‘A Monster:’ Late Clergyman Accused Of Sexually Abusing Lawrence Teen

Patch [New York City NY]

November 13, 2023

By Cailin Loesch

Brother Brendan Brennan of the Marist Brothers has been accused of sexually abusing a student, 16, at Central Catholic High School in 1980.

Lawrence MA – A Boston lawyer is calling for justice for his client, who says he was sexually abused by the late Brother Brendan Brennan of the Marist Brothers congregation while he was a 16-year-old student at Central Catholic High School in Lawrence in 1980.

Attorney Mitchell Garabedian, who has represented clergy sexual abuse victims and survivors for decades, said in an interview with Patch Monday that his hope is that the Archdiocese of Boston Cardinal Seán Patrick O’Malley and the Marist Brothers acknowledge the alleged abuse and settle his client’s claim.

Garabedian’s client, Francis G. Kearney III, attended Central Catholic High School from 1978 to 1982. Speaking with Patch Monday, Kearney III, who played football, hockey, and golf in high school, said Brennan was his religion teacher as well as the school’s head athletic trainer.

“I was engaged with this man on a litany of occasions, because he would work with us athletes who needed ankle tape or if you had a pulled groin,” Kearney III said. “So I saw him on a regular basis.”

Kearney III said that the first time he was sexually abused was at a football camp in New Hampshire between his sophomore and junior years.

“Central Catholic didn’t really have the facility back then,” Kearney III said. “So we went up to this place up in New Hampshire for a 10-day football camp. Brother Brendan would tell me that I needed to come to his room, and I was abused there and then again—once in the trainer’s room and in the classroom.”

Kearney III explained that as a teenager, he was afraid to tell anyone about the alleged abuse.

“I felt like I did something wrong,” Kearney III said. “I grew up in an Irish Catholic family … Back then it was okay to discipline your children differently than we have to do today. So I was afraid.”

Now a father of three, Kearney III, who has been diagnosed with post-traumatic stress disorder and anxiety, says he is speaking out because he “does not want this to ever happen to anybody else.”

“I want awareness for this. This man was a monster, and Central Catholic knew it,” Kearney III said. “They knew who he was, and the Marist brothers knew it. We’re not getting any support from Cardinal Seán O’Malley, who is the Pontifical Commission for the Protection of Minors in Rome. It’s really, really sad.”

Patch reached out to a spokesperson for the Archdiocese of Boston Monday. In their response, the spokesperson noted that Brennan was not a member of the Archdiocese of Boston and provided no further comment other than a referral to the Marist Brothers.

“According to Canon Law, in order for Brother Brendan to work within the geographic boundaries of the Archdiocese of Boston, he needed the permission of the Archbishop,” Garabedian said. “Therefore, the Archdiocese of Boston, which owns and operates Central Catholic, is responsible, along with the Marist brothers. “It is irresponsible to have leaders pointing fingers at each other and not stepping up to the plate to resolve this matter.”

Calling his ordeal a “family disease,” Kearney III said his experience has affected each of his loved ones in a “trickle-down effect.”

“I suffered because of this abuse,” Kearney III said. “It affected my life greatly.”

The settlement will “provide healing to my client, empower other clergy sexual abuse victims, and make the world a safer place for children,” Garabedian wrote in a news release Monday—the first time Brennan was publicly accused of sexual assault.

“The world is a lonely place for clergy sexual abuse victims who have not received sought-after validation for crimes committed upon them as children,” Garabedian added.

According to the official website of the Marist Brothers, Brennan was a member of the Marist Brothers of the Schools for 64 years and died Oct. 19, 2020 at Morningside Nursing Home in the Bronx, New York. He was 84 years old.

Patch also reached out to the Marist Brothers for comment.