IrishCentral [New York NY]
August 31, 2023
Fr Joseph Marmion SJ’s abuse of more than 60 pupils in Ireland throughout the 1960s and 1970s is detailed in a newly published report.
The newly published report “A Restorative Response to the Abuse of Children Perpetrated by Joseph Marmion SJ” interviewed 62 past pupils of the Irish priest who was a teacher in three schools in Ireland throughout the 1960s and 1970s.
The report, written by Catherine O’Connell and Barbara Walshe, cautions readers of “explicit examples of abuse” perpetrated by Marmion that can make for “difficult reading and may cause upset.”
Fr. Marmion, who died in 2000, taught at Clongowes Wood College in Kildare, Crescent College in Limerick, and Belvedere College in Dublin throughout the 1960s and ’70s.
The Irish priest was removed from school teaching in 1978 following disclosures of sexual abuse during a school trip to Vienna in 1977. He was never reported to An Garda Síochána.
In March 2021, Jesuits in Ireland named Marmion as someone who had abused boys sexually, emotionally, and physically during his time at Dublin’s Belvedere College.
The new report says that after the acknowledgment from the Jesuits, “it became known that he had also abused children while teaching in Clongowes Wood College, Kildare, and Crescent College in Limerick.”
Within two weeks of the statement from the Jesuits, “more than 40 past pupils who had been harmed by Joseph Marmion came forward to the Jesuit Safeguarding Officer,” the report said.
62 past pupils who were “impacted” by Marmion when they were children were interviewed for the report that was published on August 14. The majority were from Belvedere College.
“Many past pupils and witnesses of Joseph Marmion described him as clever, witty, talented, entertaining, charismatic, an ‘accomplished musician and linguist’, with a ‘formidable intellect,'” the report says.
“They also spoke of his anger and propensity for violence, cruelty, manipulation, malevolence, volatility, sadism and evil.”
The writers of the 110-page report noted: “What is remarkable is the variety of manifestations of abuse that he [Marmion] engaged in, which included physical, emotional, psychological, and sexual violence in multiple forms.”
Past pupils stated that they were attacked physically, psychologically, and emotionally over the course of weeks or months. In some cases, they stated that the abuse went on for years.
The report found that students were sent to Marmion for “spiritual direction” or “confession” on a regular basis.
The students “were often told to undress and, whilst sitting or standing naked, would be questioned, and lectured about masturbation, genital cleanliness, and sin,” according to the report.
Past pupils from all three schools said they were groomed and groped with impunity, particularly in sports changing rooms.
Some of the abuses described in the report included extreme physical violence, sexual grooming, wrongful accusation, expulsion, and the threat of expulsion.
One victim admitted going on to abuse others as a result of the abuse he suffered.
Survivors also said Marmion would make students fight each other or attack one student as a form of punishment.
“The only thing I can think is that what happened to me arrested my sexual development and trapped me,” one survivor told the report. “There have been huge repercussions and I have had enormous losses in my life as a result.”
Former students from all three schools described being “scarred for life.”
Victims felt ongoing “feelings of panic, disgust, anger and upset,” while several victims said they also experienced self-loathing and self-criticism for not reporting the abuse earlier.
The vast majority of the abuse was carried out in Belvedere College in Dublin, with former students alleging that they were sexually abused in empty classrooms, Marmion’s bedroom, and on school trips to Vienna.
Over several years, Marmion organized an annual summer trip to Vienna with around 20 students aged 13-16 traveling each year. Several students were abused in Marmion’s quarters in Vienna until a boy told his father that he had been abused during a trip in 1977. Marmion was removed from Belvedere College in 1978.
The survivors who contributed to the report are believed to be aged from their late 50s to their early 80s.