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Case file

St. John's National School,
Sligo, Ireland. (1967 – 1977)

'He used to pick on cute-looking boys' (
Read) Ali Bracken/Sunday Tribune May 21010

During the early 1970’s a national school based in Sligo on the West Coast of Ireland was a center for a large group of child sex abusers. The school had approximately 500 students in 12 classes – 40 to 60 pupils per class. The Marist Brothers ran the school.


The children ranged in age from six to 12, came from all walks of life. Many were from middle class backgrounds while some had to work a regular job after school; slaughtering pigs, delivering bread or newspapers to keep money coming in for their families. Many of these working children wound up illiterate at the end of the junior schooling. Some wound up as the victim of a perverse group of pedophiles.

Over the years, five of those twelve teachers – some brothers, some lay teachers – were convicted of repeated and multiple charges of sexual abuse of their students. One teacher had an initial 500 counts of child sex abuse against him. In one case the abuse came to light after the student murdered his father, whom he claimed, had been accepting money in return for letting his son get abused.


While exceptional in its concentration of abusers, this is an example of what can go on right under parent’s noses. It's also a great demonstration of how pedophiles groom and choose their victims, preying on the weak, the quiet and withdrawn pupils possibly with problems at home. (The perpetrators claim that there was no collusion between them, no sex ring.) A judge described their targeting of boys as taking “advantage of vulnerability, someone who was poor, hungry, neglected, deprived, weak and from deplorable home circumstances.” Judge Kennedy describing Martin Meaney at sentencing 01/30/08.


Unfortunately this is not an isolated incident. It happens everyday to some extent even in a town like yours. We remain in a state of unconscious social denial – 'it’ll never happen here' and can miss the sometimes glaring signals that abuse is taking place. Moreover we miss the abuse because these young victims are bound to their abusers by a bond of secrecy. Most never tell of their abuse and those that do, do so long after the episodes have ended.


I attended St. Johns during these horrible days, protected by Brother Bonaventure, who kept a tight rein on the students in his class. None of my classmates was harmed to the best of my knowledge. Brother Bonaventure was not involved with this abuse, was respected and admired by his students. (Whether his protection was conscious or unconscious we’ll never know, I do know the boys in his class felt safe.) All 64 of us. We were the fortunate ones.


That I was literally surrounded by men molesting children during my four years in the school is disturbing; sickening. Not only in the abuse that happened to these little boys.  Also in the intensity and concentration of five men whose only purpose in teaching was to sexually abuse their pupils; children aged from seven to twelve years old. They chose their profession specifically as a means of torturing and molesting children. Think about that for a moment. That was just one school out of hundreds.


Take the time to read these articles – you’ll learn a lot about the mindset of those who prey on our children, of their lack of conscience, of their position of power in society and in they child’s world. They could just as easily have been music teachers, scout troops leaders, religious instructors, athletic coaches.


Evin Daly. Founder, May 2007


Full details of the case are covered in the following articles. Email any questions. info@abusewatch.net


1/31/08   Sex abuse school faces avalanche of lawsuits


01/30/08   Fourth teacher at school convicted of sex abuse jailed


01/30/08  'A total breach of trust between teacher and pupil’—Judge - Martin Meaney


01/23/08  It must never happen again


01/23/08  'I have so much hatred for him for what he did to me’


01/23/08  'I saw him as a person I could target’ – former Marist Brother on victim


07/27/05  Sex offender hospitalized after neck slashed in attack - Brother Christopher, Christopher Cosgrove


07/27/05  'He got twelve years - we got a life sentence’


06/29/05  Shocked Bishop in offer to meet victims, families - Patrick Curran 193 counts


06/08/05  'Unfathomable’ damage inflicted on pupils by former teacher – Brother Agnellus, Peter White


06/01/05  Third ex-teacher at Sligo school in sex abuse case


06/01/05  'At high risk of suicide if jailed'


06/01/05 Hung boys to coat hook on back of classroom door


07/27/05  Victims find some solace as they see their abuser jailed


03/09/05  Former Marist Brother rejects jury's verdict in sex abuse case


03/09/05  Former Marist Brother receives eight year jail term


03/09/05  'Abuse has left a mark on each victim'


01/19/05 'Locked in press so often a light would be needed'


01/19/05  Abused in toilet on day of confirmation - claim


01/19/05  Verdict today in sex abuse case against former Brother - Brother Christopher,
Christopher Cosgrove


01/19/05  'I never received any complaints' - former headmaster


02/06/02  Massive sexual abuse probe comes to a halt


More here www.sligochampion.ie – search for 'child abuse' or 'St. Johns'



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