Christian Brother Convicted of Sexually Abusing 19 Schoolboys

Dark forces driving clerical sex abuse blur the boundaries between victims and abuser

A former Christian Brother spoke recently on the radio of  how, at 14, he was put in charge of much older boys in an industrial school.  They dressed him up in a miniature Christian Brothers soutane and armed him with their universal instrument of pain — a leather.

This child was sent out to patrol the school grounds accompanied by an adult  Christian Brother for protection, and he was expected to beat the older boys in the yard to teach them manners.  This 14-year-old boy was instructed to terrorise other boys in the name of Christianity but he didn’t.  For four years, he resisted the pressure, until he could take no more, and finally laid into one of the young prisoners with his leather, venting all his rage and frustration on the hapless boy who could never dare fight back.

When he came into the common-room in the monastery, all the waiting Brothers rose and gave him a standing ovation.

He left the order soon afterwards.

This is how the Christian Brothers formed the characters of the children they induced to join their dysfunctional band of sexually disturbed men.  They passed on to the boys the same furtive feelings of shame about their sexuality that they felt themselves.  They taught them to become drunken brutes.  They taught them violence in the name of religion.  These young boys who entered a monastery were deprived of normal human affection and normal adolescent development.  Instead, they learned fear and guilt.  They learned a warped and stunted understanding of sexuality and, once fully formed, they went out to abuse the children of this land.

It didn’t happen in a vacuum. The entire country under the malign influence of an authoritarian and puritanical Catholic church was gripped in a century-long spasm of self-loathing and hatred of the natural flesh.  It was a backlash from the catastrophic famine and a conscious decision by the church authorities to stamp out the carefree, pagan, bacchanalian tendencies of the Irish.  The joy of sex would be replaced by the self-hating misery of the Irish clergy and no organisation bought into this warped and impoverished view of life more enthusiastically than the Christian Brothers.

I remember a Christian Brother instructing us in school about sexual matters.  Kelly was his name and he was clearly demented.  He was a youngish man, possibly no more than thirty, but he had obviously never been laid in his life and it was driving him crazy.  His understanding of sex was more primitive than our 13-year-old bicycle-shed knowledge and it showed in his rage, his quiet, hissing anger.

Today we’re going to talk about SEX he spat, and you could see he’d been up all night worrying about the big speech.  He made sex seem dirty, shameful,  ugly.  He worked himself up into a rage and it was apparent to anyone with eyes — even to children like us — that he struggled with monstrous emotional demons.

Other guys of his age were out having fun while this unfortunate jerk was barking life-hating nonsense at children.  The poor guy was not stable.  His entire life was concerned with controlling his boiling frustration towards himself,  towards the family that had shoved him into the Brothers and towards the cult itself,  an organisation he plainly hated.

He was neither an abusive nor a violent man.  Nor was he ignorant.  Brother Kelly taught us mathematics and Latin with equal proficiency, but he was very, very angry, and even then, as children, we knew why.

He was fizzing.

Seán Drummond was 14  when the Christian Brothers recruited him.  Fourteen.  A child.  He went through the same brutal, ignorant, emotionally-stunted induction process as all the others and when he emerged, he knew nothing of human emotions, normal friendships or the warmth of family. Like all the Christian Brothers, his only experience of sex was with other youths in the monastery, or  at the hands of the older men.

And when Drummond emerged at the age of 18, he was both a fully-formed Christian Brother and a fully-formed sexual abuser.

When he was 18, he taught in a Limerick primary school at Creagh Lane for a year and in that year he inappropriately touched 19 boys.

Drummond  left the order when he was 21 and went on to marry and have five children.

The indecent assaults came to light when two former pupils met in 1999 and compared notes after which Gardai brought a prosecution.  Drummond, now 61, pleaded guilty to 36 charges of indecent assault in Limerick Circuit Court.   He now must wait while a judge considers what sentence to impose.

If you’ve been a regular reader of this site, you’ll know what I think of child abusers, and my reaction when I read the first few paragraphs of the report was to dismiss Drummond out of hand as just another evil pervert.  But as I read on, I began to realise that he was, as an 18-year-old, acting out the behaviours imprinted on him by the heartless, warped and amoral Christian Brothers machine, a system that introduced him, at the age of 16, to self flagellation, and that suppressed all normal adolescent sexual impulses.

In my opinion, Seán Drummond believed at the time that the kind of touching for which he has been convicted was perfectly normal.  None of the Christian Brothers boys his age knew anything else.  Coming from such a vile system as the one that abducted him at 14 years of age, is it any surprise that he behaved as he did?

He didn’t last long in the system, and he soon did what many others lacked the strength to do.  He walked away from the all-controlling criminal organisation of which he had been a part.  He formed a relationship and had a family, all of whom attended the court.  For forty years he lived with the knowledge of what he had done between the ages of 18 and 19.  Now, as a 61-year-old father, he faces the possibility of imprisonment for crimes comitted by a brainwashed and emotionally damaged teenager.

There’s another aspect of this case that I find distasteful and disturbing.

The judge heard that some of the victims experienced problems with alcohol, drugs, and relationship troubles as well as learning difficulties  resulting from the assaults.

Look. These kids were groped, as were many others in the schools I attended.  We all had creepy teachers.  It was horrible, and as a parent I would have wanted to kill someone who did that to a child of mine, but to say that it caused drug addiction is pushing it a bit.  In my opinion, this devalues the experience of the children who really were raped and beaten, and not just groped.

Call me suspicious-minded if you want, but I don’t like it.


Update: 10th December.

Seán Drummond was yesterday sentenced to two years in prison based on vidctim impact statements in which people said that they had suffered marital difficulties, alcoholism, learning difficulties and drug abuse as a result of his touching them.

Without wishing to justify what he did, I have to say  I find this evidence difficult to accept and I think nothing is served by imprisoning a man for wrongs committed by a damaged youth.


Previously on Bock:

Ryan Report – Artane, The Christian Brothers’ Gulag

Questions and Answers – Clerical Rape Victim Confronts Minister

Taxpayers’ Money Protects Clerical Child Abusers

Clerical Abuse Victims in Their Own Words

Child Abuse – PR Guidance for Bishops

Commission on Child Abuse Report Published

26 thoughts on “Christian Brother Convicted of Sexually Abusing 19 Schoolboys

  1. Christian Brotherfuckers.

    We need to liquidate this obscene, deranged cult. Shut the book on this shameful chapter in Irish history. There is no reconciliation, no rehabilitation, no fobbing off, no pretending that it’s all in the past and suddenly everything is rosy. This miserable institution is morally bankrupt and should be consigned to the garage heap of history.

    End of story.

  2. Bock, as allways your reasoning is of high quality and I detect a layer of dialectic integrity combined with a strand of humanism. As regards that cult I too beleive they are dangerous and cunning bordering on the demonic. It is in the interest of Rome to close it down but they will not do that as they would have to close down all of those wicked orders and even the Roman Church in Ireland. What I can,t understand is why your government is so passive in acting and by acting I mean shutting them down ,seizeing their assets and bringing them to book. There are many things about Ireland I love but this church you have has got to go. At times the DDR and Ireland are disturbingly similar.

  3. I would think of more Spain under Franco rather than the DDR. At least in theory all in the DDR were on the one track. The divide here and in Spain IS and WAS something with its roots in 18th and 19th Century France. Where there are still echoes.
    In the 20th, to the minds of the Church, Communism and Republicanism were the same thing.

  4. Until the Irish people express unrestrained outrage at the vile and corrupt practices of the church and its subsidiaries, the feeble-minded political class will never lift a finger. Do you seriously think the likes of Dermot Ahern and the other tedious petty bureaucrats currently warming cabinet seats have the intellectual integrity to even figure out what they believe in, never mind actually do something about it? They are all products of this mindless system; and since they landed on top of the stinking pile, they think the system that shat them out is wonderful. These turkeys aren’t going to vote for christmas anytime soon.

    The only solution is revolution. I mean a literal revolution; millions of Irish people taking to the streets and demanding that these dispicable institutions be shut down, stripped of power. Like the Berlin Wall, the church would crumble under the weight of its own deranged delusion. And as in Berlin, imagine the outpouring of relief among ordinary Irish people, emboldened by throwing off the yoke of years of stifling psychological oppression, refreshed by the sudden honesty of their collective stance. We just need to get this ball rolling and it will sweep all aside.

    It’s a time for action, for leadership, for courage, for change. Don’t waste this opportunity – it could so easily slip out of reach.

  5. I’d be interested in our views on this man who was convicted. What do you think of the circumstances that influenced him as a child and what do you think of his decision to break away? Do these things have any bearing on his guilt today?

  6. Of course it makes a difference. But the bloody miracle here is that he managed to get out of the situation at all. It must be in the country of the Conscientious Objectors, if you get what I mean.

  7. That’s why I’m wondering what punishment he should have.

    I’m also a bit perturbed by the former pupils who claim to have experienced alcoholism, drug abuse and relationship breakdown as a result of being groped when they were seven.

    It seems to devalue the experience of people who were raped and beaten as children.

  8. Yeah, it’s a tough call; one that goes to the very heart of what we mean by justice. On the one hand, he was a perpetrator of the kind of sick violence that has tarnished our nation. On the other, he was probably not in full control of his reality at the time – he was brainwashed – and yet he managed to claw his way out and rebuilt a life as a decent human being (by all accounts).

    It seems to me that what we need here is a form of restorative justice. No purpose is served by punishing a man who has borne his psychological scars for 40 years. He is clearly no threat to anyone now. But restorative justice demands that he publicly acknowledge what he did, apologise to his victims, tell the truth about what happened in those dark institutions and expose the church to full accountability. It’s the church that should pay the price here.

  9. That’s my inclination. I think he was taken from his family as a child and abused. He behaved as he had been instructed to for a short time, but broke free and lived as a normal man for 40 years. He didn’t rape or beat anyone. I don’t believe that someone who was groped has been damaged for life. I knew enough people who had that experience.

  10. We often hear of how offenders were reared as children and how that rearing was a factor in their wrong doing. I become cynical at such defences. Is this man any diffferent? Is there documented evidence of his time in the CB machine and his mistreatment and manipulation? Is he really the product of an over powering, over bearing all intrusive perverted male cult or his he hiding behind it? Does the fact that he married and raised a family lessen his actions? Many SS men were married and adored by their wives and children. It’s true that many from Creagh Lane never worked after they left school, methinks it was through choice. I know several graduates of Creagh Lane who lead productive healthy lives and would have pre dated this guys time there. I’m glad I’m not a judge

  11. I’ve been doing this long enough to know that some people will read meanings into it that weren’t there. It’s surprising they haven’t appeared yet.

    In my opinion, this case is a useful one in establishing a discussion about the way the Christian Brothers created abusers. I also think that, just like murder, there are degrees of abuse, and I think this man is on the lower end of the scale.

    In fact, I think he realised quickly – once he reached adulthood – what a warped life he had been drawn into as a child, and I think he rejected it.

  12. Funny, but in an odd way I think what we are up to at the moment is part of that restorative justice. Put it this way, much like Apartheid SA, I do not ever see the Catholic Church getting back to where they were only a few years ago. At this point most in Ireland have crossed a Rubicon, mine was with Anne Lovett on Feb 1,1984. For the current lot of kids, the Ryan Report. Or O’Brian that fromer Mayor of Clonmel on with John Bowman. But the real restoration will come when there is a realisation that the Church was but part of a much larger whole.

  13. Restorative justice is an interesting concept but I have one difficulty with it. You have to work out what needs to be restored.

    I have been ranting about clerical abusers since I started this site, and recently became aware of an individual who took advantage of the system to make money from the Redress Board. I know this because he told me so.

    It annoys the hell out of me that he’s stealing from those who were abused and also from the taxpayer, and he’s completely unable to see anything wrong with what he’s doing.

  14. Granted that person is a scumbag, but I would prefer him to exist rather than definitions being so narrow that they become useless to a major number of people.
    As to the working out, I do not think you need to have the pattern, the very fact that we are stitching into the tapestry the truth or a reasonable facsimile will by itself restore a belief in basic humanity.

  15. Bock, my comparision of Ireland with the DDR is based on ONE method used by STAZI and that was the seizing of children of dissidents in order to bring the population to toe. The threat was effective and silenced many. It was used as an instrument of social and political control. Obedeince was rewarded in that the children of party functionaries were given acess to education and posts within its administration. A further similarity is that there was one line of thought and anything outside the BOX was a threat. Hitler hated the Catholic Church not because it was corrupt but because it was a competing political force and he immensly admired its organisation. Yes you have walls to break down but they are within your heads. Finaly Ireland should be compared to what it could have become.

  16. Bock- another interesting article and one that also brings up the question of boys being sent away to be Brothers. My uncle was one but finally left and got married and had five children. things like this make me wonder.
    Vincent – I studied Spanish history and now live in Spain. When I am chatting and the topics of Irish and Spanish history come up. I put it in the nutshell, that while Spain was a plastic fascist dictatorship which had the backing of the Church, Ireland was a religious dictatorship. Where, as has been mentioned by Bock or other posters before, it was the Church that ran the show.
    then I get back to drinking beer, eating tapas and enjoying the sun….

  17. Upfront I should say I know Sean Drummond and his family. He is in my experience a lovely family orientated man. His family are going through hell and are so supportive and secure in their love for him. I think one of the things to be taken into account here is that he is sorry, and is rependent and was so from the very moment 40 odd years ago when he realised it was wrong.
    Nothing takes from what he did and he has to pay the penance for it. But what should that penance be?

  18. Nice article.

    One particular aspect of this debate is fresh in my mind, ever since the Polanski case blew up in September: the question of time. When 32 years have passed since the commission of a crime, it somehow feels petty, vindictive and downright unevolved to continue holding a grudge–especially when the perpetrator has been a ‘model citizen’ ever since.

    But while it is human to forgive the sinner (as Geimer has Polanski), the courts cannot afford to act in this way. There has to be a difference between moral and civic law (as Bishop Tobin discovered while being destroyed by Chris Matthews on Hardball recently). No mitigation can be allowed simply due to someone’s evading prosecution for a long time.

    It might as well have happened yesterday in the eyes of the criminal justice system–vengeful and inhuman as that stance appears to any decent person.


  19. I disagree with Darwin on this point. It may appear correct to insist on the letter of the law applying, because otherwise we worry about the slippery slope etc. But there is a downside to going the full-scale punitive justice route, especially in situations of widescale abuse. The downside is that the full criminal process takes a very long time and sets a very high bar for the standard of evidence required to convict someone. There is a significant risk that the process of trying all clerical abuse cases would run for 10-20 years, consume vast state resources, and result in a low conviction rate because the crimes are very hard to prove and human memories are fallible. Also, the criminal justice process immediately forces the accused to deny responsibility and keep quiet, which denies the victims the acknowledgment they desperately seek.

    Very often the victims are just looking for an acknowledgment of guilt and an apology, a public hearing and some public vindication. Restorative justice recognises this and offers a deal to accused persons – tell the full truth, express remorse and do something that proves to society that you wish to be accepted back into the fold. This is the approach that the South African Truth and Reconciliation Commission (TRC) took over thousands of apartheid-era crimes, and it worked extremely well as a healing process for the nation. Anyone who was found not to have told the full truth was denied amnesty and passed over to the criminal justice system, and certain crimes were exempt from amnesty.

    A TRC process would be a very good way for Ireland to face up to the crimes of the past, get over them and move on, without creating a whitewash or a slippery slope. It should be considered as an alternative to the corrupt and cowardly approach being taken today of not naming or shaming anyone, save those extreme cases where a criminal conviction is possible.

  20. Well said Cynical Joe. Any reconciliation in any country requires the participation of the whole country and that means its citizenry must have a plattform to rise from. During the Vietnam war there was the Russel Tribunal which gave echo around the world. Russel was a major thinker of his time and the effects of that Tribunal are still being felt to this day here in Scandinavia. Surley Ireland can muster a tribunal of persons with stature who can gather these monumental issiues under one fold. It should not be left to a government to carry out this vital work. I guess real healing must come from real participation. If we really want something never to happen again then we should all have acess to the same narrative as a starting point for that change. One individual going to jail ? will that give us all the neccessary knowledge to stand firm and prevent a new trauma later on?.

  21. I have never had any contact with the “Christian brothers” . however in my past I have had contact with the Jesuit, Dominican and Capuchin orders. They were so innocent of the way the world works I felt protective of them at the time. A friend of mine is a Councillor of the “abused” he tell me most are not interested in counselling but in getting a note to say they have been there . Money makes the world go round, the world round , in every little way!

  22. Well written Bock; it certainly puts another perspective on the Christian Brothers reign of abuse which was supported and concealed by the Church over decades… As described above, it is not a huge leap to connect the indoctrination techniques which were apparently employed by the Brothers, to the ongoing abuse by those young men… the ever perpetuating cycle if you like.

    Sean Drummond committed a crime, albeit it seems that extenuating circumstances put him in that position, with no way to know what he was doing was wrong… Carmel, who knows him, says it well – he needs to pay his penance. Depending on how the sentence is passed by the judge, in light of the back story, and how he has lived his life since, my fear is that it could create a dangerous precedent. Hear me out…

    By a similar token to the chap who admitted he is cheating the system (most likely taking advantage of the grey areas of the redress board policies) – if any more Christian Brothers were to be hauled up in front of a judge for abuse, I bet they would be rolling out all kinds of hardship stories from their own past, to justify why they did what they did. The cynic in me says that they would lie and invent all sorts of tales of woe to get off more lightly. (I am not in any way suggesting that Mr Drummond is embellishing)

    End of the day, the church – the organisation who allowed, nay facilitated this abuse to happen, will still get off scott free.

    Not sure if I am off the mark here…

  23. While the Christian Brothers and other religious are rightly are getting it in the neck for their past depravity,dont forget the legion of lay teachers who took it upon themselves to physically assault with monotonous regularity the thousands of kids whose only crime was to be not academically inclined. Many of these teachers are regarded as “pillars of society” today having inveigled themselves into politics,the legal profession and other such hiding places. We know many of them ,they cant afford to be exposed,which is why their butties in the religious sector cannot be named. Wake up people!

  24. Is the brother Kelly you refer to the same one who taught primary school in Scoil Lorcain in Waterford in the 1970s/ 80s and then in another school in theMount Merrion Area of Dublin also during the 80’s? If so I need to disagree with regard to his record of abusing.

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