Br Anatole described his arrival at Letterfrack with two other young, inexperienced teachers, Br Dondre28 and Br Iven.29 They were all in their early 20s and they had little more than one year’s teaching experience.
Br Anatole described another particularly savage beating, when a boy was beaten on the bare buttocks with a leather. The boy was placed over a chair on the stage and beaten in front of other boys by Br Iven. Br Anatole did not himself administer the beating but he was present during it. A former resident who recalled the boy being stripped and beaten recollected that the handle of a sweeping brush had been used to administer the beating.
The other two Brothers implicated, Br Iven and Br Dondre, denied to the Investigation Committee in evidence that this incident ever took place or that they were involved in it.
Br Iven worked as a teacher in Letterfrack during the late 1960s and early 1970s. He found Letterfrack to be a lonely place with stressful work and little free time. He told the Committee that he carried a strap, as all Brothers did, but did not remember ever getting any training in its use. Punishment was a matter for his discretion and he punished as the need arose and never felt the need to refer matters up the chain of command. He accepted that the use of the strap was unacceptable by today’s standards, but he did not think that it was excessive by the standards of the day. Br Iven, however, qualified this view when he went on to say that Letterfrack was not a normal school and its residents were not normal schoolchildren, implying that normal standards did not apply to them and some excesses were justified.
Br Iven was in his interim period of teacher training during his time in Letterfrack and was due back in Marino to complete his qualification. He said that he did not feel he could report breaches of discipline to the Resident Manager because of a combination of factors, but principally because he was afraid that it could lead to his dismissal from the Congregation which would have meant he could not become a teacher: I am giving you my honest opinion, no, I didn’t feel that I was in a position to report this. It would have been maybe thought as unseemly conduct for me as a Christian Brother to defend myself, maybe turn the other cheek instead, unfortunately, I didn’t feel that confident about saying anything.
Another former resident remembered the occasion when this boy was beaten: ...[he] was called up for his punishment on the stage, and he was battered and beaten by Br Iven in front of – we all had to sit in these chairs as if you were watching a play on the stage and Br Iven battered him, beat him, lashed him, punched him and kicked him and because he wasn’t getting any satisfaction, he couldn’t make him cry, he started to take off his collar and take his habit down or whatever you call them, and he started to lash him, you know, with his fists and stuff. It seemed like it went on for a long, long time and we had to sit there and watch this.
Br Iven also recalled an incident when absconders were hosed down when they were brought back to Letterfrack.
The abuse did not always take the form of a surreptitious wrestling bout. He used to take one boy, who was 13 or 14 at the time, to his room at night, ostensibly to teach him to read but really to abuse him. He said that the dormitory Brother always gave permission, a matter that Br Iven denied in his evidence. Br Anatole said that he would push up against the boy from behind until he ejaculated. It would normally take between five and ten minutes and, when he was finished with him, he would send him back alone.
Br Iven served during the late 1960s and early 1970s. He said that he never thought that there was the remotest possibility of Brothers abusing boys. He denied giving Br Anatole permission to take a boy to his room. However, he did say that, if he had been asked, he would not have suspected an ulterior motive.
The locations in which sexual abuse took place, as described by complainants, were mainly the kitchens (where Br Dax worked), the dormitories, the classrooms, and the farm. Br Dax was in sole charge of the kitchens, and the other Brothers did not tend to have business or other occasion to be there. The dormitories were also isolated. This point was highlighted by the evidence of Br Iven concerning an attack which was made on him by a senior boy who made his way to the junior dormitory where this Brother was in charge. Br Iven said that there was nobody else around who might have heard the commotion. It follows that, if a Brother in charge of a dormitory engaged in sexual activity with a boy, he was unlikely to be discovered. These features were conducive to the occurrence of abuse and indicate that it was unlikely that other Brothers would be aware of abuse occurring.
Br Iven said he felt isolated from the friends he had made in his training of the previous five years, and another said he found it a lonely, isolating place: Then in many ways I suppose that just went with the job, in the sense I was isolated in a room at the end of the dormitory, away from the Community.