Accuser believes others were abused

Br Don Murray was presented with a token of appreciation from St Kevin’s College in Oamaru in...
Br Don Murray was presented with a token of appreciation from St Kevin’s College in Oamaru in 2011, when he retired as the proprietor’s representative. PHOTO: SUPPLIED
A Christian Brother allegedly sexually assaulted a young boy while working at a Dunedin school — the same school where the man’s brother assaulted several boys.

Brother Don Murray was subject to a complaint in 2018, relating to a series of incidents during his time at St Paul’s High School in the 1970s.

Br Murray is the brother of pedophile and former priest Magnus Murray, who was convicted on sex offence charges in 2003. Br Don Murray died in Auckland in May.

In a complaint to police seen by the Otago Daily Times, Michael Chamberlain alleged Br Don Murray approached him when he was 14-year-old pupil at the school in 1971.

Br Murray is alleged to have said his brother had told him he should introduce himself to him, Mr Chamberlain says in the complaint.

Brother Don Murray, pictured about 1971. PHOTO: OTAGO IMAGES
Brother Don Murray, pictured about 1971. PHOTO: OTAGO IMAGES

Mr Chamberlain said he was befriended by Br Murray, who started taking him to play squash at a club in Kaikorai Valley Rd. It was in the showers after games that the alleged abuse began.

Mr Chamberlain alleged Br Murray touched his genitals in the shower on half a dozen occasions.

Similar incidents occurred in the showers after the pair played golf at the St Clair Golf Club in early 1972, he alleged.

That year, Br Murray also allegedly touched him inappropriately while giving him driving lessons in his brother’s car. This happened on multiple occasions.

Police did not lay any charges as a result of his complaint. Br Murray denied the allegations at the time, Mr Chamberlain said.

But he wanted it on the record in case others came forward.

"My prime reason in lodging my complaint is to show solidarity should anyone else come forward," he said.

"I personally am aware of two other people who have divulged things to me [about Br Murray] but are yet to come forward."

A police spokeswoman said police could not respond to queries "which seek to establish whether specific individuals are, or have been, the subject of a complaint or investigation".

Now aged 63, Mr Chamberlain is the spokesman for Male Survivors Otago. St Paul’s High School merged with other Catholic schools to create Kavanagh College in the early 1970s.

Mr Chamberlain spent years weighing up whether or not to report the alleged abuse.

Following Magnus Murray’s court case, Mr Chamberlain ended up in Dunedin rehabilitation facility the Ashburn Clinic.

It was there, he said, that everything in his life was brought to a head.

During a group therapy session, a newcomer to the group said he was in the clinic due to issues stemming from alleged abuse by Br Murray while at St Kevin’s College, Oamaru, Mr Chamberlain said.

Mr Chamberlain then knew he was not alone. He left the clinic near the start of 2009, and considered filing a police complaint. But he questioned how he would be treated.

"On the sexual abuse scale, this is not at the top end of sexual abuse so I was wanting to come forward but I was worried as to how it be handled, or not handled."

When he did complain in 2018, police took it seriously, he said.

Despite Br Murray’s death, he wanted anyone who may have been abused to contact the Royal Commission into Abuse in Care.

"My complaint was delivered to him when he was alive and I would’ve been more than pleased if we were in court by now, but that’s not the way things have unfolded."

Br Murray returned to his former high school, St Kevin’s College in Oamaru, as a staff member from 1975 to 1994.

During his association with the school he coached its First XV and served as board of trustees chairman.

His official involvement with the school ended in 2011.

When approached for an interview, St Kevin’s College principal Paul Olsen referred the query to the National Office for Professional Standards of the Catholic Church in Aotearoa New Zealand (NOPS).

Attempts to get answers from NOPS to specific questions around allegations against Br Murray have been unsuccessful.

An emailed statement attributed to NOPS national director Virginia Noonan said the church urged any pupils past or present of any Catholic school who had a complaint of abuse to contact police.

"However, if they do not wish to contact the police, or if the complaint is about somebody who is no longer alive — and the police cannot help — we urge them to contact our Catholic Church’s National Office for Professional Standards.

"NOPS is able to conduct independent investigations of complaints of abuse."

The church and all of its schools were "strongly supportive" of students past and present, the statement said.

A spokesman said the statement could cover "any similar questions you might have for any Catholic schools or other entities in New Zealand".

Mr Chamberlain blasted the response.

"I’m absolutely furious, I’m gobsmacked, I’m aghast.

"I will never be lodging anything with NOPS as I believe they are totally inadequate on how they both respond, and how they handle things."

In a later response following further questions, NOPS said despite Br Murray’s death, it could investigate any complaint about him.

Feedback about NOPS was both "welcome and important", and allowed it to improve.

The Roman Catholic Bishop of Dunedin, the Most Rev Michael Dooley, said he only recently learned of the allegations against Br Murray.

"I was shocked. It’s just always sickening to hear about abuse.

"It’s something that is very bad and affects people very greatly, just the fact of that abuse is a bit shocking and upsetting."

He encouraged anyone who had experienced abuse to contact the Royal Commission.