Scale of abuse, suffering revealed

Photo: Stephen Jaquiery
Photo: Stephen Jaquiery

It started with one bad apple - a paedophile priest from Dunedin who abused four boys and was jailed for his crimes. But the story of Fr Magnus Murray’s crimes has opened the floodgates, releasing a torrent of torment and abuse held back for decades.

Now one big question remains: just how wide does this go? Chris Morris investigates.

PAUL Klemick's eyes fill with tears as he describes a life destroyed.

The 52-year-old Dunedin man has spent decades "numbing'' himself with drugs and alcohol, but the torment has twice overwhelmed his defences and driven him to attempt suicide.

His marriage has failed, and even the birth of his children and the imminent arrival of his first grandchild have not been enough to stop the flashbacks.

Mr Klemick can still recall every detail of four years of abuse at the hands of Ian Thompson, a teacher at St Paul's High School, beginning in 1979 when he was just 12 years old.

Ian Thompson taught at St Paul's High School. Photos: supplied
Ian Thompson taught at St Paul's High School. Photos: supplied

The memories are of sodomy and sex acts, including the ones he was forced to perform on another young boy, also a victim of Mr Thompson.

The experience has left him battling post-traumatic stress disorder and, despite counselling, the urge to try to take his own life again.

"It's f... my life. My two kids could have been without a dad, twice. And it's still there, to this day. It just never goes away,'' Mr Klemick told ODT Insight.

But he is not alone.

Michael Haggie has a similar story of torment to share.

His abuse began in 1971, when Mr Thompson took advantage of his interest in music and culture by taking him to concerts, restaurants and antique stores.

The young boy was told he was special, that he was the only one, as the grooming escalated to daily sexual encounters inside Mr Thompson's cottage, across the road from St Paul's.

Michael Haggie
Michael Haggie

But by 1973, the teacher had lost interest and was "moving on to other boys'', while Mr Haggie's battles were just beginning.

"I tried to block it out by marrying ... but after 10 years of marriage and a nervous breakdown, I had to come out as a gay man.

"It took me years to get over it,'' he said.

Both men have been scarred for life by their experiences, but they are just two of the victims left in the wake of paedophiles hiding behind the Cross in Dunedin.

Now, after a months-long investigation by ODT Insight, a clearer picture of the scale of sexual offending within the Catholic Diocese of Dunedin is emerging.

It began with revelations Fr Magnus Murray, a paedophile priest from Dunedin, had many more victims than previously thought.

Fr Murray was jailed in 2003 for offences against four Dunedin boys, but ODT Insight found he could have up to 15 victims on the Taieri alone, as well as others in Australia and the North Island.

Fr Magnus Murray
Fr Magnus Murray

But, when ODT Insight also revealed offending by Br Desmond Fay and a second Christian Brother - who cannot be named for legal reasons - in Dunedin, more victims soon came forward.

Br Fay was accused by the mother of one victim of driving her son to suicide, but the story prompted three more men to reveal they, too, had been targeted by Br Fay.

One said he was abused by Br Fay in the early 1970s, while at the Christian Brothers Junior School.

Br Desmond Fay
Br Desmond Fay

A second man said Br Fay would enter the school's changing rooms while boys were naked "and try and entice myself and others to stay behind''.

"I personally would avoid his advances and avoid being in a vulnerable place when he was around.

"It was a true game of cat and mouse through some four years of having him as a headmaster.''

Eventually, the man said he was expelled by Br Fay over a "fictitious misdemeanour''.

"I have always felt that he expelled me because he was frustrated with my hard stance towards his advances.''

A third man, a pupil at St Edmund's school in South Dunedin, recalled being "fondled'' by Br Fay, who would jump into a swimming pool with the school's boys under the guise of "horse-play''.

But Br Fay, who has since died, was not alone, the man said.

He also recalled being punished by former St Edmund's principal Br Vincent Sullivan, who "put me over his knee and gave me a light spanking and then fondled my buttocks while Br Fay watched''.

Br Vincent Sullivan
Br Vincent Sullivan

"I wondered at the time what the apparent conspiratorial joke was between them as they exchanged looks.''

A decade later, the man and a colleague were discussing Br Sullivan's behaviour in a taxi, on the way to Rotorua Airport, when the taxi driver interrupted.

"[He] told me Br Sullivan had seriously molested him.

"My colleague and I had to leave the taxi driver in tears at the airport drop-off as we had a plane to catch.''

Mr Klemick, the boy abused by Mr Thompson at St Paul's, also recalled Br Sullivan from his earlier years at St Edmund's.

Asked about suggestions he offended against boys, Mr Klemick said: "It happened.

"He used to make me sit on his knee a lot, and he'd brush his hands up and down.''

Br Sullivan has since died, but other Christian Brothers within the Dunedin diocese have also been implicated.

Peter Boock, the brother of former New Zealand cricketer Stephen Boock and sports journalist Richard Boock, was a pupil at St Edmund's, and said the behaviour of other Christian Brothers there was also "very suspicious''.

Br Francis Henery
Br Francis Henery

He had been warned about Br Sullivan, but was also wary of another Christian Brother from the same school.

The Christian Brother, who is now living in Australia, had a habit of supervising boys in the toilet.

"We noticed he'd always be on toilet duty and be standing there watching us all peeing. He used to do it all the time and we used to think it was strange."

The man fondled in the swimming pool by Br Fay had also learned, years later, three of his friends had been abused by Christian Brothers in Dunedin.

Two had, separately, confided in him that they had been molested by Br Francis Henery, a teacher and rugby coach at St Paul's High School in the 1970s, he said.

Br Richard Glen
Br Richard Glen

The third friend later confessed to being molested by Br Richard Glen, who was well known in brass brand circles, the man said.

Br Henery and Br Glen have both since died.

But the Christian Brothers were not the only men implicated in Dunedin's dark past.

 

THIS week, ODT Insight has confirmed another paedophile priest from Dunedin, Fr Kevin Morton, was quietly stripped of his priestly faculties in 2002 after allegations of historic abuse emerged.

Fr Morton was alleged to have taken a teenage boy to Oamaru on an overnight trip in the 1970s, and then raped him.

Fr Kevin Morton
Fr Kevin Morton
A complaint in 2002 prompted the then-Dunedin Bishop Len Boyle to strip Fr Morton of his priestly faculties, but he did not defrock him.

It was the same sanction handed down to Fr Magnus Murray, who also remained a priest in retirement despite his conviction.

Dunedin Bishop the Most Rev Michael Dooley, asked about Fr Morton this week, confirmed the diocese had "full records'' of the complaint and Fr Morton's punishment.

He would not elaborate, citing privacy, but Fr Morton was "dealt with through the approved complaints procedure''.

Fr Morton has since died, but he and Fr Murray are not the only members of the clergy to fall from grace within the Dunedin diocese, which covers the bottom third of the South Island.

In 1993, Fr Robin Paulson, a fourth-form teacher at St Peter's College in Gore, admitted six charges relating to historic offences against three boys in Southland.

He was sentenced to periodic detention, then returned home to England, where he remains a member of the Rosminians, the Catholic order beset by their own abuse scandals in Britain.

Teaching alongside Fr Paulson in Gore at the time was another man also later convicted of offences against boys.

In 1977, Patrick Thwaites was a deacon at Holy Cross College in Mosgiel, studying to be a priest, when he was dispatched to St Peter's in Gore to teach third and fourth-formers.

Fr Robin Paulson
Fr Robin Paulson

In 1999, Fr Thwaites was a priest in Christchurch when he was found guilty of offences against schoolboy parishioners in Christchurch and on the West Coast, dating back to the 1980s.

Fr Thwaites has been removed from public ministry, but also remains a priest in retirement.

But ODT Insight has also been told of other allegations, including one by three men who shared the same story of abuses committed by a former top-level, long-serving member of the Dunedin diocese, who has since died.

The allegations have not yet been substantiated, and Bishop Dooley, who is overseas, said he was not able to comment on the claims this week.

Fr Patrick Thwaites
Fr Patrick Thwaites

Fingers have also been pointed at another lay teacher from St Paul's High School, who was said to be offending against numerous boys at the same time as Mr Thompson.

None of his victims have yet been spoken to by ODT Insight, but Mr Klemick said he had heard later the other teacher was disappointed when Mr Thompson "got to me first''.

"He was one of the other perpetrators. He didn't do anything to me, but I know he was doing stuff to other boys.''

The other teacher died recently, but not before insisting Mr Klemick - who was working at a rest-home at the time - nurse him in his final days.

"He demanded I look after him. That was the last straw.

"Two weeks after that, I lost the plot again.''

Bishop Michael Dooley.. Photo: Gregor Richardson
Bishop Michael Dooley.. Photo: Gregor Richardson

BISHOP Dooley, speaking to ODT Insight last month, responded to the revelations of historic abuse within the Dunedin diocese by apologising to the city.

But, asked how big the list of offenders could be, he doubted it would mirror the revelations seen in other countries.

"I don't believe that's our case here, certainly not in the Dunedin diocese. I see no evidence for it and I'd be very surprised if their are further offenders.''

He confirmed the diocese kept records of every complaint received, but would not say how many there were or how much money the diocese had paid to victims.

There were no pending complaints involving priests in active ministry, but historic information would only be made available to the police or another state authority, he said.

He also declined to see ODT Insight's list of alleged offenders, saying that could "prejudice'' any subsequent investigation.

Victims said the sexual offending in Dunedin was only part of a wider picture of violence at St Paul's and other schools at the time.

Men like Br Fay, Br Wellsmore and Mr Thompson were notoriously bad-tempered and violent towards boys at the schools where they taught, they said. Several men have described how Mr Thompson would erupt over the smallest infractions and beat those responsible.

His penchant for punishment included forcing boys to bend over at one end of a corridor while Mr Thompson, armed with a cane, took a run-up from the other end.

Boys would be made to put their heads below balustrades, to knock their heads if they flinched, or bent over at the top of a flight of stairs before the cane struck, they said.

Chris Gamble, a St Paul's pupil, remembered Mr Thompson as "the most heinous, violent man''.

But he also remembered a game called "wall to wall'', where the youngest pupils would be grabbed by senior pupils and thrown to a mob on to squash courts.

"If you got tagged in the middle, 50 kids would kick the s... out of you.

"It took the school two years to control that. They just let it carry on.

"They didn't do a thing. There was a culture of not giving a f... about the kids.''

Mr Klemick said it was time to confront the city's dark past.

That started by telling the story of what Mr Thompson did, but also meant demanding accountability from the school - even if it no longer existed - and compensation from the church, he said.

"I'm doing this not just for me, but for those other poor boys.

"I think this needs to be dealt with now. I want justice.''

chris.morris@odt.co.nz

 

 

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