Mr Kitterick wrote two letters in 1953 to the Superior of Letterfrack, in which he complained about three named Brothers in Letterfrack. He claimed that they were tyrannical and sadistic: Bros Piperel,17 Corvax18 and Perryn ... these men were a disgrace to the Christian Brothers. Piperel and Corvax were tyrants. Br Perryn who was in the cook-house and refectory took great pleasure in beating boys for no reason, he was a sadist, for beating us he used a piece of rubber motor tyre. Almost daily we were flogged by one or other of these Bros. Dozens of times I left the dining room with my hands bleeding ... On several occasions after a meal, I was taken to the pantry ... by Br Perryn. He would lock the door and make me undress he would then sit on a stool and would put me across his knee and then flog me savagely he would then pinch me until I was unconscious.
The third Brother, Br Piperel had, to the Congregation’s knowledge as recorded in their documents, a history of sexually improper and suggestive behaviour which had necessitated his urgent removal from a day school. Notwithstanding this information, the Congregation maintained complete silence in the face of Mr Kitterick’s letters.
Br Piperel had been the subject of a serious allegation of sexual abuse in Letterfrack that was documented in the Congregation’s records, which also implied that he had a previous history of interference with boys. He worked in industrial schools until the 1950s and then moved to a day school. He was removed from a day school in Cork for sexually inappropriate behaviour towards a young girl just a few months prior to Mr Kitterick’s first letter.
The Provincial did not conceal his disquiet. Having set out a transcription of the anonymous letter, he wrote to Br Piperel: These recurring warnings are causing me grave anxiety. Taken in connection with what did happen between you and boys on a previous occasion there is quite justifiable cause for all my anxiety. Has anything wrong, such as is described in the above letter, taken place between you and a boy, or boys? The matter is so grave, and is fraught with such serious consequences to you, to the Institution and to the Congregation, that I require you to be very open and candid with me. Please let me have a letter from you by return.
In the course of a three-page, handwritten letter, Br Piperel set out his defence. He began by recalling that a Visitor had mentioned the matter to him previously and that it was only when the Visitor had left that he remembered the occasion. The inference was that, following receipt of the first letter, the Provincial asked the Visitor to raise the matter with Br Piperel in Letterfrack, and the latter had denied any knowledge of it.
Br Piperel claimed that one of the lay staff in the School had a motive for having him removed from the Institution and would have been pleased to get him into trouble, thereby implying that he was the anonymous friend of the School who had written to the Provincial.
At the time of the complaint, Br Piperel had been in Letterfrack for some eight years and he continued his career there for another four years. Thereafter, he served in three further industrial schools over a 10-year period. The records contained complaints about the Brother’s work and attitude in these institutions but did not record incidents of sexual impropriety. His last posting was to a day school in Cork in the 1950s, where his career as a teacher came to a dramatic end as a result of a complaint.
This matter came to the attention of the School when an influential medical specialist told the Superior that a colleague was troubled because his nine-year-old daughter was being accompanied home from school by Br Piperel, who would wait near the School for her. The girl’s father had spoken to the Brother but he maintained that he was not doing anything wrong. The nuns in the School, a local teacher and parents were also concerned about the situation, which was not confined to this particular child. The doctor told the Superior that the girl’s father was going to report the matter to the Gardaí if the situation continued, and the Superior sought an immediate transfer, which was granted. Br Piperel remained in the Congregation until his death nine years later.
In their Opening Statement, the Christian Brothers recorded the facts about this Brother in summary form, noting that he ‘was given the opportunity to explain himself and give his interpretation of what happened’. They commented: It is not clear why Br Piperel was moved around from institution to institution despite being a danger to the boys. There is no detailed account to indicate what discussion took place about the matter, nor any indication as to why such a decision was taken.
Br Piperel was one of three Brothers mentioned by an ex-resident of Letterfrack, Noah Kitterick, who wrote to the Provincial of the Order in 1953 alleging serious sexual and physical abuse. Notwithstanding the information the Congregation had, which should have alerted them that the allegations of Mr Kitterick were consistent with this Brother’s history, no acknowledgement or investigation of Mr Kitterick’s complaints was made. It was asserted by the Congregation that the failure to deal with Mr Kitterick’s allegations was because of ignorance that such behaviour could possibly have occurred. However, the documented records make such an assertion implausible.
The explanation offered by the Brother was entirely unsatisfactory. The Provincial’s conduct put the interests of the Congregation, the Institution and the Brother ahead of the welfare of the boys, which demanded that the issue of sexual abuse be confronted. The Congregation’s submission that ‘it is not clear why Br Piperel was moved around from institution to institution despite being a danger to boys’ was an inadequate response to a serious lapse on the part of the Leadership at the time. Br Piperel was not the only Brother transferred in such manner and circumstances.
When the Visitor was presented with information by one of the Brothers in Letterfrack, he investigated at once. He took statements from the boys involved, and was so horrified about the information that he took immediate action to remove the Brother. The Congregation described in the Opening Statement how a trial of this Brother had been arranged in 1941 which would have led to his dismissal if he was found guilty. The trial did not proceed because the Brother was permitted to apply for a dispensation from his vows which was granted. It is significant that the same Resident Manager was in charge during Br Perryn’s and Mr Russel’s time, namely, Br Troyes, who was in the School from 1935 to 1941. Br Perryn was the second Brother referred to by Noah Kitterick in his letter to the Provincialate in 1953. Noah Kitterick alleged sexual and physical abuse by this man when he was in Letterfrack from 1924 to 1932, which was during Br Perryn’s second period there. The Congregation must have been aware of this man’s history and yet they refused to engage with Mr Kitterick or to acknowledge his complaint in any way. The Congregation’s comment that ‘it is most unfortunate that the early warning signs had not been acted upon adequately’ failed to address the fundamental questions raised by this case. The fact that this Brother was able to abuse boys undetected and unreported for such a long period is indicative of a serious failing in the management of the school. To compound the seriousness of this case, even the Brother who discovered the abuse felt unable to report it to his Superior, waiting instead for the annual Visitation to disclose what he had heard. If a member of the Congregation felt that the Superior would not believe him, it is hardly surprising that the boys felt unable to speak up. This Superior was the same man who had refused to acknowledge the case of Mr Russel, referred to above. He was also the Resident Manager when an anonymous letter was sent to the Provincial regarding Br Piperel. The fact that the Brother had felt unable to report the matter to the Superior and had to go through the Visitor was not addressed. Instead, the Brother was criticised for his indiscretion in mentioning the matter to another Brother in the School. The documents do not record the 14 years of abuse by this man, which indicates that there was a higher level of sexual abuse in the Institution than was revealed by the evidence.
A Visitation Report in the early 1940s referred to a complaint by the Resident Manager that the existing Disciplinarian, Br Piperel, was ‘not sufficiently strict as disciplinarian’ and making a ‘strong appeal’ to have him changed. He left in the early 1940s and, 12 months later, Br Ansel was sent from Artane to take over the role.
Br Piperel taught in Tralee for a year in the late 1930s. He had been moved there from Letterfrack where he had been the subject of a serious complaint that he was sexually interfering with boys. At the time of the complaint, Br Piperel had been in Letterfrack for some eight years and he continued his career there for another four years. Thereafter, he served in other industrial schools for almost 10 years. The records contained complaints about the Brother’s work and attitude in these institutions, but did not record incidents of sexual impropriety.
Br Buiron was immediately moved to Cork, where he remained until he was transferred to Glin.