Priest’s sexual abuse at Upper Hutt school admitted: It’s ‘criminal’

Radio New Zealand

September 24, 2018

By Phil Pennington

The Marist Fathers has admitted a priest who led one of its top secondary schools sexually abused children.

But decades on they will not release the file on Francis Durning, rector of St Patrick’s College in Silverstream, Upper Hutt, in the 1950s.

He was publicly remembered in Catholic obituaries as a man of “profound integrity” but a victim said other clergy nicknamed him “Fred the Fiddler” for his habit of abusing boys.

The victim, who RNZ will not name, is now in his 70s. He was a 13-year-old boy when the head of the school asked him into his office.

“He grabbed me and proceeded to hug me against his body,” the man told RNZ.

“I tried to push him off with my elbows and arms, and he persisted, saying into my ear ‘I don’t know what to make of you, I don’t know what to make of you’. Eventually he stopped and said, ‘Whip it [your penis] out and let me have a look at it’.”

He fled. The retaliation later from the rector and other staff, who knew abuse was going on, ruined his schooling, the man said.

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