Mr Gadd said that Mr Brander instilled a ‘mini reign of fear’. Some people he spoke to in recent years told him they used to be in dread of going to school.
That evening, Mr Stegar and Mr Gadd devised a series of questions to put to the three boys concerned: (a)did they understand the meaning of the word ‘molested’? (b)were they ever molested? (c)was it a member of staff? (d)would they name the person? (e)did they know of any other boys in the school who had been molested?
Mr Stegar and Mr Gadd spoke to a number of students in an upstairs classroom. The general response of the students was that it was very much common knowledge that Mr Brander had been really out of control in this area for quite some time and that nearly every pupil in the school knew that. Mr Gadd stated: we certainly were left with the impression that he certainly had been abusing students, that the allegation which this student’s parent was making certainly was probably true. Five boys named Mr Brander as having molested them. Mr Gadd then suggested that they contact a local barrister.
Mr Stegar and Mr Gadd were two young teachers in their twenties confronting the vice-principal who was in his fifties and who had been there for a number of years. Mr Gadd said that this was why the events stayed in his mind while most other events from the time were a blur. He recalled Mr Brander being pained by what he heard and not making much comment. Mr Gadd said to him that ‘given the seriousness of the allegations ... it was in his own interest that he should come out and that he should deny them forthrightly, in public’. He put this suggestion to Mr Brander because, having spoken to the pupils concerned, he knew that Mr Brander would do no such thing.
When asked what he did next, Mr Gadd said that he had no clear recollection but he presumed or thought ‘we must have passed on, if we had met him in the parlour and we met him, I think, at the behest of Sr Giuliana, I think we must have reported to her. But I have no picture in my mind of that meeting’. In a previous Garda statement, he had been more specific: We reported our findings to Sister [Giuliana]. It was decided that Mr [Stegar] and I would discuss the matter with Mr [Brander]. He confirmed that this statement was correct.
Mr Gadd was careful to qualify the extent to which Sr Giuliana could have known of the abuse. He said that their understanding of what had happened was different back then: if people like Sr Giuliana and so on had been told about this, I just think their understanding of what was going on at the time would have been very, very narrow indeed ... it was a very different moral world ... People’s knowledge of these matters would have been extremely minimal, that they mightn’t even know about them at all ... one has to put these things into context and one has to understand that the people who were being asked to deal with them would have been very ill prepared to deal with them I think. It was only much, much later on that we understood the enormity of what he had been at ... much later on that we understood that on days perhaps the School would have had a function in the local church, in the local Roman Catholic church, that Mr Brander might have lurked behind and might have accosted the boys in the School, who belonged to [other religious communities] ...
Sr Giuliana gave evidence that one morning she was in the cloakroom as the children were arriving to school. The boy’s mother had arrived and asked for Mr Stegar. Sr Giuliana sent a child to fetch him. She later enquired of Mr Stegar as to how the meeting went, and he advised her that the mother had complained about Mr Brander and that he and Mr Gadd had dealt with the matter. That was the end of the matter as far as she was concerned.