ST JOSEPH’S COLLEGE memories 1970s – 1980s

I just received this comprehensive memoir about school life at St Jo’s. It was typewritten, with no origins address, unsigned and was posted to my old address where I haven’t lived for many years. The current owner photographed the pages and emailed them to me, so the only way I can show them is as photographs, I’m afraid.

PAGE ONE OF LETTER FROM ST J’S OLD BOY
PAGE TWO OF LETTER FROM ST J’S OLD BOY
PAGE THREE OF LETTER FROM ST J’S OLD BOY

There’s nothing controversial or confidential in the contents and so I feel it is safe and appropriate to share.

My thanks to ‘Anonymous’ for his observations. Do send me an e-mail another time and I assure you your name and address will remain confidential.

I found Anon’s recollections of Kearney interesting. I didn’t know about his early retirement to Greece and his subsequent death in his 50s. I believe Anon is the second Old Boy to say Kearney wasn’t a good chemistry teacher; he also says Kearney wasn’t actually interested in the subject. This makes it all the more remarkable that he has a current chemistry memorial prize named after him by today’s St Joseph’s College.

I recall Kearney getting us to drink heavily diluted acid, which was, of course, perfectly safe. I’d forgotten that he also got pupils to dip their hands in similarly diluted acid. Anon says he put ‘the fear into you without actually doing anything.’

At the time, I regarded such behaviour as clearly ‘sadistic’. Today his actions would also be recognised as abusive.

It’s the limits of his sadism that interest me. Was his classroom sadism, as confirmed by various Old Boys as well as myself, the full extent of his disorder? Was he a normal person outside the classroom?  Not in my experience. I believe sadists can’t actually ‘switch off’ from their disorder, although they can control it in most – but not all – circumstances.  But I wait for other accounts before elaborating. This makes a unique Kearney defender very angry and impatient with me. She remembers Kearney as a kind and good teacher and he seems to have made a strong and positive impression on her. She regards complaints about him as ‘hearsay’ and unfair as he’s no longer here to defend himself.  In response, I’ve told her the same was said about Jimmy Savile directly after his death. I’ve also told her repeatedly, it’s for me as a survivor to evaluate and decide my best strategy on my PTSD recollections of Kearney, not for her to dictate it or tell me to ‘forget it and get on with my life’.

Anon also doesn’t believe Kearney engaged in systematic physical abuse. He certainly did in the 1960s, using a Bunsen burner tube to whack kids with. It was not so much the actually whacking, but his sadistic glee that I remember thinking at the time was entirely inappropriate.  I shall never forget that leering grin on his face as he would excitedly yank the rubber tube off a burner – although he never whacked me with it. And also his smiling with delight at a boy’s fear as he applied a blackboard duster to his knuckles. And there is, in the 1970s or 80s, the testimonial of the Old Boy who was punched in the face by Kearney, resulting in him having to apologise to his parents and –  hopefully – the boy himself. I can’t believe this was a ‘one off’ and – in any event – that is a serious criminal assault for which he should have been prosecuted, even in those times.

Anon believes the aberrant behaviour he describes at St Jo’s was typical of private schools in the late 20th century  and St Jo’s shouldn’t be singled out.  It’s true that there were others – other De La Salle schools, Benedictine schools, and Sherborne prep school.  And doubtless many more.  The fact that it was ‘normal’ doesn’t make it acceptable and I believe abusive teachers should be fully exposed. Thus there’s a testimony on this site – concerning an incident in the 1980s, I think – where another lay teacher from St Jo’s had a cat o’nine whip he used on a boy. That’s a specialist sadistic device.

Please do share your recollections of St Jo’s on my site. They can be positive or negative – it all helps to produce a rounded picture of the times and the school before its ‘new management’.

For instance, no one ever mentions Mr George, my history teacher from my 60s era.(Not to be confused with the later rugby teacher) I’m curious to know if he moved onto another school.

I’m planning to write a chapter about the De La Salles for the forthcoming  ‘The Unturned Stones of IICSA’ book which looks at the shortfalls of the inquiry. The book is introduced by Richard Scorer who wrote ‘Betrayed’ about RC CSA in the UK.  So any relevant thoughts, positive or negative, would be invaluable, especially if I can quote them, anonymously if necessary.

ST JOSEPH’S COLLEGE IPSWICH SUMMARY. MAY 26 2021

There are now so many testimonials, threads and comments on this site about De La Salle Brothers in Ipswich, Beulah Hill and elsewhere it could be confusing for newcomers and for INVESTIGATORS to make sense of it. So I’ve done a quick SUMMARY which I can add to and improve as time goes on.  The testimonials can all be found on this site.

I believe this Summary makes a strong case for the De La Salle (DLS) Order to be investigated, not only for the historic harm it’s done, but also because it is still in charge of many schools today. The transgenerational nature of some of these crimes means they are relevant today and children could still be at risk. Plus there’s the endless shocking cases against DLS schools elsewhere in Britain and Ireland.  

Old Boys feel free to add anyone I’ve missed or add to this List.

MR TONY HARDY. Lay teacher St J’s Ipswich. Era 1986 – 1990. Sexual and physical violence.  One testimony. To quote from it: ‘Took a cat-o-nine tails out of his drawer. He lashed me about 10 – 12 times with it till I was bleeding.’ This crime was covered up by St J’s, Ipswich with no reporting to the police.

JO HOMAN. De La Salle Brother, Ipswich, who then left DLS to establish BOYS’ TOWN in India. Maintaining links with DLS.  While still a DLS Brother at Oak Hill (St J’s prep school) he committed a shocking sexual assault on a child. Full testimony. There are other testimonies of his physical violence.  Possible connection with Brother Solomon who, from my researches, probably visited Boys Town as a sex tourist. Homan successfully sued media who made extensive allegations about his abuse and exploitation of children at Boys Town. Reported in Times, Mail and elsewhere. These media accounts have now been removed from the web. Glowing obituary by St J’s Old Boy MP and author Chris Mullin in Guardian does not refer to Homan’s crimes at St J’s or to his alleged crimes at Boys Town.

Boys Town charity is now under new management, new systems, new safety protocols, and a likely new name.

BROTHER JAMES RYAN. 1950s to 1980s approx. Endless testimonies of pathological violence. Strongly indicating this man was a dangerous psychopath. Four testimonies of sexual abuse. Teacher at St J’s Ipswich and later at Beulah Hill. Connected to St J’s DLS paedophile ring -see Knights of St Columba, survivor’s testimony. And author’s testimony.

MR KEARNEY. Lay teacher. Irish, spent time in South Africa. At St J’s Ipswich, 1950s – 1980s. Several testimonies of sadistic physical abuse. One describes how he punched a boy in face and was forced to apologise. Also described as a racist, burning a black or mixed race pupil, a claim disputed by a (white) Old Boy.  Work still in progress by the author. Further allegations against Kearney likely to follow.

This man is commemorated with a ‘Mike Kearney Memorial Chemistry Prize’ by the current St Joseph’s College, Ipswich, proving they have not cut links with their school’s criminal past.

BROTHER KEVIN 1960s onwards. Several testimonies of physical abuse. More testimonies of sexual abuse. At Oakhill (St J’s prep school). St J’s Ipswich. St Peter’s Bournemouth.  At least one Old Boy took police action against him. Kevin initially admitted, then denied charges.  Other Old Boys were considering police action when we heard that he had been driven out of his village by local youths for abusing children. He went into an Ipswich home, suffering from dementia, and may now be dead. The Oakhill MATRON wrote to this site to strongly defend him. She herself has been accused of questionable behaviour by an Old Boy.

KNIGHTS OF ST COLUMBA. IPSWICH PROVINCE. The Knights appear to have funded the establishment of St J’s Ipswich in the 1940s and maintained a close connection with the school ever since. The main allegation against them is in ‘The Shocking Truth about St Joseph’s.’ There is more information on this case available from the author. In summary, they covered up a violent physical and sexual assault by Brother James and provided London private hospital care. They paid for the boys’ school fees as compensation and for his silence.  (They paid for my school fees and my brother’s for reasons I am still investigating.) The testimony indicates their ‘troubleshooting’ is not limited to Ipswich and dealing with such crimes has happened on more than one previous occasion. Possibly nationwide. The author has been informed that another province – today – has oversight on the lives of parishioners without proper safety protocols. I also have evidence that any negative report about them – e.g. a Colchester Knight sexual abuser given a long prison sentence – is either not reported or has been removed from the web.  The Knights were provably connected with Jimmy Savile and that has not been investigated.

There is no evidence when the Knights stopped their connection with St J’s Ipswich. Theoretically they may still be involved today – e.g. governors, ‘troubleshooters’ etc.

BROTHER LAURENCE HUGHES. Teacher at St J’s Ipswich in 1980s.  He is currently HEAD of the DLS Order in UK and Ireland. Three testimonies of physical abuse against children.

One testimony where Hughes attacks a boy with a cricket bowler’s ‘run up’ is identical to Brother James’s attack on a boy witnessed and testified by the author.

Such extreme violence is often associated with other forms of abuse. Therefore this man should not be head of the DLS and should be removed as a matter of urgency.

In view of its importance, I’ll quote one of the survivor’s account here. He is referring to BROTHER LAURENCE HUGHES

James Hammett

Does anybody remember the night of my beating by the C**t?

1980 2nd year boarder.

There were double doors into the TV room, he set up a chair on one side of the doorway, told me to bend over it & walked off holding a plimsole, he got to the back of his office and began his run. As he passed me he hit me with all his might and put his hands in front of him to cushion himself against the wall of the TV room – rather like those indoor 60m runners after they’ve crossed the line.

He did this to me 6 times. My colleagues, in bed, way down the corridor heard it all.

I could not sleep on my back for a week.

Now I feel sick and am shaking. I’m a 50 year old man… I was 13 when he did this – he was 32.

BROTHER LEO. Headmaster St J’s Ipswich. 1960s. Three testimonies sexual abuse. Known as a ‘nocturnal groper’.

PAEDOPHILE RING @ ST JOSEPH’S, IPSWICH.  The evidence for this is primarily the Survivor’s post: ‘The Shocking Truth about St Joseph’s’. On this blog. 1960s era. There are private follow ups to this post available to investigators from the author. This is clear evidence of ORGANISED CRIME and CRIMINAL CONSPIRACY.  A physical and sexual assault by BROTHER JAMES. Sexual abuse by the HEADMASTER. Cover up by THE KNIGHTS OF ST COLUMBA and FATHER JOLLY, School Chaplain. There are two seperate testimonies of sexual abuse by Father Jolly. 

Extensive academic research  proves such school paedophile rings are TRANS-GENERATIONAL and therefore this cannot be ignored as ‘historic’. The era when it stopped at St J’s  must be identified for safety reasons.  See my post the Dark Network and https://eprints.qut.edu.au/132822/2/Sally_Muytjens_Thesis.pdf

ST JOSEPH’S COLLEGE IPSWICH TODAY. The school has made it clear that it has no connection with the criminal DLS era. Yet it continues to ‘have its cake and eat it’ with prizes and  proud references to its past and proclaiming on an external sign it is ‘IN THE LA SALLIAN TRADITION.’  Harvey Weinstein made some successful films and the DLS were successful teachers , so to survivors, like myself, that is like proudly saying ‘IN THE HARVEY WEINSTEIN TRADITION’.

That sign should be removed and all connections with the school’s criminal past confirmed as severed. Today’s school doubtless has records from the criminal era which ended late 1980s, possibly early 1990s, that should be available to investigators.

BROTHER SOLOMON aka MIKE MERCADO aka SWINGING MONK.   1950s – 1980s. Endless testimonies of extreme physical and sexual abuse at Ipswich and St J’s Beulah Hill.  Started off as Brother Solomon in Ipswich.  After abuse charges transferred to Beulah Hill.  Had to leave after more abuse charges. Had short pop career in 1960s. May have been a ‘sex tourist’ to Joe Homan’s Boys Town in India. Returned to St J’s Ipswich as Mike Mercado lay teacher. More abuse followed. Left under questionable circumstances 1980s.His resignation letter threatens to ‘spill the beans’ and tell all about the DLS. He appears to have been paid off by St J’s College, Ipswich.

BROTHER KEVIN REVISITED

If you’re not familiar with the Brother Kevin case, he was outed on this site by numerous Old Boys in the last five years or more as an Abuser. It then transpired that he had been driven out of his village by local youths because he was seen there as an Abuser.

He is now suffering from dementia and is ending or has ended his days in a home in Ipswich.

All this has some relevance to my interest in Kearney, my old chemistry teacher.

First, let me show you some relevant comments about Kevin that I think are extremely important, otherwise I wouldn’t be publishing and republishing them.

ONE. I received this comment this morning from an Old Boy. Many thanks! I don’t think it requires any further comment from me.

There was a creepy old woman by the name of Ashton, with an even creepier character. Why she was employed as a school matron, I have no idea. It was always such an arduous chore if any of the kids got ill. She would often join Kevin in the boys shower block and strangely watch us all having a shower. Did she know what Kevin was up to after lights out, I couldn’t honestly say, but she certainly wasn’t playing with a full deck I was abused at the hands of Kevin and believe it is not possible to leave it in the past and forget. I went on to have a very long and successful career in the Royal Marines, and seen many horrors in the world. Discussing my abuse helps me as a survivor, deal with it and ‘move on’. It is certainly something one can never forget

TWO. This comment came from a lady back in 2017, presumably before Brother Kevin was forced to leave his village.

I’ve checked her email address and Angela is indeed Angela Ashton.

 Angela commented on IN THE LA SALLIAN TRADITION 3 I wanted to write a new post in response to further comments on my About page from St Joseph’s old boys Nick and NW1 – … Another pupil of Br. Kevin contacted me about your comments. We were both appalled to read them. I was in charge of the boarding in the 80’s at Oakhill with Kevin and am in touch with people of that time. My son had been a boarder before my time. The boarders were a very happy bunch on the whole and Kevin very popular and we can honestly say completely trusted . I saw him constantly with the boys and everyone was completely relaxed round him. We are absolutely convinced nothing of the above mentioned went on. As my son and his friends and other pupils say, Kevin was the very last brother they would suspect. At the end of the holidays the boys from unhappy homes would run up to him as they were so thrilled to be back to what they felt was safety and it was. The years I had there with the boarding were very happy. I stayed some nights if anyone was unhappy and if I wasn’t there Kevin was there for them and if I’d suspected anything with having 3 boys myself I’d have gone straight to the top. My son tells me he was homesick the first night of the term and would go to Kevin’s room but then gave that up as the other boarding master had better comics! Kevin didn’t know me then. He came out of the Order and settled locally and is a very popular figure in the community. My twin grandchildren would call on him after school, other children in the street would run up to him. Nobody had any worries.when he left Oakhill, before me, he had the largest number of presents and letters I’ve seen. When the police questioned him many of his old boys wrote to the police to support him as they were horrified and some are still in touch with him and visit him, some from way back.The solicitor you refer to was not organised by Kevin but by friends. I don’t know who. The school dentist visited the school professionally and socially and knew Kevin as well or better than me and he still talks about the happy place. I know these phaedophiles can hide their ways and are clever but none of us believe Kevin is one and I can’t obviously comment on the past but it is all so far from the Kevin we all know. Surely if you are a paedophile you just don’t stop? 
  
  

THREE. At the time, I wrote back to Angela in some detail and pointed out:

It’s often hard for survivors to come forward and share what happened because they feel they won’t be believed. Sometimes we doubt our own memories because they don’t square with the public persona that abusers have. And all too often they are supported by respectable members of the community or by other boys who weren’t assaulted.

But we only have to look elsewhere in the media to see how that can be quite fake.

I don’t pretend to be an expert, but as a survivor of another DLS abuser, Brother James, and clerical abusers, I can certainly say abusers are very good at covering their tracks or ensuring their victims remain silent. And  the reaction of others is invariably disbelief until enough people come forward and confirm it happened to them, too.

I’d have thought three survivors accounts, independent of each other, was sufficient to make the case and for this matter to be taken seriously

                           ……………………

Angela didn’t reply to me.

Regarding Angela’s agenda, in the light of the first comment, once again I don’t think it requires any further comment from me.

We can all draw our own conclusions.

But I think both needed highlighting and are extremely relevant to us Survivors today.

They show just what we are all up against.

I personally need to understand how easily Abuse can be covered up and I think it is shown very clearly here.

The whole matter of Brother Kevin is now proved and closed because of his dementia. It’s a great pity because I know NW1, several Old Boys like the first commentator above, and another survivor in LA rightly wanted justice for Kevin’s crimes against them.

They should have had their day in court and I’m sorry they didn’t.

(Needless to say, everyone’s email above remains private and confidential and I won’t pass on to anyone.)

                                    …………………..

The personal relevance for me is that a similar process may now be taking place where Kearney is concerned.

A while back, one lady wrote to me and asked where my research and evidence was going regarding Kearney.

Now another lady, an Old Girl of St J’s, has asked me the same thing and  seems to want to know more, too.

Both women said how Kearney was ‘strict but fair’ and a good guy, which is not my experience of him.

Or indeed the experience of many Old Boys, one of whom said he was ‘terrified’ of him.

Clearly Angela above had her own personal agenda in defending Brother Kevin.

This has made me wonder whether the two women wanting to know about my research into Kearney have their own personal agenda – e.g. are they connected with Kearney or his family in some way.

As I’ve explained to them both, I’m happy to be as transparent as I possibly can.

Revealing the Truth is the full extent of my own personal agenda.

Until then, I can’t, as the Old Girl suggested: ‘Get on with my life’.

The Truth has to come out first, I’m afraid.

But if they have any questions I’ll happily enter into a dialogue with them and tell them something of my truly grim experiences of Kearney privately.

Do ask away, ladies. I promise you I will treat your questions with respect. And, if you knew Kearney well, perhaps you can answer some of my questions.

There may well be details I’ve got wrong that you could correct.

I’m genuinely sorry if it’s unpleasant and upsetting for you, but I’m sure we all, ultimately, want the same thing: the Truth.

Not a cover-up.

And do please consider – why would I waste my time laboriously writing about Kearney for these past few months and more unless it was true?  

What other possible motive could I have after all these decades?

So here’s where I’m currently at:

I have a very comprehensive account of my experiences at the hands of Kearney.  And I think I’ve got the whole thing down on paper now, although there may be one or two details I’ve missed or I may have the exact order of events wrong.

Some of it is quite shocking.

That’s why I’m waiting for someone else to reveal other aspects of Kearney, apart from his extreme violence (punching a 13 year old in the face), and his racism, both of which are now a matter of record.

I’m trying hard not to be too mysterious here. So here’s the kind of thing I’m looking for – his possible use of chemicals outside the lab, for instance.

Because I don’t think it’s right to put up such a shocking account without some independent corroboration of at least some elements of my story.

My word is not enough, I feel. Look at the Cardinal Pell case and how he got off on appeal because it was just one person’s word for what Pell had done.

It’s why I waited years in the case of Brother James and the Knights of Columba and what they did to me until others had ‘spilled the beans’ first.  Then- and only then – did I tell my story.

For those Survivors’ courage in coming forward, I thank them from the bottom of my heart.

Based on these previous testimonies, it could take a few months, even a year, before an Old Boy comes forward with his recollections of Kearney. Meanwhile, there are other avenues I’m also pursuing regarding my old chemistry teacher.

It all takes time, so do be patient, ladies.

KEARNEY: RECLAIMING OUR IDENTITIES

A post from Nosssh

I recall Kearney regularly exploding with rage in classrooms next door and desperately hoping I didn’t have to contend with him (as well) in my next year group (1970-75). I spent each day trying my hardest to stay invisible or better still, absent because of the inappropriate actions of one teacher. Thus a promising ‘A stream’ pupil (demoting himself to ‘B stream’ to avoid Mr _) left as soon as possible to face the world armed with the single o-level he still cared about and a lot of anger. I would urge anyone on the list of 70+ names I’ve just jotted down (in best “Moggs” voice) to please consider reporting anything they might regard as suspect. Seemingly many/most of my peers sailed through St. Joes with no issues but believe me, some of us are only now able to start processing what happened there to try and reclaim our identities. Others have died before even starting that process.

That’s a powerful statement which needs commenting on.  Especially on behalf of my earlier 60s St J’s  generation who are that much closer to our mortality.

After all: Why let these evil individuals get away with it? 

That’s what today’s  St Joseph’s College, the Catholic Church and the De La Salle Brothers clearly want by their silence in the face of so much evidence.

 Fortunately, Kearney lasted through to the 80s. So if my generation or the 70s generation doesn’t nail him and expose the full nature of his crimes, the younger 80s generation may.  This isn’t going to go away. I find that thought rather comforting.

Because these characters are – by definition –  serial offenders.  They’re predators and they would have abused again and again and again.

It’s usually those of us from vulnerable backgrounds (my mother was a widow) who these characters pick on, which made me a prime target.  It explains why other Old Boys from St Js – probably from more stable homes – will say endlessly, ‘Well he never did me any harm.’  Lucky you.

It prompted me to repeat here a direct message which I’ve kept anonymous.

Hi pat, I came across your WordPress article.. About Ipswich in 70s, I was there, I remember many of the people and places you talk about but buried it deep… Always knew I’d have to face it one day…. Keep it up

Reclaiming our identities is what makes the process of ‘facing it’ worthwhile.

Here are some pointers to where I’m personally going where Kearney is concerned.

1)KEARNEY THE BEAR

Firstly, a recent description of him from an Old Boy from the Mid 80s

Summer 1985 in your photo. Mr Kearney too, but his description would not have been as Pat says. At that time, he was big but overweight, and with a short beard. We used to call him “the bear”. The skin on his hands was so thick he could use his thumb to cover the test tube where he was heating concentrated sulphuric acid without a second thought…

According to Wikipedia

In male gay culture, a bear is often a larger or obese hairier man who projects an image of rugged masculinity

A gay website confirms the term was in use in the UK by the 1980s.

Or maybe Kearney was called ‘the Bear’ just because he was a big guy. 

Not in my experience.

It ties in with my recollections of him. I remember him as an abuser. I’ve been slow to talk about it on this site because I was looking for other indications on the subject before really opening up.  Maybe I should be the first one to take the plunge, just as two other Old Boys courageously outed Brother James as a sexual predator before I said anything about my own horrendous experience.

‘The Bear’ is one indication – of course it’s not proof and there could be an innocent explanation for his nickname even in the streetwise 1980s.

But sadists usually have a sexually abusive dimension to their character and Kearney was most certainly a sadist.

He also had a personal connection to my family which appalled me so much, I cut out all memories of him.

That was my survival system.

If that sounds extreme, ask yourself – would you want a sick individual like Kearney to be a ‘close friend’ of your family?

Exactly. 

I think that might help explain why I still bang on about this wretched guy after all these years. Yes, it is personal.

2) KEARNEY AS A SADIST

That’s my abiding memory of him. I don’t recall his temper exploding as above, but I do recall his sadism as he lashed kids with the Bunsen burner pipe.  This was born out recently by an Old Boy who described his sadistic racism.

3) KEARNEY BREAKING BAD

This is the toughest one because it’s new territory even for the vile teachers we’ve all described on this site.

Long before the fictional Walter White, chemistry teachers have been prosecuted for the illegal manufacture of drugs and illegal use of chemicals. Available materials were used for all the obvious reasons – including as predecessors to rohypnol. So it’s not that remarkable. Some of the processes  and uses are quite straight-forward, unlike the complexity of Breaking Bad.

I would so prefer this to be some twisted fantasy born out of my job as a science fiction and fantasy writer.  A product of an over-active imagination. If only!

I’m afraid it is not.

It’s a lingering memory that needs acknowledging. Unlike other Old Boys, I only have snapshot memories of the past. My ‘polaroids’ are clear enough, but they don’t provide a continuous ‘video’ narrative. There are gaps. Hence my hesitation.

And please consider this: The man’s memory has already been tainted beyond repair by recent testimonies of various Old Boys as well as myself. His name doesn’t need further blackening. He’s already a monster. So why would I need to do and say anymore?

Because it happens to be the truth.

And in stating and exploring that truth, it’s far more than a catharsis, it helps me reclaim my identity. Who I was.  What really happened to me. Who I am today. So it’s  empowering for me personally.

It’s well worth it.

There’s a second reason that’s particularly relevant in the area of ‘Breaking Bad’. Anything involving drugs has huge implications that always involve others. I’m sure I don’t need to spell them out. We’re all worldly wise. Breaking Bad and other films show it clearly.

The drug scene in Britain in the early 1960s – my era – is rarely covered in film AFAIK. It’s a bridge too far for most. Quadrophenia is one example – but it only shows working class kids as users.

I can’t recall the ‘respectable’ middle classes ever being shown taking recreational drugs, which seems most unlikely, ahead of the late 60s when cannabis, LSD and heroin were all featured in movies.

But the 60s started long before the Beatles.  The Christine Keeler series and the Keeler film gives some indication of what really went on in my era and earlier. This was the era when I had the misfortune to make Kearney’s acquaintance both in school and out of school. And there are strong hints in the film Darling. But most of it seems to be off limits. It’s like there’s an unwritten rule ‘Don’t go there’.

There’s also the transgenerational nature of abuse rings which the Oz academic study I’ve written about proves, beyond any reasonable doubt, is hardwired into their systems.

One thing I will swear to is this: Kearney was a member of one – or possibly two – of those transgenerational rings. (I say two because one of the rings seems to have been non-Catholic.)

When it stopped, I have no means of knowing. Presumably with the dawn of more vigilant times in the 1990s?  When the Church and its various aligned organizations, like St J’s, came under critical scrutiny and it (supposedly) weeded out its prime abusers.

It would be nice to think so.

That’s certainly what they want us to believe

The Mike Kearney Memorial Prize

An Old Boy commented recently on Kearney:

I went to st joes from 1984 to 1991. My experience of mr Kearney was not a good one. He punched me in the face once in chemistry as a third year. My dad went to the school and he apologised.

This is not a historic crime that can be conveniently lost in the mists of time. It’s relatively recent and it was clearly serious.

Yet today’s regime at St J’s still have a Chemistry prize in this scum’s memory

Any teacher who punches a thirteen year old boy in the face is scum.

By the 1980s it would also be a criminal offence.  

Kearney had obviously not evolved as a human being from the 1960s when he was equally vile.

Or does this somehow come under the heading of necessary tough discipline? That’s what one female apologist and admirer of Kearney claimed when she wrote into this site about a year ago.

 A trawl through my site will show other examples of Kearney’s physically abusive behaviour, to which I will add my own experiences at some stage.  I’m still researching Kearney and his past.

Today’s St Joseph’s College knows that the College’s past teachers were physically and sexually abusive and they have remained silent on the subject.  It’s impossible not to know – the evidence is overwhelming and is added to every day.

But here it would seem it’s absolutely okay because of Kearney’s scholastic achievements.

So why not have a Brother James Memorial Mathematics prize. Because he was a truly brilliant maths teacher – I was terrible at maths until James taught me. His teaching made a huge difference to my life.

Or a Brother Solomon Memorial Music prize.

I owe my deep passion and love of classical music directly to him.  And I’m sure many other pupils feel the same way.

Or a Brother Kevin Memorial Latin prize.

I was hopeless at Spanish, but Brother Kevin taught me Latin and I quickly excelled at it.

But of course all these three teachers are also now proven physical and sexual abusers.   There are so many devastating testimonies against them, it’s no longer a matter for debate.

So why the exception with Kearney? Is it because he’s only known for his physical abuse, so that’s sort of okay?

St Joseph’s :  Do we have to wait for something really shocking that Kearney did before you change the name of your prize?

Punching a boy in the face isn’t shocking enough for you?

How bad does it have to be? I’m curious.

Or is it that the ‘greater good’ is Kearney’s teaching  which trumps any crimes he committed. 

In this respect, your regime is definitely following in the La Sallian Tradition, a tradition you’re clearly proud of.

You might want to reflect on all this the next time you give out your Kearney Memorial Prize. 

And so might the recipient of the Prize. It’s not a Prize that is worth accepting when it’s associated with a proven abuser.

Meanwhile:

Shame on you.

CHALLENGE TO ST JOSEPH’S COLLEGE, BIRKFIELD, IPSWICH, SUFFOLK

Here’s a challenge from Old Boy Nosssh. You can read his full comment at the bottom of this post.

St. Joseph’s College, Birkfield, Ipswich, how about allowing an investigation into crimes committed there? 

So how about it St J’s.? I know you’re aware of this site.

Yes, I know you are a different regime. But you have the contacts with the DLS and the local Catholic Diocese.

They will listen to you. You know that the infamous Brother Solomon was the Jimmy Saville of St Js. That’s beyond any reasonable doubt, and that’s going to be picked up eventually by the media. It’s a strong story – his victims in double, possibly triple figures, his links to Homan’s Boys Town, his TV appearances, how he inspired a famous comic character, oh, yes – and how he owned a fun pier, too. I think it was at Weston Super Mare.

You still inherit, benefit from and recognise a past that’s good, yet you deny or ignore the bad. You still say ‘In the La Sallian Tradition’. That means something awful for many survivors. See below. You still have a prize named after a questionable teacher, Kearney, whose sado-masochism (bunsen burner pipes as lashes. Highly diluted sulphuric or hydrochloric acid as a drink) makes him entirely inappropriate to be upheld as a chemistry role model in these modern times. And I’m still investigating Kearney with the likelihood of revealing far more about him.

And doesn’t it concern you that the abuse cases on this site alone are now reaching record numbers? Are you still not going to say anything? At least a message of sympathy for survivors? Or won’t your insurers allow that? Surely such a human and Christian response would be more important than what an insurance company thinks? Or maybe it isn’t? So are you going to remain silent until you are fetched? E.g. When the media eventually takes an interest in these historic crimes – which ended somewhere in the 1980s, or perhaps even later, according to one source – and exposes your school’s dark past.

I think we survivors are owed at least a comment from you, even if you have to hedge it with legalese to cover yourselves against fear of litigation. There’s always a way – if you want to find it. Or if that’s too much to ask, why don’t you take down your obvious connections with a sad and  awful past that has harmed so many boys. Surely the fate of those past children who went to your school – and the price they had to pay surviving abuse – must mean something to you?

The longer you leave it, the darker it looks. Your school’s past isn’t going to go away. Acknowledging it is the right and proper way for everyone – including yourselves – to have closure. 

Here’s Nosssh’s full comment, in response to my post THE IMPORTANT OF FIGHTING BACK:

I am yet another survivor of St. Jo’s. The guy responsible for abusing and controlling me is still around and I know where he lives so almost every day I have to resist that crucifix-ramming urge! Years ago though I had to blurt the words out loud, long before I understood why, that I forgave him in order to get on with my life. Maybe it’s easier or better that the most of the actual details remain blanked out (little snippets are there; that blue flecked paint used on the toilet wall, having to decide outside the gym to shut down part of my brain to deal with what just happened and get back to class after the lunch hour siren had gone and appear normal to friends…). At last I understand exactly what happened because my sister reminded me of a few details about the guy I’d chosen to forget. Anyway, survival is all about management and choosing to be better than your abuser. It’s such a shame so many have suffered at the hands of DLS “brothers” and their pedo associates (lay-teachers). Closure is massively important to all of us who’ve walked those hard years so St. Joseph’s College, Birkfield, Ipswich, how about allowing an investigation into crimes committed there and do us all a favour. That word Tenacitate eh, what a bitch 😉

Was Ipswich another Ballarat?

The excellent comment shown at the end of this post from Radders (commenting on my post Charity begins at home?) that mentions John McDonnell and Joe Homan has stirred my memories of St Joseph’s college once again. St J’s was my secondary school run by the De La Salle Brothers (DLSB).

These memories were also stirred after Cardinal Pell of Ballarat, Australia, was recently found guilty of sexual assault. Ballarat is a city where the Christian Brothers also feature heavily in various allegations of abuse – they currently total an astonishing and appalling 139 allegations.

On the positive side, the post also reminded me about John McDonnell. I’m really impressed that McDonnell, the Labour Shadow Chancellor, went to my old school. Reading his Wikipedia entry on the subject I also noticed his reason for attending – and possibly leaving St J’s – was remarkably similar to my own.

Still on politics, I was also impressed that fellow old boy Chris Mullin wrote A Very British Coup, one of my all time favourite novels and TV series. I rated McDonnell and Mullin both highly long before I knew they even went to St J’s, although they were there roughly at the same time as me. However they were boarders and I was a day boy, so our paths were unlikely to have crossed.

However, the fact that Mullin is also a supporter of the notorious Homan is disappointing, to put it gently. Homan was found innocent of abuse charges against him at his Boys Town in India. But I’ve read an account about Homan by an old boy I was contemporary with and knew well. It describes a vicious and horrible assault by Homan when he was a DLSB at St J’s Oak Hill and I have every reason to believe it is true.

So it sits uncomfortably with Mullin’s protagonist Harry Perkins in A Very British Coup, who becomes that so rare individual — a True Labour prime minister. A politician we can trust and admire. In fact, I could imagine John McDonnell as just such a Harry Perkins prime minister, more so even than Jeremy Corbyn. I think he would be brilliant. If it ever happens, I pray he doesn’t share the same fate as Perkins. Certainly The Sun and The Daily Mail would set out to destroy him just as their fictional counterparts destroyed Perkins.

So I got thinking as to whether these two distinguished politicians were affected by St J’s as I was. After all, they were there in the same era as me – an era when physical and sexual abuse was rife at the school and everyone knew it was going on. Even us day boys. You couldn’t avoid it. It was everywhere. In fact I would say, based on my own observations, experiences, and the disturbing and heartfelt testimonies of various old boys on this site that Ipswich – and St J’s in particular – truly was another Ballarat. Except in Ipswich they sadly got away with it. Thus all three parish priests in Ipswich at this time were abusers. No odd rotten apple there: it was endemic, just like it seems to have been in Ballarat.

St J’s certainly affected me greatly and inspired my creation of the anti-establishment British comic 2000AD featuring Judge Dredd. It’s still going strong today after 42 years. My take on the sinister Judge Dredd – also the subject of two movies – drew directly on Brother James and Brother Solomon as I relate in my autobiography Be Pure! Be Vigilant! Behave! 2000AD & Judge Dredd: The Secret History.

To briefly describe Solomon (Mike Mercado), AKA The Swinging Monk: he was thrown out of DLSBs schools three times for sexually abusing boys. Each time they let him back in! I’m told he then headed out to Boys Town, to ‘work in the missions’ with Joe Homan.

I guess most old boys are more circumspect and discreet about how meeting such monsters affected them in later life. Perhaps wisely, they are able to put it all behind them. If so, I envy them. Like many other old boys I don’t have that luxury.

Mullin reassuringly pointed out to me that St J’s today is a very different school and I’m sure it is. So in theory it should be possible to put it behind me. However it still proudly proclaims itself to be ‘In the La Salian tradition’, which means something negative and unpleasant to me – and others.

The school also has a Mike Kearney Memorial Chemistry Prize. Kearney was a St J’s teacher in my day, so there are still clear links with the school’s past. They can’t be separated to distance the current regime when it suits them. More on Kearney later.

So someone – whether it’s the diocese, the school, or the De La Salle organisation, which is still going strong – should acknowledge the crimes of past DLSBs, which are a matter of record and provable beyond reasonable doubt. Certainly in the case of Brother James and Brother Solomon (Mike Mercado).

The diocese does have its investigatory body. If they become aware of a crime they must report it to the police which, as I’ve told them, is excellent news. However, both the police and the diocese are only concerned with cases where the perpetrator is still alive so he can be investigated. Neither the school nor the DLSBs have ever shown any interest in or commented on the disturbing testimonies related on this blog and on another similar site by a St J’s survivor.

This suggests to me that the commendable, strongly anti-abuse stance of the Catholic Church in recent years is empty spin. They only come out with it when they have to. Usually when they’re under media scrutiny or in the dock like Pell. Then they’ll wring their hands and tell us how much they deplore cases of historic abuse. Otherwise they don’t give a damn.

Apologist Catholic websites and Catholic press also seek to minimise such abuse charges and limit the damage at every opportunity. Although they don’t go quite as far as my devout Irish mother did. A year or two before I went to St J’s, there was a famous case at the college where a lay teacher ran off with a boy and they were ‘lost’ for some days. It made the newspapers and couldn’t be swept under the carpet as usual. My mother’s reaction was, ‘What a silly man! He should never have allowed himself to be led astray by that wicked boy. The poor man was weak.’ I don’t think the case ever went to court. The teacher was seen as behaving in this criminal way due to a mental breakdown and medical treatment was prescribed. I don’t think the kid stayed on at St J’s. Doubtless the risk of him leading other weak teachers astray was too great. My mother’s attitude was quite commonplace at the time, I assure you, and I suspect still is in many Catholic quarters, although they daren’t say it out loud anymore.

Instead, another excuse the Church uses today for its abusers is that they are the result of the sexual revolution in the Swinging Sixties. My Irish aunt would have agreed wholeheartedly with them. She firmly believed ‘moral decay’ began with The Beatles. But the events I’m referring to here are all pre-Beatles. Thus the Church still seems unable to take responsibility for its crimes. When it’s cornered, blame it on the Sixties. Blame it on anything except themselves.

But I want to come back to Kearney now.

Because Kearney was someone I would definitely add to my personal Roll of Dishonour of St J’s. He was well known as a sadist who delighted in recounting how he could lift a boy clean off the ground by his sideburns. I never had a problem with the discipline he administered to me personally, such as a caning for being caught smoking. It was a fair cop, which I always felt I deserved. Not least because I was stupid enough to get caught. No, it was the sadistic glee on his face as he used a blackboard duster on other kids’ knuckles that stays with me to this day. I doubt I’ll ever get his look of cruel delight out of my head.

There was more besides. Much more.

So recently, I’ve been woken in the night with endless symbolic dreams about Kearney. A sure sign of repressed memory, which I’m used to and know how to deal with, so it’s not a big deal anymore. My technique as a kid for dealing with or witnessing Catholic criminal acts was to block them out. So I could enjoy a perfect Ladybird book childhood. It worked incredibly well at the time and was a far better survival method than alternatives like using alcohol or drugs. Unfortunately, the recollections spew out in later life and then have to be processed in order to get closure. So it annoys the hell out of me that I still have to waste considerable amounts of my time thinking about Kearney and figuring out what my fragmentary memories and symbolic dreams mean. Clearly they must be important.

Although it’s hazy, they seem to be connected with the local chapter of those good old Knights of St Columba. Maybe Kearney was a Knight or was closely connected to them. At the time, I related my concerns about them to my mother. Her response to my graphic claims was ‘but they do so much good work’. Whatever I said about them, she repeated this endlessly as a defensive mantra which I just couldn’t get past. So in the end I gave up and blocked it from my mind. Until now. Her attitude was understandable, though. The Church and the Knights were an important part of her world. Financial support for my schooling was almost certainly a crucial factor. Where matters involving the Church are concerned, I’ve always found ‘follow the money’ is most relevant. So faced with an angry eleven-year-old ‘making trouble’, her options must have been limited.

The Knights had a strong and – it would seem – positive behind-the-scenes role at St J’s. It was thanks to their financial efforts, for instance, that St J’s was established in the first place. I believe they bought the freehold on the Birkfield building for the DLSBs. Many Ipswich leading Catholic businessmen, priests and teachers were Knights. If you’re curious about them, their secret rituals were similar to the American Knights of Columbus. The latter’s neo-Masonic rituals can be found online. And I’ve also read a copy of the version once used by the UK Knights. It makes for disturbing reading. Not least because of what else may not have been committed to paper. But the UK Knights stopped all that ‘secret weird stuff’ – to quote other old boys’ description of them – sometime in the late 1960s apparently. After my time

Normally, it takes me some time to make sense of my repressed memories. Writing about them in a post like this helps. It’s a work in progress so I can’t be more precise just now, I’m afraid. Particularly as I like to cross-reference with others recollections where I can. Eventually the memories will emerge. Then I can thankfully consign Kearney to the dustbin of memory, where he belongs.

That’s the challenge we all face who’ve encountered Catholic crimes, whether it’s in Ballarat or Ipswich. So many of us can’t let it go and move on – because of repressed memories in my case, or post-traumatic stress disorder, or not acknowledging the significance of the crimes. Thus a well-known national journalist who went to St J’s, a few years before me, was drinking himself to death. He was a client of the charity Mind, and I was introduced to him by his social worker. He told me about the vicious, blood-drawing canings he received as a little boy at St J’s Oakhill prep school where he was a boarder. But he was furious with me when I suggested there was a possible connection with his current plight. ‘I’m not drinking with you,’ he snarled as he staggered back to the bar.

It’s not all in the distant past either. As late as the early 1990s, a counsellor friend told me he had several clients who were at St J’s. In every case he advised the parents that the remedy for their child’s problem was simple: take him away from the school. I doubt they listened. St J’s has such an excellent academic reputation it has all too often clouded other rather more important matters.

Banging Cardinal Pell up helps us all, I think – even if he eventually gets out on appeal. It means that in ‘one against one’ testimony, the victim is believed, for a change. In Oz anyway. There were plenty of similar contenders to Pell in Ipswich, as past comments on this site clearly show. And they’re not all dead like Kearney, James and Solomon/Mercado. Some from long after my time carried on in the same way. As a commenter (CS) on my Roll of Dishonour post vividly relates, a lay teacher used a cat o’ nine tails. Not easy for Catholic apologists to dismiss that one as ‘Oh, they were different times back then. You can’t judge these things by the standards of today.’

Seeing some past St J’s teachers acknowledged as criminals would be so valuable to survivors. And it should be someone’s responsibility to do this, right?

Better still, rather than spout empty spin designed to sound good for the benefit of the media, why not help put some of the more recent perpetrators away? I know of at least two old boys who have in recent years pursued predator Brothers and teachers from St J’s. I’m sure they could have used some assistance in tracking them down. I hope the predators were finally caught and banged up.

That’s the kind of memorial they really deserve.


Comment from Radders on Charity beings at home?

As a border who became a day dog I’m not sure where I fit in Opus’ taxonomy. My dad was in receipt of an army disability pension and my mother worked full time as a ward sister – and I was very conscious of the cost to them of me being at St Joes, not least of which was the A4 page of necessary kit and uniforms to be purchased from Grimwades.

It was in about 1970 I think that we had to sit through a talk and a slideshow on Boystown – I honestly can’t recall whether Homan gave the talk, but the older lads certainly referred to him as ‘Jo Homo’ with the cruel wit of youth – which may have indicated some knowledge of his activity, or may simply have been juvenile bile.

Some appeal form was handed out which we were supposed to pass to our parents with a personal plea to donate, having seen the slide show. I quietly binned it.

I don’t remember John McDonnell but I boarded with his brother Keith, forever in some sort of trouble for the usual minor infractions. We used to parade in forms on the car park between the E block and the Chaplain’s cottage whilst ‘Moggs’ – Mr McLaughlin – hopped onto a little raised dias to call the names of defaulters with his distinctive nasal twang. I can still hear him today – “McDonnell!” with the stress on the third syllable. Perhaps it is the correct pronounciation.