Men return to court to see their abuser jailed

 

It must have been one of the saddest school reunions yesterday when seven sex-abuse victims of a former Franciscan brother from Longford came before the Circuit Court in Tullamore.

They had come to see the man who abused them at their school for three years plead guilty to a series of charges ranging from buggery to sexual assault when they were under his care.

The men, now in their 30s, were assaulted by the brother, now aged 57, when they were as young as eight and attended a school in the midlands.

So great was their anxiety not to be identified that they sought an order by Judge Anthony Kennedy that the defendant's name not be used. The judge was told that some had not yet told their families of the incidents which took place in the classroom between 1973 and 1976. None of them had told their employers.

They bravely went into the witness box and told the hushed, panelled courtroom of the indignity they suffered at the hands of the slightly built, bespectacled man who sat passively in the dock, flanked by gardai.

Their stories shocked even the professionals. One said that, when he was 12 years old, he was sexually abused three days a week over a period of two years. Another described being physically hurt by a sexual assault.

This man had told an uncle about the assault in 1994 but when they went back to the school to seek out the man, they were told by another brother that he did not know the whereabouts of the defendant.

The defendant remained impassive when Judge Kennedy sentenced him to 10 years in prison on a number of counts to which he had pleaded guilty, including indecent assault, buggery and attempted buggery. He said the accused man had abused undefended children for his own perverted sexual pleasures and excitement.

As he was being led away handcuffed, his sister, who had given evidence on his behalf, kissed him on the cheek.