Report finds three decades of abuse at Christian Brothers facility

from: independent.ie

December 11 2007

Vulnerable young people suffered vicious sexual and physical abuse at a residential facility for the disabled over three decades, it emerged tonight.

A damming report outlined harrowing allegations of assault, with 21 residents claiming they were raped and beaten.

One terrified youngster said he escaped from his sex offender every night by climbing out a window, while another tied a bed sheet tightly around him.

The children and teenagers, who are current and former clients of the Brothers of Charity services in Galway, said they were assaulted by 18 people - including 11 Brothers, four lay members of staff, and three past service users.

"Some of the abuse was very vicious in the sense that it ranged from what might be called minor assaults to very serious sexual assaults with force involved, basically rape," said report author Dr Kevin McCoy.

Even though two of the accused have been convicted, the report apportioned no blame in respect of any of the allegations.

Eight others accused have died and the remainder are no longer involved in the provision of services to vulnerable clients with the religious order.

The report said the majority of the allegations have been denied by the accused, but tonight the Brothers of Charity apologised to those who were abused.

The inquiry studied claims that residents at the Holy Family School, the associated Woodlands Residential Centre, and the Kilcornan Residential Centre were assaulted between 1965 and 1998.

Clients claimed that as teenagers they were sexually abused - some on a weekly basis for about one year - adding they later suffered depression, suicidal thoughts, alcoholism, and recurring nightmares.

Residents also complained of buildings being cold, no privacy, communal showers, no-one to turn to, poor education, Brothers opening personal letters, and children punished in the classroom if they couldn't answer a question.

Dr McCoy made no findings as to the veracity of the allegations, but reported overcrowding and insufficient staff levels at the facility the 1970s.

In total 27 allegations of sexual abuse were made against 16 individuals, and six allegations of physical abuse against three.

The majority said they did not report the alleged abuse at the time as they felt there was no one who would listen.

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