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New Evidence Shows St. John’s Mount Cashel Sex-Abuse Did Not Occur!

By: John C. Ball - December, 1998:

Introduction:

New evidence indicates that in 1975 twenty teenage boys gave false sex-abuse statements to police about Mount Cashel teachers, and they then repeated these lies in 1979 after realizing new ‘victim compensation’ laws would ensure they received large cash settlements.

Evidence includes:

  1. Two former students say secret sex-acts would have been impossible in the well-lit communal dorms, TV room, swimming pool, or main office,
  2. Students were prohibited from entering the teacher’s sleeping building,
  3. The 20 accusing-boys discussed everything with other students and teachers, but at the time of the alleged sex-acts not even one of them mentioned it,
  4. A detective added incriminating words to the teacher’s police statements,
  5. A police-church panel in December 1975 concluded no abuse occurred, and
  6. During the 1989 to ’93 government inquiry and trials, former school residents who have evidence that no abuse occurred were not asked to testify.

This new information should be the basis of a new trial to determine if the seven convicted teachers are innocent and if the large compensation payments to the accusing men were fraudulently obtained.

Mount Cashel daily life:

Important evidence comes from 43 year-old teacher Leonard Gomes whose mother was from St. John’s and father was a black U.S. Navy seaman. Gomes first entered the 65 year-old 3-story brick complex, located on a hill overlooking St. John's, in 1963 at age 7. Said Gomes "It was home to over 100 boys from broken or dysfunctional families and 8 Christian Brother teachers. We all thought of ourselves as one big family.”

Gomes with a younger student in 1975 beside the
main entrance to the 3-story Mount Cashel school.

Each of the six different groups of from 12 to 15 similar-aged boys spent almost their entire time, outside of summer vacations, with the Brother to whom they were assigned. "We studied, did chores, played sports, showered, and prepared for bed each night as a group," says Gomes. "There was warmth and affection between the boys and their Brother.”

Gomes before bed in one of the communal dorms
where the boys felt of themselves as one big family.

Discipline of rebellious boys:

“However those who disturbed others or broke the rules were disciplined,” Gomes said. "I was hit with a leather strap on both hands only once, however disrespectful boys could have received 2 or 3 straps per hand after severe misconduct. A few times boys were strapped on their bare behinds. This was accepted discipline in St. John's schools up to the 1980's.

Gomes emphasized "In 1975 as a 19 year-old dorm supervisor I was with many of the boys 7 days a week. Because I was young enough to be one-of-them, the boys told me everything that happened. No one ever told me they were sexually touched and I never heard any rumors that the boys were being touched by any Brothers."

Sexual touching investigated by police:

In December 1975, 12 year-old Bobby Connors and 11 year-old Billy Earle jokingly told a part-time janitor that Brothers English and Ralph were coming to their rooms at night and “feeling them up”. The janitor phoned Billy Earle’s mother, and on December 7th she told the police that Billy and his 9 year-old brother Shane may have been sexually abused.

On December 8th Billy and Shane Earle gave local Detective Robert Hillier a list of boys they said were also abused. On December 11th the detective gave a list to Superintendent Brother Kenny at the Reform home, who arranged to transport the boys in small groups to the police station for interviews. From December 12th to 14th, Detective Hillier and an assistant interviewed 20 boys, one at a time, and wrote ½ page statements, that most of the boys signed.

The boys described everything from stroking genitals to masturbation in the sleeping dorms, TV room, swimming pool, and head office.

All areas including the ping-pong room were always accessible.
With 100 boys and Brothers walking in and out of the rooms it would
have been impossible for a Brother to continually
sexually touch the boys without being seen.

Private touching was impossible in well-lit communal dorms:

In their police statements, six out of the 20 boys aged 9 to 16 described Brother Ralph “feeling” or “rubbing” their backs, legs, or “private parts”, while he tucked them into bed in the communal dorms. A 9 year-old adds, “All the boys were watching, and we were having a big laugh.” Three other boys, aged 10 to 14, alleged sexual stroking by English at bedtime. An 11 year-old said, “I have seen Brother English doing this to lots of boys”.

Gomes responds: “With 12 bunk beds lining the walls of each of the 6 small dormitory rooms, any sexual touching would have been seen by 10 to 15 boys who would have told me or another Brother about it immediately, and I was never told anything.

The only reason boys would have been rubbed by a Brother at bedtime was for medical reasons. If a boy was keeping others awake by coughing, or was sick, the Brother could have rubbed Vapor Rub on his chest. Also some boys wet the bed, so their sheets were checked before the lights were turned off.”

One of 12 bunk beds of one of the 2nd story communal dorms where any
sexual touching by the Brother before bed with the light on would have been seen by all the other boys, and Gomes never heard any sex-abuse stories.

Private feeling was impossible in the well-lit communal TV room:

Five boys, from 11 to 17, described Brother English “feeling” their “private parts” in the TV room, and them being forced to feel his “privates” in the dark.

Gomes says: “The TV was only turned on for ½ to 1 hour during the evenings after dinner, and there was always a group of at least 20 watching with a light on. With 100 boys and 8 Brothers walking in and out all day long, it was as if the TV room and all other rooms had glass walls. If the Brothers were planning to molest they would not have chosen visible locations where many other people could have been watching.”

Gomes comments are reinforced by studies which show that older men who molest children always try to ensure absolutely no one sees them, for they know witnesses will expose their criminal act.

Gomes with boys and one of the house-dogs in the well-lit TV room
where secret sexual abuse during TV time would have been impossible.

Private sex-touching could not have occurred without boys reacting:

62 year-old St. John’s insurance salesman Don O”Keefe was resident at the school in the 1950’s, and was assisting 4 times a week when the alleged abuse occurred. “If any Brother had sexually touched strong 12 year-olds like Billy Earle, Bobby Connors, or any of their friends, they would have pulled away and yelled very loud. I saw those boys in 1975 physically fight, and even throw things at Brothers. When I went to school I yelled at the Brothers a few times. It is impossible these things occurred without other boys doing something like yelling or telling either myself or another Brother about it.”

12 to 16 year-old boys were physically strong so that if any Brother
tried to sexually touch them they would have yelled, hit the Brother,
or immediately told their friends and supervisors like Gomes.

Sex-tale was impossible as boys never allowed in Brother’s residence:

The most lurid tale was from 17 year old Leo Rice, who said Brother English “got me in his room (where he) got me in bed with him,…got on top of me,…and (masturbated) on my stomach.”

Gomes says “English slept with the other Brothers in a separate building extension on the 2nd or 3rd floor that was strictly ‘out of bounds’ to the boys. If any boy was seen in the residence, the affected Brother and boy would have been in serious trouble. Leo Rice and Billy Earle were good friends who were continually getting into trouble.”

Supervisor Brother Kenny in the middle in the dining room. The Brother’s
sleeping rooms were in a separate area with it’s own entrance, where boys were forbidden to enter by severe penalties. So Leo Rice could not have entered English’s room where he alleges abuse.

Private kissing could not have occurred as office had a glass wall:

Superintendent Kenny was a strict disciplinarian who like Brothers Ralph and English talked with trouble-makers and for severe offences would strike their hands with the strap. Three boys said Kenny forced them to bite his tongue and neck and to kiss his lips on the swimming pool deck and in his office when no one was watching.

O’Keefe answers, “Kenny’s office was on the main floor in the busiest area of the building, and was entirely visible from the secretary’s office and the hallway through a large glass wall. I looked in the office a dozen times a day while walking down the hall, and I never heard stories of anything like this happening.”

On deck of the swimming pool. 12 year-old Billy Earle is on the right.
O’Keefe says if Earle or any of the other boys were sexually abused
they would have told their friends about it immediately, and the only
reason they told no-one was because the abuse did not occur.

Police detective wrote words the defendants did not say:

On December 17th, 2 days after questioning the 20 boys, Hillier talked with Ralph and English. After being asked by Hillier if he ever touched any of the boy's penises, Ralph wrote and signed a statement which said "(For 4 boys) all I did was rub their backsides, except for Billy Earle I did touch his penis." Ralph did this because the Brothers and boys were told by the outside doctor to report any itching or skin inflammation in the crotch area, because this could indicate fungal infection that would need immediate treatment before it was transferred to other boys in the communal home.

Ralph had inspected Earle's crotch area a couple of times after a shower. This did not mean Ralph sexually touched Earle, yet Hillier changed the meaning of his statement by writing, "Ralph admitted to feeling up four boys", and "he admitted the boys were telling the truth." Ralph denied ever saying these things to Hillier which is strongly supported by Ralph's written statement.

English gave no written statement but spoke with Hillier, whose investigative report written the next day said English admitted "…what these boys stated in their statements is true." English vehemently denied ever saying anything like this.

The changes by Hillier of the 1975 Brother's statements were not submitted to the 1989 to '93 Court trials as they were not found by the author until 1994.

Why would Hillier change the meaning of Ralph's written statement and also falsify English's verbal statement? My 1994 interview with Hillier showed that from the moment the investigation started he believed the boys were molested and did not want his superiors to take him off the case or halt the investigation, so he wrote statements which indicated the Brothers were guilty!

Christian officials and Police conclude the boys had lied:

On December 17th, after hearing of the boy’s allegations and speaking with English and Ralph, Christian Brother officials from St. John’s and Toronto had a long meeting with St. John’s police. They reviewed the personal history of each boy and showed they were all friends who had lied to protect each other in the past and had been strapped by the Brothers they named. They realized it was impossible for many of the allegations to have occurred and saw numerous contradictions in the boy’s statements.

The Christian officials and police both decided the best way to prevent more problems was to move English and Ralph and other Brothers named by the boys out of St. John’s. The investigation was ended, with Ralph going to Vancouver, Kenny to Toronto, and English to the West Indies.

The investigation was ended, however Hillier's written statements were kept on-file and were later used at the 1990 to '92 trials.

Cash payments induce lawyers and ‘victims’ to start court proceedings:

As an aftermath of the 1988 trials of two St. John's Catholic Priests of having mutually agreeable secret affairs with two 16 and 17 year old boys, the joint federal-provincial 'Crimes Compensation Program' was announced in April 1989.

Immediately after this announcement at least 12 of the St. John’s boys talked with each other and lawyers before they went to the media and police and demanded government compensation.

After graphic Mount Cashel sex-abuse stories were printed in St. John's newspapers the 1989 Hughes Royal Commission was set-up to hear testimony from the alleged 1975 victims, but without rebuttal by the named Brothers or their lawyers. This was televised live in St. John's and was continually commented on in the local media.

Police or lawyers do not follow-up on witnesses who said boys were lying:

Two police detectives talked with Gomes for two hours in his rented basement apartment. When he insisted he never heard of any sexual touching and none could have occurred without him knowing, they accused him of lying and pressured him to change his story. When this failed they left and never called him again.

Gomes testified at one trial in 1991 but was only allowed to describe the locations of the dorm rooms, the TV room, the offices, and the swimming pool. He was not asked or allowed to state his opinion about the alleged charges.

O’Keefe likewise talked to the police at his house, but when he insisted he never saw or heard of any abuse and it could not have occurred without him or other leaders knowing, he was never contacted again by the police or lawyers for any of the accused.

No sex charges for 40 years before 1975:

O’Keefe wondered in 1994 why allegations were restricted to the 1970’s. “Not one of the thousands of graduates from the 1930’s to the 60’s alleged that even one Brother had sexually abused them. Then in 1975, 20 good friends from broken homes who had disciplinary problems alleged that 7 of the 8 Brothers were abusing them. The law of averages says this could not occur!”

Later in 1995 over 12 former students from the 1960’s who all lived in St. John’s receiving welfare, also alleged sex-abuse and since then have received large cash settlements.

Former Mount Cashel residents fear for their safety:

I spoke with other former Mount Cashel residents who also strongly believe the boys are lying, but will not talk to police for fear their families may be physically harmed by the accusers or their friends, who all frequent the same beer-parlors in St. John's and are making considerable money from the alleged fraud.

Seven of the 8 Brothers convicted and jailed:

The trials of 7 Brothers were held from 1990 to 1992, where the alleged victims repeated and enlarged their stories. English was found guilty and received 12 years. Superintendent Kenny received 5 years and Ralph 4 years.

Brothers Short and French mentioned in the 1975 statements, and Burke and Rooney not mentioned in 1975, were all convicted and sentenced to 2 years each.

At Burke’s 1992 trial, the judge was told the crown’s star witness, Shane Earle, had changed his testimony 27 times, yet the verdict was guilty. In total 7 out of 8 Mount Cashel 1975 Brothers were convicted of sexual abuse and jailed.

The convictions and cash payments are continuing. In August, 1998 Brother Barry was convicted of indecent assault during the 1960’s at Mount Cashel and sentenced to 3 years.

Trials of Mount Cashel alleged sex-abuse from the 1960’s and 1970’s have now resulted in over 42 alleged ‘victims’ receiving large cash settlements.

Cash payments to alleged ‘victims’

In 1996 Garry Brinston was the first of 20 alleged Mount Cashel victims from 1975, and 20 other ones from the 1960’s, to go through civil compensation court. He received a rumored $600,000 from the Newfoundland government, and since then at least 19 other boys have received a rumored $300,000 to $700,000 each.

The government is now working to re-coup the money from the Church. In early 1999 Vancouver College and St.Thomas More Schools in B.C. will fight in court to prevent their properties from being sold by a liquidator acting for the Newfoundland government that is trying to replace the millions of dollars it has paid to the 40 men and their lawyers.

O’Keefe and Gomes conclude 20 good friends lied in 1975:

O’Keefe said “In 1975 this group of 20 tough street-wise kids who had a history of lying to cover-up for each other and disturbing other students, lied about being sexually abused to get revenge on Brothers English, Ralph, and Kenny for giving them the strap. And then 14 years later in 1989 they sought to obtain large compensation payments by repeating these lies to the media, police, and courts.”

Gomes finished “Throughout the world the name Mount Cashel has become synonymous with institutional child abuse. In 1989 it was the first church sex abuse case that all others copied. I knew every boy at the school and no abuse occurred. In 1989 the men all lied to make money, and I don’t think it’s too late to expose these lies!”

TV show describing sex-abuse by nuns results in alleged ‘victims’:

During the 1989 Hughes Inquiry and later trials newspaper and TV stories described unproven sex-abuse claims, and TV documentaries vividly showed how the abuse supposedly occurred. CBC radio and TV continually repeated the most lurid allegations without including replies from the accused.

The 1992 movie "The Boys of St. Vincent", was based entirely on the Mount Cashel sex-abuse charges and almost everyone in St. John's and Canada who saw it knew this. The media, and especially the CBC, generated a 'pre-judged' atmosphere where the accused could not have received a fair trial.

An example of how media-generated guilt works was with a February, 1997 St. John's documentary that described alleged sex-abuse in the 1960's by the teaching-nuns at Belvedere girl's school. After the documentary 6 former students contacted police. However the women's stories of gentle, humble older nuns sexually molesting the strong, vibrant young girls while not one of the girls told either their friends or parents about it at the time, were not believed. The story was quietly dropped by the media.

Cash payments induce sex-abuse allegations across Canada and the U.S.:

The publicity generated by the Victim Compensation program, the Mount Cashel 1989 Inquiry, and resulting trials prompted alleged ‘victims’ to demand money for similar incidents at Catholic reform homes, Anglican homes, Native residential schools, and choir schools.

At St. Joseph’s Training School for homeless boys outside Ottawa, over 25 Catholic teachers were charged. In Prescott, Ontario, more than 50 people were charged with molesting more than 200 victims going back to the 1940’s. In each case large cash settlements were paid to alleged victims.

One choir teacher in Ontario was convicted even though it was proven in court that 3 of his accusers continually changed their stories and talked with each other about the money they could make before going to the police.

From 1989 to ’98 over 100 Christian officials in Canada, and over 400 in the U.S., have so far been convicted of molesting boys or girls they taught, which has resulted in large cash payments by governments and churches.

Native Residential Schools and Mount Cashel stories similar:

Many accusations are suspiciously similar to the Mount Cashel allegations. B.C. Natives from the now closed St. Joseph’s residential school at Williams Lake said they watched Catholic teachers sexually molest boys in their bunks in communal dormitories when they were being “tucked in”, and in large open shower stalls.

One girl alleged when she played catcher during baseball games the teacher-umpire would continually put his hand beside her pants and rub her “private parts” without anyone noticing, which could almost certainly not have happened.

The B.C. court convictions were also followed by large compensation payments.

The new evidence should be the basis of a new trial:

The above new evidence together with other evidence and documents held by the author should be presented to a new trial to determine if the 20 former Mount Cashel residents lied during 1989 to '93 criminal trials and then lied again during later civil trials to fraudulently obtain government compensation payments.

By: John C. Ball - Author and Geologist
Research: In St. John’s during 1993, ’94, and ’95.

 

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