Creator and first editor of 2000AD, champion of girls' and political comics. Spacewarp, Requiem Vampire Knight, Marshal Law, Accident Man, Nemesis, Charley's War and more. Get in touch: patmillswriter (@) gmail.com. Go to millsverse.com for comics stuff.
A former RE teacher and assistant housemaster at an Ipswich independent school has denied sexually assaulting a teenage boy three decades ago.
Before Ipswich Crown Court for a plea and trial preparation hearing via a prison video link on Thursday (November 18) was 58-year-old Francis Carolan, who previously worked at St Joseph’s College in Ipswich.
The De La Salle Safeguarding issues are now in hand; they are being looked at by Operation Hydrant and at the order’s request, too. As I reported Safeguarding’s update: “De La Salle have now written to the police asking them to investigate all allegations and concerns made about the order and any members of it.”
The Knights of St Columba, Ipswich, are very much part of these historic allegations so they will be investigated, too.
Here’s what the CEO of Catholic Safeguarding Standards Agency had to say:
‘The KSC is a lay organisation and isn’t therefore aligned to a diocese or a body such as SCOE for safeguarding services. The police can liaise directly with me as necessary.’
So it’s now time for me to turn my main attention to them.
Firstly, I would say to the Knights: ‘There’s still time, gentlemen, for you to respond like the De La Salles and ask the police to investigate the allegations and concerns made about your historic organisation. And to carry out your own internal investigation because I am well aware you keep records back to this era.’
‘For example, publish a full list of past members, which could save everyone a great deal of time. That would be extremely helpful and be evidence of your cooperation.’
After all, today’s Knights must share everyone’s concern at the shocking events related concerning their organisation, which are confirmed by more than one witness and have been on my site since March 2020!
However, they show no sign of responding, which I find disturbing.
Their silence speaks volumes.
In fact, on two occasions two leading Knights from Glasgow, the organization’s city of origin, and possibly its HQ, rather flippantly I felt, asked if I’d like to come along to one of their meetings, presumably to see all the good work I’m sure they do today.
Here’s what one Grand Knight had to say to me:
My name is Dominic I’m the grand Knight of Co 22 Partick wee meet every 2nd Wednesday of the month please come and join us I will show you how the council works.
These leading Knights had no comment on all the serious allegations made on this site.
I declined, not least because I was present at meetings of the Knights as a child and it was a dark experience. An experience that has cost me a considerable amount of time and money and is emotionally draining to this day.
I’ve found the best palliative is to pursue this matter to a satisfactory conclusion.
To that end, I’ve summarised key individuals and information as an aide memoir in preparation for Hydrant and to pass onto them.
If you’re wondering why religious orders throughout the UK are now firmly in the investigative spotlight but never – until now – the Knights when they are intimately connected with the Church and its wrong-doings, I believe there are two reasons.
Firstly it’s down to the proven neo-masonic, ritualistic, coercive and secretive nature of the Knights in the 1960s which continues to some extent to this day, with media control and black-outs of negative news about them as I’ve previously exampled.
And secondly because the Ipswich province, historically, was made up of upwardly mobile blue collar workers and professionals, like the profiles below. So lawyers, accountants, doctors, coroners, special constabulary etc, are in a better position to cover their tracks than the DLS whose crimes all of us school children were often aware of. The Knights were – and perhaps still are – powerful and important pillars of the community. As I’ve previously related, the parents of some St Jo’s Old Boys saw them as weird and dangerous characters, ‘not to be messed with’.
The list of deceased Knights of St Columba I am referring to below is their official list, but it is by no means complete.
I have not named all the Knights while I look for further evidence.
My key source for several of my Profiles is ‘The Shocking Truth About St Joseph’s – my old school.’
This is backed up by other survivors including myself. In particular the sexual violence of Brother James is confirmed. I also have further accounts about the Knights activities in this historical era, sent to me personally. These expand on the details in this public account.
Then and now the Knights have an acknowledged interventionist role in the Church helping parishioners in trouble. Even today, I have been told they are seen in some quarters at least as the priest’s ‘assistants’ and this helps explain how their organised historic abuse occurred: ‘Helping’ became a cover for their criminal activities.
1.Canon Burrows. St Pancras. Listed as a Knight of St Columba. Abuser. The abuse took place in the 1950s, my primary school years. When I talked about it, I was physically silenced by the nun headmistress. There’s some indirect corroboration from a fellow pupil. The Canon was always visiting our home, helping my widowed mother, doing repair jobs and bought my brother and I expensive presents. I ran away from his car parked at Browns timber yard at age 8 and found my way to the police station and reported him. To no avail, but it was a positive experience because the police were sympathetic. It left me with a life-long impression of the value of ‘whistle-blowing’.
2. Father Wace. St Pancras. Not listed as a Knight, but likely to be one, coming from an upper class Catholic family. Abuser. 1950s. His pyjama jacket was covered in metal collectors’ badges, completely impractical to sleep in. When, as a child, I saw it casually laid out on his bed in the presbytery, I was in awe which was, of course, the intention. One assault took place when I was a cub and he was the cub master. My time in the cubs then came to an abrupt halt following a confrontation between Wace and a family friend I complained to.
3. Father William Jolly. St Joseph’s College chaplain. Parish priest St Marks. Abuser. Late 1950s to 1960s. His father, also William Jolly, is listed as a Knight and played a key role in the Church at that time.
I’ve been told by an insider that Knights were transgenerational, so some of today’s Ipswich Knights may have fathers or grandfathers who were Knights in the historic era in question. This has some relevance in an investigation.
Father Jolly drove me to Knights’ events in his Hillman Minx car. He took me out on his yacht and I recall some fairly obvious grooming. Another event at a Knights ‘event’ was more fearful and graphic. He was a heavy drinker and I believe supplied my widowed mother with tranquilizers, probably valium.
A St Joseph’s Old Boy has related how Jolly was taping boys confessions on their ‘impure’ experiences, either for his own gratification or to alert the DLS if boys were complaining about abuse. Possibly both.
That same Old Boy has related how Jolly paid a key role in the Knights cover-up of Brother James’s extremely violent sexual assault on him. Namely, Jolly visited the private London clinic where the boy was recovering to see how much he remembered of his traumatic experience.
4. Un-named Knights. The individuals who arranged the London clinic. This was an ongoing facility indicating that abuse was endemic and London Knights were involved as well as Ipswich Knights, suggesting wider UK organised crime.
The boy’s school fees were paid as compensation, further validating my own experience. See below.
Knight A, a lawyer, seems to have been in charge of the transaction. Although un-named, he was a ‘sporty’ character who I have been given a vivid description of, and I’m sure could be identified by anyone from that era.
5. Knight B. Listed as a Knight. Abuser. 1950s – 60s. Born in Glasgow. He was an upwardly mobile blue collar worker. Although not married to my mother, he was probably my biological father. This is born out by a recent DNA test which shows my biological father had a strong Scottish/Glasgow connection. My legal father’s family has no Scottish connection.
This would partly explain why my own and my brother’s expensive school fees to St Joseph’s College were paid for. But I believe it was to also indenture me to the Knights and their organised abuse, rather than because of his supposed paternalism. It’s a kind of trafficking, to use a modern term.
Knight B also seems to have been a ‘fixer’, like Jimmy Saville who was a Papal Knight and probably a Knight of St Columba as they were in charge of his funeral.
Like Savile, Knight B ‘made things happen.’
6. Knight C. Lawyer. Early 1960s. Abuser. A highly respected, wealthy ‘traditionalist’ and pillar of the local Ipswich community, his sons went to St Joseph’s College. I believe he was a Knight, but as I’m not certain I haven’t named him here, although I have a detailed description of him.
He exercised coercive control over me at age 12 and everything that went with the Knights’ abuse (1961).
7. Further Knights. There was a later similar pattern of organised abuse and coercive control by Knights 1962 – 1964 which continued briefly after I left school at 15. Some may have been just wealthy members of the congregation or even secular individuals who interacted with the Knights. Locations and names I cannot always be certain are correct because there was a number of individuals involved with similar professions, which runs the risk of conflating two people. And there is more than one overlapping narrative. These Knights included lawyers, teachers and doctors.
Their coercive control related to school fees being paid (My mother had zero funds) and also to my remaining silent. I was, unusually, assigned to a junior seminary at age 15. At age 14 (1963) I had the medical and filled in the forms. I believe this unusual move was to ensure my silence. When I refused to go, my fees were no longer paid and I left school at 15.
There is a strong connection between St Joseph’s and the Knights as is evidenced above. The Knights are credited with financing the school; whether as brokers or financiers is not clear. Subsequently they have disappeared from the school’s history, but it is possible that Knights remain as governors of the school to this day. Their financial commitment to the school is relevant because it could explain why they acted as trouble-shooters in the Brother James cover-up.
Later events,1962 – 1964, are complex and may be hard to unravel in their entirety, but it is still a work in progress for me and I welcome anyone’s recollections of the Knights, positive or negative.
But the Brother James cover-up alone is hard evidence of organised abuse by the Ipswich Knights of St Columba and that alone requires a response from today’s Knights.
Not least because the Knights are still involved with children.
We need not only an acknowledgement of their criminal past, but when it stopped and why it stopped. And why they have ignored these most serious allegations for over a year.
On a personal level, even allowing for the truly ‘industrial’ level of their crimes, their multiple and varied attempts to silence a rebellious, ‘trouble-making’ kid seems disproportionate. We’re talking threats, bribes, guilt-tripping, violent physical intimidation, drugs and more.
And even today, an insider warned me, ‘If you piss the Knights off enough, they will bring you much pain.’ He went on to describe how.
But, where a kid is concerned, why would they bother? Who is going to listen to a child? In the 1960s, at least, the Knights held all the cards. Surely it was best to just ignore the ‘annoying brat’?
But it has to be seen in the context of Father Jolly and that clinic where clerical crimes were covered up on an organized basis. So we were far from the only resisters. Jolly certainly sounded very worried.
And my relentless whistle-blowing, the origins of my activism today, must have seemed peculiar, even pathological to the Knights, I wasn’t to be silenced as easily as other kids. My on-going resistance and ongoing disclosures to authority, family or police, clearly disturbed them, even though they were unlikely to be challenged by anyone in the 1960s. Something had to be done about this kid and so they tried a variety of methods to silence me.
So for these Knights, the great and the good of Catholic Ipswich, behind all their power, their contacts, their networking,their professional expertise, there was yet… real fear.
According to an accompanying text, ‘Closing date for expressions of interest – Sunday 5 December 2021.’ If it’s of interest to you, there’s more information available from CSSA, but this document below gives you the idea and the tone.
A fellow Survivor asked me to post this blog and his response which is also below.
The tone of the CSSA documents is problematic for both of us, despite its good intentions and despite the hope we all have that the Church has changed, will change, or is capable of change.. My guest blogger puts the reasons why eloquently and succinctly
My own reaction is less coherent and less precise. The text, along with the accompanying relevant documents l read, felt overwhelming and I found myself glazing over and also recoiling from it. Perhaps it was its superior and authoritative tone and lack of deference to those it had injured, even as it acknowledged past ‘failures’. It also made me feel sad because it reminded me of all the superior Catholic institutions I had encountered and fiercely challenged as a boy. As far as any child can challenge arrogant, abusive adult Catholics. Those Catholic individuals had a similar tone, maybe because they were professionals,too, and one at least was a lawyer, giving me a lifelong hatred of Suits. Back then, those Catholic adults in authority were too smart for me, although I fought them every damn step of the way. The official-sounding text didn’t induce a flashback to those dark days, but it came close.
I’m wary that such a panel would restrict my autonomy and could embed me in the kind of bureaucratic mesh that IICSA used to protect the various institutions of authority with its vast damage limitation exercise. I’m wary that this panel is little more than tokenism, to reassure ‘the faithful’ that all is well now. Rather than the ‘fundamental reset’ that leading activist Richard Scorer has called for.
The Church has a long tradition of dispersing, silencing and subsuming dissent through bureaucratic machinery and this document felt like a continuation of that methodology
But the ultimate reason for my concern is that the Power still lies with the Catholic Church.
The Power should lie with Survivors, not the organisation that has harmed us.
The Church has forfeited its power, its authority, its right to tell us how it is, and what the solution is, by its crimes. Not to mention by its ongoing arrogance, lack of compassion and humility.
It bears repeating that the Church’s criminals are no longer the odd rotten apple, but a whole rotten orchard. Their crimes are provably endemic and industrial in their complexity. That sentence bears repeating: Industrial. And we Survivors have not exposed to the general public the full and shocking nature of the industrial nature of their crimes.
But they, a proven criminal organisation, still have the authority in this document. We should have that authority.
And the salaried Church members of the agency are not subject to the same scrutiny and protocols that are expected of survivors on the panel who will provide their services for free. We have to take members of the Church and their impressive credentials on trust. Just as we did when we were children.
It’s surprising – or is it? – that none of these issues occurred to them when they drafted their documents.
So how could it be done better, you may ask? By Survivors – not the Church- being in the driving seat, not the associates of those who once ran us over. We should draft the paperwork and the direction, building in assurances that we retain our independence, rather than signing up to what feels like an extended NDA.
My Guest Blogger puts the case more wittily and more satirically than I can. My anger towards this perfidious organisation has blunted my sense of humour today.
As I’ve reported, there is now some movement on the historic crimes of the De La Salles both at St Jo’s and throughout the UK. The DLS have themselves contacted the police and asked them to investigate allegations against their order. Whatever their motives, they are surely to be commended for taking this important step. Catholic Safeguarding have also asked the police of Operation Hydrant to similarly investigate the DLS. This investigation will overlap into the serious issues raised about the Ipswich Knights of St Columba who were closely involved with the Ipswich DLS and perhaps still are.
In all this, the modern day St Joseph’s College Ipswich has stood aloof with the position that it is nothing to do with them, they are an entirely new organisation now which is thus not responsible for the multiple crimes of its past. And they are not a De La Salle school.
This is despite the fact that this “new” regime has basically the same uniform, they’re still listed as a La Sallian school, in recent years, at least, they still had a financial connection with the DLS, they compete for a La Sallian rugby trophy, they until recently honoured a violent and questionable teacher from the past with a school prize, they described themselves in the La Sallian tradition and they look back proudly on the College’s many historic La Sallian achievements.
But not the College’s many historic La Sallian crimes. They don’t know anything about them and they do not want to know. They take no responsibility for their school’s past.
It might seem that whatever the outcomes of the police investigations which I imagine will take some time, a year perhaps (although Safeguarding assure me they will be regularly expedited), that this is nothing to do with the modern St Jo’s. This is a defence used by other schools, too, (Sherborne, for instance) and sooner or later it will be challenged in law, not least because it is so transparently questionable and yet so popular with schools who choose not to take responsibility for their pasts.
It’s also interesting that “Kingston and Richmond Local Safeguarding Children Board quite rightly commissioned a Serious Case Review into the school in approximately 2017.” This covered five decades, so there is a similar potential remit there to St Jo’s.
I didn’t know there was a local Safeguarding Board and that’s something to also look at in due course and bring to their attention.
This sentence is particularly relevant. “BBK brought a claim against St Paul’s Juniors on the basis that they were responsible under the law for the actions of Harbord as their employee.”
Where the DLS responsibilities end and the modern day school’s responsibilities begin is something that will ultimately be determined by agencies external to the school itself.
Meantime this case history may be useful for St Jo’s and other DLS survivors considering taking action. It should also be a reminder to St Jo’s, especially now the DLS have, rather surprisingly, done the decent thing, that they might like to do the decent thing, too.
FROM BBK’S WEBSITE:
Independent school St Paul’s Juniors (formerly Colet Court) pays damages for abuse
BBK have successfully sued St Paul’s Juniors for abuse that one of their clients experienced, carried out by one of the school’s teachers. The school, based in Barnes, London was the subject of an abuse scandal over many decades from the 1960’s involving numerous members of staff and has been heavily reported upon in the press in recent years following successful convictions.
Such was the extent of the allegations made against teachers at the school (over 80 complaints in relation to 32 different members of staff), that following convictions of five members of staff, Kingston and Richmond Local Safeguarding Children Board quite rightly commissioned a Serious Case Review into the school in approximately 2017.
The review’s report was published in January 2020 and focused on the systemic abuse by a number of teachers over five decades at the school and demanded that the school make an “unambiguous statement” that it accepts full responsibility for the abuse experienced by pupils at the school.
Following the case review, the school responded by stating, “We accept full responsibility for the past abuse experienced by pupils at the school and have previously apologised to survivors and our wider school community.”
Having seen the report, our client, who had previously never told anyone of the abuse he suffered, bravely reported his teacher Timothy Harbord who taught at the school between 1998-2013. Harbord was charged with numerous offences against our client but was found dead before a trial could take place.
BBK brought a claim against St Paul’s Juniors on the basis that they were responsible under the law for the actions of Harbord as their employee.
As part of the claim we obtained a medical report detailing exactly how our client had been impacted over the years by the abuse he suffered. It was clear that the abuse had caused him difficulties with his mental health which had also impacted on his employment and ability to earn a living.
Following negotiations, the claim settled for a five figure sum, allowing our client to obtain therapy on a private basis with a therapist of his choice as and when he requires it.
I’m always a little wary of being optimistic where bringing Catholic child abusers to justice is concerned. Even so, I think this is encouraging news and is certainly a big step forward, following the DLS not-so-public public apology.
Catholic Safeguarding have written back to me. As I’ve previously related, the allegations on this site are with Hydrant and Safeguarding confirmed this is the case.
But the key NEW information they gave me is as follows:
Firstly, they informed me:
“De La Salle have now written to the police asking them to investigate all allegations and concerns made about the order and any members of it.”
I have to say I read this sentence several times before fully absorbing it. I really couldn’t believe it. This, surely, is progress, although I know we’re not at the end of the road yet.
Catholic Safeguarding also responded to my raising concerns about the Scottish DLS St Ninian’s case.
Here’s what they had to say:
“Thank you for bringing the latest court case to my attention, the concerns raised will be placed before DLS and communicated to Hydrant and I will bring it to the attention of the SCOE Commission at our next meeting.
In respect of SCOE, although the victim testimony is powerful, safeguarding matters pertaining to Scotland are not under our remit for any member religious orders within SCOE, only those pertaining to England and Wales, so this case or others that may exist, outside of England and Wales, are not considered by us.
Safeguarding matters in Scotland are overseen by the Scottish Catholic Safeguarding Service.”
So special thanks to the two survivors of St Ninians who wrote and told me what happened to them. You are super stars!
I would hope there will be some traction as the English Safeguarding and the DLS and Hydrant presumably bring the Scottish Safeguarding into the loop. If you don’t hear anything in a couple of months, do let me know.
Thanks also to all the survivors of all the De La Salles schools for writing into this site with your testimonies. Hey – we finally got somewhere!
I think there is cause for a little cautious celebration all round.
Thanks to Beulah Hill Old Boy Steve who sheds more light below on Brother Solomon who groomed Paul Wilkins as a child and they remained in a ‘relationship’ after Paul left school.
Paul, a distinguished poet, wrote
In the book – Truths of Unremembered Things – Paul writes about his negative ‘relationship’ with Solomon.
Steve also relates below that it was sixth formers who got Solomon thrown out of Beulah Hill. That’s good to know as an example of pupil power.
Solomon then later turned up as Mike Mercado back at his old Ipswich school St Joseph’s College.
Throughout his life he had been abusing children and also remained in some form of ‘relationship’ with Paul Wilkins.
According to Old Boy Chris Mullins, Solomon spent his final years playing the piano at the end of a pier. A sombre image. This may have been the pier Solomon had a share in at Weston Super Mare. Given how, pre-internet, fun fairs on piers were magnets for paedophiles that is not reassuring.
Thus far the De La Salles have nothing to say and no interest in this criminal in their ranks.
They hold onto the fake notion of the odd rotten apple, rather than their UK religious order – pre-millennium – being a disgusting, rotten orchard.
The psychological cost to the De La Salles of living a lie must be enormous.
Hallo Pat. Thanks for hosting this website and lancing so many boils.
I’m glad you know about Paul Wilkins. He looked after Brother Solomon in his last days and organised his burial when he died. I didn’t know Paul, he was a year below me I think, but I have his poetry and read the letter he wrote before it was taken down.
I was a day boy at St Joseph’s Beulah Hill from 1959 to 1966. I was frequently physically abused by him and other emotionally damaged “brothers”, but was too gawky to be of interest sexually.
I don’t know whether anybody else has told you the circumstances of Solomon’s departure, but it was a playground coup by Sixth Formers that happened on a Friday and he was gone when we got back to school on the Monday. Away on a sabbatical, we were told.
St Joseph’s killed my faith and made me hate school. Fortunately academia was irrelevant for what I wanted to do, which was earn my living with my keyboard.
I’ve written about him somewhere. Maybe I’ll dig it out.
A Survivor’s account below. Michael Murphy is Brother Benedict who received 7 years imprisonment on top of his previous sentences.
What is especially concerning is the actions of the headmaster Brother Thadeus described below.
Thadeus ‘set up an elaborate scheme where another boy on promise of release said he did it. ‘
So Brother Benedict putting a child’s hand in a vice was blamed on another child.
That kind of devious and corrupt thinking is typical of the De La Salles in recent historical times as the posts on this blog confirm and I know from my own experience.
Have they changed and when? No one has any way of knowing for sure. The De La Salles just tell us repeatedly how honorable they are today, praising themselves as spiritual icons, and we are meant to believe they are now all holy men, unlike their predecessors.
That requires an act of faith which must be difficult even for Catholics.
Their recent public apology which was not public and was barely an apology is not a good sign. Putting it up on their website only after I had raised the issue seems devious to me.
The criminal behaviour described below was not restricted to one school. St Joseph’s College Ipswich had its own forms of De La Salle evil as recorded on this blog
It must cost everyone concerned – the De La Salles, the Suits who still protect them, Catholic Safeguarding and parents who still send their children to DLS schools – huge cognitive dissonance to believe that none of this is relevant to the De La Salles today.
All four are living in denial and there is a price they will pay for this spiritually and psychologically.
The Survivor is still waiting for an apology.
The De La Salles have not commented on the St Ninian’s verdict.
Again, that puts them in a very poor light.
Here is this Survivor’s testimony:
Dear Mr Mills,
I am a survivor of abuse by both the DLS brothers and also the Salesians of St John Bosco order. You can refer to me as “Rocky1954” if you want to relay my story. I was the lead witness in the trial of Michael Murphy. A bit of background. I was born in Whitburn West Lothian Scotland and attended the local Catholic school. I persistantly truanted and was sent to St Ninians @ the age of 9. this was Sept 1963. Benedict raped me. He put my hand in a vice and crushed my little finger. Infection set in and i was given primitive medical care at the school and only after my whole arm swelled up and turned blue was a doctor called. He was very angry at the Matron an alchoholic and took me in his car to Stirling. Upon arrival at Stirling Royal Infirmary i was diagnosed with gangrene and for 4 days i was in and out of coma, while they were debating amputating my arm. A surgeon came from London. 3 more days on a new antibiotic and i responded to it. My finger was gone.!! 2/3 amputated. I was learning Piano and was grade 2. After the operation i had no coordination in my left hand and no feeling on one side of my elbow. My mum and dad didnt know i had been in hospital till i came home on leave.
The headmaster Bro Thadeus set up an elaborate scheme where another boy on promise of release said he did it. Benedict had nothing to do with it and they were believed.
I had no idea about previous trials in Scotland, ive lived in Leeds over 50 years and im afraid Scottish news is not freely read in England. I travelled to Edinburgh at the age 67 and gave my evidence. He was convicted of the offences against me. Assault causing serious injury leading to loss of limb. Lewd and Libidinous offences, which cover the serious and repeated Sexual Assaults.
This is really a memo to self on Catholic Safeguarding because I’ve been seeing them as one organisation whereas in fact – especially from a survivor’s point of view – they are TWO very distinct bodies with distinct points of view.
So I thought I’d make it clear for others who may well be facing similar difficulties understanding them and who to get in touch with.
It is confusing but that may just me! I’m not used to the internal workings of large organisations and if and where they overlap. If you’ve worked for some big company like Unilever or a government ministry this is probably a walk in the park!
The Rev Des Bill, chair of the Catholic Church’s Safeguarding Commission for Orders in Education (SCOE)
Des is the safeguarding lead person for the De La Salles and other Orders connected with education. So he is directly involved with the De La Salles.
It’s my understanding that Des Bill initiated the suspension of Brother Laurence and commissioned an investigation into the allegations, commissioning Jo Norman to look into them. For all this he is to be commended.
He also passed on my allegations about the DLS and the Knights to Operation Hydrant which I need to ask him about shortly.
Because the way it was done did not follow the usual approved procedure, according to my own communication with Hydrant.
Although these are all valuable steps, Des appears to be negative, to put it gently, to recent progress in bringing the DLS to book. Thus, as I’ve exampled, he is partisan towards the DLS when they have distanced themselves from their crimes and seems to be involved with the DLS public apology fiasco which was not public and was not much of an apology.
And he doesn’t seem to be responding to the most recent concerns I’ve raised.
Whilst I am not experienced in dealing with large organizations, I have considerable experience in how to deal with people who are not being helpful.
Catholic Safeguarding Standards Agency (CSSA). Colette Limbrick is the CEO.
I think the CSSA’s functions overlap with the SCOE and I guess I will find out more about how that works as things develop.
They are certainly supportive and I value that.
Nazir Afzal is the chair of the CSSA, but I understand it’s not an everyday role. Whereas I think chair is a full time post for Des Bill.
Nazir, of course, is well known and a fellow survivor thoroughly recommends his book The Prosecutor.
How Nazir responds to survivors we have yet to see. But we survivors are most definitely moving forward in his direction, too.
I will try to make everything much clearer in the future when I refer to ‘Catholic Safeguarding’.
Looking ahead to when Operation Hydrant reports on the DLS, here is a good starting point on:
HOW AN APOLOGY SHOULD BE DONE.
It could be done NOW on the three most notorious and multiple abusers Brothers Solomon, Kevin and James. Because the DLS must already have files proving their guilt beyond any reasonable doubt. They can’t possibly not know.
Making a true apology now on this trio would be a gesture of good faith. It would also save valuable police time and Safeguarding time proving what the DLS already know.
So here’s a possible ROLE MODEL FOR APOLOGY.
It is a recent example from the monks at St John’s Abbey in Minnesota. Whilst by no means perfect, it’s a HUGE improvement on the De La Salles apology
So if the DLS or Safeguarding ask, ‘Well, what is it you do want?’ I would say this was a good starting point.
I would urge the DLS and Safeguarding to study it because it shows there can be a solution. Or maybe they know of a better one?
What I like about the example is the FILES of the abusers are made available to survivors. I don’t really want to know all their personal history and medical records, but I would like to know who they were and why they did the terrible things they did. Brother James, in my case.
And when the De La Salles knew about their crimes.
And by releasing the files they are acknowledging the crimes of individuals. So if anyone wants to seek compensation, which is their right, the path is made a little easier and clearer.
I would hope the files have not been lost or destroyed as has happened too frequently in Catholic abuse cases.
St John’s also do a public outreach through the media to other potential survivors which is another thing the DLS could do.
It also makes clear (in the interview below) that the crimes have to be confirmed first. That’s fine and is the work Hydrant I hope is currently doing.
But just as important as the input below– IMHO we Survivors need to make contact with the DLS. At the moment, I’m pretty certain they can’t be reached. They’re in their fortress, responding only with lawyer-speak and guarded and limited apologies.
Saying ‘We’re sorry, but we don’t want to speak to you, now please go away’ is not good enough.
A key element in reconciliation or closure is to make EYEBALL contact with the abuser or his representative and know they mean it.
After the cases have been proven, I’d certainly like to speak to a DLS brother spokesperson in his robes (not a Suit or a Lawyer) and hear what he has to say and for him to listen to my views. That would work for me. I want to see their faces.
It can be limited to… 30 – 60 minutes max? And if they fear the call becomes abusive, which is most unlikely as we’re all grown-ups, well, they can just end the call.
Twenty or more calls (say) to survivors by Skype or Zoom is practical and feasible. A phone call – for me, at least – isn’t personal enough. It’s better than a webinar because each survivor needs an individual response. Or individual letters if survivors don’t want to look at a DLS brother.
But EYE CONTACT is best. That makes it real.
I think we can all recognise a genuine apology, so it would be up to the DLS to pick genuine and courageous brothers, rather than spin doctors and definitely not Suits. I would hope they still exist in the ranks of the DLS. It may be triggering, but if safeguards are in place I feel it should be okay.
If the De La Salles have no spine to do this, no gumption, no compassion, no time, then what is the point of their existence?
Although a public webinar is an interesting alternative or addition that would be similar to IICSA and might be recorded like IICSA. A Survivors Tribunal on line would have gravitas but it would take a lot of organising and I doubt the DLS would turn up! I could see the DLS and their Suits obstructing and resisting a common sense procedure , so that would not be practical, I fear. A pity.
Sometimes – even now – it seems to me the DLS think they have the power and we are individuals to be treated with impatience or even disdain. Similar to how things were when we were kids and they were abusing us.
As part of our healing, we need them to acknowledge the tables have been turned.
We have the power now.
Not the Suits. They need to talk UP to us. Not down to us.
Not the DLS brothers. They have lost their power by their crimes.
And not IICSA with its cringe-worthy establishment respect for abusive clerical organisations unworthy of respect (e.g. Benedictines)
On balance, individual calls seems easier and feasible and if it’s never happened before, that’s no reason it can’t happen now. Zoom and Skype are relatively new so we should take advantage of the technology.
I know 12 step programs sometimes include making contact with someone who has been wronged, so it’s hardly unique.
As I said previously, a true apology would be healing for the DLS, too. It can’t be pleasant living with the constant gorilla of abuse in the corner.
Other survivors may have better solutions. If so, do please say. These are just my thoughts on the subject.
Below are just highlights of the article and interview:
Saint John’s Abbey is voluntarily releasing the files of monks who credibly have been accused of sexual abuse of minors. These files include the personal letters, medical records, legal documents, and other papers that document every aspect of these monks’ lives. They are being released with the consent of the monks in the hope that their disclosure will help survivors.
Read an interview with Abbot John Klassen, OSB, on the importance of the files and their role in the abbey’s decades-long journey to help the healing of survivors, to hold offending monks accountable and to prevent abuse. The interview is here.
Certain portions of these disclosed documents have been obscured (i.e, the names of victims and uninvolved persons, and social security numbers). These mark-ups, or redactions, were made out of concern for the rights and privacy of private persons, and to protect the rights and privacy of victims of sexual abuse.
The Walk-In Counseling Center in Minneapolis, MN, which has been engaged by Saint John’s Abbey to offer assistance to anyone who may have experienced abuse by a monk of the Abbey. Contact Mr. Gary Schoener. Telephone (612) 870-0565.
Is the transparency Initiative something new? Abbot: The name, Transparency Initiative, captures a 30-year record of the abbey taking effective actions to reach out to survivors, to hold offending monks accountable and to prevent abuse. Those who review the files will see a decades-long record of the abbey making public the names of monks who have offended, public outreach through the media to other potential survivors and a history of effective actions the abbey has taken to prevent abuse. The actions have been extraordinary and effective. We know of no incident of sexual abuse of a minor by a monk of Saint John’s in more than two decades.
Why aren’t the files of other monks who have been accused of abuse included? Abbot: The abbey has released comprehensive files of all monks who likely have offended against minors. When credible allegations have been presented, the abbey rigorously has implemented its sexual abuse policy regardless of the monk involved. This policy requires a thorough investigation of the claim by an expert, objective third-party. While some allegations have garnered headlines, the detailed and objective investigation found the claims to be unsubstantiated. The files released in the Transparency Initiative are those of all the monks, past and present, who have likely offended against minors. Claims that there are other offenders are simply false.
How do the files help survivors of abuse? Abbot: The release of the files is an acknowledgement of the harm that has been done. The files share heartbreaking and tragic details of suffering inflicted on survivors of misconduct. We in the monastic community grieve the pain and suffering of those who have been harmed, whose lives have been diminished by the pain they suffered. Survivors will find in these files a commitment to holding accountable those monks who have offended and a consistent record of effective actions to prevent abuse. It also is important that survivors – those who have come forward and those who have not yet made that decision – have complete and accurate information. The files provide that information.
Is the information in the files relevant to others? Abbot: Absolutely. It is important to evaluate the files in the context of a journey the abbey has been taking for the past quarter century or more. The release of the files is not the destination. The destination is defined by three critical goals: First, contributing to the healing of survivors; Second, holding accountable those monks who have offended; and, Third, preventing new incidents of abuse. The importance of the files and their release is not so much in their detail — although, we are hopeful that survivors will see in the detail the abbey’s commitment to acknowledging the harm that has been done and the priority we have placed on accountability — but the record the files collectively show of the abbey’s initiatives to reach out to survivors and to prevent new cases of abuse. What often gets lost in today’s headlines is that because of the effective actions the abbey has taken we know of no incident of sexual abuse of a minor by a monk of St. John’s in more than two decades.