A fourth Brother, Br Lisle, said Br Marceau was ‘very, very strict’ and a ‘little bit eccentric’. He had no time for the pupils at all. He could not, however, say what went on in the classroom because he was not there. He said Br Marceau thought everyone was against him. He did not remember a boy with a black eye, but did name the youngest boy in the school, who was four or five at the time, whose ears were boxed by Br Marceau. He said he never challenged Br Marceau about what he did because he, Br Lisle, had nothing to do with the school. That was the job of the Principal.
A second Brother, Br Lisle,22 made a supplemental statement in January 2006 in relation to alleged sexual abuse by Br Garon. In it, he recalled that boys had made complaints to him about this Brother. The solicitors for the Christian Brothers informed the Committee in a letter dated 27th January 2006 of the information given to them by Br Lisle. The letter explained that, during the course of a meeting between Br Lisle and the Deputy Provincial of St Helen’s Province on 16th January 2006, Br Lisle disclosed that, when he was in Tralee, a number of boys had made ‘allegations of sexual impropriety’ against Br Garon, and that he had told the Resident Managers of these allegations at the time. The Committee was also advised that, insofar as the Deputy Provincial knew, this was the first time that the Brother had made these allegations.
In the statement made four days later, on 31st January, Br Lisle explained that about four or five boys between the ages of nine and 16 complained to him that they were reluctant to go for showers because Br Garon would ‘interfere with them while in the showers’. They said that Br Garon would shower them and request that they wash him also. Br Garon would be naked with them in the showers. The boys also told him that Br Garon would take a boy from the yard for an ‘individual shower’ every day.
Br Lisle went on to state that he had relayed the complaints to three Resident Managers,23 and he had assumed they had reported them to the ‘relevant people’. He now realised that that was not the case, and that was why he was bringing the matter to the Commission’s attention.
When giving evidence to the Committee, Br Lisle said that the allegations against Br Garon had not come as a great shock to him, as Br Garon himself used to take boys off the yard, telling him that he had to ‘bring this boy for a shower’.
When that Resident Manager was replaced, Br Lisle reported the matter to his successor, Br Millard, who was only Resident Manager for a matter of weeks. He cannot remember what that Resident Manager said to him, but he accepted that he must not have been happy with his predecessor’s response. Br Lisle also told the Committee that he was with Br Millard on one occasion when a boy came up and said that Br Garon wanted him for a shower. He turned to Br Millard and told him that he thought there was more than just showering going on. It was crystal clear what was being alleged, but, according to Br Lisle, the boy probably still went for the shower. He said that his understanding was that the boys did not ‘like it and that they were trying to have it stopped, they didn’t want to be interfered with, as they said’. He thought Br Garon took these showers with the boys when they were taken from the yard, as opposed to during the normal Saturday night showers.
When the third Resident Manager, Br Roy, took over, Br Lisle again reported the boys’ complaints about Br Garon’s activity in the showers. He did not know if Br Roy did anything, but he now knows that the information did not go to ‘headquarters’.
Br Lisle said that it never occurred to him to tell the Brothers who were carrying out the Visitations, as he thought other Brothers would have reported it. He thought all the others knew about it. He was just the ‘junior member of staff’ and he did not think it was his place to confront Br Garon. He said that there were ‘more senior men there than me to confront him’.
In addition to Br Lisle, four other former members of staff who had been in the School when Br Garon was there gave evidence to the Committee about him.
The Submission also stated that Br Garon’s activities in the showers took place when there was group showering and that ‘he did not have the authority, nor was it the practice, that he would take individual boys for showers’. This is not, however, borne out by the evidence of Br Lisle who made the statement in January 2006. The Congregation repeated its puzzlement at the evidence of Br Lisle that he had informed three Resident Managers of his ‘suspicions/complaints’. The Submissions also stated that the Congregation believed that the Resident Managers in question would not have ignored ‘complaints of this nature’.
Br Garon’s behaviour went on for many years, and was known to three Superiors, but they did nothing about it. The Brother who reported the complaints of boys and who confirmed that Br Garon was taking them into the showers was a very junior member of the Congregation in Tralee, and he felt that his conscience was clear when he complained and left it to the Superior to deal with the problem. Br Lisle, who made these repeated complaints to the Superiors did not pursue the matter further, for example by mentioning it to the Visitors. Neither did he make a written complaint to the Provincial. This reflects on the sense of discipline that was inculcated and which would have operated particularly on a junior Brother in the Institution. It is likely that over such a long period other Brothers in Tralee knew about Br Garon’s behaviour. Nothing is recorded about these complaints in the discovered material. Superiors chose to keep matters to themselves and did not report on to the Provincial or the Visitor. If they did, the Visitors did not to make a note of it or do anything about it. This is an example of the under-recording and under-reporting of sexual abuse. The Brothers would have dealt severely with boys behaving in the showers in the way that Br Garon did. The moral issues or the corrupting effect of the Brother’s behaviour was not dealt with. The fact that Br Garon behaved openly in this way is evidence of his confidence that he would not be challenged. Br Lisle recalled how Br Garon would select a particular boy to bring to the shower. The audacity of Br Garon is striking and is another reason why this case is a very serious one for the Congregation.
The other respondent witnesses claimed to have never encountered peer abuse. This included Br Boyce, who acknowledged that the boys were very clever and he would not know if it was going on. He also said that no boy ever told him he was being bullied or preyed on. He also said that, if you thought it was happening and asked a boy, ‘he wouldn’t tell you anyway’ because the ‘others would give out to him’. Br Chapin said that, although he was aware of the possibility of sexual activity among the boys, he never came across it. He said that the Brothers were warned to keep an eye out for ‘bullying and for anything else’. He disagreed that there was an obsession in uncovering that kind of activity in Tralee. Another respondent, Br Lisle, was not aware of sexual activity between the boys.
Br Lisle, who was in charge of the kitchen in the mid to late 1960s, told the Committee that he did not get a budget for the kitchen, and he had to make the best of what he got. He did not order what came in, but instead he cooked whatever food was there.
The 1966 Visitation Report noted that a number of older Brothers resided in Tralee, and advised that every member of staff should be able to take his share of duties and help to lighten the burden of the others, and this was going to be all the more necessary when the boys from Glin arrived. In the circumstances, the Visitor felt Tralee was not a suitable place for the old Brothers. With these older, more infirm Brothers unable to work, the burden of work fell unfairly on the younger Brothers. The evidence of Br Lisle confirmed that in 1966 there were only four Brothers, including himself, available to run the School, out of a total of 11 Brothers in the Community. He pointed out he was not trained as a teacher. Br Mahieu claimed that one of the remaining Brothers, Br Marceau, was not someone to whom supervision duties could be given.