Boys Town Faces Fresh Abuse Claim

By Kashiefa Ajam
Pretoria News
October 6, 2007

The Catholic Church in South Africa could face a class action suit after another former Boys Town student has come forward with more allegations of molestation by the late Bishop of Johannesburg and founder of Boys Town, Reginald Orsmond.

This week, the Saturday Star, sister newspaper of Pretoria News Weekend, received a call from another man, who cannot be named, who said he had been sexually abused by Orsmond at Boys Town. He said he knew of other victims.

Bless Me Father, the autobiography of Mario D'Offizi, describes how he was given alcohol before the leading cleric engaged him in sex acts.

It has now been learned that the other man is planning legal action against the SA Catholic Bishops Conference (SACBC).

Its spokesperson, Father Chris Townsend, said the diocese had not been informed of any action yet.

On Tuesday, the SACBC said in a statement that the church had a clear position against sexual abuse of any kind. "We have been consistent in strongly condemning this deplorable behaviour within the church and within society as a whole."

The SACBC also invited D'Offizi and "all others who feel that they are victims of abuse by Catholic clergy ... to share their story with a competent church authority" so that swift and compassionate action could be taken.

But D'Offizi said nobody from the SACBC had contacted him since the stories appeared.

And Townsend said the "natural thing would be for him to contact us".

In the book, D'Offizi, a magazine editor, writes: "I went back to the bed and sat down. My head started swimming and I felt nauseous. I fought the tears. Father Orsmond's hand fondled my thigh; then he reached for my fly and unzipped it ... Then he took my hand and placed it on his private parts."

D'Offizi said that while he received "amazing support from unexpected places" after the stories were published in two newspapers, he also learned a shocking truth from his 34-year-old son.

He admitted to his father that he had also been sexually abused at a Gauteng boarding school.

"I didn't expect all the support I have received up to now. In fact, I expected horrid SMSs and calls. But then I called my son and asked him whether he read the articles. He told me something shocking. He said that when he was nine or 10, he had been repeatedly molested by a teacher at the school in Pretoria.

"I asked him why he never told me about it. He said it was for the same reason I am only going public about my own abuse now, which is that I was ashamed.

"But I am not ashamed anymore. My conscience is clear.

"I told the truth and I know there are other people who were abused by (Orsmond). That much was confirmed to me this week."


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