Denials echo those made to UK inquiry


AUSTRALIAN INSTITUTIONS:THE CHRISTIAN Brothers’ insistence that the order did not know about abuses documented in the Commission to Inquire into Child Abuse report echoes a denial made by the order more than 10 years earlier when the Christian Brothers appeared before the UK Health Committee.

The parliamentary committee was investigating the actions by church organisations and charities in sending children from poor families to countries such as Australia, New Zealand and Canada where they were often used as cheap labour and abused.

The committee reported that the Christian Brothers were “very insistent that the abuses were not known to those who controlled the institutions”. The committee found that some of the abuse in institutions abroad was “of quite exceptional depravity, so that terms like ‘sexual abuse’ are too weak to convey it”. There are also striking similarities between the findings of the Irish commission and the findings of a senate committee in Australia in 2001.

It looked at the abuse of child migrants from the UK and noted that almost two thirds of sexual assault allegations it received were from Christian Brothers institutions in Western Australia.

It described accounts of abuse at four Christian Brothers institutions as “horrendous”. Former residents provided an account of “systemic criminal sexual assault and predatory behaviour by a large number of Brothers over a considerable period of time”.

It said evidence was given of many forms of sexual abuse by the Brothers “of boys being terrified in bed at night as Brothers stalked the dormitories to come and take children to their rooms, or boys as ‘pets’ of the Brothers being repeatedly sodomised, and of boys being pressured into bestial acts”. As with the Commission to Inquire into Child Abuse, the Australian committee heard that boys who reported abuse or assault “were beaten by the Brothers or abused by the very Brother to whom they had complained”. Children who ran away were not believed by police or lay people “usually due to the aura of the cloth”.