Br Tyeis did not have enough information so he telephoned the Archbishop’s secretary for more details. The boy was Tom Murphy,16 a first year pupil in the secondary school, and his parents had gone some days previously to the Vice-Principal of the primary school to report what had happened. He sent them to the school chaplain because, as he later explained, he was too shocked by the allegations to do anything about them. The chaplain was unavailable so they spoke to another Curate, who in turn referred them to the Archbishop’s secretary. They made their complaint to him that Br Dacian was sexually interfering with their son and that they believed that Br Dacian had also interfered with other boys whom they named.
The Superior, Br Tyeis, now had the details of the complaint against Br Dacian. He went to him on the same day as he had met the Archbishop and spoken to the secretary. Br Dacian admitted that he had interfered with Tom Murphy and said that ‘the relationship’ had been going on for two years.
Br Travis told the Murphys that he appreciated that they were very upset, as were the Brothers. They were shocked by the allegations. He said that Br Dacian was very upset. Mrs Murphy became angry at the mention of Br Dacian being upset and said that he was ‘cute and intelligent’ in the way he operated. The Provincial pointed out that he had interrupted his schedule and postponed appointments to come to the meeting and that he wanted to hear the allegations from them first hand. The Brothers questioned the Murphys about the origins of rumours in the locality and also about media coverage, following which the Provincial sought details about the complaints. The Murphys related how the matter came to their attention. They said that they still did not have an admission from Tom that Br Dacian had had anal intercourse with him, and they explained why they were suspicious that that had happened.
The Provincial expressed his concern regarding the allegations and said that he had full trust in the inquiries that the Superior was making. He said that he himself had taken the allegations most seriously and was carrying out a thorough, professional, private investigation. He said that he was aware that there was an independent inquiry being conducted by the Health Board. He could not reveal who he had been contacting, and the Murphys appreciated this. He said he wanted to get the truth regarding Tom and Br Dacian. In the light of his findings and those of the Health Board, he would take whatever action was required, ‘but we must have the truth first’.
Mr Murphy said that he and his wife wanted three things immediately and they did not want the inquiry dragging on. They were: (1) a written apology from Br Dacian; (2) an assurance that Br Dacian would not return to the area and would not be in a position to deal with children; and (3) payment for psychological and psychiatric treatment for Tom. Mr Murphy proposed to send the bills to the Brothers, mentioning that he was at that time out of pocket in the amount of £100. The Provincial reiterated that the investigation would have to move to its conclusion before these points could be considered.
Neither Brother mentioned to the Murphys that Br Dacian had admitted sexually interfering with Tom over a period of two years. Nor did they give any indication that they were aware of his past record or even that they were investigating it, although they had had ample opportunity to do so during the preceding five weeks.
The Superior’s record of this meeting concluded with a note directed to the Provincial, in which he made three points. He referred to one of the Brothers in his Community whom he had consulted on the day that he received the complaint, and recorded that that Brother confirmed that Br Dacian frequently inquired about Tom Murphy’s attendance at school. The other points recorded a teacher’s denial that he had spoken about Br Dacian’s activities, as Mr Murphy had alleged, and the Primary School Vice-Principal’s statement that the Murphys were out to get money.
Some months after the incident involving Tom Murphy, a Brother in the Community, Br Rique,19 was able to give some further information about Br Dacian’s time in the Dublin school, which he recorded in a note entitled ‘To Whom It May Concern’. There had been press publicity about the case, which was of great concern to the Christian Brothers and to the Murphys. When the story was published, Br Rique’s sister appeared to know more about it than he did. Her source was another relation, Patrick Walsh,20 a teacher in the Dublin school where Br Dacian had been Principal. This teacher had expressed surprise to the Brother’s sister some two years previously, on learning that Br Dacian had been appointed Principal of a primary school, because of allegations made against him in Dublin that he had molested a boy and also because of other rumours about him. Br Rique asked Mr Walsh about these allegations. He said that the Vice-Principal of that school had spoken to each of the teachers individually about the matter. One of the teachers became aware of allegations against Br Dacian, who admitted to the teacher and one boy’s mother that he had sexually abused the boy. Had he not done so, they told him, the matter would go public. Confirmation of what happened at the time appeared in a letter written by the teacher in the mid-1990s, seeking reassurance that the Brother was no longer involved with children. He wrote: A few years ago [Br Dacian] was involved in an assault of a sexual nature on a child. As a result of this he was taken out for treatment etc. This was done with the agreement of the family.
Br Dacian’s personnel card recorded a break in service of approximately 10 months between his time in the Dublin school and his appointment to the school where he abused Tom Murphy.
During this intermission, Br Dacian spent time in the Cistercian Abbey in Roscrea, the retreat centre to which he again moved when the events regarding Tom Murphy came to light. He had in fact spent time on retreat there even before this, although the circumstances of that first retreat are not known.
After his second time on retreat in the monastery (following the allegations made in respect of Tom Murphy), Br Dacian went to a Residential Therapy Centre for Religious Clergy in England. The Provincial, Br Travis, wrote to him there with information about the progress of the investigations. Br Travis apologised for the delay in writing and expressed the hope that Br Dacian was finding his stay helpful and looked forward to visiting in a few weeks’ time when ‘I will be able to have a chat with you then’. He went on to describe the state of the inquiries: I have had two further meetings with the Western Health Board and they have now concluded the investigations. They will not be following through with any proceedings, thank God. I have now to meet Mr and Mrs Murphy ... I hope this will be the final meeting. They still require an apology in writing which, on reading, they will immediately destroy in my presence. It should be brief and to the point. On the basis of legal advice I enclose a draft. I also enclose some of our own Cluain Mhuire notepaper on which you can write the apology in your own handwriting. However, write this apology only if you feel you should. I would need it to hand by Wednesday, [two days prior to my meeting with the Murphys] at the latest. When I meet you on ... I will bring you up to date on what has happened at all of these meetings. I am confident that it will all die down now with the help of God.
Br Dacian wrote the apology as requested by Br Travis: Dear Mr and Mrs Murphy, My purpose in writing to you is to apologise for my behaviour with Tom and any upset I may have caused to you, his parents. I regret it sincerely. I am pleased to hear that Tom is back at school and faring well. Yours sincerely,
In conclusion: The Brothers’ assurances to Tom Murphy’s family that they would carry out a proper investigation, take action and not cover up were hollow: they did not investigate, they withheld information, and they supported the perpetrator. The Murphys were treated shamefully: the parents were in turn passed on from one person in authority to another; their case was treated with indifference; they were delayed a meeting with the senior Brother; and when the meeting did eventually take place, they were patronised, cross-examined and misled. The need for proper procedures and protocols is highlighted by these cases, but they are of little value if those in authority are working to their own agenda. The failure to deal with this abuser led to other children being victimised, and the Congregation bears responsibility. The danger perceived by the Christian Brothers was the revelation of sexual abuse rather than the fact of abuse. Victims’ families were unwilling to prosecute this abuser in three separate cases, which would tend to suggest substantial under-reporting of sexual abuse. This perpetrator was able to exploit the reluctance of his victims to charge him and the complacency of his brethren.