Five decades of service – up to 22 abuse claims
Brother Aidan Clohessy becomes principal of St Augustine’s.
The St John of God (SJOG) Order receives the first complaint of abuse against Brother Aidan. It is dismissed internally. The order does not inform gardaí.
The 1988 Childcare Bill is published, prompting SJOG to establish a committee to draft procedures for managing allegations of sexual abuse. Then HR director John Pepper heads up this committee.
The committee publishes guidelines stating that children must be protected from abuse and that anyone accused of abuse must be removed from children.
Brother Aidan is sent on a new mission to Mzuzu, a remote city in northern Malawi, where he houses street children at his home.
A second abuse allegation is received about Brother Aidan in Ireland – this time via a statement by an alleged victim to gardaí. He is instructed not to work with children, but continues to do so.
As a third abuse allegation is received in Ireland, SJOG inform the then Eastern Health Board that Brother Aidan is ‘no longer involved in services to children’. He continues living and working with children.
Three further sets of allegations are received against Brother Aidan in Ireland. SJOG publishes revised guidelines which refer to the particularly vulnerable position of those in the order’s care.
The Redress Board is established and SJOG contributes €1m securing indemnity from any cases settled through the board. Brother Aidan continues living and working with children in Africa even as pay- outs are made to his Irish accusers.
Allegations against Brother Aidan now number 10. His order writes to him to tell him ‘not to have direct contact responsibility for programmes attended by children’. He continues living and working
SJOG misinform the Ryan Commission into clerical child abuse saying their first abuse case appeared in 1996 after Brother Aidan left for Africa. In fact a complaint had been made against Brother Aidan in 1985 – before he went to Malawi.
As the number of allegations against Brother Aidan reaches 14, his order conducts a risk assessment which recommends ‘therapeutic input’ for Brother Aidan. The review concludes he is of low risk of sexual abuse given that ‘he is not in a position of authority over children’. But Brother Aidan remains unsupervised in Malawi.
Amid a new Garda investigation Brother Aidan is withdrawn from public ministry and returns to Ireland. It appears no one in Malawi is told why he has suddenly left and no effort appears to have been made to establish whether any children may have been put in danger during his time in Africa. SJOG inform gardaí of the original 1985 allegation against Brother Aidan – 27 years late.
The Order receives three further sets of allegations and a canonical inquiry into Brother Aidan is commenced.
Three more sets of allegations are received bringing to 20 the number of alleged victims who claim to have been abused by Brother Aidan.
An investigation by the Irish Mail on Sunday finds two former pupils who allege they were abused by Brother Aidan at St Augustine’s, bringing to 22 the number of potential victims of abuse. SJOG send the allegations to gardaí when presented with them by this newspaper this week.
This story was supported by the Centre for Investigative Journalism Malawi (http://investigative-malawi.com) and The Irish Mail on Sunday (www.newsscoops.org).