Dr McCabe then questioned the two girls mentioned. They both described very similar conduct by Mr Jacobs. One child said that she had told Sr Stella5 ‘who put her to bed and shut the door’.
Dr McCabe told the Resident Manager about the child [BB] who had reported the matter to Sr Stella: The Resident Manager told me that she was on holidays when that had happened but on her return she heard all about it but was inclined to disbelieve it “as these children are all so well informed before they come into the school and often tell a lot of lies that it is difficult to believe them”. When I mentioned XX and AA she was really shocked. I asked her why when she had heard about BB why she had not informed the Department and ask them to investigate the matter. She told me really she thought the child was imagining it.
A different account appeared in a statement prepared by the Sister in question, Sr Stella, which was taken after Dr McCabe’s investigations. She said that she observed a child in tears after coming from the School where Mr Jacobs had given her sweets. According to this account, the Sister asked the child whether anything had happened in the School, and the child said no, that she had only gone in to Mr Jacobs for sweets.
There was no explanation offered for the account given by Sr Tova to Dr McCabe, which corroborated the child’s story that she had told Sr Stella what had happened.
In a complete contradiction of what had been reported by Dr McCabe, the Sisters then said that Sr Stella had not been informed that relations with Mr Jacobs ‘had gone beyond him giving her sweets’. The Sisters accepted that Sr Stella should have had her suspicions aroused when she discovered the young girl in tears so soon after being given sweets by Mr Jacobs.
The Reverend Mother then called in the four Sisters who had charge of the children and, in the presence of Dr McCabe and the Assistant Secretary, she praised their devotion but advised them and, in particular, Sr Stella that they needed to be much more vigilant and enquiring when it came to the children.
The Submission further asserted that, had the Sisters themselves discovered Mr Jacobs’s abuse, they would have acted as decisively as they did when it was brought to their attention by Dr McCabe. The documents indicated the abuse was indeed brought to their attention by one of the little girls, and she was not believed, and her complaint was dismissed by both Sr Stella and Sr Tova.
This Submission was prepared in 2006. It did not address the appalling plight of the children who were abused by Mr Jacobs; it did not examine the attitude of the Sisters in seeking to remove the victims to a reformatory; it did not question the integrity of Sr Tova, who gave one account to Dr McCabe about the complaint made to Sr Stella, and a completely different one to the Department officials and the parish priest; it did not acknowledge the damage done to these children by the sexual abuse and its consequences, which included the children being isolated from their friends and removed to reformatories. Far from trying to help these damaged girls, the Sisters chose to dispose of them as bad influences. With their removal, the whole episode was expunged from the history of St Joseph’s.