Teacher denies abusing boys at Rubane House

Claims are ‘disgusting and untrue’ witness tells Historical Institutional Abuse inquiry


A former lay teacher has described as a “fabrication” and “totally untrue” allegations that he physically assaulted a number of former residents of Rubane House in Kircubbin in Co Down.

He also denied an allegation that he sexually abused one of the boys who attended the care home. The teacher told the Historical Institutional Abuse (HIA) inquiry in Banbridge, Co Down, that he was involved in one “wrestling match” physical altercation with one of the boys in the residential home, but vehemently rejected other allegations including a claim that he broke the jaw and nose of a boy.

The witness, who has anonymity, was giving evidence at the inquiry which is investigating alleged child abuse at a total of 13 Northern Ireland institutions from 1922 to 1995.

This current module is investigating alleged abuse at Rubane House where just over 1,000 boys were placed in the care of the De La Salle brothers for varying periods of time between 1951 and 1985.

The teacher, who taught at the school for five years more than 30 years ago, denied the overall allegations, describing the claim that he sexually abused one boy as untrue and disgusting.

That alleged victim had told the inquiry he was sexually abused on two occasions by the teacher. In one instance he said he was assaulted in the showers.

The victim also accused the teacher of watching the “boys undressing and taking showers”.

The witness said he could not understand why such allegations would be made. They were a “fabrication”, he said. “It is absolutely disgusting. It is so untrue, it is just pathetic,” he added.

The teacher said there was one incident where he stopped a boy going to the toilet because he did not believe he needed to go.

The alleged victim had told the inquiry the teacher, on that occasion, punched him in the face when he went to the toilet regardless. The witness said he stopped the boy in order to maintain discipline. He agreed there was a confrontation but that it was no more than a “wrestling match” and that no punches were thrown.

The witness, who was in his 20s and in his first teaching job, denied a number of other allegations including one that he and one of the De La Salle brothers “sandwiched” one of the boys during a Gaelic football match.

The alleged victim said he was subjected to a “severe beating” in front of 22 people on the football pitch. The alleged victim said his nose and jaw were broken in that alleged assault and that his knee-cap was “busted”.

Another alleged victim had said that the witness had punched and beaten him to the ground and “stamped on his head with his foot” during an argument over a reading book.

He described the witness as a “wicked white sepulchre full of demonic evil”. The teacher, in a statement, had described this witness as a “sly” boy who “sneered a lot”.

In evidence to the HIA, the witness again denied the allegations. Some of these incidents were investigated by the police, but it was decided that there wasn’t sufficient evidence to “sustain a case”, although a police superintendent reported that he believed there was “substance” to some of the physical abuse allegations.

The teacher repeated his denials and said he was a caring teacher who had a “lot of sympathy for all of the young boys”.

He said in later life he met other boys who attended Rubane and got on well with them, and that they voiced no complaints against him.

Another former lay worker at Rubane House denied allegations that he had raped a boy and threatened to throw him off rope bridge if he told anybody.