THE EXECUTION OF THE HOLY SPIRIT Part Four Catholic Christian Brothers file for bankruptcy
by Kobutsu Malone
From the Link: http://www.bergencatholicabuse.com/
“The test of the morality of a society is what it does for its children.”
Serial Sexual Harassment, Assault & Battery by Irish Christian Brothers
at Bergen Catholic High School, Oradell, New Jersey: A memoir from 1964 Written on: January 20, 2002
Catholic Christian Brothers order files for bankruptcy
Fri Apr 29, 2011 1:59am EDT
Seattle attorney Michael Pfau said: “They made money taking over the care of children but put many of their members who were known abusers in charge of them,”
“Then they tried to cover it up. This bankruptcy is just another effort for them to avoid responsibility.”
|Boston College Law Review July 1, 2003The Impact Of Clergy Sexual Misconduct Litigation On Religious Liberty
Click here:Avoiding Moral Bankruptcy
By David A. Skeel Jr
CHRISTIAN BROTHERS BANKRUPTCY DOCUMENTS
|The Christian Brothers’ Debtors’ Claims Agent –
Omni Management Group:
|Omni Management Group Christian Brothers’ Institute, et al. Debtor Website
|A database listing of all the Christian Brothers (2650 names) in PDF format:
|A database listing of all Christian Brothers institutions in the US and Canada
(70 institutions) in PDF format:
On August first 2012, the “window of opportunity” closed to file a claim with the Federal Bankruptcy Court for sexual abuse against the “Christian” Brothers. While this event brings a halt to people filing for monetary claims against the order, it does not preclude others from telling their stories – the truth about what they experienced at the hands of some of these men. As everyone can see, this website contains stories by real people – most have chosen to remain anonymous and a few have used their real names. For every person who has come forward with their story there are dozens who have not for one reason or another. It is quite understandable for people to wish to avoid dragging up the unpleasant memories of the past.
Those of us who have told our stories have found some modicum of relief in doing so. Some have reported that just writing a few sentences about their horrendous treatment by “Christian” Brothers in the past has been “cathartic” as one man put it.
Please, if you are reading this website and you endured abuse or any sort of degrading treatment at the hands of the “Christian” Brothers or in any of their schools, please consider telling your story even if you weren’t abused yourself but simply witnessed the abuse of others. “Abuse” here does not mean just sexual abuse… it also means physical and psychological abuse. Anonymous narratives will be published and editorial assistance provided to protect the identities of those who choose to remain anonymous.
My heartfelt gratitude goes out to all who have come forward….
Feel free to call… 207 359-2555
A partial listing of accused Christian Brothers and the schools where they taught:
From the Jeff Anderson & Associates PA website.
Another man writes:
On October 1, 2011 9:44:44 PM EDT, *PW* wrote:
Dear Ven. Kobutsu,
I read your article with great interest. While I did not attend BC, I did attend Iona Prep and also graduated in 1964. I am not aware of any sexual abuse at Iona but the physical abuse occurred on a daily basis. It was common to be called to the front of the class to receive physical punishment known as “shots”. It was administered with a flexible leather strap (16” x 3″ x 1/2″) on your hands or backside. Typically you would receive 3 shots on each hand or 6 on your backside. Afterwards your hands or backside would burn and be numb for at least an hour. There was edema also. (One boy was hospitalized because a brother hit him so many times on his backside.) This punishment would be meted out for talking in class, fooling around, etc. The brothers and a few lay teachers would also come down the isle and slap you so hard across the face that it would knock you out of your desk.
We didn’t know any better at the time but looking back I realize that some of the brothers were really sick. Typically the most abusive of the lot were also the worst teachers. Today they’d be in jail.
I hated my 4 years at Iona and I don’t believe I got a very good education. They told me I probably was not suited for college. I did go to college and also law school and successfully practiced law for 40 years.
If you have any more stories I’d like to hear them.
“Typically you would receive 3 shots on each hand or 6 on your backside. Afterwards your hands or backside would burn and be numb for at least an hour. There was edema also. (One boy was hospitalized because a brother hit him so many times on his backside.) “
A “Christian” Brothers internally weighted strap:
SOURCE: ‘A MOST UNENVIABLE REPUTATION’
THE CHRISTIAN BROTHERS AND SCHOOL
DISCIPLINE OVER TWO CENTURIES
Barry M. Coldrey PH.D
“No Instrument of punishment is to be used in the schools except a strap of leather, that is not to exceed 13 inches in length, 1.25 inches in width, and 0.25 inch in thickness. In junior schools the strap is to be of smaller dimensions: and in each case the strap is to be supplied by the agent for the sale of our books, Dublin.”
An implement specifically manufactured to inflict severe pain on adolescent boys.
Coins were routinely sewn into the interior laminate to add weight.
Another man writes:
On Dec 8, 2011, at 8:53 PM, *Brian* wrote:
I went to an Irish Christian Brothers HS in Chicago in the 1960’s. I was never aware of any sexual molestation during my four years there. However, physical abuse of a violent nature was common. It was so common, we students just accepted it as normal and never complained to our parents.
When I look back, I can remember several Brothers who were good men and first rate educators. Thanks to the education they provided for me, I was accepted at the Univ. of Notre Dame, where I did very well.
There were also a number of Brothers who were mean and verbally abusive. They seemed intent on destroying our self esteem.
Then there were those few who were physically abusive. They would beat, with their fists, a skinny freshman to his knees for accidentally walking up a “down” staircase. They would punch kids for accidentally bumping into one of them. They would grab kids by the throat and shove them into a bus line, just to move back the line. I could go on and on with examples like these. Occasionally, I get together with HS friends and we have a tendency to laugh about what these violent Brothers did. I guess that is how we have always dealt with memories of those abusive cowards.
“They would beat, with their fists, a skinny freshman to his knees for accidentally walking up a ‘down’ staircase. They would punch kids for accidentally bumping into one of them. They would grab kids by the throat and shove them into a bus line, just to move back the line. “
A Former Catholic Priest / Christian Brother Speaks of Being Sexually Abused in the Order
Friday, January 13, 2012
|“I was 18. I had been groomed through high school in Newark, New Jersey. One Christian brother told me that I was such a bright student that he needed to have me in his senior year English honors class and I politely rejected his offer. He moved me into that class anyway and began to take me to Broadway shows and movies and began the grooming process, as we call it.Well, fortunately, he didn’t touch me at that time, but I then entered the Congregation of Christian Brothers and I was abused by four or five different men as I entered the Christian Brothers and went through the Christian Brothers.”
Robert M. Hoatson
The following letter was sent on Jan. 19, 2012
To all the men who have responded so far:
From: Kobutsu Malone <email@example.com>
Sent: Thursday, January 19, 2012 9:55 AM
To: Kobutsu Malone
Bcc: Undisclosed recipients
Subject: The Christian Brothers – Charlie IrwinGentlemen:
This past Friday, January 13, 2012, I went to Boston to meet with an attorney representing the Christian Brothers in the presence of my attorney, Mr. Mitchell Garabedian of Boston. The meeting was precipitated by the original letter I wrote in January, 2002, (the basis of the bergencatholicabuse.com website essay). The Christian Brothers attorney denied having seen the website and asserted that he was only responding to the claim filed by my attorney, Mr. Garabedian.
The meeting’s bottom line is that the Christian Brothers have admitted that they are aware that Brother Charlie Irwin was “heavy handed” with students but maintain that they have not received claims alleging sexual misconduct by Brother Irwin. This may or may not be true; we have no way of knowing.
In order to proceed with my claim which seeks a public apology to all of us I am strongly requesting that those of us who experienced Brother Irwin’s “hands down the pants routine” speak with my attorney to corroborate my account of Brother Irwin’s behavior. This will be done in a completely confidential manner; no one’s name will be made public unless the informant is willing to stand up publicly as I have done.
I sense that the Christian Brothers organization is finally paying attention. I sent a letter to them a decade ago; it has taken this long, and a formal complaint, to receive this response.
Please look on the website; in the redacted letters there are three men who specifically mention Brother Irwin putting his hands down our pants, into our “butt-cracks”, smelling his fingers, and so on.
I am begging all of you who have courageously written to me to take the next step by speaking with Mr. Garabedian confidentially. Please help me with this – it’s taken ten years and a lot of effort to finally bring this to light.
Mr. Mitchell Garabedian, Esq.
Please email or call me to let me know when you have made contact. Thank you all for responding to the website and making it clear that I am not alone in reporting the trauma we all endured.
10 Years On, Clergy Abuse Scandal Still Reverberates
Tuesday, January 24, 2012
|Host Neal Conan speaks with Boston Globe reporter Michael Rezendes, who was part of the reporting team that broke the story in 2002. Neal also speaks with Suzin Bartley, executive director of the Children’s Trust Fund, who worked with the Catholic church’s Oversight and Implementation Committee, and Mitchell Garabedian, an attorney who represents several victims of sex abuse within the Catholic church.|
The following letter speaks for itself:
Brian Marcellus Walsh
A.K.A. “The Hammer”
Log entries concerning Br. Brian Walsh:
Wrote narrative: THE EXECUTION OF THE HOLY SPIRIT: 1/20/02
The Most Reverend John J. Myers, J.C.D., D.D. – Archbishop of Newark, NJ
Bro. Brian Walsh – Christian Brother’s Provincial, New Rochelle, NY
Bergen Catholic High School, Oradell Avenue, Oradell, NJ
My father; Kevin B. Malone, Mahwah, NJ
Emailed to the Oradell Police Department, Oradell, NJ
Received phone call from Sargent Michael Oslacky – OPD a few days later:
“Criminal statute of limitation expired.”
One year and four months later:
Received Phone Call from Anthony Dougherty, Esq. – Christian Brothers General Counsel June 10, 2003
He asked me if I had heard from Brother Brian Walsh, he persisted asking if I had talked to Walsh and I informed him several times that I had not heard from, Brother Walsh, the Archbishop, Bergen Catholic or my father. He told me that he would do an investigation and that nothing could take place until he had some corroborating information. He said he would track down alumni who had been in my homeroom to establish that indeed the abuse had taken place. He told me not to do anything and that he would call me back and we could proceed from there.
Eight months following: No return call from Dougherty
My Followup Phone Call to Mr. Anthony Dougherty, Esq. February 24, 2004
He reported that he had sent emails to the BC Alumni list and had received no response — he did not follow up. I informed him that I had an attorney – he brusquely stated that he could no longer talk with me and hung up.
Anthony Dougherty, Esq.
In the intervening years, over thirty men have contacted me from Bergen Catholic. Not a single man has ever reported having been contacted by Dougherty.
A letter received from the Oradell Police Department on May 12, 2012:
Lieutenant Michael Oslacky
Then Sargent Oslacky, Oradell Police Department:
“Letter alleges that he and fellow classmates were subjected to criminal sexual contact by a Brother who was teaching at the school. Detective contacted Bergen Catholic and was informed that the accused is deceased.”
~ Ten years later ~
Brother Brian Walsh, Bergen Catholic:
“To our knowledge, those allegations do not involve Bergen Catholic.”
“In 2011, after the death of my father, I learned that he had changed his Will some thirty odd days after I wrote and shared with him the above essay about how we were sexually abused in Bergen Catholic High School that he insisted I attend.”
“Instead of dividing the family three and a half million dollar legacy three equal ways as he had arranged with my predeceased mother – between myself and my two children (each receiving one third of the estate) he completely left out his grandchildren from his new Will and left me with a token payment of five thousand dollars to forestall any potential litigation. The remainder of the estate was left to The University of Nottingham, England that he never attended.”
On Feb 7, 2012, Bishop Kearney HS, Rochester, NY sent out the following letter to their alumni:
Diarmuid Martin, Roman Catholic Archbishop of Dublin.
“Abuse isn’t – it isn’t – it isn’t just the, you know, the actual sexual acts, which are horrendous, but sexual abuse of a child is – it’s a total abuse of power. It’s actually saying to a child, ‘I control you.’ And that is saying to the child, ‘You’re worthless.’ “
“There’s a real danger today of people saying – ‘The child abuse scandal is over. Let’s bury it. Let’s move on.’ It isn’t over. Child protection and the protection of children is something will go on – for – for – you know, for the rest of our lives
On Feb 15, 2012, SNAP wrote:
Four Christian Brothers from a NJ/NY metro Catholic high school to be exposed as abusers of boys
Christian Brothers declare bankruptcy to shield their secrets and cut their losses
Victims of Christian Brothers have a short time to come forward and report their abuse
Changing laws in NY/NJ will help victims and expose child predators
WHAT: A sidewalk demonstration by victims of childhood sexual abuse with signs and photos which will: REVEAL the names of four religious order abusers who taught at a northern New Jersey high school and other schools in the NY metropolitan area; SHOW how school and religious order officials kept the information secret for years; EXPLAIN how the religious order that owns and runs the school declared bankruptcy to protect itself from embarrassment and abuse trials; SHOW how bills before the NJ/NY legislatures can expose child abusers.
Outside Bergen Catholic High School, 1040 Oradell Avenue, Oradell, NJ
Thursday, February 16, 2012 at 10:30 AM
WHO: Three or four victims of child sex abuse, including a Maine man who is a victim of a Bergen Catholic High School Christian Brother. Also attending will be a former Christian Brother who was abused by Christian Brothers and who founded a non-profit charity that assists victims of child abuse, Road to Recovery, Inc.
WHY: The Congregation of Christian Brothers (the Irish Christian Brothers or ICBs), declared bankruptcy in April, 2011, to avoid embarrassing public trials in dozens of child sexual abuse lawsuits in the Seattle area. They are also facing more than 250 allegations of abuse in Canada. http://www.irishcentral.com/news/Mounting-sexual-abuse-claims-causes-US-Christian-Brothers-to-file-for-bankruptcy–121020724.html
A judge has set a deadline of August 1, 2012 for victims of Christian Brothers to come forward and report their abuse. Attendees will encourage other victims to come forward and report their abuse.
The Christian Brothers have run schools and child agencies in the NY/NJ metropolitan area since the early 1900s, including Bergen Catholic High School, Oradell, NJ since 1955.
Research has uncovered that Bergen Catholic High School had or has a number of abusive Christian Brothers on its staff. Victims will expose the abusers’ names and histories to warn the community and alumni of the danger that existed or exists at the school. Also discussed will be the laws in NJ and NY that have been proposed to give victims of sexual abuse their day in court.
Robert M. Hoatson, Ph.D., Co-founder and President, Road to Recovery, Inc.; firstname.lastname@example.org 862-368-2800 – www.road-to-recovery.org
Pictures from the demonstration/press conference held by abuse survivors on Thursday February 16, 2012:
Photos by Sean C. Malone
A man responds to Br. Brian Walsh’s letter of February 14
On Feb 16, 2012, at 3:15 PM, *Xxxxxxx* wrote:
Click on the above thumbnail to see the full size pdf.
(Joseph L. Branciforte ’64, is the Bergen Catholic High School Director of Institutional Advancement)
|Brother Brian M. Walsh||Joseph L. Branciforte|
Thomas Schwarz, BC Class of 1966, responds to Br. Brian Walsh’s letter to alumni of February 14
“An Open Letter”
Your statement about “credible claims” is untrue, or at best is a witness to your attempt to deceive, disavow or disenable the true stories of sexual abuse, physical abuse and emotional torment and degradation that occurred at Bergen Catholic in the 1960’s. I personally communicated with 25 classmates, telling of my own experiences of abuse by Brother Siebert and Brother Irwin. Of those 25 classmates, 23 stated that they experienced the same, or worse. Some, far worse. All but a handful expressed a sense of hopelessness and futility in addressing such matters with Bergen Catholic or any branch of the Catholic Church. Several urged me to “put it all behind” me. None suggested that I offer forgiveness to the offenders.
When I visited your school several years ago I met with the principal, Mrs. Millus, and two alumni, including Jim Jacobson, ’66. They politely walked me through the school, and in our conversation admitted there were indeed some serious instances of abuse. Those admissions of wrongs were half of what I sought. The other piece of my quest was for an apology on behalf of the school. You, Brother Walsh, have not offered an apology and have, in effect, rescinded the acknowledgement of guilt that was previously proffered to me. I’m sure that your attorney suggested this stance. You were not personally involved in those horrible, haunting experiences, but you had an opportunity to resolve them. But you chose the other way. You are a coward and perpetrator by association, and silence.
cc: James Stang, Mitchell Garabedian, Michael Pfau
How Brother Walsh, et al. could have responded to the receipt of my letter in January, 2002:
A four page letter sent to The Honorable Robert D. Drain, United States Bankruptcy Judge for the Southern District of New York (handling the Christian Brothers bankruptcy filing) on February 21, 2012:
An alumnus from 1968: On February 24, 2012 – Bill wrote:
Add my name to your list of abused B.C. students.
There are many parts of your “story” that I could have written.
While at Bergen, most of the abusive teachers left me alone. I entered Bergen at 195 pounds, and graduated weighing over 210, but I was no match for Br. Waldron. [Brother Gerald Michael Waldron]
One day, Br. Waldron was having a bad day, and decided to take it out on me. While at my hall locker, he approached me from behind and started to pummel me. I got punched in the ribs and kicked in the legs with his heavy black shoes. He finished me off by knocking out some of my teeth with two blows to the side of my face. I didn’t fight back, and it wasn’t because I thought that if you struck a Brother you would be hit by a bolt of lightning! I was bigger and stronger than Br. Waldron but didn’t raise a hand. Two wrongs don’t make a right, and I am sure Br. Waldron knew that if I did fight back to defend myself, I would have to tell my parents I was expelled from school. It wasn’t always the smallest and weakest kids who got picked on.
I went home to my parents that afternoon after track practice. My mother took one look at me and immediately saw my black eyes and missing teeth. Then I showed her my black and blue ribs and legs.
I could barely walk or talk and my battered ribs made it difficult to breathe. What was the first thing my mother said?… “so what did you do to deserve this?” I explained the story and fortunately she believed me, or probably believed me at least enough to call Br. A.X. Kean, the Principal, for a meeting. The meeting was attended by Brothers Kean and Waldron, my parents and me. During the meeting I vividly recall two things. One; Br. Waldron apologized. He stated he had a bad day, and was upset with another student who he mistakenly thought was me. Two; my parents asked Br. Kean for reimbursement of future dental bills, which he denied. He said that we had two choices, forget the matter, or pursue charges against Br. Waldron.
But pursuing charges carried one caveat. If we decided to pursue charges, Br. Kean said Bergen Catholic would dismiss me from B.C., and I would have to go elsewhere to finish high school.
My parents took the easy route, and told me to keep quiet, and keep my head down. I did, and never had one experience with “jug” (detention) my entire time at Bergen! But I never forgot the beating.
Within a year or two, we were told that Br. Waldron not only left Bergen, but also left the brotherhood. The story was that he had an “anger management problem”, so I suspect that I was not the only student who had a run-in with him.
The ribs healed as did my black and blue legs, but the nightmares startted… and to top it off, my parents didn’t have enough money to fix my teeth.
While you and I are survivors and the physical wounds have healed, to this day I still have nightmares “fighting off men who are trying to hurt me”. Sometimes my wife finds me standing up on the bed, screaming, yelling and punching the air trying to protect myself. Once I dove off the bed and almost cracked open my skull.
My son attended our local public school system, and I am sure he wondered why we never considered a local Christian Brothers high school (CBA), for his high school education. Perhaps someday I will share this eMail with him, and then he will understand.
Very cathartic… thank you for organizing your web page.
B.C. Class of 1968
“One day, Br. Waldron was having a bad day, and decided to take it out on me. While at my hall locker, he approached me from behind and started to pummel me. I got punched in the ribs and kicked in the legs with his heavy black shoes. He finished me off by knocking out some of my teeth with two blows to the side of my face.”
“I went home to my parents that afternoon after track practice. My mother took one look at me and immediately saw my black eyes and missing teeth.”
“Then I showed her my black and blue ribs and legs.”
Evidently other Christian Brothers affiliated schools are sending out similar letters. February 25, 2012:
An article from the Monterey County Herald:
A more accurate statement would have read:
“Importantly, NO ONE on Palma’s PRESENT staff
is named in the Court document”
A pdf file and letter sent by an alumnus on February 25, 2012:
Br. Walsh’s wording in the denial sentence differs from that in his letter to Students, Administrators and Staff.
The above letter was sent in by an alumnus. Here is a snippet from his cover letter that accompanied the scan of Br. Walsh’s missive.
“Thank you for the reply and kind thoughts. Attached is the letter I received saved as a PDF. The envelope had an undated bulk mail stamp.
At first read I thought the vague nature of the Walsh letter was a due to the advise of council to protect the school but upon reading the trials of Robert Hoatson, it’s apparent that Walsh is acting to cover himself.
When the Hoatson / Egan story first made the press years ago I completely tuned it out. A friend from BC mentioned that Ferro was implicated I just brushed it off. I had no idea just how horrendous his actions were, that his transfer to BC in ’81 was part of the huge cover up and how much danger I and my fellow students were in.
Now realizing that Mr. Hoatson was dragged through the lake of fire by these organized criminals I wish I paid more attention. I want to reiterate that I never suffered from the sexual abuse he and others were subjected to but there certainly were times when my level of “curiosity” was tested. Had I been born gay I believe that would have been exploited at BC. The events surrounding Mr. Ford are just numbing. At some point I will listen to the recording. I’m still processing that series of events.”
The document referred to above [ ROBERT M. HOATSON, AMENDED VERIFIED COMPLAINT Index No.: 07-102959 ] is a complaint filed in the New York State Supreme Court on August 14, 2007. The document contains hundreds of extremely serious accusations leveled at numerous Irish Christian Brothers and other Catholic clergy including The Archbishop of Newark, New Jersey.
Accusations by the former Irish Christian Brother specifically relate to Bergan Catholic’s Brother Brian Walsh, including the following:
|114. Upon information and belief, Brother Brian Walsh, former Provincial of the Eastern American Province, to whom the plaintiff reported his abuse during his years as a Christian Brother, and who is a good friend of the plaintiff’s abuser, Father John O’Brien, has been sexually involved with Brother James Mac Donald, President of Catholic Memorial High School in Boston, for a number of years, and Brother Walsh acted repeatedly to prohibit the plaintiff from filing a legal claim in a timely fashion against offending brothers.|
Brother Brian M. Walsh
Brother James Mac Donald
The “Mr. Ford” referred to above is Br. Thomas Cuthbert Ford.
From the New York Times:
Here are examples of Br. Ford’s “thuggish” teaching style…
Br. Thomas Cuthbert Fordhttp://www.bergencatholicabuse.com/audio/Brother_Ford.mp3
August 21, 2000 Bergen Record article:
|http://www.bishop-accountability.org/news3/2000_08_21_Voreacos_ExBergenTeacher_Thomas_C_Ford_4.htmEx-Bergen Teacher Faces Old Charges in Canada
Abuse Case at Orphanage Led to Scandal
By David Voreacos
Ending an extradition battle, Brother Thomas Cuthbert Ford, a former Bergen Catholic High School teacher, is to appear in a Canadian courtroom next week to face charges that he brutally beat a boy at an orphanage four decades ago.
A member of the Christian Brothers, a Roman Catholic order, Ford, 66, had spent more than a year fighting his extradition on charges that he beat the boy and four others at the orphanage between 1956 and 1959. But Ford, who taught math at Bergen Catholic from 1986 to 1996, has agreed to drop his extradition fight and to appear in court in St. John’s, Newfoundland, said his attorney, William Bailey. In exchange for Ford’s return, prosecutors in St. John’s have agreed to drop eight counts of simple assault against him, but will retain a charge of assault causing bodily injury, Bailey said. The only count remaining will be a charge that Ford used a belt to savagely beat Edgar Hartery, 14, in a shower as a roomful of boys watched, Bailey said.
“We’d like to go as soon as possible to address this and be done with it,” he added.
Ford, who had lived in Hackensack for the past two years, is scheduled to appear in provincial court in St. John’s on Thursday afternoon, said John Brooks, the Newfoundland prosecutor on the case.
Sources have said that Ford’s attorney in Newfoundland, David Eaton, was negotiating a guilty plea in recent months. But it was unclear whether Ford will plead guilty Thursday, and Eaton couldn’t be reached for comment.
Ford taught at the troubled Mount Cashel Orphanage in St. John’s from 1956 to 1959. Complaints of physical and sexual abuse by teachers during that period later surfaced, and police arrested nine brothers and civilians in 1989.
Those nine were convicted, and dozens of former students came forward with allegations of abuse at the orphanage, which the Roman Catholic Church closed in 1990. Disclosures about the school’s past captured Canadian headlines, driven in part by a television docudrama and multimillion-dollar lawsuits by victims.
Ford taught at various Christian Brothers institutions in the United States between 1959 and 1996, including Bergen Catholic. But he went into hiding in November 1996, when he was one of seven men indicted in a new round of charges by Canadian prosecutors seeking justice for the decades-old abuse.
Prosecutors accused Ford of beating five boys, including Hartery.
“Ford just nailed me with the thick black belt,” Hartery told a detective in 1992, according to court records. “He hit me everywhere. Across the back, the arms, the legs, the whole body. When he stopped, he just walked away. The other boys in the shower room were petrified.” In March 1999, Canada asked the United States to extradite Ford. Federal prosecutors in Newark asked U.S. District Judge Stanley R. Chesler to order his return to Newfoundland.
But Ford’s attorneys argued last summer that his alleged crimes were simple assaults that would have drawn little jail time in the United States. Although the statute of limitations would have expired after five years in the United States, there is no such statute in Canada.
Ford’s lawyers also contended that his actions were not crimes but forms of corporal punishment that were common at the time.
Chesler said he had “grave doubts” about whether he should order Ford’s extradition because of the disparity in sentencing between the two countries. But he reserved judgment while the parties negotiated a settlement.
On Tuesday, Chesler signed an order that allows Ford to return voluntarily to Newfoundland to”resolve the charges that form the basis of the extradition complaint that is pending against him.” Chesler also agreed to modify the travel restriction in Ford’s $ 600,000 bail package, which had limited his travel to New Jersey and New York.
Bailey would not reveal Ford’s current address, other than to say he lives in New Jersey.
Ford had lived until late May in a Hackensack apartment complex, where neighbors described him as quiet and friendly but also mysterious. He told neighbors he had a doctorate, which he did not, and that he was leaving to work overseas for the government to qualify for a pension. “I said, ‘Send us a card, ” said one neighbor who requested anonymity.”He said, ‘I can’t do that, the government won’t let me.’ As he was leaving, he said, ‘By the way, my name is not Tom Ford.”
“Ford just nailed me with the thick black belt,” Hartery told a detective in 1992, according to court records. “He hit me everywhere. Across the back, the arms, the legs, the whole body. When he stopped, he just walked away. The other boys in the shower room were petrified.”
“Ford’s lawyers also contended that his actions were not crimes but forms of corporal punishment that were common at the time.”
Mount Cashel Orphanage
St. John’s, Newfoundland
Obituary: Rev. Thomas Cuthbert Ford
Died December 24, 2008
An alumnus from the Class of ’65 wrties in:
On February 26, 2012 2:17:19 PM EST, *Floyd* wrote:
Feel free to share this
I was a sophomore in 1963 at BC in the “A” class and we had Brother Irwin for math. We tended to be far ahead of the other classes that year in math lessons so we had time in some of the classes for Irwin to “teach” us other things…he taught us how to gamble with his “Lucky 7” gambling strips (what organized crime calls “the numbers’); he let us bet on baseball – “Pick 3 major league players and if they get 5 hits between them on the next day “, you win 3 to 1 your money bet. He taught us about the stock market and gave us his ‘tips’ …but every now and then he went on a tirade. One day he asked us “who do you want to get in the other classes?” – not knowing what he meant we selected a kid named Dennis from the “F” class. He was sent to our room and in front of all of us, for no reason, Irwin made him bend over and smashed him with a wide leather strap.
One day it was my turn… I was small for my age and I guess he thought I was vulnerable. He had threatened us for a while with something he called a “stinger” but none of us knew what he meant. He told us to close our books one day for one of his ‘lessons’ and I guess I did not close mine fast enough… after calling me an “anarchist” and some other ridiculous things he dragged me to the back of the room, made me lean over another student, yanked my shirttail out and smacked my lower back as hard as he could about 40 or 50 times. I don’t know if he used his hand or a belt because I was too terrified to look.
I think I was more shocked and embarrassed than anything else. I remember digging my hands into the back of the poor student I was draped over. When I went down to track practice later that day, my teammates took one look at my back and could not believe what they were looking at – red welts and the skin broken. I never said a word to my parents.
I stayed out his way after that and he left me alone.
I realized now that almost all the abuse took place in freshman and sophomore years, when the brothers were bigger than us and we were more likely not to fight back. I think that is why these deranged people tended to teach the Freshman and Sophomore classes.
There were many other incidents mostly harmless – throwing chalk and erasers at us etc.- where these socially mal adjusted people could not deal with a class of 30 teen age boys. Sure we played practical jokes but their ability to deal with us was insane as I look back on it now. One year, a Mr. Halligan (who would go out and pole vault during lunch time to the amazement of the entire student body), hit my friend Jimmy with a closed fist in the Bookstore, knocking him senseless. His parents protested and Halligan was gone.
Another time, a lay teacher, Mr. Liggio – the baseball coach – went absolutely insane on a classmate named Mike who said, “Yes, Mr. Liggio” in a very effeminate voice. Liggio picked him up, while still in his desk and threw him into the hallway. For about 90 seconds we heard the lockers rattling. What is doubly sad is that another teacher, hearing this, came into our classroom to watch over us while all this was going on the hallway. Soon, the door opened and Mike was slid back in-still in his desk-bleeding from his ears. Another day at BC…..
For a long time I thought of these experiences the way we think of military boot camp — a difficult but necessary part of the discipline process. Today we know it for what it really was. After reading all these accounts, I understand now how I simply rationalized all this.
I understand why me and my fellow students never said anything. What I cannot forgive is that the rest of the staff -people I really respected – Mr. Rollins, Mr Donfield, Brother JB Walsh, Brother Tracey, Brother Lipps, Brother Dornbos, Jim Sokoloski – allowed this to go on while they obviously knew about it. Maybe these guys were fearful for their job. The ability of the Catholic Church to look the other way when it serves their interest, was and continues to be, shameful.
Funny thing is , that overall, I have very positive memories of BC…my friends, classmates and teammates. I guess most of us tend to push the negatives out and remember mostly the positives.
“I was a sophomore in 1963 at BC in the “A” class and we had Brother Irwin for math.”
“One day it was my turn… I was small for my age and I guess he thought I was vulnerable. He had threatened us for a while with something he called a “stinger” but none of us knew what he meant. He told us to close our books one day for one of his ‘lessons’ and I guess I did not close mine fast enough… after calling me an “anarchist” and some other ridiculous things he dragged me to the back of the room, made me lean over another student, yanked my shirttail out and smacked my lower back as hard as he could about 40 or 50 times. I don’t know if he used his hand or a belt because I was too terrified to look.”
“I think I was more shocked and embarrassed than anything else. I remember digging my hands into the back of the poor student I was draped over. When I went down to track practice later that day, my teammates took one look at my back and could not believe what they were looking at – red welts and the skin broken. I never said a word to my parents.”
|Brian S. Halligan||Victor L. Liggio|
A man follows up on his letter to Joseph Barnciforte of February 16.
On Mar 3, 2012, at 4:20 PM, *Xxxxxxx* wrote:
On March 7, 2012 Brother Brian M.Walsh wrote:
From: Brian M.Walsh <President@BergenCatholic.org>
Date: March 7, 2012 11:51:19 PM
Subject: Response to your email
Dear Mr *Xxxxxxx*,
I thank you for following up your first email to Joe Branciforte with your most recent one. My apology for not responding. As directed, he did show the first email to me. I did not understand that you were expecting a response.
Your letter was an opportunity for me to reflect and to examine the present situation and the letter that I wrote to parents. I was especially sensitive to your admonition that I not act as the bishops have acted.
As the leader of a healthcare institution, I know you are acutely aware of the delicate nature of communicating information as clearly as possible while respecting the rights and privacy of all parties. Complex issues have layers of communication and information around them; this is certainly one of those issues. I understand you and I have differing views of the letter I wrote to parents. Please know that I have taken your comments seriously and have taken your suggestion and reviewed the letter during the past few days a number of times. While you may disagree, I believe it portrays what is known at this time.
I thank you again for caring enough about Bergen Catholic to write.
Brother Brian M. Walsh
The above letter is an exquisite example of moral and ethical bankruptcy in action:
“The delicate nature of communicating information”
“You have to be very careful what you say when orchestrating an ongoing cover-up.”
On March 10, 2012 Matthew Harbowy ’87 wrote:
From: Matthew Harbowy
Subject: My story of abuse
Date: March 10, 2012 4:58:43 AM EST
To: email@example.comDear Rev Kobutsu Malone:
I wanted to thank you for your website, which I noticed for the first time having received bankruptcy notifications in the mail today. I would like you to feel free to add me to your list of victims, and would like to share with you my story as well. I have published it on my Facebook and Livejournal at
I received a letter this evening, with a link to the above website, and realized that the real horrorshow that is the “Christian Brothers” is on the brink of imminent collapse. Praise, and AMEN. I am one of the lucky ones: instead of one of my classmates, it could have been me. I am seeing the many stories of my fellow classmates at Bergen Catholic and feel that I too must stand up and tell my story. I am a witness to many abuses, though, and feel ashamed that I, for how much social work I have tried to do, have not stood up and done something about this before now.
http://www.bergencatholicabuse.com/ (warning, much disturbing content in this link)
$74m in assets. $7m in secured debt. Liability claims: unknown. The lawyers are circling to take down an institution that was started by a deeply religious man, Edmund Ignatius Rice, whose life was struck by tragedy when his wife died in a carriage accident. He devoted his life to the education and the service to the poor. He understood that the boundary between success and tragedy in this world is a fine line we all walk.
My story is unlike, and yet like, many of the abused victims: for me, ironic as it may seem, Bergen Catholic was the better of two evils, even though better for me doesn’t make something less evil. I was a very skinny kid, too smart for my own good, effeminate and with few social skills. I say skinny, but think about this- other parents used to bully my parents for raising an “ethiopian kid” (the butt of a common, cruel joke at the time due to the famine), I was that skinny. Little kids half my age used to come up unprompted to me at the Jersey shore and call me “Ichabod Crane”, due to my resemblance to the nerdy victim of Sleepy Hollow in a popular cartoon of the era. To this day, to hear those words makes my stomach turn no matter how good looking Johnny Depp was playing him, but that was my nickname- “Icky”, in school. I’ve never repeated that name before to another soul beside my wife, and it’s kind of scary to out this, so please respect that I don’t talk about Ichabod, ever, with anyone.
Public schools in my neighborhood were run by bullies, both teachers and students. My sixth grade english teacher physically and mentally abused me to the point where I would come home in tears every day, often with a beating from the local bullies to boot. If I struck back or sounded off in any way, I would be punished mercilessly. I remember being singled out to sit separate from the rest of the class along with the dumbest kid in the class, and was often mocked and told to keep my mouth shut. They knew what they did was wrong: on parents day, suddenly I’m seated among the other kids in class.
In order to give me enough respite to survive my childhood, my parents pulled their meager finances together and sent me to catholic school for 7th grade. Small classes, no bullies; that single event the summer of ’85 (and the fact that my parents did not keep guns) is probably the only thing that kept me from having my name mentioned in the same breath as places like Columbine. To this day, I still struggle with the anger, the depression, and the legacy of bullying. Don’t pity me, though- I’m doing really well. I’m a white man, after all, and ashamed that that’s the truth- that I could endure what I endured, and it’s still better than what happens to many poor people, female people, and people of color every day in this world.
One day, at the town pool, one of the smaller-sized bullies was giving me the ususal attitude and I took a long pole and struck him on the side of the leg. He wound up with a nice welt, ran off and told on me to his parents. My family was told that unless I apologized, they would all be thrown out of the pool “for life”. I refused. The pool superintendant knew I was going to catholic school and church and tried to manipulate me, say I should “turn the other cheek”- but when you turn your cheek every day to the taunts, eventually you get tired. At the behest of my mother, I finally relented and apologized. I told my mother, “I’m doing it for you, and so that you don’t get punished for what I did, not because it was wrong”.
The older me? Realizes hitting people is always wrong. Realizes war and violence are never, never, never the answer. Violence and abuse, though, take many forms.
I’m lucky. My parents love me more than their own comfort. After a few years in a nurturing catholic grammar school got me emotionally on my feet (despite its own occasional lapse into fucked up), I applied to a couple of the local catholic high schools, and was proud that I not only won admission, but a $500 (extremely partial) scholarship to the “best of the best”, Bergen Catholic.
I was used to the abuse of my peers, and thought nothing of the conditions that awaited me as I walked through those doors. Kids continued to pick on me, but it didn’t kill me, and the environment, so i’m told, saved me from adding the confusion of “girls” into that mix, if that means anything in retrospect.
In those days, parents used corporal punishment to keep their kids in line. I am not going to sugar coat it: raising children is a tough job, and children will bring you closer to the brink of your patience than mere mortals ever will. I wasn’t a bad kid: but I was incessantly curious about the world and occasionally would roam into situations that would be potentially hazardous to me. Given the choice of remembering a slap on the wrist versus being struck by a car (having experience both as a kid, very minorly, in my time) I’ll take the former.
Bergen Catholic teachers were proud of corporal punishment. I remember it being a selling point to parents: public schools can’t do this to your kids, we do. Many of the brothers wielded rulers. (rereading this, I’m struck by the (coincidence?) that none of the lay teachers, only the brothers, wielded rulers) One, Br Staniecki, had a piece of plexiglass he called “Cindy”. To me, this didn’t seem strange. Really, I didn’t reach full sexual maturity until age 20 and was completely unaware of “sadomasochism” or any sex. I had “funny urges” but they were completely unconnected to either gender- but seeing nothing but straight role models, I did what every boy did- went to dances and stood on the sidelines most nights, completely mystified on how to approach, talk to, the “other sex”.
If I were (still) christian, I might be thankful that Jesus watched over me and protected me from the worst of these creeps. As it is, I can only feel shame that Jesus may have wached over me, but did not watch over my classmate my junior year when Brother Ferro abused the sophomore class president and was “sent to florida to reconsider his vocation”. One day he’s my english teacher, next day he’s not. I remember the boy as a friend who rode my bus with me in the morning, and we traded geek boy programs for our Commodore 64s. We weren’t close, but he didn’t deserve what happened during and after that. Everybody labeled him as a “fag” for having attracted the attentions of a brother. I really didn’t even know what that meant, really, I was just kind of glad they didn’t call me that.
Brother Ferro was a serial abuser. Note well: he wasn’t sent to “florida”, he was (as best I can discover) sent to Paramus (the next town over!) and then to Boston, where he did it again according to the affidavit above. He was “sent” many places between 1970 and 2002 but always put back in charge of kids. I’m sure at the time, the officials in the Order never thought there would be an Internet, a database or discussion area where the collective experiences of up to 500 kids a year per school could reconstruct all of the millions of lies they were told. I don’t know what was shared with the parents, if they knew what went on. Sometimes I hope that if they actually knew, they’d have burned it to the ground with the brothers still inside, honestly.
I’m sure if you’ve read this until now, you are feeling quite squeamish. I can only apologize if the material I’ve linked and written about upsets you, but really, this is the place where I write what happens down, and where I can write what happened down in my own name. If you’ve read this far and want to stop, now’s a good time, we’re at the halfway point. Thank you for listening. And, if you are a member of any organization that you know that tolerates any amount of bullying or sexual abuse, voice your objection. Don’t be a bully, and don’t let others be a bully. If you were abused, I encourage you to stand up and tell your story.
I had a protector. His name was Mr Irwin, and he “protected” the kids who weren’t star athletes on the football team. He protected kids like me, and being on the bowling team was a nice, “nerdy” way to gain the protection of a PE teacher. (What kind of fucked up world do we live in that “protection”- like the Mafia gives, or like strong armed peers, is a good thing?) If other students harassed you, they might find themselves hurled up against a locker in the strong, six foot six, 200 pound grasp of Mr Irwin.
What I never realized until a year or two ago was that Mr Irwin was the somewhat grumpy but affable “good twin” of his “evil twin” (biological, not “really” twin, fyi) brother, Br. Irwin, who served at Bergen Catholic in the sixties. The websites I have linked to above document his “exploits” with kids. I don’t know what Mr. Irwin thinks about those events, how well he sleeps at night, but he protected me, never laid a hand on me, and for that I am grateful. (Was he a former brother?) I guess becase I pursued a sport, any sport, no matter how “nerdy”, you got protected, cause it made you “a man”, and while that may seem absurd if you’ve never peeked beyond the curtain of white male privilege in this society, I think it’s a reasonbable observation.
I had few friends at Bergen. I think, because most kids were much richer than my family. I remember one kid (bragging?)/complaining that he took a ride in his brand new Porsche with four linebacker friends and blew out the tires from the weight. Wealth brought drugs, lots of hard drugs, and girls. I rolled my eyes, and hung out with the “poor kids”, the geeks, the stoners, the rebels, and the “artsy fairies”, while the jocks “roided” and tore the house up with impunity. I was fairly religious because to be religious was just another outlet to study, debate, think, rather than pursue violence. It was with a little schadenfreude, though, when one of my bully classmates, Justin Latona, drove off the road (drunk?) and died shortly after graduation. They memorialized him with a big pot of money- what about the other victims?
This was a bad environment for boys. Another one of my classmates, someone in my “freak” social circle, in fact, was (is?) the son of nototious “Iceman” Mob murderer and serial killer Richard Kuklinski. Violence and abuse permeated that society, the neighborhood, the area. Bergen Catholic was not so exceptional for its abuses, as much as their religious calling never elevated anyone out of it.
I feel bad for the kids discovering they were gay, queer (as I identify), in this environment. Fortunately, when I later came out identifying as bisexual, it had nothing whatsoever to do with what happened in high school, and was in a supportive and respectful environment. I learned that I was turned on by other smart, articulate people, and it didn’t matter what their gender was. I learned that love is love, and not to let other people dictate what love is to you. You have to walk your own path. Men? I actually have very little preference for men because I grew up around so many hideous examples of the species outside of my family home. I was rarely bullied by girls. I’m happily married to a woman who respects me and understands my story for what it is.
Many other men are cruel, are bullies, in my experience. I’m thankful that out of that experience of the environment so heavily criticized by feminism, I learned to be a bit more socially ept. I’m still growing and learning at forty something. I have to watch myself every day to treat others with respect. I’m also human, and i have erred on occasion. That’s why it’s hard for me not to try to forgive the people who I grew up with, those peers and teachers who enforced a male-dominated, strength-is-power attitude, “if I overpower you I can make you do anything” society. Some like Brs. Ferro and Irwin, were probably abused themselves, and if whatever kept them in their lonely cycle of mental illness propelled them to their worst, I cannot but forgive, (even if I do not forget) them for whatever terrible acts they committed.
What I can abhor is the institution that keeps them trapped in this cycle. Brothers take a vow of poverty, which means if they want to eat, they have to do what their told. They have to “serve”. And where the brothers serve, is in schools, and in parishes, and in orphanages, where people who are less worldly, maybe a little naive, and not quite under the best situation go into their care.
It’s weird to see this list on the bankruptcy site, like a perp walk of many of my former teachers.
It’s not easy to live in this world. I’ve always thought it’s kind of a good thing not to worry about the basics and the rat race and marriage and kids, and just go and do the “care for others” thing. In fact, I was “called”.
My senior year, I declared my interest in possibly becoming a brother, or to follow my calling into religious life. Br Staniecki drove me up to NY over a weekend, to Iona College to spend time with some other christian brothers, learn about the life and pray and consider next steps for me.
I remember very little about the weekend, because really, there’s not much to say. Being poor, posessionless, and servile just isn’t that fun, no matter how many guitar kumbayas you spice it up with. But something happened there, which among more “liberal” friends I recount jokingly, but also haunts me a bit in light of the events over the past two years.
I’ve only ever had one wet dream (nocturnal emission) in my life, and it happened on that retreat. Typically, I recount this very snarkily, saying that God gave me a sign not to be celibate and to enjoy sex as much as I do, and if I stand before the pearly gates one day, that’s going to be my defense.
Now, some litigious minded psychologists might try to hypnotize me into revealing some darker truth, that in fact I was abused on that trip and due to the trauma don’t remember how I wound up with a load of come in my undies. If I remember that as one of the most erotic dreams I ever had, and I’ve had plenty, I’m not sorry at all for that fact, as it was a dream with an amazingly beautiful woman. If they did something untoward to me that weekend, I’m not regretting or harmed by it one bit. In fact, I was trying to be “good”, and not masturbate like I (and every teenage boy and girl) do on a very regular basis at that time of my life, which explains the unusual occurrence. I’ve had to learn from others that that instinct for sex, for orgasm, is healthy and natural, and that associating that with unpleasantness is just one of the many ways that individuals in so-called religious institutions maintain their power, their hegemony, over this world.
It is leaders like that that commit the unconscionable acts of testimony such as we heard before congress a week or so ago; and who excoriate people who speak out, as “sluts”. It is institutions that hide the truth that cause the greatest harm. It’s rewarding the “home team” in high school ball without balance while “freaks” are marginalized, that might well be a “first world problem” compared to the greater institutional harms such as inequality for women in the workplace, to say nothing of poverty and slavery of non-whites or any “outsider” or “foreigner”. But, it is a harm I know well.
As a Jew, I know that these problems are not just in the Catholic Church either. But Judaism teaches that those who heal the world (tikkun olam) receive their own reward in this life (not in the hereafter), the satisfaction of the just; and that evil does not last long. Br Irwin is described as a nicotine-stained, grumpy (dirty) old man who was a child predator. Br Ferro was a mirthless grump, as far as I experienced, and nosed around the “fags” in extracurricular Drama Club, something I was never drawn to. Most Jews believe in the resurrection of the dead for all people (all people are sinners, there is no “hell”), and if such a time comes to pass however it may tarry, I hope that whatever happened to make them so sick can be healed.
Most people are good, despite their sins. Some get trapped in a world, in a life, in an institution where they think hurting others is acceptable, even righteous. If I prayed, I would pray for them, and if you pray, I hope you pray for them too. If you’re Catholic, beseech this of Blessed Edmund Ignatius Rice: end the institution who has brought suffering, pain, and irreparable harm to so many, and bring those criminals who the Church and the Order hide and protect to this day to some justice and get them the help they need to heal. This is the Miracle I ask, and may the paltry wordly assets, the gold crosses, the crystal chalices, the stained glass, all of it: may it go to truly help the poor and those who suffer.
I’m lucky. I have parents who love me, a loving wife, a great career. I don’t need to sue the church to make my way in the world. But if anything I can write down, or share, helps in any way, may it heal the world.
Thanks for your efforts.
Matthew E Harbowy
March 9th, 2012
Bergen Catholic Class of ’87
“As it is, I can only feel shame that Jesus may have wached over me, but did not watch over my classmate my junior year when Brother Ferro abused the sophomore class president and was ‘sent to florida to reconsider his vocation’. One day he’s my english teacher, next day he’s not. I remember the boy as a friend who rode my bus with me in the morning, and we traded geek boy programs for our Commodore 64s. We weren’t close, but he didn’t deserve what happened during and after that. Everybody labeled him as a ‘fag’ for having attracted the attentions of a brother. I really didn’t even know what that meant, really, I was just kind of glad they didn’t call me that.”
“Brother Ferro was a serial abuser. Note well: he wasn’t sent to ‘florida’, he was (as best I can discover) sent to Paramus (the next town over!) and then to Boston, where he did it again according to the affidavit above. He was ‘sent’ many places between 1970 and 2002 but always put back in charge of kids. I’m sure at the time, the officials in the Order never thought there would be an Internet, a database or discussion area where the collective experiences of up to 500 kids a year per school could reconstruct all of the millions of lies they were told. I don’t know what was shared with the parents, if they knew what went on.”
Brother Salvatore Anthony Ferro
On March 28, 2012:
|Christian Brothers File BankruptcyThe Oakland (NJ) Journal
by Charles McCormick
Bergen Catholic, Class of ‘82
|COMMISSION TO INQUIRE INTO CHILD ABUSE|
|The Commission to Inquire into Child Abuse (CICA) is one of a range of measures introduced by the Irish Government to investigate the extent and effects of abuse on children from 1936 onwards. It is commonly known in Ireland as the Ryan Commission.
The CICA report volume on the Christian Brothers: CICA-VOL1-06.PDF
Another man makes contct:
On March 30, 2012, at 1:01 PM EDT *Albert* wrote:
Memories of Bergen Catholic H.S.
At 13 I began high school at a younger age that most of my classmates due to an early start in grammar school. Whether I was more naïve than most may have been partly due to age but mostly due to a sheltered upbringing. I was raised in a good Catholic Family – Italian/Polish – with a strong influence from my Irish aunt. I chose to go to Bergen Catholic – even prayed to be accepted – because it was considered our high school version of Notre Dame. I was taught to respect Catholic priests and nuns as the official messengers from Christ himself.
So, in my first months with the Irish Christian Brothers, I was surprised and somewhat perplexed when the school’s principal, Brother McKenna, would walk up from behind me in the halls, put his arm around my shoulder and stick his tongue in my ear. This happened on at least two or three occasions before I began to watch out for him and playfully put on my guard. When I told my cousin, who was also in the Class of ’60-64, his response was: “Oh yeah, that’s Bro. McKenna, he does that to lots of guys”.
I can say that I had no other incidents with Bro. McKenna or any of the other brothers, but did witness physical abuse and verbal abuse of others. The Irish Christian Brothers were known to be strict disciplinarians and believed in “corporal punishment” to achieve behavioral ends and submission. But sexual abuse was unheard of. As Kobutsu has said, words were not in our vocabulary nor were the concepts.
One day we were given a special class on sexual education by Bro. McKenna. Sitting casually on the desk, in what must have been an attempt to bond with the young men under his charge, he made this off-the-cuff remark with a sly smile: “Sometimes you need to slap your girlfriend around a little, just to let her know who’s the boss.” I began to question everything I was taught in religion class from that moment. I knew I would never have dreamt of slapping, hitting or in any way intimidating my girlfriend.
But a little slap now and then to keep your lady in line meshed well with the record of physical and sexual abuse I either witnessed first-hand or learned of from others.
There were several Brothers that were feared by the student body due to their reputation for physical violence: Brother Tracy, who would brag about growing up in “Hell’s Kitchen”; Bro. Sassone who went into a sadistic rage one afternoon repeatedly slapping Xxxxx Xxxxxxxxxx viciously in the hall, with Xxxxx’s back up against the lockers, until his face bloodied; Brother Irwin, who I believe arrived in my Sophomore year and was called “The Chest”. And then there was Bro. Berryman.
Brother Berryman, a rather short fair-haired fellow who scowled when you passed-by, ran the bookstore and may have run detention (called “jug”). At any rate he was known to discipline boys by taking them to the ‘bookstore’ when it was closed. The ‘bookstore’ was a small, maybe 9×12 room with bookshelves and a 4×5 opening by which one could buy texts. When the opening’s retractable metal screen was down, the bookstore was closed. Inside, Brother Berryman would mete out punishment in the form of paddle slaps. But first he would order the young boy to stand at one end of the room while he sat at the other end. Then he would have his victim drop his pants and underwear down to his ankles and bend over. Boys were made to hold this position for five minutes or more, expecting to be paddle-whipped. But Bro. Berryman would sit on his stool at the other end of the 9 foot room and gawk. Then he would walk up to the victim, give him a few light taps with the paddle on his bare bottom and tell the boy to pull up his pants and go back to study hall (or where ever). For these and other activities, Bro Berryman earned the nickname “Bro. Merryberry”.
Now, these memories were from my freshman and sophomore years, which makes me think, now, that it was the younger and more vulnerable boys that were attacked rather than the older and physically larger in stature. I don’t know for sure. But I do know that the overwhelming memory for my class, the Class of ’64, was the assassination of President John F Kennedy. In fact our yearbook was dedicated to him and Pope John XXIII.
I hope these memories are helpful in piecing together a portrait of Bergen Catholic High School and the perversion of values or cynicism it may have spawned as well as more serious traumatic disorders in the young men under the charge of Irish Christian Brothers.
(class of ’64)
“I was surprised and somewhat perplexed when the school’s principal, Brother McKenna, would walk up from behind me in the halls, put his arm around my shoulder and stick his tongue in my ear.”
“One day we were given a special class on sexual education by Bro. McKenna. Sitting casually on the desk, in what must have been an attempt to bond with the young men under his charge, he made this off-the-cuff remark with a sly smile: ‘Sometimes you need to slap your girlfriend around a little, just to let her know who’s the boss.’ ”
“Bro. Sassone who went into a sadistic rage one afternoon repeatedly slapping Xxxxx Xxxxxxxxxx viciously in the hall, with Xxxxx’s back up against the lockers, until his face bloodied”
“Then he would have his victim drop his pants and underwear down to his ankles and bend over. Boys were made to hold this position for five minutes or more, expecting to be paddle-whipped. But Bro. Berryman would sit on his stool at the other end of the 9 foot room and gawk. Then he would walk up to the victim, give him a few light taps with the paddle on his bare bottom and tell the boy to pull up his pants and go back to study hall (or where ever).”
Br. Eugene D. McKenna
Allegations of sexual abuse leveled at a Christian Brother removed from Cardinal Hayes HS and assigned to Bergen Catholic High School in the late 1980’s:
Br. John Justin O’Connor
“The teenage boys who came forward to report their abuse by Justin O’Connor were called ‘conmen’ and ‘liars’ by priests, Christian Brothers, and others. They were sons of immigrants from Puerto Rico, the Dominican Republic, and elsewhere who struggled to pay thousands of dollars of tuition annually so their sons could receive a ‘better’ education. What they encountered was a cauldron of sexual abuse, lies, cover-up, and deceit from men who claimed to be ‘of God.’ “
“O’Connor was assigned to Bergen Catholic”
Creditors investigating ties between Palma High School, Salinas, CA and the Christian Brothers.
Dr. Steven M. Cantrell, Palma High School, Salinas, CA alumnus, class of 1989, breaks silence and publicly reaches out to other victims:
Steven M. Cantrell, M.D.
And another man writes:
On June, 6, 2012 at 9:11 PM, *Roger* wrote:
I attended Bergen Catholic High School in Oradell NJ, Class of ’67. One year when I was there Brother Irwin would come to supervise our class when the regular teacher had “some business to attend to.” I did my best to become invisible when he came. Brother Irwin could be very mean and extremely abusive both physically as well as verbally. Sometimes he appeared very rational and at other times totally crazy, I wondered if he was mentally ill and even considered that perhaps, he was possessed by a very vile and evil spirit. He was very good at creating major fear. He would sometimes go off on a student for no apparent reason.
When my regular teacher would return Brother Irwin would tell him that he wanted to borrow me to assist him with a project that he was working on. Oh I prayed hard that he would forget about this and leave me alone. I did not want to be anywhere near him ever. But he didn’t forget he kept asking my regular teacher if he could borrow me when he would watch over my class. The day did come when he took me out of my class and brought me by the Bookstore to this large storage room where textbooks were kept. Brother Irwin said that he wanted to organize and straighten this room up. The room was dimly lit and I was moving boxes of books and neatly stacking them where Brother Irwin directed. I was bending way down to pick up a heavy box off the floor, as I stood up he grabbed my shirt in the area of my lower back and very quickly and forcefully pulled my shirt out of my pants. Like a tablecloth quickly yanked off the table without disturbing the dishes and glasses and utensils. I had no idea why or what for this was happening. I set the box down and turned around and looked at him. He was grinning like a little kid playing his favorite game. His actions were very weird to me. This thought was nothing new to me. When I bent down to pick up the next box BAM his hand went down the back of my pants. I didn’t even see this coming. I was in a state of TOTAL SHOCK. I struggled to free myself and Brother Irwin was not smiling now. He struggled to hold on to me with his hand down my pants. His hand on my skin was completely repulsive. He was much bigger than me and my surprise was to his advantage. I recall the feeling that I got away but I don’t remember how this came to be or what else if anything occurred. I told him “Not to ever do that again.” He made me feel ashamed and angry and not worthy and embarrassed. He would pick on me after this and say that I shouldn’t be mad at him. It was like he would not let the wound he inflicted heal. He kept picking at it. I did my best to ignore and not respond to his taunts. I was afraid of him.
I want you to know that this has been very difficult to write this – hard to put into words. My intention is three fold. To speak the truth as I was taught by my parents my Church and my Teachers, and to accept nothing less in return; To face my Fear and begin the process of healing from this abuse; finally, to acknowledge the courage and bravery of those who have stood up and taken a stand to end the abuse of our children. Its time to acknowledge the wrongdoing and it is time to make amends.
My Love and Forgiveness are yours.
“The room was dimly lit and I was moving boxes of books and neatly stacking them where Brother Irwin directed. I was bending way down to pick up a heavy box off the floor, as I stood up he grabbed my shirt in the area of my lower back and very quickly and forcefully pulled my shirt out of my pants. Like a tablecloth quickly yanked off the table without disturbing the dishes and glasses and utensils. I had no idea why or what for this was happening. I set the box down and turned around and looked at him. He was grinning like a little kid playing his favorite game. His actions were very weird to me. This thought was nothing new to me. When I bent down to pick up the next box BAM his hand went down the back of my pants. I didn’t even see this coming. I was in a state of TOTAL SHOCK. I struggled to free myself and Brother Irwin was not smiling now. He struggled to hold on to me with his hand down my pants. His hand on my skin was completely repulsive.”
On June 6, 2012, the following article appeared in the New York Times Magazine concerning the sexual abuse of students at the Horace Mann School, some sixteen miles from Bergen Catholic:
Four days later (not a decade later – provoked only by legal claims) the school responded with a letter vastly different from the insensitive, contemptuous response of denial put forward by “Brother” Brian Walsh and the high level leadership of Bergen Catholic High School:
Another BC alum writes on June 13, 2012 4:38 PM:
Dear Mr. Malone,
I came across your excellent website by chance this afternoon, and I have been dumbstruck by the contents. I graduated from BC in 1976. I, like many others, read the piece in the New York Times Magazine this weekend about sexual abuse at the Horace Mann school, and, not having heard about allegations of such abuse at BC (but well aware of the issues facing the Christian Brothers), just out of curiosity I Googled “Bergen Catholic Sexual Abuse” and found your website. I want to commend you for putting together such a comprehensive and interesting resource.
Thankfully I never witnessed any sexual abuse or relationships by brothers, teachers or students during my four years at the school. I did, like others, witness horrific physical abuse, although again, thankfully, I was not myself a victim of it (other than perhaps having hands laid on me one or two times, but nothing too serious). Among my memories are:
– A Brother Barwin pounding the head of a classmate into a desk because he had neglected to do his homework. This was severe enough that I recall that his mother came to the school the next day to complain, and the Brother gave the class a half-hearted apology the next day, saying that he should have only hit the student on his bottom, not his head. Unbelievable today, but not then.
– A Brother Levy (sp?) literally throwing a classmate across the room, so that he landed back-first on the window sill (and it is a wonder he did not go through the window itself) because, as I recall, he had neglected to button his top button and then apparently mouthed off to the Brother when he told him to button it.
– A freshman science teacher (whose name I forget – I believe it was Mr. Salvano?) who told a student to go outside the classroom and stand against the lockers and, as soon as he came into the hallway, he sucker-punched him right into the lockers, making a loud clanging noise throughout the school. His crime was jokingly calling the teacher the name of a cartoon character that the public address announcer had labeled him as in the faculty-student basketball game the night before.
There were many other incidents, but these stand out as particularly egregious. The worst part was that many of these Brothers and teachers were otherwise good, decent men who were great teachers and who showed real (appropriate) interest in the students outside of the classroom – in particular, Brother Levy used to spend a lot of time with students on the playground and was something of a favorite among the students. The fact that these men had unaccountable, absolute power over students, with no fear of repercussions no matter how much they abused their authority, led them to behave in ways that should have been, but were not, viewed as completely unacceptable, especially for those given charge over teenage boys. I can understand how this absolute lack of limits led in some cases to sexual abuse, which in some ways is the absolute expression of abuse of the powerless by the powerful.
Although one never knows where one’s career choices came from, I do believe that my experience in seeing how the lack of accountability leads to abuse of the weak and powerless in the Catholic school system had a lot to do with why I chose to become a lawyer, and a strong believer in the rule of law. As for the Catholic Church, I wish it well in trying to reform its own internal issues, but I think that I saw too much in my 12 years of Catholic School for me to maintain any respect for it as an institution, although I did and continue to deeply respect individual members of the clergy (but certainly not all of them, and certainly not due to their titles alone).
Feel free to post this letter if you wish, but please do not publish my personal details. Thank you.
“A Brother Barwin pounding the head of a classmate into a desk because he had neglected to do his homework. This was severe enough that I recall that his mother came to the school the next day to complain, and the Brother gave the class a half-hearted apology the next day, saying that he should have only hit the student on his bottom, not his head. Unbelievable today, but not then.”
“A Brother Levy (sp?) literally throwing a classmate across the room, so that he landed back-first on the window sill (and it is a wonder he did not go through the window itself) because, as I recall, he had neglected to button his top button and then apparently mouthed off to the Brother when he told him to button it.”
“A freshman science teacher (whose name I forget – I believe it was Mr. Salvano?) who told a student to go outside the classroom and stand against the lockers and, as soon as he came into the hallway, he sucker-punched him right into the lockers, making a loud clanging noise throughout the school. His crime was jokingly calling the teacher the name of a cartoon character that the public address announcer had labeled him as in the faculty-student basketball game the night before.”
June 27, 2012
An article entitled “The Child I Was: The Man I Would Be” in The Wyckoff Journal by Charles McCormick – Bergen Catholic, Class of 1982
Aftermath of a Math Teacher
A survey of former students of Bergen Catholic High School in Oradell, NJ sheds light on the situation of many other victims who suffered abuse through church, school, or sports.
To the outside observer, the abuse may seem to have no present day relevancy, but to the victims the wounds remain green – and this can related to the concept of trust being betrayed. It was a trust betrayed by the perpetrator, trust betrayed by those who protected the perpetrator, and the trust betrayed by those who continue to protect them.
In the case of Bergen Catholic, credible allegations have been laid on the Christian Brothers concerning teachers who worked in the school in years stretching from the 1960s to the 1990s. Acts of sexual molestation and physical abuse have been levied and confirmed by students against Brother Charles Irwin in the 1960s; then there is Brother Salvatore Ferro whose abuse was detailed in a lawsuit filed by a Catholic priest; and the infamous Brother Thomas Cuthbert Ford who taught at Bergen Catholic while on the run from Canadian authorities for beating unconscious a 14 year old boy in the showers.
The evidence that abuse was tolerated, that abusers were protected, and that the Christian Brothers put the religious order above the welfare of Bergen Catholic students is modus operandi throughout the Catholic Church, and now surfacing in premier institutions such as Penn State and Syracuse University.
For the Christian Brothers, the organization hopes their bankruptcy filing will close the book on accusations of child abuse and cover-ups. The courts have imposed a deadline of August 1, 2012 for victims of Christian Brothers to come forward and report their abuse.
The courts are not the last resort for victims of abuse, and it is unlikely that the courts can deliver what many victims are seeking, which is acknowledgment. In the case of Bergen Catholic, the school continues to deny any failings or responsibility for allowing abuse to occur and for continuing to put students at risk by providing a safe haven for known abusers.
Charles McCormick – Bergen Catholic, Class of 1982
July 19, 2012 – Victims group: Ex-Iona chief Brother James Liguori accused of child sex abuse in Christian Brothers case
Brother James Liguori
Brother James Liguori, the former president of Iona College in New Rochelle and a current top administrator at Fordham’s Westchester County campus, has been accused of child sex abuse in a court filing, a network of abuse victims announced Thursday.
An Orange County, Calif., man accuses Liguori of abusing him in 1969 at the Cardinal Farley Military Academy in Rhinebeck, N.Y., according to a release from the Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests.
|Click here for full size pdf.
|Click here for full size pdf.
theloop – October 14, 2012:
In the wake of bankruptcy proceedings that followed sexual abuse allegations, the Congregation of Christian Brothers, based in New Rochelle, and who founded New Rochelle’s Iona College in 1940, appears to be quietly selling off some of its beautiful and historic Beechmont area houses near the Iona campus.
NOTICE OF AUCTION OF VARIOUS HOUSES AND SALE HEARING:
PLEASE TAKE NOTICE that pursuant to the Debtor’s Motion For Orders Pursuant to Sections 105(a) and 363 of The Bankruptcy Code and Bankruptcy Rule 6004 Approving (I) Sale Procedures and Notice of the Auction Relating Thereto, (II) Sale of Real Estate to Iona College or a Party Making a Higher and Better Offer Free and Clear of Liens, Claims, Interests and Encumbrances, (Ill) Approving The Stalking Horse Purchase Agreement, and (IV) Granting Related Relief, filed with the United States Bankruptcy Court for the Southern District of New York (the “Bankruptcy Court”) on August 23, 2012, the Debtor is selling the houses (the “Houses”) known as:
On November 18, 2012, Ted ’65 writes:
Subject: BC Alum 62/65Date: Sun, 18 Nov 2012 17:09:37 +0000
Rev. Kobutsu Malone
cc: Brother Brian Walsh (via J. L. Branciforte) When I received Bro Walsh’s letter back in February, re the bankruptcy proceeding, I was struck by the sentence that no claims existed regarding any abuse involving Bergen Catholic. The memory fades a bit after almost 50 years but not of Bro Irwin and his infamous “stingers“. I mentioned to my wife that somebody had to have come forward about this guy. A few days later I received the formal bankruptcy notice and filing deadline letter from the attorneys for the victims, and a quick look at their website revealed the infamous Bro. Charles ‘The Chest’ Irwin. I didn’t stumble across your bergencatholicabuse.com website until a few days ago.
First of all it is utterly laughable that Bro. Brian Walsh can assert that no credible claims exist. Irwin was an abusive pig who preyed on weak kids. The letters written by others detailing abuse (I’m pretty sure one was a fellow classmate), probably only scratch the surface. I was pretty good in math so he left me alone but I remember several of his stingers being administered at the back of the class to some poor chap. The ’62 incident of the confrontation between Irwin, Keane and the young man’s father looking to pay back the belt whipping his son had to endure also opened the memory bank. Everyone knew something big had gone down in the Principals office but details never got out. One can only imagine the subsequent discussion Bro’s Irwin and Keane must have had; probably classic abuser/enabler.
As you point out there is a correct way to deal with this problem and some in the Catholic community have chosen that path. Good for them. Unfortunately in this case Bergen Catholic has chosen to stonewall the past and all the pronouncements of future good intentions mean little to you and all the other victims. So to Bro. Walsh, shame on you for not “fessing” up to the obvious. You only add another chapter to the continuing saga of the decline and fall of the Catholic Church and the Christian Brothers bankruptcy is well earned.
Kobutsu, I hope you and all the victims get that long overdue apology you rightly deserve.
Wishing you all the best,
Theodore F. (Ted) Bach, Class of 1965
PS: Bro Walsh, until you have the courage to do the right thing, kindly remove my name from your mailing list and I would encourage all BC Alums who believe in fairness to do the same.
Obituary of Thomas W. Irwin,
Brother of Charles B. Irwin
Also a Teacher at Bergen Catholic,
(It is interesting to note how they left out any reference to Thomas being the biological brother of Br. Charles B. Irwin…..)
February 3, 2013
From: Xxxxxxxx X. Xxxxxx <firstname.lastname@example.org>
To: Kobutsu Malone <email@example.com>
I just came across your website regarding abuse at Bergen Catholic. If you still need corroboration regarding (Brother) Irwin, I can at least attest that he was still going strong with his sexual abuse in Algebra class in 1968 when I was a freshman at Bergen Catholic. Your descriptions of his conduct and demeanor are quite vivid and accurate. In addition to pulling out a victim’s shirt tail and putting his hand down the back of his pants to caress his bare buttocks, he also would approach a student sitting at his desk, methodically unbutton the victim’s dress shirt and reach in and fondle his bare pectoral muscles. I witnessed both acts so frequently it seemed like routine. I also remember that Irwin organized a retreat at a camp in the Catskill Mountains in the summer following freshman year. He convinced enough of us to go to fill an entire bus. He saw to it that there was only one shower facility. At the end of the day, he just stood inside the doorway as people filed past, going inside to watch them shower; he was in his glory.
A charter bus being loaded in the Bergen Catholic H.S. parking lot to take students to the
Quo Vadis? [“Where are you going?”] Retreat
“An excellent opportunity to find out just ‘where’ they were going was given to the 74 students who went on the closed retreat this year. Under the guidance of Bro. Irwin and Bro. Gilchrist, the boys spent three days at Gonzaga Retreat House in Monroe, New York. Secluded from the hectic world of daily life and strengthened by daily Mass and Communion, the retreatants were able to deepen their spiritual life as never before. The boys, sixty-eight senior and six juniors, quickly adapted themselves to the regimen of monastic life. The rule of absolute silence (except during the two hour recreation period in the afternoon) was surprisingly well kept. The daily spiritual exercises (morning and night prayers, meditation periods, outdoor Stations of the Cross) were diligently performed by all. The retreat was, in fact, run by the boys themselves, for wherever possible the exercises were conducted by the retreatants. ”
Bergen Catholic Yearbook 1965
I see a letter of denial by Brother B. M. Walsh in his letter dated 2/14/12. I find it patently unbelievable that he did not know what was transpiring. He was the biology teacher at the time. I also was aware that another teacher at the school, one Brother O’Sullivan, asked a friend of mine at the time for oral sex . Additionally, I had another friend on the basketball team who had Mr. Chris Donfield jump on him in a car.
Bergen Catholic was a place full of pedophiles and others who metered out physical abuse.
Xxxxxxx X. Xxxxxxx (Class of 1972)
Mr. Christopher J. Donfield
“In addition to pulling out a victim’s shirt tail and putting his hand down the back of his pants to caress his bare buttocks, he also would approach a student sitting at his desk, methodically unbutton the victim’s dress shirt and reach in and fondle his bare pectoral muscles. I witnessed both acts so frequently it seemed like routine.”
“I also remember that Irwin organized a retreat at a camp in the Catskill Mountains in the summer following freshman year. He convinced enough of us to go to fill an entire bus. He saw to it that there was only one shower facility. At the end of the day, he just stood inside the doorway as people filed past, going inside to watch them shower; he was in his glory.”
April 26, 2013 Complaint (Including Charles B. Irwin) at Leo High School in Chicago, filed in The Circuit Court of Cook County, Illinois.
IN THE CIRCUIT COURT OF COOK COUNTY, ILLINOIS
COUNTY DEPARTMENT, LAW DIVISION
COMPLAINT FOR DAMAGES
“NOW COMES the Plaintiffs, JOHN DOE 1, JOHN DOE 2, JOHN DOE 3, JOHN DOE 4, JOHN DOE 5, JOHN DOE 6, JOHN DOE 7, JOHN DOE 8, JOHN DOE 9, JOHN DOE 10, JOHN DOE 11, JOHN DOE 12, JOHN DOE 13, JOHN DOE 14, and JOHN DOE 15 (collectively referred to hereinafter as “JOHN DOE #1-15”), by and through their attorneys in this regard, HURLEY McKENNA & MERTZ, and in their Complaint against defendants, CONGREGATION OF CHRISTIAN BROTHERS; and, CONGREGATION OF CHRISTIAN BROTHERS-NORTH AMERICAN PROVINCE a/k/a WESTERN PROVINCE a/k/a EASTERN PROVINCE a/k/a AMERICAN PROVINCE…”
“3.1. Plaintiff JOHN DOE 1, who currently lives in Cook County, Illinois, was sexually abused by Christian Brother C.B. Irwin while JOHN DOE 1 in approximately 1959 to 1960 while he was a student at Leo High School. Christian Brother Irwin was a teacher and/or employee at Leo High School at the time he abused JOHN DOE 1. The abuse occurred at the Christian Brothers’ residence at Leo High School. In the interests of privacy, this complaint identifies plaintiff JOHN DOE 1 only by pseudonym.”
“5.36. Plaintiff JOHN DOE 1 was sexually abused by Christian Brother C.B. Irwin while JOHN DOE 1 was a student at Leo High School. Brother Irwin was a teacher and/or employee at Leo High School at the time he abused JOHN DOE 1. The abuse occurred at the Christian Brothers’ residence at Leo High School.”
“6.18 That the Christian Brothers defendants breached the duty of care owed to Plaintiffs, minor children, and their parents or guardians, and were guilty of one or more of the following wrongful acts and/or omissions:
(a) Improperly deprived Plaintiffs of the normal protection of their parents and directed minor Plaintiffs to be alone with Christian Brothers that they knew or should have known had a prior history of sexually abusing minor children;
(b) Failed to take affirmative acts of protection or vigilance to protect minor Plaintiffs from physical harm while they were in the Christian Brothers defendants’ sole and exclusive custody, when they knew or reasonably should have known that predatory and pedophile Christian Brothers were in active service of the Christian Brothers defendants;
(c) Improperly exposing the minor Plaintiffs to unsupervised contact with Christian Brother C.B. Irwin, an unidentified Christian Brother who was a summer school teacher working at Leo in approximately 1974, and Christian Brother Dennis Bonebreak, wherein they were able to sexually abuse Plaintiffs when they knew or should have known Christian Brother C.B. Irwin, an unidentified Christian Brother who was a summer school teacher working at Leo in approximately 1974, and Christian Brother Dennis Bonebreak had histories of sexually abusing minor children;
(d) Were otherwise guilty of careless and/or negligent conduct to the detriment of the Plaintiffs.”
An excerpt of the official alphabetical roster of all Christian Brothers reveals only two entries for Brothers with the last name “Irwin”.
The entire Christian Brothers roster listing may be viewed HERE:
According to his obituary, Brother Charles Borromeo Irwin taught at the following institutions:
- St. Joseph’s Juniorate, West Park, NY
- Santa Maria Novitiate-Novice, West Park, NY
- St. Gabriel’s Scholasticate-Student, West Park, NY
- Sacred Heart Community and Grammar School, New York, NY
- Cardinal Hayes-Holy Family Community, Bronx, NY
- Cardinal Hayes-St. Helena’s Annex, Bronx, NY
- Cardinal Hayes Community and High School, Bronx, NY
- Power Memorial Community and Academy, New York, NY
- Leo Community and High School, Chicago, IL
- Bergen Catholic Community and High School, Oradell, NJ
- St. Patrick’s Provincialate Community, New Rochelle, NY
- Iona Prep, New Rochelle, NY 1979 – 1991 [Retired]
Died: October 9, 1997 – New Rochelle, NY
Here is “Christian Brother C. B. Irwin” identified:
|Br. Charles Borromeo Irwin|
April 30, 2013
May 23, 2013
ABUSE VICTIMS COMMITTEE SETTLES WITH CATHOLIC RELIGIOUS ORDER THAT OPERATES SCHOOLS
CASES AGAINST CHRISTIAN BROTHERS OF IRELAND COME FROM 17 STATES & CANADA
Los Angeles, CA – May 23, 2013 – The Committee representing some 400 men and women who say they were molested as children by Christian Brothers of Ireland has reached a settlement with the Catholic religious order. The Official Committee of Unsecured Creditors for The Christian Brothers Institute and The Christian Brothers of Ireland, Inc. has approved the terms and conditions of a consensual reorganization plan in the Chapter 11 cases of The Christian Brothers Institute and The Christian Brothers of Ireland, Inc. (In the United States, the Christian Brothers are the civil arms of the North American Province of the Congregation of Christian Brothers of Ireland.)
August 15, 2013
UNITED STATES BANKRUPTCY COURT
SOUTHERN DISTRICT OF NEW YORK
ln re: Chapter 11
THE CHRISTIAN BROTHERS’ INSTITUTE, et al. Case No.: 11-22820 (RDD)
Debtors. (Jointly Administered)
NOTICE OF HEARING TO APPROVE INSURANCE
BUYBACK AGREEMENT BETWEEN CHRISTIAN BROTHERS’
INSTITUTE AND PROVIDENCE WASHINGTON INSURANCE COMPANY
PLEASE TAKE NOTICE, that upon the motion, dated August 15, 2013 (the “Motion”)
of The Cluistian Brothers’ Institute (“CBI”) and the Christian Brothers of Ireland, Inc. (“CBOI”and together with CBI, the “Debtors”) as debtors and debtors-in-possession, by and through their counsel, Tarter Krinsky & Drogin LLP, the Debtors shall move before the Honorable Robert D. Drain, United States Bankruptcy Judge, at the United States Bankruptcy Court, Southern District of New York, 300 Quarropas Street, White Plains, New York, courtroom 118, on October 8, 2013 at 10:00 a.m., or as soon thereafter as counsel may be heard, for entry of an order authorizing the Debtors to enter into a Settlement Agreement, Release and Policy Buyback (the Insurance Buyback Agreement”) in the form annexed to the Motion as Exhibit “B,” between CBI, Other Releasing Parties and Providence Washington Insurance Company (“PW”) which provides for the sale of all interests under certain commercial general liability policies and commercial umbrella policies (the “Insurance Policies”) to PW for a purchase price of $3.2 million which will be contributed to a trust established under the Debtors’ plan of reorganization to pay certain sexual abuse claims.
August 15, 2013
August 26, 2013
I wonder why they never told me this in 2002?
I didn’t even receive an “acknowledgement of receipt” letter, postcard or note back then. It felt like my letter fell on deaf ears; it appears that eleven years, the threat of a looming lawsuit and attendant publicity changed things.
It is noteworthy how the Archdiocese tries to distance itself from Bergen Catholic by saying that the school is “private” and not “administered by the Archdiocese”. What they fail to mention is that the Archdiocese originally invited the Irish Christian Brothers into their Archdiocese with their ecclesiastical blessing to build Bergen Catholic High School and even supplied the land on which the school was built!
The prominence of the photographs of the Archbishop in our Yearbooks where he is listed as “the Spiritual Advisor” for the school belies their attempts to “distance” themselves from Bergen Catholic now that the school and the Irish Christian Brothers are under heavy fire.
From Page Seven of the 1965 Bergen Catholic “Crusader” Yearbook:
April 9, 1957
Bergen Catholic High School Corner Stone
Laid by Archbishop of Newark Thomas A. Boland
Background: Br. Eugene McKenna, BC. – Foreground: Msgr. John McHenry, OLV.
[Source: History of Bergen Catholic.pdf ]
From: <Xxxxxxxx@aol.com>Subject: Bergen Catholic Class of 1965
Date: October 6, 2013 1:11:10 AM EDT
I don’t know how we found each other, but here we are. Tonight, some forty years after I left Bergen Catholic as a freshman, I did a Google search of “Bergen Catholic sex abuse” and your website came up. Why would I do that? I was not sexually abused.
I am a retired Army officer, a retired Registered Nurse, and currently serve as a Justice on the Ohio Supreme Court. In short, my life came out just fine. But I am certain that is because I got out of Bergen Catholic at the end of my freshman year by telling my parents “I am not going back”
And yet I felt compelled this year, forty years later, to tell my Bergen Catholic story to two 16 year-old twins I am sheltering because, quite frankly, I felt safe telling a story to teenagers. I did not want to be judged but I did want to be heard. I am financing their catholic education. Go figure.
I am quite certain I was not sexually abused, but am equally certain that as a small kid I was a target of physical abuse and humiliation. One incident stands out so vividly in my memory, I recently told it to two 16 year old twins I am sheltering who attend a Catholic high school here. It was therapeutic to tell somebody, and I figured teenagers would understand.
I remember the whispering in 1961 that someone, a coach or a brother, had been dismissed because he had “helped some kid jerk off”…which was a truly mysterious story since in those days I seriously doubt any teenager knew even what that meant! Nobody really paid any attention to the details, but on reflection, I would estimate there never was a day in the gym locker room without one brother or another walking through ostensibly to move people along from class to class…but on reflection I place a far more sinister light on their attention.
My memorable incident of humiliation and abuse came during a math test. There was no cheating, but I am certain a friend of mine and I whispered something or other during the test and we were overheard. We were summarily physically dragged out of the class into the hallway and turned over to a very short but stout older Christian brother and labelled “cheaters”. We were then physically dragged, bumping into lockers, desks and tables into an ongoing class of upper classmen (probably seniors) and made to stand before the class with the blackboard at our backs. The Brother then began erasing the board and hitting us in the face with the eraser with each swipe hard enough to hit our heads on the board. Within minutes we were covered with chalk dust and shame. The humiliation of being abused in front of those “older boys” remains today and I can only remember being a hardheaded Irish kid who would not cry. My classmate told me at the end of the incident that my hands were shaking uncontrollably…but I did not remember. I was simply terrified.
There was something terribly wrong with that school in 1961. At any rate, I lived in fear for a year and refused to go back. I went to Cresskill and then when my dad was transferred I graduated from Cleveland Heights High School…which was 90% Jewish and a truly world class school.
Anyhow, good luck with what you are doing. I am fine, and feel vindicated reading your website. Keeps me from thinking I am crazy!
Ohio Supreme Court
October 8, 2013
A letter from James I. Stang, Esq. of Pachulski Stang Ziehl & Jones:
To Abuse Survivors.
According to Christian Brother’s attorney Tony Dougherty, anyone who attends any of these meetings will be prohibited from making any audio or video record of the meetings. I do not intend to attend due to the expense of traveling close to one thousand miles and the expense of food and overnight accommodations. I do intend to send them a letter that I will be able to publish here. (A part of me feels that they should be coming to our doorsteps on their knees rather that forcing us to pay for the privilege of meeting with men who weren’t even involved with the abuse we endured.)
October 17, 2013
An open letter from: Rev. Kobutsu Malone
To: Christian Brothers North American Region
Province Leadership Team Members
The above letter was sent from Sedgwick, Maine to the “Christian” Brothers on October 17, 2013 via registered US Mail.
A federal judge has approved a $16 million settlement brokered between sex-abuse victims and the New Rochelle-based Christian Brothers Institute.
The settlement was first agreed to in May. Judge Robert Drain’s order on Monday in U.S. Bankruptcy Court in White Plains means the settlement is now binding on all parties, including the Christian Brothers’ debtors, the group said in a statement.
Abuse victims voted in recent weeks to unanimously approve the settlement, which was developed jointly by lawyers for the more than 400 victims, the Christian Brothers and the group’s debtors.
“We apologize for the difficulties that abuse survivors and their families have endured,” Brothers Hugh O’Neill and Kevin Griffith, the leaders of the group’s North American and Latin American region, said in a statement. “We have reached out and met with a number of survivors of abuse to apologize and express our sorrow in person.”
On Jan 21, 2014
Great site, http://www.bergencatholicabuse.com/ I was surprised it took so long for someone to post it on the web.
I was surprised no mention of Brother Chaney in any of your letters who I guess was more discrete. During class in the late 1970’s he would squeeze the fists of students till they were in pain. If you went for extra help after school in Spanish he would call you to his desk and put one hand on your ass and the other on your penis and squeeze it and say, “Now give me the answer!”
One session of after school extra help was enough!
“If you went for extra help after school in Spanish he would call you to his desk and put one hand on your ass and the other on your penis and squeeze it and say, ‘Now give me the answer!’ “
Brother John B. Chaney
Bergen Catholic – circa 1964
Listed on 6/11/14 by the Edmund Rice Christian Brothers as accused by at least two persons in claims settled in bankruptcy proceedings. The Christian Brothers state that the merits of most of the claims settled in the bankruptcy were not tested. Chaney was added to a list of accused on the website of Boston attorney Mitchell Garabedian on 10/31/14 after a settlement had been reached in the year previous. Assignments included Bergen Catholic High School in Oradell NJ, where the abuse alleged in the Garabedian case is said to have been committed. The 2014 Official Catholic Directory shows Chaney living at a Christian Brothers residence in West Park, in the New York archdiocese. Convicted abuser Bro Ronald Justin Lasik CFC and accused Bro John Laurence Heathwood CFC are also listed as residing there.
Posted May 30, 2014
In order to further promote healing and reconciliation, and in accordance with our Court required Settlement Agreement, The Edmund Rice Christian Brothers North America Province has listed below the names of current, former and deceased brothers who were identified in at least two (2) sexual abuse claims filed as proofs of claim in the bankruptcy matter In re: The Christian Brothers’ Institute, et al. It is important to note that the merits of most of the claims were not tested.
|Bergen Catholic Faculty – Highlighted|
Angel, Larry K. (Deceased)
|2.||Barry, Gerald K. (Former)|
|3.||Beckstorm, Robert E. (Former)||4.||Brouillette, Robert (Former)|
|5.||Burton, David B. (Brother)||6.||Carr, Michael T. (Deceased)|
|7.||Carroll, Francis (Deceased)||8.||Casale, Albert (Former)|
|9.||Chaney, John (Brother)||10.||Cobb, Alan S. (Former)|
|11.||Collins, Donald Cecil (Deceased)||12.||Condon, Eugene (Former)|
|13.||Courtney, Edward (Former)||14.||Delamere, Frank P. (Former)|
|15.||Duffin, Thomas (Deceased)||16.||Dunn, James Claver (Deceased)|
|17.||Ferro, Salvatore (Brother)||18.||Ford, Thomas C. (Deceased)|
|19.||French, Edward George (Brother)||20.||Gardner, Stephen Justin (Former)|
|21.||Hanney, James (Former)||22.||Heathwood, John (Brother)|
|23.||Heustis, Jerome (Deceased)||24.||Hewitt, Andrew Thomas (Deceased)|
|25.||Houlihan, James Alvarez (Deceased)||26.||Irwin, Charles (Deceased)|
|27.||Kealey, John (Deceased)||28.||Kernan, Joseph (Deceased)|
|29.||Lasik, Ronald (Brother)||30.||Lawlor, John (Former)|
|31.||Medvit, Paul (Deceased)||32.||Murphy, Clement Adan (Deceased)|
|33.||Murphy, John E. (Former)||34.||Murphy, Thomas Ignatius (Deceased)|
|35.||Nash, Dermod (Deceased)||36.||Neary, Walter D. (Deceased)|
|37.||O’Connor, John J. (Former)||38.||Padilla, Ruben Mark (Former)|
|39.||Post, Robert (Former)||40.||Ralph, Alan Gerard (Brother)|
|41.||Reycraft, Paul S. (Former)||42.||Ryan, Daniel Peter (Deceased)|
|43.||Satterthwaite, Robert (Deceased)||44.||Stoyles, Michael E. (Deceased)|
|45.||Thompson, James (Former)||46.||Thorne, Harold (Brother)|
|47.||Walderman, J. Matthew (Brother)||48.||Walsh, Michael (Deceased)|
|49.||Warren, James V. (Deceased)|
~ The Bergen Catholic Unholy Five ~
Chaney, Ferro, Ford, Irwin & O’Connor.
From: Don Griffin <firstname.lastname@example.org>
Subject: Re: feedback
Date: January 22, 2014 at 8:38:52 PM EST
My contribution to this website is prompted by another manifestation of betrayal, apart from the sexual abuse perpetrated on students entrusted to the care of the Irish Christian Bros.. I became aware of this website accidentally as a result of a casual conversation with a person at the fitness center in Ormond Beach Fl., where my wife and I spend 4 mos. in the winter. When he told me he was from Bergen County, I asked if he knew about Bergen Catholic. I was thunderstruck told me he was sexually abused there as a freshman and is one of the litigants against the order. That conversation opened the floodgates of my memories, experiences with the ICB’s.
I was riveted to the section relating to Br. Brian Walsh. The brothers owned and staffed Bishop Kearney H.S. in Rochester N.Y. I started teaching there in 1964 as a lay teacher, after leaving the seminary. I devoted 33 yrs. to BK as teacher and department head. My wife and I contributed time and treasure to the school over the years.. The school opened 1962…. in the early years with nearly 2,000 co-ed students. The school thrived. When the 80’s arrived and Br. Walsh was principal….. yes THE current principal at Bergen……. enrollment dropped….. spirit dropped….. a garrison mentality set in. Yet, over all the years my perception was that BK was a “clean” school…. an occasional hint…. nothing serious. Yes, Brian Walsh was a colleague, then my Principal. Then he moved on.
In 1991 Br. Ray Vercruysee (a BK graduate whom I had in class) became Principal, then President. The decline continued. I was growing weary of all the negativity. At one point the faculty voted no confidence in his leadership. Yet, he was kept on. He convinced me to go part time in 1993. I stayed active with fund-raisers, etc. Then in 1997 he eliminated my position.
I called Brian Walsh, who was then second in command of the province. He assured me I was wronged and would deal with the matter. He knew how distraught I was. Yet, he came to Rochester and never once contacted me. I was left to hang.
I went to work for BOCES as a tutor….. rediscovering decency and humanity, woefully lacking at BK. So, here we have the same Brian Walsh. He cannot be trusted to do the right thing. Then there’s Vercruysee….. presiding over BK’s decline…..serving as Provincial in 2011 when the order filed for bankruptcy. He too cannot be trusted, one of the most duplicitous persons to ever grace the planet.
These two are deserving of the turmoil in their midst. That Walsh has not been forthright at BC is no surprise. His flair for words and mastery of the language hide the deceit and duplicity that defines him. Would he ever apologize for the hurt and loss of trust. Doubtful. So, we are all victims in our own way, victims of misguided stewardship and leadership. I still have faith….. but barely…. a nominal Catholic. When all is done we shall be called to accountability. Amen
Donald R. Griffin
An update on my earlier comments regarding my experiences with the ICB’s. 17 years ago when I was left to hang…by Brian Walsh, I was in a state of despair and I was not sure of what would happen to BK.. During exam week 2 seniors who were in my Economics class…not always cooperative, came to a room where I was proctoring, having heard what was happening, asked what they could do to help me. All I said was pray for the school. Some that year feared its closing. Isn’t it strange that 2 troublesome students reached out to help me….that has sustained me for 17 years as opposed to the betrayal by Brian Walsh and the ICB’s. Now I hear that a wealthy Rochester businessman is buying the school and now the complete severance of BK ties to the ICB’s will become a reality. What a feeling of liberation and the lifting of a dark cloud. If only other schools could be rid of those demons.. God be praised.
February 14, 2014
February 20, 2014
Christian Brothers abuse bankruptcy Daily update February 20, 2014 13WHA M-TV
“Golisano offers $3.4M to buy Kearney property Rochester Democrat and Chronicle The only lawsuit here involving the Christian Brothers Institute arose in 1993, … attended Bishop Kearney claimed a member of the order had abused her. … Institute to file for protection from creditors in U.S. Bankruptcy Court in 2011.”
Received February 28, 2014
UNITED STATES BANKRUPTCY COURT
SOUTHERN DISTRICT OF NEW YORK
NOTICE OF HEARING TO CONSIDER APPLICATIONS
FOR FINAL AWARD OF FEES AND REIMBURSEMENT
OF EXPENSES PURSUANT TO 11 U.S.C. § 330
HEARING DATE: March 19,2014
HEARING TIME: 10:00 A.M.
|Tarter Krinsky & Drogin LLP Attorneys for The Christian Brothers’ Institute and The Christian Brothers of Ireland, Inc.Debtors and Debtors-in-Possession||$3,945,049.30
(less payments received on account)
(less payments received on account)
|This is outrageous that the lawyers representing the ICBs are requesting 4million dollars out of the $14 million pie (very close to 1/3rd!) This is an insult to all the victims.|
|Brother Philip Pinto, the head of the Edmund Rice Christian Brothers, said that the order’s decision to seek bankruptcy protection in New York was aimed at “trying to ensure that people who have been abused are the ones who get the money, not the lawyers”, he said during a break in a conference on religious life sponsored by the Conference of Religious of Ireland. [At the conference he gave an address entitled “Out of Darkness Colour Breaks” which can be read here.]|
When law can do no right,
Let it be lawful that law bar no wrong:
Law cannot give my child his kingdom here,
For he that holds his kingdom holds the law.
– William Shakespeare,
The Life and Death of King John
Received October 9, 2014
An account from a survivor of
a Christian Brother’s abuse
at Essex Catholic High School,
Newark, New Jersey.
Essex Catholic High School, Newark, New Jersey
During the late 70’s when I attended Essex Catholic High School the real bullying hadn’t occurred among us students, rather a teaching staff of Irish Christian Brothers who gave bullying a whole new meaning, as in off the charts corporal punishment… crimes against humanity.
As the end of my sophomore year drew to a close, I was on pace to receive a full ride scholarship in either sport basketball, or as a javelin thrower. Yet, the game of basketball filled my life with so much joy. However, my field coach helped me to realize I was a natural talent for the javelin throw. Freshman year, I was the number one javelin thrower at our school, as I was chosen to represent Essex Catholic at every varsity meet. However, it was only after I received a silver medal with a throw of 169’ feet at the sophomore state meet of champions that I truly realized I had a special gift. Immediately following that meet the varsity coach had stated: “You’re on track to throw 200’ plus feet by your junior year, which will surely earn you an early athletic scholarship”.
At the start of my junior year, I was considered by coaching staff to be a double threat in two sports. All that hard work and endless summers I spent practicing basketball from sun up, until sun down was about to pay off. So I thought.
My days of happy go lucky, gifted athlete, dreams for a promising education were all cut short that first quarter of my junior year. The incident had occurred during English period after I passed one of my trade mark jokes that left the entire class laughing, all with the exception of my teacher Brother Xxxxxxx. I was asked to leave the class with Xxxxxxx following in hot pursuit. I was led away toward a dark isolated hallway when Xxxxxxx unleashed a sucker punch that found the back of my skull. As I went down, I hit the floor face first. Semiconscious, He then proceeded to savagely beat me into submission, which lasted for minutes, feeling more like hours. After I shuffled to my feet grimacing with pain, I hobbled out of the school and never returned.
Brother Xxxxxxx had been in his late twenties and stood approximately 6 feet tall, 200 plus lbs of solid stature, as for myself 5’11” about 140 lbs pencil thin. At the time of the incident, I was only fifteen years old.
Immediately following the attack, I headed straight home, which was only a block from school. In the aftermath, I never left my house, holed up in my room for just over a month. I refused to discuss the matter with anyone, including my father, who raised me. As a young naïve teenager, I suppressed the traumatic event, as that was my way of diverting the emotional pain. I remained silent never telling a soul for almost a decade.
A month after the attack, I was contacted by a relative and convinced to switch high schools to at least earn my diploma. So it was done, I switched schools mid-year. However, I was in need of a serious intervention that never arrivedcame. I was alive in the physical sense,sense; yet, my zest for life was gone. That one time desire and relentless determination to persevere at school, and sports, was no longer present. I became helpless against that evil monster referred to as depression. Unfortunately, I self destructed and certainly not by choice.. Unconsciously, I had been angry for having my life placed on hold.
The fall out, I barely managed to graduate. During my junior and senior years at my new high school, I missed more than 100 days of school. Unfortunately, I no longer had the desire to participate in competitive sports, much less concentrate on my studies. At my new school the coaches had heard about my athletic accomplishments, as they tried unsuccessfully to recruit me.
Following High School graduation my life continued to spiral out of control for years. I found myself bouncing from one dead end job to the next. I started out digging ditches for a construction company, working the grave yard shift packing out shelves in a super market, to multiple security guard positions, asbestos removal worker, night club bouncer. I was basically unemployable. I became a desperate teenager just trying to survive. In reality the problem wasn’t my job skills, but an explosive anger I was unable to reign in.
I went from happy go lucky to a lost soul with a bad attitude of I don’t care anymore. I went on a pity party of self destruction. I was angry at family members, but mostly at my new school staff. I felt the professionals should have realized (by my actions of misbehavior) just how deeply troubled I had been. Today psychologist would have referred to my behavior as a having a serious conduct disorder.
I went from penny thievery to shop lifting sprees. From speeding tickets to literally thousands of dollars in traffic fines, to losing my license for six months, as my wake-up call was about to sound a rude awakening.
In all, ten years had passed before the abuse I suffered as a High School student resurfaced. I had suffered a nervous breakdown from what I thought was due to a broken relationship. However, the relationship split was the underlying trigger that awakened (so to speak) long ago suppressed memories of the abuse I endured as a teenager. Suicidal, I had no other recourse but to seek professional counseling. Psychotherapy had helped me to understand that my emotional scars were indeed sabotaging my life in so many ways. I can honestly say the years spent in therapy had literally saved my life. As for Br. Xxxxxxx, one day he’ll have to face the wrath of God.
“I was asked to leave the class with Xxxxxxx following in hot pursuit. I was led away toward a dark isolated hallway when Xxxxxxx unleashed a sucker punch that found the back of my skull. As I went down, I hit the floor face first. Semiconscious, He then proceeded to savagely beat me into submission, which lasted for minutes, feeling more like hours. After I shuffled to my feet grimacing with pain, I hobbled out of the school and never returned.”
Road to Recovery
APRIL 10, 2015
Bergen Catholic Graduate Hall of Fame 1994 Inductee Rev. Michael Hansen Class of 1959 – the “first graduate of the school to become a priest.”
West Orange, New Jersey priest, Rev. Michael H. Hansen, from the Archdiocese of Newark, New Jersey, gave alcohol to innocent children and sexually abused them
Rev. Michael H. Hansen took innocent children to the “Jersey shore” where he gave them alcohol and sexually abused them
Rev. Michael H. Hansen, deceased, was a volunteer firefighter in Glen Ridge, New Jersey and chaplain of the New Jersey State Firemen’s Association where he had access to many minor children
Rev. Michael Hansen
The Rev. Michael H. Hansen
August 23, 2012
The Rev. Michael H. Hansen, 71, of Allendale, passed away on Tuesday, Aug. 14, 2012.
He was born in Brooklyn, N.Y., and was a member of the first graduating class at Bergen Catholic High School in 1959. He was inducted into the Bergen Catholic Hall of Fame as the first Bergen Catholic graduate to enter the priesthood. The Rev. Hansen was ordained on May 27, 1967. He was parochial vicar at Sacred Heart Church in Bloomfield, Our Lady of Lourdes Church in West Orange and Church of the Assumption in Emerson where he retired in 2009. He was a former volunteer firefighter for the Glen Ridge Fire Department and fire chaplain for the New Jersey State Firemen’s Association.
June 6th, 2015
Public Demonstration at Bergen Catholic.
Bob Hoatson and Fred Marigliano. Photo by Kevin Waldrip.
“We are here today to demand that Bergen Catholic stop its foot-dragging and return to reasonable and fair negotiations. The longer Bergen Catholic High School is unreasonable, the more the victims of Br. Charles Irwin and Br. John Chaney are re-victimized. Victims of sexual abuse deserve better treatment. Bergen Catholic High School must negotiate reasonably so the sexual abuse victims of Br. Charles Irwin and Br. John Chaney are not continually re-victimized.”
“You might be at Bergen Catholic High School this evening to attend the graduation of Bergen Catholic High School, or you might be a neighbor of the school or just passing by. Bergen Catholic High School officials do not practice what they preach. They tell their students to act justly but do not demand that of themselves. They are classic followers of the ‘Do as I say, not as I do’ adage which is hypocritical and unjust.”
“We are sure graduates this evening will hear all kinds of pious platitudes from the administration, but if the Bergen Catholic High School administration continues to re-victimize sexual abuse victims of former Bergen Catholic High School teachers, their words will continue to ring hollow. Bergen Catholic High School must act reasonably and fairly negotiate so victims can begin to heal.”
|I pray we hear from more men who were there with us and lived through the terror… most of all I would like to hear from those who “don’t remember” or have compartmentalized their memories, dissociated, or deny that anything was wrong.
Things were wrong – they were very wrong. Young people were hurt – it didn’t “toughen us up” – it damaged us. Authority without accountability is simply not acceptable in any circumstances. Telling our stories is not about hatred, money, or revenge – it is about solidarity, responsibility and accountability.
Kobutsu is an American Rinzai Zen Buddhist
Clergy Sexual Misconduct –
Dominance, Abuse, Assault, Battery and Torture – Links:
.. a far from comprehensive listing.
|Abuse by Clergy||Link Information|
|Bergen Catholic H. S.
|History of Bergen Catholic.pdf|
|6/12/15Exclusive: Mount Cashel (Newfoundland) civil case moves closer to trial
A long and tangly civil case against the Catholic Church and the Christian Brothers involving alleged victims of physical and sexual abuse at Mount Cashel from the 1940s and ’60s has taken another turn, The Telegram has learned.
According to the lawyer for those alleged victims, the case clears the last hurdle to give them their day in court.
|Sun Jun 07, 2015 at 04:55 AM PDTPope Francis Defies UN on Torturing Children
The UN Committee against Torture “found that the widespread sexual violence within the Catholic Church amounted to torture and cruel, inhuman and degrading treatment.” After Vatican officials were called to Geneva in May 2014 to respond to tough questions like why the pope believed his responsibility for protecting children against torture only applied on Vatican property, the committee issued its report.
|Child sexual abuse can shorten life expectancy, shrink brain, royal commission hearsBy court reporter Peta Carlyon
“There is still a long way to go in understanding how best to help victims of child sexual abuse, which can shorten a person’s life expectancy and result in the shrinkage of their brain, a royal commission is told.”
“Psychiatrist Dr Carolyn Quadric, an Associate Professor at the University of New South Wales, appeared as a witness at a Ballarat hearing of the Royal Commission into Institutional Responses to Child Sex Abuse.”
“Dr Quadric told the hearing the sexual abuse of children damaged brain development and, at worst, resulted in shrinkage of the brain and a shortened life expectancy of 10 to 20 years.”
“The child feels worthless, betrayed … they feel dirty, defiled … they blame themselves,” Dr Quadric said.”
“lt’s extremely damaging for the child’s psychological development.”
|20150525_ABCnet AU News.pdf|
|A MODERN MONK’S TALEBy JOHN CAVANAGH
August 12, 1939 – September 9, 2012
ON SEPT. 8, 2012, THE DAY BEFORE HE DIED, JOHN CAVANAGH GAVE PERMISSION FOR HIS ESSAY, “A MODERN MONK’S TALE” TO BE MADE PUBLIC.
CAVANAGH WAS BORN INTO A WEALTHY FAMILY THAT HAD CONNECTIONS TO THE HIGHEST LEVELS OF THE ROMAN CATHOLIC CHURCH. AS A CHILD AND LATER A TRAPPIST MONK, HE WAS TUTORED NOT ONLY IN THE THEOLOGICAL INTRICACIES OF HIS CHURCH, BUT ALSO IN THE WEALTH, POWER AND ARROGANCE THAT LAY BENEATH ITS GLITTERING AND SOMETIMES COMPASSIONATE APPEARANCES.
LIKE OTHER ROMAN CATHOLICS BEFORE HIM AND OTHERS YET TO COME, CAVANAGH TRIED AS A MONK TO BRING SEXUAL AND OTHER CHURCH MALFEASANCES TO THE ATTENTION OF HIS SUPERIORS.
HE WAS TOLD TO KEEP HIS MOUTH SHUT … WHAT HE SAW, HE HAD NOT SEEN; WHAT HE HEARD, HE HAD NOT HEARD; AND WHAT HE KNEW, HE DID NOT KNOW.
WHEN THE PRESSURES ASSOCIATED WITH HIS OWN HONESTY BECAME TOO GREAT, CAVANAUGH LEFT THE TRAPPISTS AND ABANDONED THE CHURCH. “A MODERN MONK’S TALE” IS HIS STORY.
A Blog by Kathy Shaw
|CLERGY SEXUAL ABUSE BIBLIOGRAPHY OFSELECTED SOURCES RELATED TO CLERGY SEXUAL ABUSE, ECCLESIASTICAL POLITICS AND THEOLOGY AND CHURCH HISTORYThomas P. Doyle
Revised May 3, 2015
|Sacrilege: Sexual Abuse in the Catholic Churchby Leon J. Podles (Author)
Sacrilege explores the deep roots of the Catholic Church’s sexual-abuse scandal, revealing its full depth and breadth. In horrifying yet necessary detail, former federal investigator Leon Podles surveys the full extent of the damage, showing how victims were failed by bishops, laity, therapists, police, courts, press, and even popes. Examining the history behind today’s headlines, Dr. Podles reveals how centuries-old theological errors encouraged blind submission to hierarchy, by making obedience to authority the highest virtue. He also shines a light on the new theological errors, popularized since Vatican II, that glorify every type of sexual expression–including pedophilia. Sacrilege will prove an essential resource for all those concerned with the history and future of Catholicism.
Sacrilege on Amazon
|Christian Brothers make their ‘deathbed confession’
Peter Stanford reports on the stern Catholic teaching order that has admitted cruelty and abuse. The Independent
|Convicted paedophile Robert Best ‘still a Christian Brother’, royal commission hearsThe Age – Victoria – Australlia
May 22, 2015
by Janet Lee“The Christian Brothers have done nothing to remove offender Robert Best from its order since he was convicted of multiple sexual offences against children.”
“Best was convicted in 2011 of sex crimes against 11 boys at schools in Ballarat, Box Hill and Geelong and is currently serving a 14 year, nine–month sentence.”
“Brother Peter Clinch, leader of the Christian Brothers Oceania Province, told the Royal Commission into Institutional Responses to Child Sexual Abuse on Friday that Best was still a Christian Brother.”
|HAUNTED BY PAST:
Yet another “Christian” Brother: 11/19/2007
Brother John Matthew Walderman, C.F.C.“A Roman Catholic brother credited with turning around an all-boys Harlem high school was removed as principal after someone complained that he had been arrested two decades ago for allegedly soliciting a boy for sex….”
“On New Year’s Day in 1986, Walderman, then the principal at Bishop Hendricken HS in Warwick, RI, was arrested in nearby East Providence after police found him and a 17-year-old boy ‘in a car parked in an isolated area,’ according to reports at the time.”
Br. John Matthew Walderman
|No brother to me –Physical and sexual abuse by Christian Brothers“The Brother sat down on a bench in the deserted room and ordered me to remove my shorts and lay face down across his knee. I braced myself for the downstroke of the strap, but it didn’t come. He placed his hand on my bare backside instead and left it there for what seemed like an age. Eventually, he told me to get up and dress. I had a been a brave boy, and had shown my manliness by not flinching when punishment was expected, he said. He believed I had learnt my lesson. I was free to go.”
By Steve Boulton, The Guardian, April 23, 1998
Irish religious to fore in Australian abuse scandal by Mary RafertyIn over a decade of researching the experiences of people all over the world whose childhoods were destroyed by state-sponsored abuse, one of the worst I came across was that of a small, blue-eyed boy at Tardun, an orphanage in western Australia. He was one of the tens of thousands apologised to on Monday by Australian prime minister Kevin Rudd, as that country at last faces up to the savage abuses suffered by so many taken as children into state-funded care.Tardun was one of the more notorious of Australia’s 500 or so children’s institutions. It had all sorts of Irish connections. It was one of four such institutions run by the Christian Brothers, who were tightly controlled by their Irish leadership, based at the Dublin headquarters in Marino.Then comes the indelible account of the blue-eyed boy:“Those of us who heard the account of a man who as a boy was a particular favourite of some Christian Brothers at Tardun who competed as to who could rape him 100 times first, his account of being in terrible pain, bleeding and bewildered, trying to beat his own eyes so they would cease to be blue as the Brothers like his blue eyes, or being forced to masturbate animals, or being held upside down over a well and threatened in case he ever told, will never forget it”.
Mary Rafferty 1958 ~ 2012
|Christian Brothers vs Mary Raftery (in Irish Times) re Abuse Files and Convictions – July 2004Christian Brothers and Abuse File Irish Times, July 16, 2004“Madam, – It is not correct to say that the Christian Brothers have spent years denying the contents of their files, including evidence of sexual abuse by some of their members (Mary Raftery’s column, July 8th). Almost six years have passed since they first issued a message which included an acknowledgement and an apology.”||Mary_Raftery.pdf|
|The Brothers grimby Patrick BarkmanOnce, the Christian Brothers wielded extraordinary power – not only over the lives of the hundreds, if not thousands, of children they abused, but over Ireland itself. Today there are only 250 people left in the Irish order, with an average age of 74 – but its legacy still looms large. The Guardian November 28, 2009||http://m.guardian.co.uk|
|‘A MOST UNENVIABLE REPUTATION’ THE CHRISTIAN BROTHERS AND SCHOOL DISCIPLINE OVER TWO CENTURIESBy Br. Barry Coldrey, Ph.D.This publication is presented with the express permission of the author – The pdf file may be freely copied and distributed:||REPUTATION.pdf|
|The “Christian” Brothers Shuffle:The documentation herein details the story of the Roman Catholic “Christian” Brothers order’s response to a member of their community who, in his position as a teacher and school principal, sexually abused over twenty boys in six different institutions.The documentation constitutes a small fraction of the evidence used by the law firm of Pfau Cochran Vertetis Amala PLLC, Seattle, in the prosecution of more than twenty cases over an eight-year period. The claims brought against “Brother” Edward C. Courtney resulted in substantial settlements and Mr. Courtney was forced to surrender his teaching certificates, but he never served even a day in jail.|
|The Nature and Scope of the Problem of Sexual Abuse of Minors by Catholic Priests and Deacons in the United StatesA Research Study Conducted by the John Jay College of Criminal Justice.||www.jjay.cuny.edu|
|The Irish Commission to Inquire into Child Abuse||Childabusecommission|
|Irish Reform Schools: Thousands Beaten, Raped||www.huffingtonpost.com|
|Deliver Us From EvilFilmmaker Amy Berg recounts a harrowing story of child abuse and how a serial child molester went free for the better part of two decades in this documentary. Oliver O’Grady was a Catholic priest who served in a number of parishes in Southern California during the 1970s and ’80s. O’Grady was also a habitual child molester who abused dozens of youngsters who were entrusted to his care, and while his superiors in the church were aware of O’Grady’s crimes as early as 1973, they opted to simply move him from one congregation to another rather than turn him in to authorities or strip him of his ordination.
In Deliver Us From Evil, a number of O’Grady’s victims and their families discuss his crimes and the repercussions they feel to this day. O’Grady himself also appears in the film, speaking candidly about his career as a sexual predator and recounting his misdeeds in detail. (After finally being convicted of child sexual abuse, O’Grady served time in prison and now lives in Ireland, where he is still looked after by Catholic clergy.)
Berg also offers a look into the history of the Catholic Church and how its leadership has often protected those within the hierarchy at the expense of their worshipers. Deliver Us From Evil was named Best Documentary Feature at the 2006 Los Angeles Film Festival.
Watch the full documentary for free here:
See followup directly below:
|Oliver O’Grady, Irish Priest, Jailed For Child Porn
LONDON (AP) — A defrocked Roman Catholic priest who admitted molesting more than 20 children in California has been sentenced to three years in prison in Ireland for possessing child pornography, court officials said Tuesday. Oliver O’Grady, 66, was arrested in Dublin in December 2010 after leaving a computer containing pornographic images of children on a flight from Amsterdam.
|Unholy Orders: Tragedy at Mount Cashel
by Michael HarrisThis book documents the sexual perversion, physical abuse, and gratuitous cruelty inflicted on defenseless boys as young as seven years old by Irish Christian Brothers in the Mount Cashel orphanage for homeless boys in St. John’s, Newfoundland during the 1970s-80s.
|Broken Rites Australia — fighting church sexual abuse since 1993Broken Rites receives telephone calls and emails from throughout Australia.Broken Rites can advise a victim about various ways to obtain justice (more about this later in the article). We help victims to become survivors. To empower victims, we maintain lists of church personnel who have been sentenced in the criminal courts or who have been the subject of civil out-of-court processes. Broken Rites has supported the victims in these cases — either before or after the commencement of the justice process. Some examples of these cases are listed on our Black Collar Crime page but this is not a complete list. These are merely cases in which Broken Rites provided support.||
Broken Rites Australia news index
|IntercessionA former seminarian…John Deegan…molested as a boy…takes justice into his own hands.
By Louis Romano
|Altar Boy: A Story of Life After Abuse by Andrew Madden||http://www.amazon.com|
|The Tricky Part: A boy’s Story of Sexual Trespass, A man’s Journey to Frogiveness by Martin Moran||http://www.amazon.com|
|Predatory Priests, Silenced VictimsBy Mary Gail Frawley-O’Dea, Virginia Goldner||http://books.google.com|
|Sin against the innocents
By Thomas G. Plante
|A Tragic Grace
by Stephen J. Rossetti, Interfaith Sexual Trauma Institute
Sex, Priests, and Secret Codes:The Catholic Church’s 2,000 Year Paper Trail of Sexual Abuse by Thomas P. Doyle, A.W. Richard Sipe, Patrick J. Wall
|Sexual abuse by clergy: A “perfect panic”||www.religioustolerance.org|
|Boston Globe / Spotlight / Abuse in the Catholic Church||http://www.boston.com|
|“Crimene Solicitationis”The Latin document “Crimene Solicitationis” was issued by the Vatican in 1962, the title translates to “crimes of solicitation.” This document delineates the procedures to be invoked in dealing with cases of abuse of children by priests, cases where sex is solicited in the confessional and cases of homosexuality and bestiality. The secrecy invoked by the document is revealing, as it pledges even victims to silence under pain of excommunication. This document was distributed in Latin to every Bishop in the world.||“Crimene Solicitationis”|
OUR FATHERS [Video]A dramatized account of the hidden sexual abuse and scandal that shook the foundation of the Catholic Church, and the characters, events, and policies that brought the abuse and scandal into existence
|The Worthy Adversary – a blogBy Joelle CasteixA former journalist, educator, and public relations professional, Joelle Casteix is now a leading national spokesperson, writer and advocate for victims of child sexual abuse.||
|SNAP – The Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests||www.snapnetwork.org/|
Sexual Abuse by Clergy
|The Hope of Survivors||www.thehopeofsurvivors.com|
|Road to Recovery, the only non-profit organization in the United States that offers compassionate counseling and referral services to survivors of clergy sexual abuse.||www.road-to-recovery.org/|
|Rogue Clerics By Anson Shupe||http://books.google.com|
|Clergy Sexual Abuse: Annotated Bibliography
of Conceptual and Practical Resources
|The Advocate Web – Bibliography of Non-Fiction Books, Book Chapters, Monographs, Booklets, and Packets||www.advocateweb.org|
|The Eido Shimano Archive
This archive contains material dating from 1964 to the present – material that offers a contrast to the earlier and more widely available self-aggrandizements and self-congratulations produced by Eido Shimano. Not only does the archive depict a sexually abusive man, it also depicts a man of little or no conscience – a man far from worthy of the rank and approbation he has found in the world of Zen Buddhism. The Shimano Archive offers authenticated documentation from which readers may deduce what they like from within a well-informed panorama of information.
The Aitken-Shimano Letters –
The letters are concerned primarily with the “Shimano problem”, a problem about the alleged sexual misbehaviour of Eido Shimano Roshi that first arose in 1964 in Hawai’i, where Aitken Roshi is based.
|The Sasaki ArchiveJoshu Roku™
“His career of misconduct has run the gamut from frequent and repeated non-consensual groping of female students during interview, to sexually coercive after hours ‘tea’ meetings, to affairs and sexual interference in the marriages and relationships of his students. Many individuals that have confronted Sasaki and Rinzai-ji about this behavior have been alienated and eventually excommunicated, or have resigned in frustration when nothing changed; or worst of all, have simply fallen silent and capitulated. For decades, Joshu Roshi’s behavior has been ignored, hushed up, downplayed, justified, and defended by the monks and students that remain loyal to him.”
|“Zen Has No Morals!” – The Latent Potential for Corruption and Abuse in Zen Buddhism, as Exemplified by Two Recent Casesby Christopher HamacherPaper presented on 7 July 2012 at the International Cultic Studies Association’s annual conference in Montreal, Canada.||20120707_Hamacher_ICSA.pdf|
|Brahmadana, Intervention, and Related Considerations
In “Original Dwelling Place: Zen Buddhist Essays” by Robert Aitken, Roshi
|Buddhist Clergy Sexual Abuse:
|Shoes Outside the Door: Desire, Devotion, and Excess at San Francisco Zen Center||http://www.thezensite.com|
|Down the Crooked Path
Hidden Dangers of Meditation and the Pitfalls of the Guru/Disciple relationship
|Mysterious Buddhist Retreat in the Desert Ends in a Grisly Death BOWIE, Ariz. — The rescuers had rappelled from a helicopter, swaying in the brisk April winds as they bore down on a cave 7,000 feet up in a rugged desert mountain on the edge of this rural hamlet. There had been a call for help. Inside, they found a jug with about an inch of water, browned by floating leaves and twigs. They found a woman, Christie McNally, thirsty and delirious. And they found her husband, Ian Thorson, dead.The puzzle only deepened when the authorities realized that the couple had been expelled from a nearby Buddhist retreat in which dozens of adherents, living in rustic conditions, had pledged to meditate silently for three years, three months and three days. Their spiritual leader was a charismatic Princeton-educated monk whom some have accused of running the retreat as a cult.||The New York Times 6/6/12|
BC Abuse Project / Post Office Box 213
Sedgwick, Maine 04676-0213 USA / (207) 359-2555
People are urged to freely copy and distribute this entire website. This website may be freely mirrored in its entirety. A DVD of the entire site can be made available to anyone who inquires.
THE EXECUTION OF THE HOLY SPIRIT Part Three The Victims
by Kobutsu Malone
From the Link: http://www.bergencatholicabuse.com/
Following are some of the letters I have received to date. Most of these have been redacted and *names changed* to maintain confidentiality. Each redacted letter was edited and approved by the individual correspondent prior to posting. All correspondence received concerning this matter is held in strict confidence.
The First Letter:
From Thomas Schwarz – BC ’66
January 5, 2009 9:51:13 PM EST
Dear Kobutsu Malone,
I feel as though I am at the beginning of a long, rough, perilous, unclear trail. I hope that you can help me, and perhaps I might be able to help you.
I graduated from Bergen Catholic in 1966. Memories of my four years at B.C. have never been pleasant. As I have grown older it seems those memories come more often. Because I am contacting you I suspect that you realize already that I, too, endured abuse at B.C. I recently began Googling all the word and name combinations I could think of to let the internet retrieve information for me, but alas I have come away almost empty-handed — except for your short piece on engaged-zen.org. [A precursor to this bergencatholicabuse.com website] Your description of the Irwin brothers behavior was stunningly accurate. (Sentences redacted)
Finally, my own recollections of beatings I suffered while being “jugged” involved Bro. John P. Seibert.
Why are there no other mentions on the internet of these events? Are we the only men who recall such incidents? Are they figments of our collective imaginations? I doubt it.
I would be most appreciative if we could share information and perhaps make a collective, concerted effort to unearth and explain those sordid events.
I look forward to hearing from you.
|Brother John Peter Seibert|
January 5, 2009 10:34:01 PM EST
I am very glad we had the opportunity to speak earlier. You are the only person I know of so far who can corroborate what I wrote about Charlie Irwin’s behavior.
Would you be willing to write about your experiences with Irwin’s behavior? Would you be willing to publish it on the internet next to my account?
There were some 30 odd kids in my class room. Irwin taught perhaps five different classes a day, that means 150 kids a day could have been exposed to him perhaps 180 times a year. I have no idea how many years he was at BC, where he was before BC or even when/if he left BC. I was told by the order attorney in 2003 that Charlie Irwin had been dead for five years (1998?). His younger brother Tommy Irwin is still teaching at BC as far as I know.
That man did not just adopt his behavior only in Room 34 in 1964, everybody in that school was terrified of Irwin. Other students who had him in different classes reported the same kind of treatment. Irwin potentially terrorized and induced traumatic stress to many thousands of young people over the years.
I do not know if he was ever “exposed” or if anyone ever filed any sort of formal complaint against him, that information is hardly going to be made readily available through the alumni association or the order. I would like to hear that at some point someone in authority stepped in and took him away from teaching high school kids.
Back in ’65 I did not know the meaning of “sociopath,” now I do. Irwin was himself mentally ill and in need of supervision and care. I do not know if he ever got any care for his afflictions.
There have got to be others out there who might be willing to share their experiences if enough of us come forward. I don’t know where it all might lead, but I sense that us being in contact has something to do with us both healing. There have to be others out there with stories to tell, many may have never even realized what we were put through. Reading what two of us have written might serve to motivate others to come forward.
Telling our stories is vital to heal ourselves, motivate others, correct injustice and set the record straight.
From another man:
On Mar 19, 2009, at 11:36 AM, *Pete* wrote:
I just finished reading your article re Brother Irwin. I am speechless. I am catching my breath. I graduated from BC in 1966 (attended 1962-66) and thus was there when you were there and had much “exposure” to Irwin. My stomach is in a knot. Your description was so incredibly accurate and it instantly shot me back to those days. I am speechless. I think I want to thank you. I think I want to forget. But I think it isn’t right to just forget.
Have you heard from others?
On March 19, 2009 11:42:46 AM EDT
I responded to *Pete* and told him I had heard from others. I sent him my phone number.
On March 19, 2009 2:22:43 PM EDT *Pete* wrote:
What rapid responses! I appreciate your responses and your phone number. It is a gloomy day here and my spirits are darkened by thoughts of Irwin and the other BC nightmares. I have asked myself often why it is that I do not feel much affection for my high school days. I always attributed that lack of nostalgia to the fact that it was an all-male institution and the fact that it was a catholic school and I have become quite non-catholic. But I realize it is also issues such as this that compromise fondness for those days of youth.
Given that there have been two recent deaths in my family and that I am struggling in the process of healing and given that this realization about Irwin and his colleagues in crime is bringing me down, I am going to let this go for now.
I greatly appreciate your article and your bravery. I have your contact information and hopefully we can talk about better things someday. Meanwhile, I wish you a very wonderful life. From what I can see, you have been having one.
From a third man:
On Dec 19, 2009, at 11:36 AM, *Jack* wrote:
“I found your site and was at BC around the same time as you. You mentioned ‘for all I know Irwin is long dead’ and another alumnus clipped this from The Record in 1999 and sent it to me and for whatever reason I tucked it into the yearbook pages and so still have it.”
The summary of the obituary is as follows:
Charles B. Irwin
Born: Jan. 28, 1928 – Mount Vernon, NY
Graduated Iona Preparatory School, New Rochelle
Entered Congregation of Christian Brothers July 1, 1945
Professed First Vows September 8, 1946
Professed Final Vows September 8, 1953
Fordham University – BA Education 1953
St. John’s University – MA History 1956
Charles B. Irwin taught at the following institutions:
- St. Joseph’s Juniorate, West Park, NY
- Santa Maria Novitiate-Novice, West Park, NY
- St. Gabriel’s Scholasticate-Student, West Park, NY
- Sacred Heart Community and Grammar School, New York, NY
- Cardinal Hayes-Holy Family Community, Bronx, NY
- Cardinal Hayes-St. Helena’s Annex, Bronx, NY
- Cardinal Hayes Community and High School, Bronx, NY
- Power Memorial Community and Academy, New York, NY
- Leo Community and High School, Chicago, IL
- Bergen Catholic Community and High School, Oradell, NJ
- St. Patrick’s Provincialate Community, New Rochelle, NY
- Iona Prep, New Rochelle, NY 1979 – 1991 [Retired]
Died: October 9, 1997 – New Rochelle, NY
An anonymous individual with Photoshop skills offers some “psychological” advice:
Date: January 17, 2010 6:33:09 AM EST
Subject: Your site regarding an Irish Christian Brother
A Letter of Support:
On February 19, 2010 7:15:35 PM EST
Dear Rev. Kobutsu Malone,
After reading a report by Ireland’s Commission to Inquire Into Child Abuse which came out in 2009, I was shocked at the accounts of many of the surviving men and women who gave accurate details of emotional, physical and sexual abuse at mainly the hands of the Irish Christian Brothers and nuns who ran the Reformatory and Industrial Schools where many of these surviving victims were brought to live at a very young age. I was very affected by their accounts and one school in particular was mentioned as being “a living hell”-it was called Artane. When I read the accounts of the boys who lived there from the 1930’s to the 1960’s I was emotionally wounded for them. I cried a lot because I could not believe how much they suffered at the hands of not only the Brothers but any adult who was affiliated with the place in one form or another.
What was even more disturbing was how the government, local police, residents and family members did very little to investigate when some of the boys, at the time, turned to them for help. I can honestly say that I am not shocked however at the reaction of the Catholic Church then and now, for decades it has done “absolutely nothing” to protect the victims but everything to protect the abusers.
I came across an article you wrote, ‘The Execution of the Holy Spirit’ regarding your experience at Bergen Catholic with a Brother Irwin and a Brother Howe – first of all they do not deserve to be called brothers, they deserve to be recognized as “pedophile” and “sociopath” Irwin and “pedophile” and “sociopath” Howe and I hope that all of those young men who they tried to break realize that they are not victims rather “brave” boys and now “brave” men who did absolutely nothing wrong but everything right. The fault, as we all know, lies in the hands of those evil, cowardly fools!
I too suffered at the hands of abuse as a child, the hands of my father who physically and mentally abused me and it took me years to realize that I had nothing to do with his cruel actions-it was his issue not mine. I was compelled to write to you because I wanted to thank you for reaching out to all those wonderful men who related to your experience at Bergen and for reiterating that what happened to you and to them is “not your fault.” I believe it is good for them to hear this and to realize that no matter how hard it is to remember, it should be talked about and not repressed. They have nothing to be embarrassed of and neither do you.
I hope you continue to reach out to those who have had similar experiences at Bergen and someday fight to be heard as they are doing in Ireland, for your sake and for the sake of any future, potential victims. The Catholic Church needs to continued to be challenged until they completely take actions to rid the evil souls that still hide behind their doors.
Kobutsu please remember that you and those other individual are not victims of abuse rather survivors of abuse! 🙂
From yet another man:
On April 2, 2010, at 1:13:40 PM EDT *Ralph* wrote:
I was a couple of years ahead of you 62-65, and transferred to Xxxxxxx H.S. for my senior year. I had Irwin of course for algebra, I have a vivid memory of his running his hand down the back of my pants, down the crack of my ass, and then watching him sniffing his finger as he sat at his desk. I don’t have a clear memory of how many times he had his hands on me. There were others he liked more – egads, I especially remember a kid with long blond hair, Elvis style, he was Irwin’s favorite in my class. I’m reflecting on thinking how lucky I was that he enjoyed abusing/torturing others more than me – geeze, that is sick. There was another brother, who was also talked about, who I seem to remember left the school in the middle of the year of 1962.
Somehow once I ended up under that guy’s arm, and he escorted me into the boys locker room, but kids were there, and somehow, I got away. Never went near him again, his name started with and M or W and sounded maybe polish. After he left there was just brother Irwin to worry about.
I don’t remember his rage especially, there was a lot of that rage, odd for such a vocation? There was a Brother Ryan? who would make us take off our pants in the halls with our shoes on, if we couldn’t he would beat the shit out of you. Another lasting memory, was the brother’s seeming obliviousness to bullies. I remember a kid named Xxxxxxx from Fort Lee, New Jersey – his favorite recreation between class, at lunch or gym was picking on littler, more timid kids. It was constant and of course there were other bullies, and the brothers turned a blind side to all of that too. It’s Kafkaesque, no?
So you’re a Malone, and then you took a Zen first name? I am still a practicing Catholic, attend mass etc, despite the current/new scandals reaching to touch the Pope. Most Catholics I know have little to no respect for the Magisterium in all its majesty and hypocrisy.
“I have a vivid memory of his running his hand down the back of my pants, down the crack of my ass, and then watching him sniffing his finger as he sat at his desk.”
Charles “The Chest” Irwin greets prom attendees 1965.
And another man:
On October 22, 2010, at 12:52:18 PM EDT *Sam* wrote:
Just found your web site. I was searching for pictures of BC to show my wife. I have a similar story not of any sexual abuse but definitely physical abuse. I graduated from the class of ‘70 and rode the Fort Lee bus. Yes, that bus. I remember the bullies who picked on us very well and had a few fist fights with them myself.
The school principal was expelled as I remember and a new principal took over. I believe the principal was expelled for physical and verbal abuse.
Yes, we had brothers who were in hiding. Some were obviously sexually confused and some not so obvious. We had one brother who was referred to as Sister Mary by some of the students. I will not use his name but I remember him well . He had a mean streak and liked to slap you in the face. We also had brothers who would punch you and knock you down for chewing gum in the hall.
My brother also had the misfortune of going to BC but failed out in his freshman year. There was a Brother who was a coach there and he was cruel to my little brother.
I did not want to dissapoint my Mother so I hung in there and took the abuse. It wasn’t a healthy atmosphere for kids that already had issues. It was certainly not nurturing. My brother did well in public school and enjoyed his high school years.
Brother Howe, I remember him well but not as a sexual abuser. He was just a bully . He enjoyed it and I had many fights with him in class. Mostly he would throw erasers at me . He was surprised when I threw them back at him. I wouldn’t take his crap.
We had a history teacher. His name was Mr. Darts. Mr. Darts was a nice man who took me out in the hall one day and spoke with me as a mentor. He knew I was having problems and suggested that if I didn’t want to be there I should talk to my parents. I have never forgotten him. His were the kindest words I had ever had at BC. Thankyou Mr. John Darts.
The Infamous Fort Lee Bus. I hated it but learned to defend myself. We had two upper classman who were big bullies. I only can remember their faces. They were football players and wore their BC jackets. I only wish they were in front of me now as an adult!
Send your boys to a good public school.
Here’s a memory for you and as crazy as it sounds it is 100% true.
I had a Jesuit for some religion class. He was talking about masturbation and the dropping of the seed intentionally. Did you know that is a mortal sin and you can go to hell for that? Well being defiant I asked him what would happen if it happen unintentionally, like while you were sleeping. What happens then if you die? Do you go to hell or only purgatory? Well the stuff hit the fan. I was told to go to the office. They sent me home with a letter recommending I leave the school. Guess the tuition was more valuable because my mother’s letter saved me.
What a bunch of sick people. I feel sorry for them and forgive them their sins. God only knows what they went through as young men entering the seminary. Forgiveness is the best lesson I have learned in life and it wasn’t taught to me at BC.
If you can pass my email along to the person who rode the Fort Lee bus I would appreciate it.
PS. I did not go on stage to accept my diploma at graduation. As an act of defiance I sat in the stands without a cap and gown. It was a great dissapointment to my Mother who could never understand. Sorry Mom.
Brother Michael McElhatton
A.K.A. “Sister Mary”
And another man:
On November 29, 2010, at 6:01 PM EDT *Karl* wrote:
I was in the class of 1971.
Fortunately, I never had the horrendous experiences you mentioned with Br Irwin and Br Howe, but I remember them both and am not at all surprised. Br Smith was a religion teacher that gave me a slap across the face that left a handprint for a few minutes. He was clearly effeminate, but was intolerant of anything but undivided attention. I had great experiences with all the lay teachers. Mr Stevenson in particular was the chess team coach. My guidance counselor was also the basketball coach (Dougherty?) and he was also very helpful. I got a great education at BC, but it is disgusting what the Catholic Church allowed to happen.
Brother Joseph Smith
On March 25, 2011, at 3:57 PM EDT *Jerome* wrote:
I just read your story about Brs. Irwin and Howe. I was a member of a late 60’s graduating class. I remember Charlie Irwin. We all knew he was a “fag” as we called him them. He did not sexually bother me but I do recall him putting his hand down boys shirts. I never saw the pants action. There were a number of homosexual brothers back then. Maybe because I came a few years after you, I (we) knew a little more about them. I know “Sister Mary” as one writer mentioned. There were plenty of mean ones too. Br. Howe was nasty as were others. I did not take their crap. As a matter of fact, I do believe I slapped Br. Fish after he slapped me one day.
Another guy mentioned the Fort Lee bus. I was on the same bus at that time. The bullies were in full force on that ride. I was picked on in school. I was skinny and not a jock. Fortunately, I always had a way with words and gave it right back. I remember one guy bothering me and I punched him in the face. Of course, he was twice my size and picked me up and threw me across a row or two of desks. But that was the end of it. I did not take the bullies crap either.
On June 7, 2011, this letter was received from *Greg* at 10:40:55 AM EDT:
I was reading an editorial in this past Sunday’s New York Times by Maureen Dowd in reference to a Bishop in Ireland, who among other things, got down on his knees and washed the feet of sexual abuse victims at a mass in Dublin. The editorial went on to say how his papal colleagues in the Vatican did not look upon the Irish Bishop favorably.
The editorial brought out the old anger of 40 years ago and I did something that I have resisted for decades. I goggled Bergen Catholic sexual abuse and your article came up. As I began to read my first impression was that I had written this in some trance-like state. When I showed your article to my wife she asked if I had written it. First I want to thank you from the bottom of my heart for having the courage to bring out these things that many of us have tried to bury over the years.
My own experience begins with attending Xxxxxxxxxx grammar school in Xxxxxxxxx, NJ. I had gone to public school and had many happy years but my three older brothers had graduated from a Jesuit College and in my young mind I thought going to BC would give me a leg up on doing the same. From sixth thru eighth grade Brothers taught me. As with you, the terror was on a daily basis. Being slapped and hit was common but the worst for me was having to come to the front of the room and having your hand held while you were beaten with a steel ruler. I learned early that tears might diminish the amount of hits and so for me, the tears came quickly. My other recollection was to see some of my tougher friends hold out tears and piss the brothers off and receive many more hits.
Seeing your picture and knowing the dates that you attended Bergen Catholic I know I was there the same year and I am fairly sure that I was in the same algebra class with Irwin. I have forgotten most of my year at Bergen Catholic but the hell of a Brother Irwin algebra class will always be locked in my memory. I remember that his class came early in the day and that once we had gotten thru that part of our day, I personally felt a great sense of relief.
Looking back on that class I felt like that out of a class of say thirty boys, (I was maybe 5’4″ 105 lbs.) Brother Irwin gave me more heinous attention than other, bigger kids. This, coupled with a strong dislike of Math, was almost a death sentence in his class. Don’t get me wrong, everyone suffered and lived in utter fear in that class, but there were about ten that maybe fit his victims’ profile.
I do remember him marching up and down rows with his pointer and for someone like myself, who did not always do his daily homework, trying to guess when he would call on me and quickly trying to work out that problem only to have him skip a person and not know the answer when he circled back and called on me. I did not remember many of his little sick quirks that you mentioned because I kept my head down giving him no eye contact for fear of repercussions.
This is where my story gets a little more intense. A fellow classmate and I were caught cheating by Brother Irwin on the end of year Algebra final. Whether we had crib sheets that we were using or were verbally exchanging answers I don’t remember, but we were requested individually to see Brother Irwin at the end of the day. I entered his classroom at the end of the day, Irwin was seated behind the desk and he said, “I got you Mr. Xxxxxxxxx, I know you cheated, and I can fail you for the year.” I denied cheating and he continued to accuse. At one point he came from behind the desk and approached me. He did his usual neck pressure points and as I was standing there he reached down the rear of my pants. As I stood there, he took his hands and came around to my genital area. At this point I stepped back and summoned some courage and gave him a look like – “this ends now.” He stepped back and did his usual “cretin” and “retard” routine and told me after an awkward moment to leave.
I left that classroom knowing that I would never return to Bergen Catholic and it gave me a great sense of relief. I never mentioned the incident to my parents and thankfully they let me transfer to public school. The coward must have known that he might need to cover his tracks as I was given a “C.”
Over the years, I have always been thankful that I stepped back that day but I have always thought of how many other kids who fit his sick profile were put in a position were they did not have that option. There has never been any doubt in my mind that Brother Irwin, if given the right circumstance, would rape and abuse one of us. I have always wondered about the other boy who was caught cheating with me. How was he treated? He fit the same physical profile as me.
Again thank you for your initial essay as it gave me the courage, as a soon to be 61 year-old man, to express these long suppressed feelings.
“At one point he came from behind the desk and approached me. He did his usual neck pressure points and as I was standing there he reached down the rear of my pants. As I stood there, he took his hands and came around to my genital area. At this point I stepped back and summoned some courage and gave him a look like – ‘this ends now.’ He stepped back and did his usual ‘cretin’ and ‘retard’ routine and told me after an awkward moment to leave.”
On August 2, 2011 4:33:20 PM EDT *Chuck* wrote:
You were sexually abused by Brother Irwin at Bergen Catholic. I was physically abused.
I lost my algebra book (actually stolen from my locker) and Brother Irwin told me to get another one. My family did not have the money to buy a new one.
On the afternoon of Tuesday October 16, 1962 (I know this because I was removed from Bergen Catholic by my parents after this incident) Brother Irwin came down the aisle and stood towering over me at my desk. He flipped the book open and saw another student’s name, Xxxx Xxxxxx, inside the cover. He made me go to the back of the room and bent me over a desk. He was known for lifting boy’s shirts and taking three fingers together and snapping them across the exposed flesh. Before he started he said he knew something better. He took a belt from another student, Xxxxx Xxxx, and started to whip me. Forty lashes with that belt. Forty really hard lashes. Nothing like I ever experienced in my life, before and ever since. Beyond pain.
Some of the students tried to come to my aid but he threatened them all that if they did anything they would get the same. You could get all their names by going to the 1962 Algebra class records and ask each of them. They were totally intimidated by him.
After he finished beating me (I was a complete mess, crying and almost unable to walk) he made me stand up and said, Mr. Xxxxxx, you didn’t seem to like your punishment. Would you rather have had a month’s worth of detentions? I nodded “yes” and he said, “You got it” and started to write them out. Xxxxx Xxxx and several other classmates protested, it felt as if a riot was going to break out but I couldn’t care less. I was beyond pain. He stopped writing and told everyone to sit at their desks and be quiet. I lay with my head on my desk, crying uncontrollably. I couldn’t stop no matter how hard I tried. The bell at the end of the period rang. We stayed in that classroom as the teachers rotated classes.
Brother O’Sullivan was the next teacher and came in and walked up to my desk and asked what happened. I couldn’t speak but one of the students told him what happened. He left the room and came back five minutes or so later and told everyone to read quietly. After that class, several students helped me get to the bus. I still was crying uncontrollably and it took me all the way home to finally control the crying.
We lived down the street from Xxxxxxxxx Church and Father Xxxxxxxx came to the house. His response was that “*Chuck* must have done something to deserve this”. My parents had me stay home the next day and on Thursday my father took off from work and took me to Bergen Catholic and confronted Brother Kean the principal and demanded that Brother Irwin come to the office. When Brother Irwin came in my father took his belt off and tried to go after Brother Irwin but was physically restrained by Brother Kean.
I was taken out of school and started at Xxxxxxxxxx High School the next Monday.
My life was never the same.
“He took a belt from another student, Xxxxx Xxxx, and started to whip me. Forty lashes with that belt. Forty really hard lashes. Nothing like I ever experienced in my life, before and ever since. Beyond pain.”
“My parents had me stay home the next day and on Thursday my father took off from work and took me to Bergen Catholic and confronted Brother Kean the principal and demanded that Brother Irwin come to the office. When Brother Irwin came in my father took his belt off and tried to go after Brother Irwin but was physically restrained by Brother Kean.”
“My life was never the same.”
|Br. Alfred X. Kean
A.K.A. “The Axe”
|Br. Charles B. Irwin
A.K.A. “The Chest”
Another man writes:
On Aug 3, 2011, at 12:36 PM, *Dennis* wrote:
Physical and verbal abuse was so common in Catholic Schools, but *Chuck’s* account here is the most intense I ever read or heard about other than in some novel or movie.
I went to Cardinal Hayes High School. In my freshman year (1965) the most severe abuse I witnessed was during announcements at the end of one spring day. A classmate was chatting away and was spotted by one of the priest teachers from the hallway. The priest came running in, grabbed the student out of his seat, carried / dragged him to the front of the room and smashed him face first into the blackboard. The priest then threatened to do the same to any of the rest of us. The kid was terrified, traumatized – his parents eventually removed him from the school.
Cardinal Hayes High School, Bronx, New York
THE EXECUTION OF THE HOLY SPIRIT Part One the story
by Kobutsu Malone
From the Link: http://www.bergencatholicabuse.com/
“The test of the morality of a society is what it does for its children.”
Serial Sexual Harassment, Assault & Battery by Irish Christian Brothers
at Bergen Catholic High School, Oradell, New Jersey: A memoir from 1964
Written on: January 20, 2002
The year was 1964. I was 14 years old and had just entered Bergen Catholic High School in Oradell, New Jersey. I did not want to go to Bergen but my domineering father whose self-interests for me showed no concern whatsoever for mine, or anyone else’s, feelings forced me into the school. I remember taking a long test for placement in the school in the gymnasium and I recall receiving the acceptance form. I had mixed feelings about this, having just spent eight years under the tutelage of Dominican nuns and the Sisters of Charity.
The experiences with the nuns during those years were traumatic. Many of us kids were humiliated and intimidated by the nuns on an ongoing basis. The image of a stern nun in full habit, bearing down on you with ruler in hand is the stuff of nightmares. I graduated from the grasp of the Sisters of Charity from Our Lady of the Visitation Church School in Paramus, New Jersey in 1963. Unbeknownst to me then, my experiences with the nuns were nothing in comparison to what was to come at the hands of the Irish Christian Brothers in Bergen Catholic High School the following two years.
|Kevin Malone – 1964|
|(Ven. Kobutsu Malone)|
The first days in Bergen Catholic were disorienting. It was my first exposure to an all male environment and my first dealings with Brothers. I was assigned to Room 34 as my homeroom, in what was then the new extension to the original school building. It was intimidating at first meeting the teachers, Brothers and lay men, who taught at the school. Up until that point in time I had only had women as teachers and suddenly the teachers were all men.
As teenagers in the mid sixties, we were very naive, not having been exposed to much beyond the confines of the Catholic schools that most of us had attended before coming to Bergen Catholic. We had universally been taught that teachers, and especially, priests, nuns and brothers were to be held in high esteem and could do no wrong. To us, they represented the direct intervention of the Church and God himself. We had no knowledge of the psychology of oppression or the idea of child abuse, or even heard the word “pedophile.”
There was nothing in my life that prepared me for the horror that was to unfold in Bergen Catholic High School in the following two years. Only in retrospect, looking back at the experiences some thirty five years later can I even begin to communicate what I, and certainly many of my fellow students, went through in that place.
In our freshman class we were introduced to the teachers of the subjects on day one. We had Latin, History, Biology, Math, English and Religion. There were a few teachers I remember as likable, most were intimidating, one in particular was perhaps one of the more despicable creatures to ever wear a Brother’s cassock. Brother Charles Borromeo Irwin was his name; he taught us freshman mathematics and served as the school treasurer.
|Br. Charles Borromeo Irwin|
I remember clearly the first day this individual came to the classroom. He was unkempt, smelled of stale tobacco, with nicotine stained fingers, yellow teeth and had the most hateful demeanor I had ever encountered. He would make snorting noises in an attempt to clear his sinuses instead of using a handkerchief. He would wipe his nose with his hand and then wipe the snot from his hand on his clothes or into his hair. He would terrorize us orally with tirades of abuse, shouting out loudly without warning, calling individual students “cretin, retard, pot-head, idiot, bungler” and “toad.” He would at times spontaneously begin singing the ditty, “Mares eat oats And does eat oats And little lambs eat ivy. A kid’ll eat ivy too, Wouldn’t you?” His demeanor would change in an instant, bringing forth an outburst of vitriolic hatred directed at an individual student or the entire class. His behavior was bizarre to say the least; he built on the terror he projected, taking delight in the trauma and meanness he spewed forth on us kids.
“Charlie Irwin” AKA “The Chest” had an even darker side. This individual was given total authority over a class of thirty some odd adolescent boys. These young men were subject to him in private for forty minutes every day of the school week, we endured his presence through over 180 classes that year. His irrational behavior was obvious from the start; we all feared him right off the bat and as time progressed, our unmentionable fears became paramount in our days at school.
Irwin was a math teacher, and well accustomed to having his way with students. He had the habit of walking up and down the rows of the classroom while he talked or while we were doing tests or assignments. Periodically he would assign us work and retired to the back corner of the classroom near and open window and have a cigarette, heaven help the boy who dared to turn and look at him thus disposed.
Irwin’s most traumatic actions consisted of engaging in a verbal tirade over the stupidity of a particular student followed by a walk down the aisle next to the targeted student’s desk. Irwin was a tall skinny man, with an evident potbelly and pronounced slouch, he was far and away taller than all of the boys. His physical size coupled with his nasty demeanor and our lack of ability to communicate was totally intimidating.
I sat in the desk directly in front of the teacher’s desk in the classroom and we were required to sit at the same desks throughout the school year. I remember distinctly the first time Irwin molested a student in the classroom.
|Br. Charles Borromeo Irwin|
His first indecent assault and battery were tremendously shocking to me and I lived in fear from that moment on throughout my tenure in that school.
Irwin came down the isle next to mine and leaned over a young man and placed his hand on the boy’s shoulder. He pushed down with some force so that the boy was forced forward into his seat, leaving a space between the boy’s back and the rear of the seat. Irwin did this with his left hand, approaching the boy from the boy’s rear left hand side. After pushing the young man down in his seat, Irwin reached behind the boy in the space created by the boy’s position in the chair and began pulling out the boy’s shirttail from his trousers. All during this episode Irwin was making wise cracks and calling the young man derogatory names in a hate filled voice. His final action, on the squirming victim, was to insert his hand into the boy’s pants and, placing it on the young man’s bare backside, squeezing his buttocks while the youth squirmed in terror and embarrassment in front of all his classmates.
I recall leaving that classroom that day feeling depressed and frightened at what had taken place in front of thirty other boys. None of us had the vocabulary or psychological sophistication to even talk about what we had witnessed, few said anything, and none of us had the courage to even address the issue.
Brother Irwin became bolder from that point on. He made threats to all of us as to revealing what took place in the classroom and engaged in wholesale terrorism for the remainder of the year. Irwin would repeat his molestation countless times on various students. He had certain favorites he would molest and assault repeatedly. His method always seemed to involve placing his hands down a boy’s pants and squeezing the boy’s buttocks while holding the child in his seat by a hand on the young man’s leg or by holding him down by his shoulder.
There was rarely a week that went by that Irwin did not molest someone in that classroom. We had no words to describe what we were experiencing and witnessing. The word “pedophile” was not in our vocabulary, nor was the word “molest.”
The closest we came to having a word for what we were experiencing was what some boys voiced as “MO” (short for “homosexual” that was barely, if at all, in our vocabulary)
Charlie Irwin had a biological brother, a lay teacher, named Thomas Irwin who was also a teacher in the school. I remember being in “Tommy” Irwin’s class in sophomore year, one day when one of the students called his brother (“Charlie”) a “MO”. Tommy Irwin denied that his brother was “like that”, indicating that even his brother had heard something and was in denial.
Looking back on it now, I find it impossible to fathom that no one in authority in that school or no parent ever took issue with what was taking place in the classroom and what we kids were being subjected to on a daily basis. I can only conclude that either not one of us communicated what was going on or that if anyone did, whatever repercussions ensued were suppressed and “handled quietly.” If the latter was the case, there are some issues of accountability outstanding. Thirty-five years later, I am the parent of two fine young men. If one of my boys came home from school with such a tale of abuse, assault, battery and sexual molestation, I would instantly remove my child from harm, seek immediate legal recourse and insure that the offender never ever entered another classroom or had any dealings with young people.
That is now… back then, at 14 years old, I for one would have been petrified to tell my parents of such things. The fear I had of my own father was a terror in its own right. I wanted as little to do with interacting with him as possible then. I most certainly could not have imagined ever bringing up what was happening to us in school by having to describe how an Irish Christian Brother, who my father held in high esteem just for the fact that he might wear a cassock and belong to the order, would regularly patrol the isles putting his hands down our pants, repeatedly molesting us during our math classes.
Back then things were not as open as they are now, there were many topics that were just not discussed in high school that are easily broached nowadays. Then, as victims, as Catholic school students, we were tremendously embarrassed to talk of any sexual matters, let alone homosexual matters, let alone being molested on a daily basis by a Brother in the School that our parents had selected because of its supposed superior educational qualities.
What happened to us was not our fault, but it could not have been any more embarrassing to talk about than any other topic imaginable. It was hard to understand why our parents wanted us so much to attend that place when we were being criminally assaulted and battered on an almost daily basis.
The damage some of us incurred in that place is inestimable. I presently live in the same area as the school and periodically in my travels I pass by the place. Each time I drive by, I remember the horror of those years. I think of the harm done by Irwin to hundreds of young boys over the years and I think of the institution that would allow such behavior to perpetuate. Mostly, I resent ever being sent into that hell hole and how relieved I was when I finally flunked out of there at the end of my sophomore year. I also remember the wrath of my father when my failure became known.
But who failed in reality? My father never had a clue what us kids were going through in there. He wasn’t there in the classroom when Brother Charlie Irwin came down the isle, sticking his hands in our pants, running his fingers in out butt cracks and then surreptitiously smelling his fingers afterwards. How do you tell that to your staunch Irish Catholic father in 1965?
|Br. Ronald Alexius Howe|
We lived in fear in that school, there were other Brothers there who taught us who were indeed sociopathic, violent men who frightened and intimidated us throughout the school year. I remember one of them, Brother Howe, pulling me out of my seat in the cafeteria one day because I was practicing hypnosis on another student. This individual lifted me bodily from the chair, threw me into a concrete block wall, lifted me up the wall by my arms, held me pinned to the wall by my neck while holding his right hand in a fist in front of my face. His words still resonate in me, “You fucker, you bring him out of that trance or I will drag you up to the principal’s office and beat the fucking shit out of you every step of the way.” This is an educator of young men? Brother Howe was well known for violent outbursts, his attack on me was not at all out of character, yet he continued to serve as a teacher in Bergen Catholic.
What happened to Charlie Irwin after I left Bergen Catholic I may never know. How many boys did he molest after that? How many young men were forced to endure his criminal attacks prior to my being there? How much damage did that vile individual do to innocent young men over his career as a so-called teacher? What of Brother Howe? I may never know the answers to these questions, none of us may ever know. I know one thing, it took me over thirty years to be able to put some of these experiences down on paper. I have spent a good portion of my life in introspection and self-examination and yet it has taken me more that three decades to be able to speak openly about Irwin.
For all I know, Irwin is long dead, if so he can no longer hurt any young boys. I know full well the implications of being a victim of that criminal in monk’s clothing, I know full well about survivor’s guilt and the sense of feeling dirty as a victim of such vile, degrading and filthy sexual abuse.
There is no closure, it does not just go away “in time” it is always a part of every victim’s life experience throughout the extent of their lives. So much pain, such shame, such unfairness, such betrayal. Forgiveness? It is a quaint notion, perhaps if faced with Irwin in person today; I might be able to manage such a feat. He is not in my life any more; he disappeared from my universe in 1966. Given his state of mind and general unhealthiness, I doubt he is still alive, but the memories of his abuse and battery linger.
It’s hard to forgive a memory, even more difficult as a victim to forgive a memory of terror and profound humiliation. I sincerely hope that in my putting these words on paper, other individuals who suffered as victims of Irwin and other pedophiles hiding in the Catholic Church will find the courage to come forward and elucidate their experiences.
Ven. Kobutsu Malone-Osho
Obituary Link for Br. Ronald Joseph Howe http://www.bergencatholicabuse.com/PDFs/20120124_Howe_Obit.pdf
Obituary Link for Br. Charles B. Irwin http://www.bergencatholicabuse.com/PDFs/IrwinObit.pdf