The allegations against Mr Ashe span a period of five years, beginning in the 1980s. In the year following the commencement of his employment at St Joseph’s, the first complaint about him was made at a Parent-Teacher meeting in the School. A parent complained to the Chairman of the Board, Br Noyes,2 that Mr Ashe had struck her son. Br Noyes responded by defending the teacher and ‘eventually smoothed over the situation’. In March of the following year, the parents of a boy wrote to the Principal, Br Ames,3 complaining about the aggressive and arrogant manner in which Mr Ashe had spoken to them. The Principal pointed out to Mr Ashe that such behaviour was unacceptable, but the teacher was unresponsive and Br Ames noted that he ‘got so little satisfaction from talking’ to him that he did not reply to the letter of complaint.
The Chairman conveyed the Board’s views to Mr Ashe who undertook to seek alternative employment. He was given a reference by Br Noyes, but was apparently unable to get another teaching position, and instead sought leave of absence. However, he did not take leave of absence and continued teaching at the School. Further complaints of physical abuse and threatening behaviour were made against him the following year.
The Board’s solicitors advised that Mr Ashe should be dismissed, and approved a proposal to terminate his employment at the end of the school year. The Chairman, Br Noyes, wrote to Mr Ashe, stating that the allegations of physical abuse were ‘well founded’ and therefore justified his dismissal from the School. However, he urged Mr Ashe to take the option of resigning: This should help you in your future career. A reference could be furnished as I am sure you could get on well in another type of school. I just do not think you are suitable to a special school such as St. Joseph’s.
Br Noyes also wrote to the Patron of the School, the Archbishop of Dublin, seeking his permission to dismiss Mr Ashe, but the Archbishop refused. In a letter he said: The matter was investigated on my behalf by [the parish priest]. [The parish priest] has given me a full report on the case. Having studied the documentation and report, I am not prepared to give my permission to the Board of Management to give notice of dismissal to Mr Ashe at the present time.
Mr Ashe taught for over 20 years in the School. As to the circumstances in which he came to St Joseph’s, a Board minute in the 1980s noted that he was taken on by Br Noyes and that ‘Later he found out that he was unsatisfactory in two other schools although he was satisfactory for one year in St Joseph’s’, which implies that references were not obtained prior to his engagement.
In the early 1980s the school Principal, Br Noyes, received what he regarded as ‘minor complaints’ from boys that a lay supervisor, Mr Lynch,11 ‘was too harsh, cross and slapped them’ and was very strict. Mr Lynch was the subject of an allegation of sexual abuse, which resulted in his resignation.
In the early 1980s, the school Principal, Br Noyes, was informed of an allegation that staff supervisor, Mr Lynch, sexually abused a boy in the School The boy complained to Br Ramond25 that Mr Lynch, while on night duty, had shown ‘dirty books’ to him and had abused him. Br Ramond reported the matter to Br Noyes, the Principal.
Br Noyes interviewed the boy and six other boys who slept near him in the dormitory. Some of them verified what the boy had alleged, but others claimed it was a conspiracy against Mr Lynch, as he was supposed to be very strict. Br Noyes then interviewed Mr Lynch, who was ‘completely astonished’ and denied the allegation and ‘claimed that it was part of the ongoing conspiracy to have him fired’. However, later on the same day, Mr Lynch tendered his resignation to Br Noyes, as he felt that his name would be ruined if some boys and staff believed the allegation. Br Noyes accepted his resignation, and Mr Lynch left the School later that evening. In a document recording the resignation, Br Noyes stated that he could not locate any file or background information on Mr Lynch.