The children were allocated to these buildings by both age and degree of learning disability. One pavilion was used for boys with more severe disability. The other two pavilions were used for children between approximately 10 and 14, and 14 to 18 years of age, with mild learning disability. Br Dieter1 explained the system as it operated in the late 1950s: I should give you the names of the three pavilions. One was Sancta Maria for eleven-year-olds plus who were mildly handicapped, and unfortunately among those there were some normal boys, as well, as discovered as time went on. Then in St Patrick’s, the older age group of those boys, 14 to 16-year-olds, were catered for, and then the younger children who were coming in at that time, as well, they were four-year-olds. The Blessed Martin pavilion, which was designated for the very severely handicapped children, it was decided then to divide that up into two sections, and one section was used for the mildly handicapped boys that were coming in, they were four-year-olds plus.
During the course of his evidence, Br Dieter stated that some boys had been sent to Lota, even though they did not have special needs. He said: One was the Sancta Maria for eleven year old boys who were mildly handicapped, and unfortunately among those there were some normal boys, as well, as discovered as time went on.
The Investigation Committee asked the Brothers of Charity to clarify Br Dieter’s statement, and further requested if the Brothers of Charity had assessed the boys to ascertain this fact.
The legal representatives on behalf of the Brothers of Charity wrote the following: Most of the children at Lota suffered from a learning disability. Our client believes that Brother Dieter’s reference to some boys being normal was intended as a reference to the fact that a small number of the boys at Lota came from different circumstances. For example, whilst our client believes that it could not occur now, some boys were sent to Lota because there was no other institution better – suited to their needs available to them. Other boys were there because they were born outside of marriage, some boys were orphans, while others were placed for other social reasons – such as their family not being able to cope.
Conall then said that, towards the end of the three years, there was a brief period when both Br Guthrie and Br Dieter were abusing him. He said, ‘At night time I used to be taken into Br Dieter’s room and sometimes during the day I would be with Br Guthrie as well’.
He described the first night that Br Dieter sexually abused him: the dormitory I was in was Br Dieter’s dormitory, room. There was some rooms – There was two dormitories upstairs and there was one I know that did not have a room onto it. That was in the main house now. My bed, there was actually three rows of beds in this dormitory. I remember the first night he came to my bed. As I say, I had been sexually abused by Br Guthrie but I thought maybe the same thing was going to happen here but it was much different altogether. I had oral sex ...
After that night, the sexual abuse became regular until Br Dieter left Lota.
When asked what he had to say about the allegations made by this witness, Br Dieter replied: I pleaded guilty except that I have to honestly say that I do not remember Conall and it was because Conall was so insistent that I did abuse him, I then pleaded guilty because I felt, well then, I must have done since Conall was so consistent with his accusations.
The consistency he mentioned was examined in detail during the hearing. The statement made to the Garda Síochána was read out and tested for discrepancies: I remember the first night Br Dieter came to me. I can take you back to the bed I slept in. I was asleep in bed, he woke me and took me into his room which was a nice distance away. He took me into the bedroom, locked the door and stripped me naked. I was completely naked. He then took all his clothes off. I was now terrified ...
A second witness, Graham, also described the sexual abuse perpetrated on him by Br Dieter. He described the first time: I was subjected to his oral sex. I was subjected to it ... It happened in his room off one of the dormitories ... Br Dieter asked me to – “he said come up, come up to my room and he also said if anybody sees you, tell them that you are cleaning my room out”. So I went up the stairs and nobody saw me going up, and I went into Br Dieter’s room and he said “if anybody sees you going up and they ask you where you are going, tell them you are going to clean Br Dieter’s room for him”. Obviously, it wasn’t really to clean his room. I was a very very sad, timid, young boy and I didn’t really have anyone to go to or to say that I have experienced this oral sex or evil that I would call it ... When Br Dieter called me up and he said after the oral sex, he said “don’t say anything about this”. Then a few seconds went and he said to me “if you say anything about this, you are for it”. I was really caught in two corners. I had nowhere to run. I had no mother and father to come and rescue me.
He was about seven years old when this incident happened. It continued until he was about 10. He said: ... between the age of seven and ten that I was subjected to abuse, oral sex abuse. I was subjected to it and as a young boy, sure, I had no choice of either yes or no ... It was very very frequent. There wasn’t a week that it didn’t happen. But I do remember Br Dieter coming down the stairs, and I was doing a rug and I was content and happy in doing it, but he called me up to his room and the sad thing is that he got the upper hand over a young, innocent boy.
He recalled another incident when Br Dieter took him under his cassock when they were out for a walk: Yes, that’s right. He brought all of us, all of the boys up for a walk and we were a good bit up the laneway away from the building and that we were on our way – our walk led us right into the farmyard. When we were a good bit up the lane he called me back and he put me under his habit, his black habit and he pressed me up against his lower body. I was a young boy, I was wondering what was he doing here and why was he doing it. I had not a clue but I assumed afterwards that he was probably just doing it for his own pleasure or for his own good and that all the other boys were completely gone and Br Dieter had me with him and we were just up the lane a bit. He had me completely subjected to him so I could not do anything ... When that incident happened I would have been between 11 and 12 when that incident happened just up the lane, a good bit up the lane.
Graham’s anger emerged in a tirade against Br Dieter’s defence that he couldn’t remember: The only sad thing I don’t like is that if a religious Brother or a priest or a nun and they know very well they have done something, why don’t admit to it, admit to the damage that they have done to me while I was in Lota because I didn’t ask anyone to send me to Lota. I would have been better off in someone’s family rather than putting up with all the oral sex and all the abuse that I was subjected to ... if he is not willing to tell the truth, I suggest go back to him and ask him face to face did he do this because I was very very annoyed when he said he doesn’t remember ... Now, Graham who is here today remembers what happened. I’m not making up a story. I’m not making up a fairy tale. I’m not making up lies. I am telling the truth. ... Who has the right to take a mother away from you? Who has the right to take a child away from his mother? And who’s idea was it to grab children and fill their schools up with children, not knowing what was going on? The devil was in my school. The devil was working through different Brothers ... I would ask him to come forward and admit his mistakes, admit his abuse, and admit that he had done it because if he doesn’t admit to it down here, let me tell you when he goes to meet his maker, Jesus is going to say, “What have you done to my Graham? What have you done to him?”
When Br Dieter gave evidence, he again said he had no memory of the witness as a boy and he denied the oral sex, but he accepted that sexual abuse must have happened. He said: I sincerely apologised to him for the dreadful unhappiness I have caused him and I realise the seriousness of my abusive behaviour ... I know that because of his insistence that I did abuse them, then I know that must be true and I have accepted responsibility for that ... One thing that is true is that I did invite some of the adolescent boys individually to tidy my rooms, usually on a Saturday morning, so that would fit into what Graham has been saying.
Apart from luring them to his bedroom, he also abused boys in their own beds. He would abuse them while they were asleep in the dormitory. Because he would be under observation in the dormitory, Br Dieter never went beyond surreptitious touching. But in his bedroom, he admitted, there was a chance for more extensive activity, ‘I tended to touch them inappropriately and be more affectionate towards them and that’.