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Chapter 2 — Upton

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Sexual abuse


Fr Lucca approved the decision to remove Br Umberto, and he remained in Kilmurry until the early 1960s when he was sent back to Upton. Although there was a new Rector, who may not have known the recent history at the time when Br Umberto returned, Fr Placido was still Provincial and in residence at Upton. On this occasion, the Brother remained for approximately six years, until he was transferred to Omeath. He continued to be a member of the Order until his death.


This Brother was found to be committing sexual abuse with boys notwithstanding a previous warning, and the Provincial reacted by moving him to the Novitiate House ‘where circumstances are different’. This decision appears to have been a short-term expedient, because the Provincial returned the Brother to Upton five years later, notwithstanding the danger that he represented to the boys. The case of Br Umberto is interesting because he left Upton while Br Alfonso was Prefect, yet he is not mentioned by Br Alfonso. It is surprising that Br Alfonso, a relentless pursuer of sexual abusers, did not hear of this case, particularly because of the reference to Br Umberto’s having been previously warned by both the Rector and the Provincial. It illustrates the secretive way in which abusers could be removed. Returning Br Umberto to Upton in the early 1960s amounted to reckless disregard of the safety of the boys, particularly as at that time a known sexual abuser who had served years at Upton had recently been uncovered. There should have been an appreciation of the need to eliminate the risks the boys faced. The Rome file: Br Constantin36


Br Constantin was sent to Upton in the early 1950s, where he remained until he was transferred to Kilmurry. He was transferred in November, not at the more usual time of September, because he had been discovered sexually abusing children. The Brother subsequently applied for a dispensation from his vows two years later and, when it was granted, he left Kilmurry.


The correspondence between his superiors concerning his application for a dispensation provides some information about his sexual activities. In a letter to the Superior General concerning the matter, the Provincial, Fr Placido, stated: I enclose the request of Br Constantin for a dispensation from his final vows ... He was ... here at Upton ... when he asked for a transfer to Kilmurry as his contacts cum pueris hic erat ei periculum [with boys, this was his danger]. He was getting out from here as he was really under suspicion and investigations were being made regarding some serious matters. I regret to say that he was most seriously involved in the case of at least two.


The Provincial asked the Rector of Kilmurry, Fr Salvatore, to write to the Superior General, setting out his views on the matter. In a letter, Fr Salvatore wrote: Br Constantin’s case is a sad one. He came here [Kilmurry] over a year ago from Upton. Fr Provincial will, no doubt, have informed you that this Brother had great difficulty in observing his vow of chastity. His Rector at Upton was forced to send him away from that house because he had proof that, in two cases at least, he had sinned with boys. The fact that he is still a religious is due to the charity of his Superiors because, generally, in these kinds of cases the rule is to send the accused person away. I must say, Father, that Constantin himself did ask his Superiors to take him away from the occasion [in the sense of the occasion of temptation]. Sending him here was seen as saving his vocation but it is not like that.


The letter from Rome to Fr Placido informed him that the dispensation sought from the Order of Religious had come through. The letter went on to say that the dispensation itself was retained in the Rosminian archive in Rome. Br Constantin was, therefore, free ‘to return to the world without further delay ...’.


Former Br Constantin reappeared in the early 1960s at Mount Melleray Seminary, Cappoquin, County Waterford, as appears from a letter to the Provincial: Dear Father Provincial, We had a student here last year named Constantin who spent some time in your Congregation. It was only quite recently that information of that fact reached me. He was admitted here on the recommendation of a priest in England and I would never be satisfied to keep him without a reference from his former Superior had I known he was in religion. I am writing now to you for a reference for him as I am expecting him back soon and he will get a bit of my mind for not telling me he was with you. He is very quiet and well conducted as a student but that would not be enough to get him into a major seminary later on. With every good wish, I am, dear Fr Provincial, Yours sincerely in DIE President


There is no record to show whether a reference, or even a reply, was sent, nor is it known whether this ex-Brother joined the Cistercian Community.


Further light on this episode emerged from the evidence of Br Alfonso, who described how one of the boys complained to him about Br Constantin’s activities, which he immediately reported to the Rector and the Provincial.


An Assistant Prefect at the time, Fr Giovani,37 in a statement supplied to the Committee confirmed the discovery of abuse by this Brother and another: Later on we were both scandalised and shocked and distressed to find that two lay brothers, ... were also sexually molesting the boys in their care. Immediately Br Alfonso and myself reported this to the then Provincial of the Institute of Charity, Fr Orsino, I.C., who removed the offending Brothers: one brother later died in the institute, Bro Fausto,38 the other, Bro Constantin, left the Rosminians and I haven’t heard of him since.


Another Rosminian, Br Tomasso, who was lodging in the School at the time, responded to a Rosminian questionnaire as follows: As a student ... residing in Upton [during the 1950s] I made enquiries about Bro Constantin – when he had been absent for some time – and was told by Fr Gian that he had been interfering with boys, and had left the Order.


When the Rosminians discovered this Brother was sexually abusing boys, the first response was to move him. There does not appear to have been any proper investigation of the extent of his activities because Fr Salvatore’s letter says that the Rector at Upton had proof ‘in two cases at least’. There were very possibly more. It would appear that he went on to be a problem once more in Kilmurry, because sending him there ‘was seen as saving his vocation but it is not like that’. The priority was again keeping the matter secret. Permitting the Brother to obtain relief from his vows avoided the need for a formal process, which suited the Order, and was convenient for the offender, particularly as the actual dispensation was not even contained in his record. Taking this course meant that minimal information was recorded about the departure of the Brother from the Order. The Rome file: Br Fausto


Br Fausto was sent to Upton as Assistant Brother in the early 1930s. He made his perpetual vows in the mid-1930s and later was transferred to Omeath. He spent another year in Upton in the mid-1940s. He returned to Upton in the early 1950s, and worked in the Community kitchen. He was moved to Ferryhouse approximately three years later, and his record card indicated that this was done ‘during year’. He was transferred to Glencomeragh in the early 1960s. He died in the early 1980s.


This Brother was discovered to be sexually abusing boys in the 1950s. Br Alfonso said that he discovered that Br Fausto had been sexually abusing children at the same time that he found out about Br Constantin. Fr Giovani corroborated the discovery of Br Fausto in his statement. A complainant, resident in the early 1950s, gave evidence that his brother, while being punished by Br Alfonso, complained to him that he was being abused by a Brother whose name the witness did not recall correctly, but by a similar-sounding name: When he started laying into him with the strap my brother turned around and said that he was abused by a Brother called [similar sounding name to perpetrator] ... Br Alfonso stopped dead in his tracks, put the strap back in the thing and he couldn’t apologise enough. [The Brother] was removed from the school shortly thereafter ... No, I did not witness that. My brother mentioned it to me a couple of years ago, three or four years ago.


The note of the Brother’s transfer to Ferryhouse in the mid-1950s ‘during year’ would indicate that there were urgent reasons for the transfer, and that it did not occur in the ordinary way, carrying the implication that there was some apprehension on the part of the authorities that dictated the move.

  1. Quoted in Bríd Fahey Bates, The Institute of Charity: Rosminians. Their Irish Story 1860–2003 (Dublin: Ashfield Publishing Press, 2003), p 74.
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  5. 1933 Rules and Regulations for the Certified Industrial Schools in Saorstát Éireann, Rule 12.
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  28. Latin for curiosity, astonishment, surprise.
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  39. Latin for in a class of its own.
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  41. Latin for with a boy.
  42. Latin for with boys.
  43. Latin for As spoken.
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  45. Latin for curiosity, astonishment, surprise.
  46. Latin for without delay.
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  49. Latin for due caution.
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  54. Dr Anna McCabe was the Department of Education Inspector for most of the relevant period.
  55. Records exist for only 19 of the 23 years.
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