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Chapter 2 — Upton

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Sexual abuse


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.


In other records, there are references to this Brother that are suggestive of improper conduct on his part, but nothing that was clear and unequivocal or that could be understood without knowing the evidence of Br Alfonso and Fr Giovani.


Fr Fabiano, Resident Manager at Upton, wrote to the Provincial at Rome referring to this Brother. He said that he had done nothing more about an episode concerning him. He added: as it would be needlessly bringing things into the limelight again and I could do nothing without authority. The assertion about [Br Fausto] came up casually as having happened in the past and I decided that the prudent thing to do was leave it in the past while you decided what should be done. My own opinion about the matter is that he should quietly get a change and be taken out of the danger because it will always be there.


Other documentary references to the Brother are even more vague, although generally suggestive of reasons for apprehension about his behaviour. For example, one comment read, ‘Fr Salvatore ... told me that he did not consider Fausto’s influence there as being to the spiritual advantage of the Novices’.


Another reference discussed his suitability as follows: you don’t mention Kilmurry; from what Fr Salvatore ... was saying to me, I have my doubts if Fausto is the best one for that house. But the Novice Master holds him in high esteem.


Another document remarked that his conscience was in a class of its own: I hope Fausto won’t be a destructive element in the Novitiate I think he has a conscience that is sui generis.39 At Omeath he used to bring the Scholastics with him, secretly, for a smoke.


In another letter, the Resident Manager said he knew of the Brother’s propensities for particular friendships.


In a letter from the Superior General to Fr Orsino, Provincial in Ireland, he wrote: As regards the other, I can understand that because he flatly denies everything, one can only give him the benefit of the doubt. However, from what you write, it seems there is some suspicion in his regard and this obliges us to make provision for the future. You say that the there is more than one victim. This needs to be checked out with great prudence, or else find a good excuse for sending Fausto away from Upton.


Concerns about this Brother are expressed in correspondence from the mid-1930s to the mid-1950s. It seems clear that there was grave suspicion about his conduct. The evidence of Br Alfonso and Fr Giovani put the position beyond doubt, and reveals the full meaning of the earlier written statements. The failure to express these concerns clearly indicated a degree of concern on the part of the authorities that no information should escape on this issue, as it was seen to be potentially damaging. Such secrecy resulted in the serious consequence that there was reduced consciousness about the problem. The interest of the Order in avoiding adverse publicity was given priority over the protection of the boys. Transferring the Brother to Ferryhouse was another example of a reckless approach to child protection. The Rome file: Br Mateo40


Br Mateo was a postulant in the Franciscan Friaries in Killarney and Louvain during the 1930s. No records exist about his departure from the Franciscans. He joined the Rosminians in the late 1930s, and made his perpetual vows in the mid-1940s. He was sent to Upton for just over a year in the mid-1940s, and he then went to Omeath for almost 15 years, before returning to Upton in the late 1950s.


This is another Brother who was discovered by Br Alfonso to have been sexually abusing children in Upton. The matter is referred to in a letter in the late 1950s from the Provincial, Fr Placido, to the Superior General, Fr Lucca, without mentioning Br Alfonso’s involvement: Bro Mateo here has recently been indiscreet cum puero41 or perhaps cum pueris42 so Fr R deems it advisable that he should be changed to avoid danger or talk especially in view of the big influx. We thought first of sending him to Kilmurry but the Rector put forward good reasons against that apart from the fact that the place would be unsuitable for the brother’s health in view of the insomnia from which he suffers. We are of the opinion that Omeath would be the better place where he had been previously ... and there was no complaint about him as regards conduct ... Bro Mateo should be satisfactory ... and I think his slip will be a lesson to him to be careful and watchful ...

  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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