Br Ramon was sentenced to six years’ imprisonment on being found guilty of indecently assaulting 10 boys. All the offences took place between the mid-1980s and the early 1990s at a college in Wales. He was on the staff of Daingean for 17 years from the mid-1950s.
From the time of his arrest, a record of the unfolding events was kept by Fr Benicio,22 the local Oblate Parish Priest. A decision was made to enquire about Br Ramon in his various postings, because of a rumour that he had been asked to move on a previous occasion for inappropriate behaviour.
Br Ramon had worked in a hostel for homeless emigrants in London. He was employed as an assistant. According to Fr Benicio, the Director of the hostel, Declan Rafferty,23 reported that he had had concerns about Br Ramon: He said he wasn’t happy about the way [Ramon] related to the residents – he either liked them or he didn’t like them, there was no in-between. Twice it was brought to his attention that [Ramon] was in the rooms of residents after 1.00 am when they should have been asleep. He tackled him about this. He became particularly friendly with younger boys when they came. [Declan] had no concrete evidence of inappropriate behaviour but felt he was unsuitable to be working with young people. He said he told [Pierre]24 at the time that he should not be sent to a place where there were young people.
On foot of the rumour that he had been removed from a previous posting for inappropriate behaviour, it was decided that senior Oblates would enquire from Fr Luca about Br Ramon’s time in Daingean, and this is dealt with below.
Br Ramon left Daingean in the early 1970s, and he wrote a letter of protest about his transfer to a Scholasticate: For close on 20 years I have devoted my life to helping in my own humble way the unfortunant boys that passed through St Conleths, it is a way of life that I have grown to love and I find it difficult to believe it has come to an end. My involvement with the boys in our care is now, as it has always been. Total ... I do however find it difficult to understand my new role ... I would like to think that you would reconsider my obedience, If after giving it a fair trail I am still not happy.
Some witnesses appearing before the Committee gave evidence that this Brother had sexually abused them during his 17 years in Daingean. In its response to these complainants, the Congregation made no reference to the fact that Br Ramon had been convicted of serious offences against young boys in Wales, but simply averred that the Brother was now deceased. The Congregation cross-examined complainants on the minutiae of their allegations, and was dismissive of any allegation that was inconsistent or mistaken in even unimportant detail. One witness said: Br. Ramon, he used to work in the bakery. There was one morning I was sent over to get the bread to put it out for the breakfast. I went over and he was there and he started tickling me and messing about, that kind of thing. Then he opened my trousers and put his hand in ... and he touched me. I was pushing him away, trying to get away from him and he grabbed me by the hand and he tried to force my hand onto his private part. I managed to struggle and then he just let it go at that. I got the bread and brought it back over to the recreation room ...
Various inconsistencies were pointed out, such as the fact that Br Ramon did not have duties in the bakery. However, the witness was adamant he had not got the identification of the person wrong, and said that Br Ramon was often in the bakery. The Congregation made no reference to Br Ramon’s conviction, and treated the witness with incredulity and disbelief.
Another witness told the Committee that, although he personally had no experiences of a sexual nature with Br Ramon, he recalled that the Brother had a nickname ‘Br. Sexpert Ramon’.
Another witness told the Committee, ‘There was five or six Brothers that did abuse kids’, and he named Br Ramon as one of these: ‘Br. Ramon was an evil man’. He added, ‘There were other good Brothers there, they weren’t all paedophiles’.
He was then questioned about his allegations. He insisted, ‘Br. Ramon tried to abuse me. I took the beatings rather than let them abuse me ... He got a hold of you and he groped you. I never let him go all the way with me, if you know what I mean’. Under cross-examination he added: You would be in a room and he grab you by the private parts and pull you into it and he tried to grope you ... I would knock him away and take a slap.
The cross-examination ended with a simple statement: I don’t have any more questions. I should just point out, as I have done, that the Brothers concerned are dead. Br. Ramon is long time dead ...
One complainant was asked whether he or anybody else had been shown kindness or fairness. He replied that he had never received any kindness, but identified the boys who worked for Br Ramon in the laundry as receiving special treatment: Maybe to one or two of the people that was working in the laundry. Br. Ramon was over the laundry and if you said anything to any of the boys that worked in the laundry Br. Ramon would give you a hiding for it because he didn’t like his boys to be abused or given out.
The alleged abuser was not named in the letter, although it is now known that it was Br Ramon. It seems that this letter was forwarded to the Department of Education, because the next letter on file is a letter of 14th December 1967, written by the solicitors acting for the Resident Manager of Daingean, Fr Luca. It was addressed to the Secretary of the Department of Education. It stated: We understand that a firm of Solicitors, acting on behalf of ... a former detainee at Daingean, wrote to you making serious allegations concerning occurrences in the School involving a member of the staff ... We are writing to advise you that following the allegations our client, The Reverend Superior, investigated the allegation and it was also investigated, with the full co-operation of our client, by the Garda Authorities. Following their enquiries the Garda Authorities were satisfied that there was no evidence of any improper conduct by any member of the Staff ... In view of the serious allegation made in the letter to your Department based on the story of this unfortunate boy our client wishes this unequivocable denial of the allegations placed on your file.
Following further consultations with the Provincial, a meeting was arranged between Br Ramon and senior counsel, after which counsel told Fr Luca, ‘You needn’t be worried, it’s a false accusation and we have no doubt about that’. At the Garda Station, Fr Luca was shown the file on the case, which he described as ‘putrid’. He added: I would not have thought the Brother had a chance because when you read something and looked at the detail of it you would ask yourself how anyone could compose it ... the minute descriptions and the detail of the thing ... It was a different Brother to the accusation about the 14 year old.26 There had never been any accusations against the second Brother before that, at least I had never heard anything against him. The Gardaí were satisfied, anyway, that it wasn’t true.
Br Ramon’s departure from Daingean in the early 1970s was, it was claimed, in the context of staff changes in preparation for the transfer to Lusk. Older Brothers and those who did not want to continue in the work were gradually moved to new placements.