Another witness resident in Upton in the mid-1950s described the regime as brutal from the first day. He particularly recalled Saturday, which was shower day. No matter how hard the boys tried to clean themselves, it was never good enough for the Brother in charge. The boys would be clattered back into the shower with an open fist or with the leather if their nails were still dirty. Punishment with the leather was almost a daily feature for things like talking in the dormitory, talking in the ranks, etc. The most vicious Brother was Br Donato.11 The witness recalled being punished in the washroom one day, because he could not explain how he came to have a spoon in his pocket; he had actually dug it up in the garden earlier in the day. His legs were so bruised from the beating, it was noticed by Br Nico12 the following day in the garden. He assumed Br Nico admonished Br Donato for the beating because, a few days later, he received a further beating from Br Donato for telling tales.
There were two Brothers who were siblings in Upton, Br Orlando13 and Br Donato, and the witness claimed they were both vicious. Prior to Br Nico arriving in Upton, this witness recalled that the person in charge of the garden was very tough.
This witness recalled that all punishments, except for minor offences, such as having holes in one’s socks, were administered in the washroom. The leather was administered on the buttocks. He was only ever hit on the hand in class. The typical number of strokes of the leather administered was between 6 and 12, with the exception of Br Donato who kept slapping with the leather until the boy would eventually fall down.
The worst experience for him was the physical abuse. The sexual abuse he was subjected to was not brutal, and the Brother who sexually abused him would give him sweets, so he did not see it as being as bad as the beatings from Br Donato.
Other Brothers, including Br Donato and Br Ludano,14 gave him beatings, but none were as severe as Br Alfonso’s.
One witness said he was not long in Upton before he was called into the office by Brs Ludano and Donato, and questioned about his brother who had been in Ferryhouse and was now in Daingean. Once they established they were siblings, the Brothers said words to the effect ‘we won’t make the same mistake with you’ and proceeded to strike him across the face and gave him ‘benders’ on the buttocks with the leather. He was black and blue from this beating. He recalled being beaten also by a Fr Gian16 on the farm, but the main punishments were meted out by Brs Ludano and Donato.
The witness spoke about the punishment for immorality with others. He explained how, every couple of months or so in Upton, Brs Ludano and Donato would take a boy into the office and strap him until he offered up the name of a boy who had been scamping with him. This went on as the next boy would name another boy, ‘it was a never ending ... circle’.
Br Flavio21 said that, while he was a scholastic in Upton, he often saw punishment administered. He implied that this was excessive in nature as, in the next sentence, he stated ‘while in charge of discipline in Omeath, I too punished excessively’; when asked whether the Rector, Frs Alanzo and Eduardo,22 knew about the excessive violence, he replied ‘not sure if the rector knew all the sordid details – probably not’. He identified Brs Donato and Alfonso as excessive punishers.
One witness recalled an incident when another pupil received a postal order. The boy was showing the postal order to the complainant and had his arm around his waist. Br Donato came along and accused them of interfering with each other. They were taken into the washroom and told to take off their pants. They were then told to hug each other, while Br Donato leathered the two of them. This went on for about an hour, until a Brother came along and they were sent off.
Another witness recalled that Br Alfonso and Br Donato were totally obsessed with sex and the boys. They were super-vigilant and constantly accused him of masturbation and other sexual activity. He alleged that he was often beaten for the entire day, as the Brothers took turns to extract a confession of masturbation from him. He also alleges that the Brothers beat a confession from another boy who lied and gave his name up to the Brothers. The name he gave appears in the punishment book.
Most of the other former residents who referred to Br Lazarro did so in the context of physical abuse. However, one resident present in the School in the late 1950s recalled one occasion when another Brother instructed him to fetch the leather strap: I ran over to the office and I ran into the room, into the office; when I went into the office Br Lazarro was sitting down with a boy on his lap, a young boy ... he was only probably 10/11 ... he shouted at me, "what are you doing in here, what are you doing in here?" I said "Brother Donato36 sent me over for the leather, he wants to slap [a boy]". He gave me the leather and said “I will see you afterwards.”