TheJournal.ie [Dublin, Ireland]
February 12, 2024
A JESUIT ORDER has received 93 complaints of sexual, physical and emotional abuse by the late priest and teacher Joseph Marmion.
A narrative record of Marmion’s abuse of children has been released by the Society of Jesus, documenting abuse by Marmion at schools including Belvedere College in Dublin, Clongowes Wood College in Co Kildare and at Crescent College in Limerick.
It details how the Jesuit Order dealt with the allegations and the response of the order from when the first allegation of child sexual abuse was made, up until the present day.
It also names for the first time two other priests who were the subject of numerous complaints of child sexual abuse – but who carried on working with children.
According to the report, titled ‘Fr Joseph Marmion SJ – His abuse, the harm caused, and Jesuit accountability’, more than two-thirds of the alleged abuse by Marmion took place at Belvedere College.
Of the 93 complaints of abuse received against Marmion, 14 relate to Crescent College, 14 to Clongowes Wood College and 65 to Belvedere College. 45 of the 93 complaints received from 1977 related to child sexual abuse.
The narrative record noted that Marmion may have benefitted due family and social connections in the order, even though concerns had been raised about his membership going back to the 1940s.
More than one respondent pointed to Marmion being a grandnephew of Dom Columba Marmion, a priest of the Archdiocese of Dublin who was beatified in 2000.
Irish Jesuit Provincial Shane Daly said past pupils had been “horrifically abused”, and praised the steering committee which compiled the report for its work.
Daly paid tribute to the former pupils who had the “courage and generosity”, acknowledging that it likely came at great personal cost for each victim.To those past pupils also I say a profound ‘thank you.’ Your accounts are harrowing, the lasting effects of Fr Marmion’s abuse are shocking, the enormity of it is hard to read and absorb.
The Society of Jesus asked victims of Joseph Marmion to engage with the order and a restorative justice programme was established
Marmion died in 2000 aged 75.
In 2022, a redress scheme was announced by the three Jesuit Colleges in Ireland in order to compensate people who suffered abuse.
The narrative has been compiled on behalf of the Joint Past Pupils – Jesuit Steering Group, comprised of representatives of past pupils and of the Jesuit Order. A key objective of their work was to have the experiences of past pupils who were abused by Fr Joseph Marmion SJ, ‘heard, acknowledged and validated’.
It records abuse committed by Marmion in classrooms, while taking confession and during school trips.
The order has also formed a three-member working group, involving a child psychologist, a social worker and retired Supreme Court judge, who will work with the Jesuits on future naming of alleged abusers.
Two priests named
Along with the record of Marmion’s abuse, the Jesuit Order has today decided to name two other ex-priests who were accused repeatedly of abusing children.
Both Fr Paul Andrews and Fr Dermot Casey were directors of St Declan’s Special School and Child Guidance Centre, Northumberland Road, Dublin.
Casey, who served as director at the school from 1958 to 1977, has been the subject of 17 complaints of child sexual abuse to date.
“These complaints were received during the period 1975 to 2023 and relate to events dating from the 1950s through to 1977,” today’s report said.
A formal church investigation was started in December 1994 but did not proceed.
Despite the complaints that had been made against him, Casey remained “a priest in good standing” at the time of his death in 1997.
Fr Paul Andrews
The narrative record for Marmion references Fr Paul Andrews as being the “subject of a complaint of child sexual abuse” in 1991. This complaint was repeated in 1994.
From the 1970s to 1990s, Andrews was a well-known psychologist who specialised in working with children and parents, while also appearing on radio and television to speak about child development issues, parenting and psychology.
According to today’s report, Andrews had an “important role in the story of Jesuit failures” in relation to Marmion.
“He was the person to whom was made, in September 1977 the first known disclosure that Fr Marmion had sexually abused children,” the report said.
Andrews was Director of St Declan’s Special School from 1977 until he resigned at the end of 1994, after the renewed complaint about his alleged abuse of a boy.
A preliminary internal investigation by the Jesuit Order found that Andrews’ account gave “cause for concern” about his credibility and defence against the allegations, and that the report advised in February 1995 that the Order contact gardaí and the Health Board.
However, there was no movement until the end of that year when the complainant again contacted the Order about Andrews.
Over the course of the following 15 months a Garda investigation was conducted but in 1997, the Director of Public Prosecutions decided that a prosecution would not be brought.
Andrews had been asked to cease providing counselling to children and although he did not resume his role at St Declan’s, the priest was permitted to resume his work as a psychologist and continued to provide counselling and to conduct assessments of children.
“Knowledge of the existence of the complaint against Fr Andrews, and of the Garda investigation, was confined to those Jesuits who were directly advising the Provincial,” today’s report said.
“This meant that neither rank and file Jesuits, nor lay staff working in Jesuit ministries, had any knowledge of the fact that Fr Andrews had become the subject of complaint.”
Andrews died in November 2018.
‘Source of deep shame’
The head of the order in Ireland, Shane Daly, said it is a “source of deep shame” for the Jesuits to see that when crimes of abuse by its own members were first reported, it “placed the reputation of the order and the person accused above the concerns of those who had been abused, their well-being, and their needs”.
“As was said before, things were done that should never have been done, and things that should have been done were not.”
Dally added that the information was being provided now because of its importance to the present-day St Declan’s school community, to past pupils and their parents, and to many others with long connection to St Declan’s.
Today’s report has been welcomed by One in Four, a support service for victims of abuse.
Chief executive Maeve Lewis welcomed the order’s decision to name both Andrews and Casey.
She said it was noteworthy that, “unlike some other religious congregations, the Jesuits are making every effort” to provide support and compensation to the men who experienced abuse in childhood.
“The report details the now familiar litany of failures by a religious congregation to deal effectively with allegations of abuse against its members, placing other children at risk,” Lewis said.
“However, we commend the Jesuit order for its transparent acknowledgement of its failures. It is important that the order decided to name Paul Andrews and Dermot Casey in the hopes that this might encourage other survivors to come forward.”