survivors known to Catholic Safeguarding were not made aware but stumbled across an advertisement on CSSA website by chance. Immediately, they could see many flaws in what was being proposed. Additionally, it was not advertised in a way that was likely to be seen by survivors.

Survivors wrote collectively to the new board raising their queries. It was only after a considerable amount of chasing that a date was set for a meeting. The way it had been proposed that a new panel would be set up, and then the difficulties in trying to engage with the board to voice concerns began to seriously undermine trust in CSSA.

At the meeting they were told that the board “had got it wrong” regarding the way it proposed to set up the new survivor panel. 

The board met with them on 2 further occasions. They were told that until a new panel was formed that they would be used as an “informal panel” and that the board would send an invitation to meet with them in April, to introduce them to a Communications officer who CSSA had appointed and would be the point of liaison with survivors.

Survivors have never received the promised invitation. One survivor chased with regard to it and has now met with Board members. The onus should not lie with survivors to have to keep chasing and no attempt has been made to offer survivors the opportunity of an introduction to the Communications officer.

It has become clear that there is lack of understanding among the board members that clerical abuse carries with it additional and very far-reaching impacts on survivors, because of the spiritual dynamics inherent in it. This issue demonstrates the need for CSSA to engage with survivors in the way Ian Elliot has described, but at present that engagement is not happening (except perhaps in a very limited way with a very small number of survivors)

There is little or no evidence of an interest or willingness to engage with or listen to survivors to try to understand the reality of our abuse, or of trying to live with it since it happened, and the way in which that has been compounded by the church’s unwillingness to provide any meaningful help or support. Many live with a sense that they are not even believed, others are left with the sense that they are troublemakers.

There have been inappropriate and extremely insensitive comments about paedophilia on social media by a board member. When challenged no attempt was made to either apologise or withdraw the comments.

We were told by one board member

“One thing it is important to say is that the CSSA is formed to implement robust standards for safeguarding in the Church going forward from 2021. We will not be able to right the wrongs of the past but to look forward to make sure things are done well in the future.”

A representative for a survivor spoke to Nazir Afzal recently and relayed back that she was told

“CSSA will not be providing support for any survivors.

Any disclosures re matters that occurred prior to CSSA forming would need to be taken to the police for investigating.

When CSSA starts auditing it will not look at anything which has happened prior to June 2021

CSSA is not independent as actions will have to get clearance from Rome”

These comments suggest that CSSA intends working in a way that is a far cry from the sort of survivor engagement Ian Elliott recommended.

Over the last year survivors have experienced a repetition of the ignoring and marginalising tactics which the Church has used for so long with survivors. If this continues nothing will change in the way the Church responds to survivors and their suffering and pain will continue to be lifelong.

In the Elliot Review it was recommended that a formal case consultation service would be set up to manage allegations and concerns and that this entity would be a ‘critical friend’, able to support and encourage but with a major change of emphasis from it being advisory, to being empowered to challenge and uphold professional standards, holding the constituent(s) to account.

We cannot find evidence of this being implemented.

The complaints procedure which we have had sight of falls far short of that described in Elliott review. It permits recommendations on the part of CSSA, but does not seem to have powers of enforcement and will also only become involved in a complaint when every other avenue has been exhausted-thus leaving survivors with no option but to continue re engaging with a body who has been harming them.

Nazir Afzal publicly encouraged survivors to contact him saying he wants to hear from them (Tablet article-24th March 2022). Our lived experience is somewhat different and is endorsed by Danny Sullivan, a former Chair of NCSC in the same article.

“It is welcome that at last after some almost nine months in post Nazir Afzal is making public comments about his role”.

Citing a “thoroughly disheartening” recent experience with the safeguarding process, Sullivan, speaking to The Tablet, criticised the Church’s continued intent to “self-police” regarding abuse allegations. “Nazir Afzal talks about protecting children but so far there seems no urgency about supporting current victims of abuse who are not apologised to for their abuse or worse still not treated with the care and sensitivity due to them according to CSSA’s current protocols.  They are certainly not treated as the priority bishops said they would be after the IICSA report.”

Can CSSA answer the following questions so survivors have full clarity on how it proposes operating.

1.If CSSA is not going to provide support for survivors how does it envisage that things will “be done well in the future”?

2.Why is CSSA saying that it will not to provide support for survivors, given that it was recommended so strongly in the Elliott review ( which was accepted in full by the Catholic Bishops’ conference?

3.Survivors generally take many years to summon up sufficient courage to disclose their abuse, meaning that almost all disclosures are historical. Can CCSA confirm whether they perceive that it is an important part of Catholic Safeguarding’s role to support survivors when they disclose their abuse, to then pass it to the police?

Survivors who have disclosed their abuse to Catholic Safeguarding prior to CSSA being formed have very frequently been revictimised. Can you describe the service you are going to offer to these survivors? This is not a matter where the police will become involved.  However, it is imperative that CSSA addresses the serious trauma that survivors have experienced to enable them to begin to recover from it. If CSSA is not going to provide this service, can they explain the reason for this decision?

4.Why is CSSA not going to look at anything which happened prior to 2021? This will cover up a great deal of the Church’s catastrophic failings possibly forever. It is extremely protective of the body who has abused a great many very vulnerable people and will serve only to help those who are responsible for abusing. Does CSSA believe this is acceptable?

5.What steps is CSSA going to take now to put right the serious breakdown in trust with survivors which has occurred since it was formed in 2021?

6. When is CSSA going to actively engage with a wide number of survivors, including all those who indicated interest in working with CSSA in autumn 2021?

7.Does CSSA intend to rewrite the present complaints procedure so it is in line with Ian Elliot’s recommendations and protects the interests of survivors. When will this be done?

8.If CSSA needs clearance from Rome for its actions how does it justify describing itself as being a regulator?

We look forward to your responses.

With many thanks,

A group of Catholic Survivors

References

Elliott, I. (2020, September 21). Independent Review of Safeguarding Structures and Arrangements in the Catholic Church in England and Wales. Retrieved from The Catholic Church Bishops’ Conference of England and Wales: https://www.cbcew.org.uk/wp-content/uploads/sites/3/2020/11/Independent-Review-Safeguarding-Report-2020.pdf

This is the reply we received

14th October 2022

Dear Survivors,

Thank you for your open letter ‘Concerns re CSSA’ this week.

On behalf of Nazir Afzal (Chair) and the Board we were very saddened to read it. Thank you for stating your concerns clearly for us to consider.

In the first instance we will table your letter for discussion with our new Survivor Reference Panel at our next meeting which is likely to be in November to seek their advice and guidance.

We welcome your input; we may not be able to answer all of your queries in detail at this time but again assure you of our wish to engage with survivors on an ongoing basis

With our very best wishes,

Jenny Holmes,

Board Member

This is typical of the prevarication and dismissive tone of the CSSA of which Nazir is Chair. As we have chronicled in the past, the CSSA have endlessly stalled in the manner above. And will go on doing so.

The CSSA needs investigating as a matter of urgency and Nazir needs to resign.

He said to me that he received a standing ovation from the Bishops when he took the job.

He will not get a standing ovation from survivors.

Let me state the obvious to Nazir:

In your interview you are remarkably upbeat after the IICSA report summarised the disgusting crimes of the Church you are safeguarding.

IT’S FOR SURVIVORS TO SAY IFYOU ARE DOING A GOOD JOB . NOT YOU. AND NOT YOUR PAYMASTERS, THE PRINCES OF THE CHURCH.

THE ANSWER IS : NO. YOU ARE DOING A TERRIBLE JOB AND SPREADING DISINFORMATION AND IGNORING SURVIVORS IS UNACCEPTABLE.

YOU DO NOT HAVE THE CONFIDENCE OF SURVIVORS. YOU HAVE ENDLESSLY PREVARICATED. YOOU HAVE PROVIDED DISINFORMATION. YOU HAVE NOT FULLY ENGAGED WITH US. YOU HAVE BEHAVED LIKE A SPIN DOCTOR. YOU HAVE SAFEGUARDED THE PRINCES OF THE CHURCH, NOT SURVIVORS OF ITS CRIMES.

YOU MUST RESIGN.

TRIGGERS

Often on this site, there are graphic accounts of abuse by lay teachers, priests, monks and De La Salle  brothers.

What is more rare, though, is the psychological abuse that often goes with it.  And how it can be triggered today by relatively minor incidents. 

Catholics, abusers or not, always seem to seek control over children. Maybe it’s the same with other religions.

But it is especially heinous in Catholic communities because they are so authoritarian, so convinced of their rightness and even holiness, they cannot and will not be challenged.   

Their role model, of course, starts with the Vatican and the Pope when he speaks ex-cathedra.

Thus, as I’ve related some time ago,  a staunch Catholic doctor (a functioning alcoholic) and his hospital matron wife needed to bring their typically rebellious sixteen year old daughter ‘to her senses’. This involved her being drugged and incarcerated in the general ward of a mental hospital over Christmas.

Her rebellion was the usual thing – staying out late, bad company, surly attitude, punk clothes and so on. I don’t recall anything unusual or horrendous. But in any event, if every rebellious teenager was sectioned to bring them to their senses, the mental hospitals would be filled to overflowing.  What I do recall that was horrendous was her parents’ close examination of her clothing which, in my view, crossed boundaries.

Undoubtedly they used their connections to get the necessary two Doctors (IIRC) to have her sectioned.  When my daughters told me this, I was so appalled, I contacted the hospital and said the girl could stay at our house with her friends, my daughters, over Christmas. The hospital agreed.  I just had to ask her parents’ permission.

This I duly did. Their response I believe is so typically Catholic, it’s worth writing about again. They told me they were bluffing when they intended to keep her in a mental ward over Christmas, alone with seriously disturbed teenagers. They were going to have her released on Christmas Eve when she’d learnt her lesson and promised to behave herself in future. I told them I was delighted that the family would be united. ‘No, you’ve spoilt it now,’ the matron mum glared at me. ‘So we don’t want her back.’ The girl duly spent a happy Christmas with our family and IIRC now has a couple of university degrees and a successful career. But I happen to know she still bears the scars of her ghastly Catholic family.

Similarly I bear the scars of my ghastly Catholic family.  And that’s probably why I chose to intervene. It was triggering me.

My Catholic family circumstances were different, yet ultimately the same. My mother was mentally ill, so she had delegated her authority  to a group of  four or five Catholic worthies to similarly ‘bring her rebellious teenage son to his senses’. Some, but probably not all, were Knights of St Columba.  All were sexual abusers of children.  And they controlled the financial purse string to my fee-paying education at St Joseph’s College, Ipswich, and thus my destiny.

If you look at photos or film of the Knights today, they’re still puffed up with their own arrogance and so were these gentlemen. They saw no contradiction between sexually abusing children and their own self-proclaimed  ‘holiness’. I have no idea how that works. I suspect they compartmentalised their lives and didn’t make any  connection  between their conscience and their vile crimes. Or they think if it’s good enough for bishops, priests and De La Salle brothers to sodomise and sexually molest children, so it’s good enough for them. Or they see it as an initiation rite, like a frat club.  

If anyone has any insights, knowledge or theories, I’d love to hear from them. I think my theories above are correct, but Catholics are hardly going to explain their crimes today.

What is truly remarkable is how I fought back and how they wouldn’t give up. They were determined to impose their will on me.  I’ve no real idea how I survived and eventually won, albeit at a price. They stopped paying my school fees and so I left at age fifteen and became a messenger boy for R and W Paul in Ipswich.   Even then, they still tried to impose their will on me, which I find astonishing. If I was them, I think I’d  be pragmatic and say, ‘We’re not going to win with this annoying little shit. Let him go. There’s plenty more where he came from.’ 

But Catholics simply don’t think that way. They have to win. Maybe the challenge of  ‘breaking in a wild horse’ appealed to them.

It was only when I was sixteen and left home that I was finally free of them.

In my healing work in recent years, I realised I was dealing with at least four sexual abusers, and it was necessary to understand each one’s style, as I was being psychologically assaulted from four different directions.  Sometimes separately. Sometimes in unison. That takes some unpacking. Thus one, a violent thug teacher, used the heavy-handed, boot camp disciplinarian approach. A second, a barrister, used legal threats combined with suggesting I’d be better off moving to an Ipswich hostel where he’d have me all to himself. A third, an English teacher, appealed to my writing ambitions before ultimately turning on me. A fourth, seemed to be the treasurer of the Knights and I can only remember two things about him. First, his impressive marbled Parker pen with its gold nib, ready to write out a much needed cheque for my school fees. ‘On certain conditions, young man…’And second, the terror his two sons – who  also went to St J’s – regarded him with. Let’s not talk about the fifth man. Too big a subject other than to note he was always whining, Uriah Heep style, ‘I always tried to do the best for you boys.’

I clearly won my battle against these five Catholic heavies, although I still find that remarkable. But I didn’t get off Scot-free, it left a scar and that’s where the Triggers come in.

Some months ago, I was triggered when some of my readers said I shouldn’t even be researching Web3 ‘because it was evil’. They were outraged!  It triggered memories of the Catholic Index and reading Heaven and Hell by Swedenborg. When the teacher thug I’ve described found out, he was outraged! He went nuts.  I’d completely forgotten it, but now the memories came rushing back.(More in an earlier blog)

Naturally, I ignored the Triggers.  After all, if I could stand up to a thug when I was 14, I wasn’t going to let anyone today dictate what I should or should not read.

Recently, the same thing occurred when I brought out my Web3 book, a minor project, ecologically and ethically valid. The complexities and rights and wrongs of Web3 needn’t concern us here, only the attempt by a small group of readers to stop my project, to mould me into someone I’m not, to insist I behave differently, to impose their will on me, without any debate,  adopting a ‘holier than thou’, finger-wagging, moral standpoint just like those awful Catholic worthies I’ve described when I was a kid.

They weren’t interested in polite discussion, only in reacting emotionally and dumping their emotions on me. Angry, sad, reproachful, etc.  Doubtless triggered by something in their own pasts that makes them act disproportionately. Maybe they needed an outlet, a scapegoat, for whatever is wrong in their lives.

As you might expect, it, once again, triggered emotions in me from long ago.

But it also reminded me of one way I defeated the finger-waggers as a boy.  

Music. There were so many battle hymns against authoritarian bullies and I still sing them in my head to this day.

The words of Lesley Gore were a life-saver.

You don’t own me
You don’t tell me what to do
Don’t tell me what to say

Don’t try to change me in any way
You don’t own me

I don’t tell you what to say
I don’t tell you what to do
So just let me be myself
That’s all I ask of you
I’m free and I love to be free
To live my life the way I want
To say and do whatever I please

Such music helped me survive as a kid and those words are particularly relevant today and I shall direct them at today’s Triggers if necessary.

If you’re wondering why I’m fairly  relaxed about it, then I should let you into my secret. Over the years I regularly use such Triggers in my stories and they make for excellent negative characters. I’ve written them into two of my current published series. For example, a science fantasy series where the High Priest of the Archeologists, who bury all forms of progress, has banned technology, and has an especial hatred for Web3. Needless to say, he comes to a bad end which I found most cathartic to write. I’m now thinking of a third way I can use them.  

It’s a great way to deal with the finger-waggers and turn their lead into gold.  

I hope others have found similarly constructive ways of dealing with Triggers.

CALDEY ISLAND SURVIVOR OF MONKS

The powerful account below is by Kevin, a survivor of abuse by Cistercian monks on Caldey Island and by Catholic priests. It is the most defining and important example of organised Catholic sexual abuse of children.

It is damning evidence that Catholic paedophile rings exist, hitherto denied or ignored.  These priests and monks are not one-off individuals, one rotten apple, but a whole rotten orchard. It shows how Catholic predators focus their criminal attention on vulnerable families.

Although it has been exposed in Kevin’s local media, nothing has been done. Catholics just ignore these crimes which are hardly unique and are replicated in other Catholic communities, certainly amongst the De La Salles in Ipswich and in my Ipswich Catholic diocese when I was growing up.

But this is surely amongst the worst.

Kevin’s contact details are at the end of his account.  Anything anyone can do to help – such as getting this account in the national media – do let Kevin know.  Or passing this story on in your own social media. It is really important and needs to be known nationally.

Special thanks to Sonia Poulton, who had Kevin on her Rise with BNT show and put me in touch with him.

The year 1968

At 6 years old we lived in a rural village called Tregroes.

Tregroes was about 20 miles from the market town of Carmarthen.

I lived there with my family, my mam and dad, also a younger brother and sister as well as an older brother and sister.

I loved Tregroes as it was the first home we stayed longest in. I loved playing in the woods and the stream with my youngest siblings. We would help the local farmers bringing in the harvest.

We, the youngest siblings, went to Tregroes primary school.

It was a Welsh speaking school and it felt bit alien to us.

My home life was us spending as much time as we could out playing as we feared my dad as he was a horrible man and would beat us for any reason, so avoiding him was our quest.

We knew he had spent time in prison, but we still don’t know why.

My mam kepted us clean and fed and we ran in for jam butties and out we go in any weather. Our mam never stopped dad from beating us, maybe she feared him.

My dad never worked as he would not take orders from anyone, so we lived a poor life and dad relied on handouts from social services.

I never knew until 2021 I was under the court of protection and social services.

Social services introduced my parents to the local Catholic priest whose parish was in a small town a few miles away from us.

The Priest started to give my parents food, second clothes, toys and cash.

We young ones started to go to his church every Saturday for Bible lessons and Sundays for Confession and Mass.

The Priest was very keen to get me to be an Altar boy, so he decided to send my parents, my youngest siblings and me for a free holiday on Caldey Island.

Caldey Island

I know that my parents left me with the Monks for a few months.

They became lifelong friends with Father  (Thad) Thaddeus and Father (C) Charles.

I don’t have much memory of staying on Caldey, only the private garden in the Abbey ground where I played, and my memories have been hidden in a dark part of my brain which is probably best.

I remember Father C taking me home from Caldey Island. When I got home, I made my way upstairs to my bedroom and saw that my brother’s bed was taken out into my sister’s bedroom.

 I also saw a bolt on the inside of my room at the top of the door.

I wouldn’t dare question it.

Before supper Father C said grace, and off we went to bed as that was the routine in our house.

The one thing I missed while on Caldey was my bed.

At some time during the night, I got woken up by someone getting into my bed, I soon realized it was Father C, he started to touch me in my groin area and then he started to rape me even though I did not know at the time what he was doing.

I screamed and cried for my dad and mam, but no one came to rescue me.

The following morning, I woke up alone in my bed, I got dressed and went downstairs, everyone was acting normal morning except my dad took me to another room, pulling down my pants and put some sort of cream on my private bits, he did not say a single word to me.

After breakfast Father C wanted us to do confession with him.

When it got to my turn he just spoke sexually and upset me.

Father C went back to his parish on the Sussex/Surry boarders.

My parents arranged for my 2 youngest siblings and myself to go back with Father C to spend some time with him there.

So, in time Father C came and picked us up and took us back to his parish.

Father C Parish

I was scared to go but had no choice.

When we arrived there, we were treated well and Father C did not abuse me which I was glad of.

He did bath the three of us. Father C ,over the holiday, took me to see other priests and Bishops in different parishes.

I knew then that he was showing them his prize, me.

Father C took us back home and again he raped me in my own bed.

The next day he went back to his Parish.

Now I was living in a world I did not understand.

A few weeks later Father C turned up and this time he had Father Thad with him.

That night Father C was in my bed again. God knows where Father Tadd slept that night, but I had my fears.

For the next 4-5 years Father C would abuse me at my home and now was taking me back to his Parish where priests and Bishops gang raped me. It was a terrifying time and the only escape I had was to go into fantasy world where  my mind mode would protect me from the horrors. It lasted for hours or days.

I remember the room I slept in and I used to look out the window at what I thought then were Christmas trees, I also watched the birds as they were an escape, too.

I also saw another boy there once as I went  to the toilet.

Around same age and blond hair wearing white Y fronts, we looked at each other and knew what we were there for.

Most mornings I woke up naked and there’d be underpants on the bed. Father C or someone else used to come in with breakfast and a tablet and it seemed like days turned into nights, I had no notion of time, as the skies darkened, my fear would start, and I just watched the door handle, knowing any minute someone would come get me.

When the evening got darker, I would be taken into a living room were there’d be up to a dozen priests and bishops waiting for me. I’d be given another tablet and some sweet drink ( Mead ) then a bishop or priest would go to the back of me and take my underwear off and then I would just go into safe mode.

At the age of 9

When I became an altar boy in my Parish, I was given a free holiday to Caldey Island, and I was going without any family members.

When I first saw Caldey Island from the boat from Tenby it looked like paradise, the long beach loads of children playing and having fun.

I felt very happy now and away from Father C etc and I settled in that night struggling to sleep from excitement.

The following day after early prayers we went down to the main beach, and we were put in groups and played games.

A Monk came over and said to me he was a friend of my parents, and I did recognize him as Father Thadd.

He gave me some chocolate that the Monks made on Caldey. It was a real and very rare treat. Father Thadd starting taking me away from my group of children. We spent lots of times over the week just sitting in the sand dunes, eating chocolate and Father Thadd stroking my hair and kissing top of my head. I felt a love from him that I was not getting at home. Even though he never said much, I grew fond of him.

The week went fast and soon I was on the beach waiting for the Tenby boat to arrive to take me home. Father Thadd hugged me, gave me loads of chocolate to take home.

I felt a sadness in my heart as Father Thadd disappeared from view.

Arriving back home  I told everyone about my holiday and Father Thadd and shared my chocolates which were gladly received, but I was now back  into the clutches of Father C.

I spent more time away from home than I was at home even the neighbours  remember that today and remembering Father C’s car been at our house.

Our Parish priest soon told me that I would be going back to Caldey Island the following year for two weeks this time and my youngest sister would be going with me.  I could not wait till that day arrived as it was not just escaping Father C and his evil friends but meeting Father Thadd who I loved so much.

At the age of 10

We arrived on Caldey Island and Father Thadd was waiting for me. He hugged me and said hello to my sister. I told him I like to see him the next day.

Father Tadd came down to see me on the beach next day, waving chocolates and taken up to the sand dunes.

Eating the chocolates sitting on Father Thadd’s knees he started to grope me between my legs and kissing me wildly on the lips, I was so scared and upset that he was no different than Father C.

Every day now he came and dragged me away, while our carers and the Nuns watched and did nothing to stop it.

Now I was taken to the old ruins where other monks were there waiting. Father Thadd gave me Mead and sat down on what I have always called an Altar stone where he groped and masturbated over me. The other monks also masturbated over me.

Now I hated Father Thadd and Caldey Island.

Every day he took me to the ruins, I used to stare at old bottles while I was being abused, nothing else I could do. Nowhere to run and hide, I felt like trapped and often thought I would try to swim back to Tenby, but I would have not survived the crossing.

Each day I cried coming back to the beach, but no one cared, my sister would run up to me and we’d hug, she had been raped by Father Tadd. I knew then what this so-called Holy Island was.

What I saw on the beach was industrial abuse of children dragged away into dark damp caves to be raped, the ruins and the woods by not only monks and priest but men coming onto the island as it was a safe haven for them to abuse and rape children as young as three years old. When we left Caldey I never wanted to go back there. I hated everything about it.

Back home

Our lives now will never be the same.

In my Parish church before Mass, I went to confession and told the priest that horrible things had happened to me on Caldey and I felt disgusted with my body. I did not mention my sister was raped and I glad I had not told him for the following reasons.

When I went into the vestry to change into my Altar boy gowns the priest took to one side and told me if I ever mention anything about Caldey Island and the Monks, three things will happen to me.

1/

God would turn his back on me.

2/

The devil would come and take me either from under the bed or through the mirror at night.

3/

A severed hand would come through the letter  box climb up the stairs onto my bed and strangle me.

The nightmares I had were terrifying and still today I will not have a letter box in my front door even though I know i be ok, it’s my mind mode.

At 11 years old

My parents and the Parish priest made me return to Caldey Island.

I cried and did not want to go back but again I had no choice, I was living in fear.

My youngest brother came with me.

Arriving on Caldey it was not long before Father Thadd came looking for me and wanted to take my brother with him. But I would go with Father Thadd instead as I did not want him to start on my brother.

My brother remembers this and what Father C was doing to me.

Again, Father Thadd would take me to the ruins, and it all started again abusing me with others watching on the Altar stone.

This time I started to think that they would kill me as how could they  hide this abuse from being discovered? And maybe this explained a mystery I had about an incident that happened that week on Caldey.

One dark evening my carer found me outside our accommodation with Father Thadd leaning over me. I had suffered a fractured skull and was taken to hospital. I still carry that scar.

I do remember waking up in hospital with my parents by my side.

I did not return to Caldey.

What happened is always been on my mind.

Firstly,

We were not allowed out at nights in the accommodation on Caldey. Father Thadd was also not allowed out at nights as their bedtime was 8pm.

Secondly,

I was told by my parents that I was running away and hit my head.

Who and why was I running away from when I should be asleep in my bed?

Thirdly,

I have written and searched for my history of this and there is no record of it anywhere. It has been well hidden. My parents never talked about it and would not let me discuss it.

I still think that Father Tadd was involved and that he caused me my injury.

Social Services and Court of Protection.

When I was three years old, we sibling were abandoned at home by my mother as my father was in prison. We survived two days before our neighbour heard our cries and came to rescue us. But I do remember eating Bonio dog biscuits from the cupboard and back then it was food.

Because of this we were put into a Council children’s home for a short period.

I know now that we were under the Court  of Protection, and Social Services till I was 12 years old.

We were put back with our mam and dad when he came out of prison.

I never knew this until 2021 when I got my records.

The Court of Protection and Social Services totally failed me

Allowing me and my sister a life no better than hell itself.

Home life 1969-1973

Since the first visit to Caldey Island and meeting Father C and then Father Thadd, I was no longer a happy, smiling, blond-haired boy.

I become a recluse in my world, a loner both at home and school.

Because of this I was bullied at school and had no friends, but I did have Tom the Action man.

I told Tom about my abuse and buried him so he keeps my secret, and my problems would go away. My problems never went away, but Tom kept my secret and I still know where he is buried today.

Father Thadd wrote to me a few times telling me about our special place, I kept one of them all my life close to me for  I knew one day I will tell the world about it.

After my last visit to Caldey I made a choice to get away from the abuse from Father C and his Friends, and Father Thad. I ran away to Swansea, and I knew my eldest brother had left home at 15 to get away from our dad.

I begged him if I could stay there, I never told him why and he probably thought it was because of dad.

I stayed a while but his partner at that time made me feel bit uneasy, so  I spent most time outside apart from school.

For some reason that I never found out was my parents decided to move to a part of Swansea called Port Tennant.

My father came to fetch me home.

Swansea

Back living with my parents and my younger siblings, it was not too bad until I heard that Father C was coming down to visit us.

I thought no way I was going to be his special boy anymore.

So, I decided when he would turn up, I would disappear and not come back until he gone. I knew my father would beat me bad but rather that than Father C abusing me.

It was a no-win situation, but the slipper was the only option.

My youngest sister was my spy bringing me bits of food and letting me know when Father C went home.

Every time Father C came down, I disappeared to the point my father gave up beating me as it started to make no difference to me.

My father developed cancer and within a year  he died from it.

I did not cry for him and when he was buried a small bit of peace came over me.

I did not know at this time that my mum was a secret drinker, hooked on communion wine.

She started to get violent, and the drinking increased, it got so bad spending money on wine that the food cupboards were becoming empty. The only meals we had were school dinners and I made best mates with the dinner lady as she always gave me extra on my plate.

She asked me one day why I was always hungry, and I told her my mam does not feed us as she is an alcoholic.

I did not know at that time the dinner lady went and told the headmaster who contacted Social Services and they went to see my mam and laid down the law.

When I got home after school, I opened the front door, and everything went dark.

I was found by my sister on Kilvey hill in Swansea near to death.

My mum paid a bad gang of lads to attack me and ram tablets down my throat and leave me to die on Kilvey hill.

I spent time in hospital recovering and the police came and told me they know who done it and my mam paid them by giving them her Benefit book.

The police wanted me to make a statement about it all so they could arrest my mum. I refused because in my heart I could not do that to her for many reasons including I don’t know what drove her to drink, but I suspected it was my dad and the priests.

I decided never to go back home.

I started to live on the street called Wine Steet in Swansea which was quite a rough area.

I became good friends with what I called ladies of the night.

I knew what they were doing there but it never bothered me.

There were drunks and druggies there, but I was under the protection of the ladies of the night. No man would dare come near me.

I still went to Cefn Hengoed school and there was my daily food intake.

During weekends and holidays, I would have some food from the ladies and a lot of the times I’d go up to the Smith crisps factory as they gave me out of date crisps etc to take back with me.

There was always kindness if  you looked for it. Free laundrette and

keeping myself clean.

My youngest sister came to be with me for a while and my youngest brother went to live with my eldest sister.

My sister stayed  with me a couple of weeks then she was picked up as a vulnerable person and taken to a children’s home.

Young boys were not seen as vulnerable persons in those days.

When I was old enough, I decided to go back to the countryside as the other option was going to be a life of pinching and robbing food and possible prison.

I regret never saying goodbye to the ladies of the night, but I know in  my heart that if I did, I would not leave.

I will be grateful to them forever and I will never forget them.

Back to countryside.

When I arrived back to be near Tregroes  living in a small caravan but was very happy as it was my home, my sanctuary.

I got a job straight away as a labour in the building trade.

I felt sad sometimes as I afraid of getting too close to girls so would back shy away.

1983

On November 4th, 1983, I met Carol who I fell in love with and got married in 1991.

Carol always knew that I had a bad upbringing as I’d just say my dad was nasty.

Carol also knew that I had tried to kill myself due to many bad dreams and the pressure of life at that time.

We have been together for almost 40 years and Carol has always been there through my hard times.

My coming out about my abuse.

I had been waiting for decades for someone to come forward about the abuse on Caldey Island.

When they did, they got ignored by the police, so I had enough of living these lies to hide the truth of this horrible abuse of children on Caldey Island.

I sat Carol down and told her and she said she knew my problems were not just my dad.

I then went to my GP and got the help I needed so badly for so many decades. Just before Christmas 2018 I told my family.

They knew there were things not right at home during my childhood.

Dyfed Powys Police.

I then approached my local MP to make contact with the police who stated that they were not going to open a investigation on my historic abuse on Caldey Island.

So, I decided to investigate the abuse of just not me, but what I had witnessed on Caldey Island.

I went back to the police with my MP with 80 pages of evidence and

made them do an investigation into my abuse etc.

2019

I made a film which I went back to Caldey for the first time in nearly 50 years, I ran into the ruins of the Abbey and there it was, the Altar stone still there after 50 years. I was shocked and horrified.

I told the BBC filming crew that I entered the ruins this day as a young boy but left as a man.

In 2019 I made a 6-hour police video evidence of my abuse by Monks on Caldey Island and Father C and his friends gang raping me for years.

But during this time the police were planning to try to discredit me by getting a proven corrupt police officer and his family to make false allegations.

They treated Carol and me horribly/ disgustedly, harassment and intimidation.

But thank God 3 top British lawyers came on board to help us and it was to be free as they knew what I was doing about Caldey etc was  right and the police soon left me alone.

Even though I told them that Father Thad  hade raped my sister, they ignored it.

I know now the police have totally ignored victims and witnesses.

I explained that a man I known all my life, in same Parish as me, went to Caldey Island as a child on retreat same period as me.

He was woken one night by Father Thadd trying to pull him out of bed, but he made so much noise that Father Thadd took the boy in the next bed because he was timid.

After this man saw my programme, he went and gave a statement to

the police and has never heard back from them and as far as he knows the police have never searched for that other boy/victim.

So, it also proves that Father Thadd was actively abusing children at night.

I have now over 30 victims due mostly to our campaign, all of them

Have been rejected by the police.

How many victims have died from drugs etc and suicide because of the lack of safeguarding when they needed to be protected.

The police have a safeguarding monk on Caldey who is a retired police officer . Well, that’s not independent safeguarding. The police are failing in their duty to safeguard children staying and visiting Caldey Island. I asked the new Chief Constable to come on board with us. Also I asked him what does he see when he closes his eyes at night, because what I see is the children’s eyes as they been dragged away to be raped/abused. He never replied to me.

Welsh Assembly

After collecting over five thousand signatures for a Public Inquiry into historic abuse on Caldey Island after 3 times it was put to their committee, even though a public inquiry was done on the Catholic Church they would not include Caldey Island.

I have since discovered that 2 MPs lived at some point on Caldey and also a serving police officer also lived on Caldey in late fifties.

There is no way that he not heard about the abuse, coppers nose ?

Campaign

We started this campaign back in 2019  mostly due to the failures of the authorities to act on Caldey.

Since the beginning many more survivors have come on board and their stories of horrific abuse and the failing of the police.

The campaign, even though delayed by Covid, is gathering speed, millions of people are aware of the failures and everyone I chat to will never go back or go to Caldey.

2022

Saturday the 10 of September 2022 I decided to go back to Caldey on my own to film in secret the new evidence that has come to light.

I was in disguise and thankfully no one recognized me, the Island was bare of tourists which proves what I was told in the summer that our campaign is having an effect on tourists visiting Caldey.

I will never give up; we are the voices of the victims including my sister.

Kevin O’Connell

Caldey Island Survivors Campaign.

Website Caldeyislandsurvivors.org

Email
caldeyislandsurvivors@protonmail.com
 

The more they try to hide from us, the harder we shall seek.

The more they try to bury the truth, the deeper we will dig.

The more they try to blind us, the truth we will see.

The more they try to bully us, the stronger we will become.

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.

HELP NEEDED FOR BEULAH HILL WEBSITE

As many of you will know, there’s an amazing Crystal Palace Football supporters website.

It includes a 50 page long thread about St Joseph’s Beulah Hill. Mainly negative, it has some harrowing details about Brother Solomon and Brother James Ryan.

Brother James Ryan was there 1969 – 1977.

There was also another, very different Brother James there in an overlapping period.

So I wanted to look again at four or more damning comments on the thread about Brother James – which I’m pretty certain refer to Ryan – and possibly get in touch with the Old Boys who wrote them.

Trouble is – I can’t get into the Crystal site. To join, they want to know the nickname of Crystal Palace FC.

I’ve tried The Eagles and also The Glaziers.

No luck.

It’s possible it’s just a glitch. It’s also possible it’s a trick question and genuine Crystal Palace supporters will know this!

I’ll try again tomorrow, but if anyone’s encountered this before and knows the solution, do say.

Or if anyone has a school group photo of Ryan at Ipswich or Beulah Hill it might clear up his identification once and for all.

Thanks!

These are two possible links to the site

St Joseph’s college – Page 21 – CPFC BBS

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.

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.

BROTHER JAMES – MOVING FORWARD

I’ve written many times about Brother James Ryan of my old school St Joseph’s College, Ipswich from 1960 to the late 1960s, after which he went to Beulah Hill. He was a serial sex offender and a notorious violent abuser – his excessive and terrifying use of corporal punishment was infamous. Both in Ipswich and in Beulah Hill.

He sexually abused me and two other St J’s Ipswich pupils. And possibly a further pupil. All our testimonies are on this site.

This and much more are still with Operation Hydrant and it’s still – theoretically – with this ‘independent investigation’ commissioned by the De La Salles which I haven’t heard from after seven months. I waited all this time to be sure; my questions were not answered, so it’s clearly not going to happen.

Of course we all know the DLS files will be bulging with allegations against James, but the DLS are never going to admit that or give us access.

So that’s enough. Their time is up.

This matter is now being taken further.

As you will appreciate, it wouldn’t be sensible for me to go into all the details here, but you’ll doubtless be able to join the dots yourselves. If you’d like to know more, you can email me and I’ll tell you what I can.

I chose James because he abused me personally and because there are the statements of others confirming his crimes.  And because of his clearly sociopathic nature. He genuinely needed psychiatric help.

As we all know, there are many other DLS abusers, but in a crowded field of contenders, James was arguably the worst.

With such an individual, and such a crime,  the more witnesses, directly or indirectly, the better. 

There are several layers to this, but, please – ALL of you are important and what you may have to say could be relevant and make all the difference.  Needless to say your anonymity is guaranteed.

I’m looking for:

1)Anyone else who was sexually abused by Brother James – in whatever manner, ‘minor’ or ‘serious’ – please get in touch with me in confidence. There are options for you to consider that I can describe to you. I stress your anonymity is ensured.

2)If you know of any sexual assaults by Brother James on other pupils at Ipswich, Beulah Hill, or elsewhere – do please get in touch.  Even ‘hearsay’ could be relevant because it could be followed up.

3)I’ve guestimated there are TEN cases of extreme violence by James on this site. You may have already related them on this site. Often they make horrifying reading.

Once again, do please get in touch with me direct. E.G. Confirming a past testimony you made or relating a new one. They are regarded as secondary to sexual violence, but they may still be significant , relevant and important.

And they help build a composite picture of this man.

4)If you were sexually abused by a lay teacher or a DLS brother who was contemporary with James, do also get in touch.

I’m thinking, particularly, of Brother Kevin and Brother Solomon.  But there may be others.

 In this context, it would be Brother Kevin in early years 1960 – 1965 approx.  (Rather than his later era at Oak Hill). Ditto Solomon 1959 – 1962 approx (Rather than his subsequent era at Beulah Hill and return as Mercado)

It builds a picture of just what was going on at St J’s when Brother James was abusing children sexually and physically. There may be some relevant detail that could be useful– E.G. location.

For instance, I remember him making threats like ‘I will give you six on the bare’. And ‘I will give you six in your pyjamas’.

Both these threats I remember were said with a questionable relish.  Anyone else recall this?  It suggests the cross-over from legitimate corporal punishment into something very different.

It may also be important if things develop  from James to a much wider scenario.

James may just be the starting point.

It would be premature for me to say more on this post, but I can enlarge privately.

5)Any general information you recall about James may be useful, even if you didn’t witness or were the victim of his abuse. Just to build up a character portrayal of this man.

Thus I recall him as my form teacher 1B in 1960. Brilliant Maths teacher for someone as hopeless as I was! An okay ‘deeply religious’ Scripture teacher. He took over as Prefect of Discipline from Solomon, approx 1961 and probably held the post until 1966. He was a loner who IIRC looked helpless and lost when a St J’s boy in 1962 had a serious bike accident on Stonelodge Lane.  He was a fanatical advocate for vocations. He was never shy or timid to my knowledge as claimed in his obituary, now removed. He was also provably sectarian and anti protestant. He was Irish and IIRC was an ex DLS pupil himself.

Anything anyone would like to add could be put on this post or sent to me. For example – did he sleep in one of those cubicles at the end of a dormitory? Which ones?  Did he ever supervise games, showers etc?  I don’t remember him doing so, but I was a day boy. Did he go on any of those school holidays abroad?

6)I’m going to write to some important figures to gain more information and possible support, regarding James.

We’re moving forward at last. It’s finally happening.

 It’s time the truth about this dark period of St J’s history was revealed. With your help it could be.  No more cover-ups and dismissing it as ‘all in the past, those were different times, it never did me any harm, and I don’t remember a thing, and why can’t these troublemaking Old Boys just get over it, move on and get a life?’

So many boys were harmed by this man as part of a continuum of serious physical and sexual abuse by the De La Salle brothers.

I really do believe the truth sets us all free.

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