Christian Brother to be sentenced over sex abuse

Irish Times
February 24, 2009

A Christian Brother has been remanded in custody pending sentence after he admitted to sexually assaulting four students in an industrial school 45 years ago.

Stephen Allen (77) with an address at Christian Brothers Provincial, Griffith Avenue, Marino, Dublin, molested the young teenage boys while they were working under his supervision in the kitchen of the school.

He pleaded guilty at Dublin Circuit Criminal Court to 21 counts of indecent assault on dates between 1961 and 1964.

Allen told gardaí in interview that he touched some of the boys in “a moment of weakness” and described it as “an affection that went out of control”. He said he could not understand the allegations and denied that he had been sexually abused himself as a child.

Judge Frank O’Donnell heard from victim impact statements from the men, now aged between 57 and 61 years old, that they had been significantly affected by Allen’s abuse.

Insp Paul Scott told Fergal Kavanagh SC, prosecuting, that one man was first contacted by gardaí after Allen named him as one of his victims.

The victim had never told anyone about the abuse, including his wife and lived in fear that someone would find out about it. He later attended counselling but stopped going to sessions because he had found it too difficult to recount events.

One man said he fled to England as soon as he left the school but spent his whole life afraid that the brothers would find him and bring him back. He got married but has since divorced.

Another victim said he was full of anger because of Allen’s abuse which had caused him “significant trouble”.

He had to attend anger management classes to try and deal with his issues.

Another man said that he emigrated to “escape the memories of the abuse” and although he got married and had many children, he had difficulty interacting with his family.

Judge O’Donnell adjourned sentencing to next March after he revoked Allen’s bail and remanded him in custody. “It’s a long time ago but the victims are still suffering,” Judge O’Donnell said after he added that he needed time to consider the various reports before the court.

Insp Scott told Mr Kavanagh that the first victim, now aged 61, was called into the office by Allen where he was fondled after the accused took down his pants. He said he lived in fear for the five years he was in the industrial school.

The second man, now aged 57, said he was assigned to work in the refectory with Allen who took a “special interest” in him giving him sweets, chocolates, apples and oranges.

He said the accused would bring him into the store room, lock the doors, sit him on his lap and feel his “private parts”. He was made stand against a wall when he refused Allen’s advances.

This man made a complaint to the school chaplain and Allen was removed from the institution.

The third man, now aged 60, also worked with Allen in the school’s kitchen. He was 13 years old when Allen sexually assaulted him. The fourth man, now aged 59, told gardaí that he was also sexually assaulted as a 13 year old when he was working with Allen packing sweets for the kitchen staff.

Insp Scott said that Allen was interviewed by gardaí in February 1999 after the first victim reported the abuse. Allen initially denied the charges but told gardaí he wanted to apologise to the men “in the hope that it would make things easier for them”.

He later withdrew this when it was put to him by gardaí that he should not apologise unless there was an element of truth in the allegations.

He told gardaí that he would pray in the oratory to deal with any sexual urges he had at the time but admitted in a later interview that he had fondled two of the boys “on four or five occasions”.

Hugh Hartnett SC, defending, told Judge O’Donnell that his client wanted to apologise profusely to his victims and indicate his regret for his actions.

Mr Hartnett said a report from the Granada Institute stated that his client was at “a very low risk of reoffending”.



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