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Sexual Abuse
Survivors

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This is the page for women and men abused by clergy, ministers or church leaders when children or adults.

Your thoughts, views, pictures (photos/artwork) and poems should be heard and seen.

This page is our voice, your voice – survivors’ voices. Never to be silenced again.
We look forward to hearing from you.

Beth's Story

A victim of prolific paedophile priest,
Fr Terence O’Brien has received a letter of apology from the Fr Gerry Briody, current provincial of the Salesian Order in Great Britain and a financial settlement for sexual assaults she suffered over
a nine year period.

Slater and Gordon, her solicitors, issued the following press release when the case was concluded.

CLICK HERE to read the press release.

Fr Terrance O'Brien

Fr Terence O’Brien was a Salesian priest. In 1965 he was moved by the order to their
house in Battersea. At the time it was reported by the Catholic Herald:

“Fr Terence O’Brien S.D.B. will be leaving the solitude of a moorland village in Cheshire
for the hurly burly of London. The move is designed to allow him more time to concentrate
on youth work in which field he enjoys a high reputation”.

The order set him up in a house, for his sole use, on the Salesian site in Battersea, on
which their school was also situated, to run a private counselling practice for children
and young people
.

He had access, on an individual basis, to hundreds of children and young people from
1965 onwards. As well as running his counselling practice he travelled around the
country holding courses on psychology and religion, mainly for religious, but also for lay adults. This served to further enhance the trust and respect he held in Catholic circles.
He managed to keep the other side of his life unchallenged for decades, although those
close to him were undoubtedly aware of what he was doing. His activities were only
brought to a halt when three of his victims, who were by then adults, made disclosures
of historic sexual abuse to the police in 1996. O’Brien was charged with sex offences
but deemed too frail to stand trial. He was forbidden to continue any form of active ministry
and moved to the Salesian retirement home in Chertsey where he died in 2000.

When Metropolitan Police reinvestigated him in 2013, as part of Operation Torva,
they described him as being a prolific paedophile, whose victims are in multiples of ten.
It is impossible to know just how many children became his victims.

The truth is that he had no psychological qualifications whatsoever and despite that
was set up by the Salesian order to run a counselling service for children and young
people. He took money from at least some of those he was seeing for his “services”.

The Salesians have consistently sought to distance themselves from the reality of
O’Brien’s sexual abuses until this recent case. When it was successfully concluded the
Order have, for the first time, issued a formal apology to the female survivor.

Read the apology Letter by clicking HERE

Tablet Report


Graham's Story

I was born in Bedford, England on 20th October 1951. Three years later, my parents
moved to Pyrford in Surrey, where I grew up with my four sisters. I went to Pyrford
Primary School, where I was very happy and did well. In September 1963, aged eleven,
I went to the Salesian College in Chertsey, Surrey, an independent Catholic school
for boys.

For the next three years, I enjoyed school, made good friends and continued to do well academically.

Then, in September 1966, a new teacher joined the school. Hubert Madley. Within a few weeks, he began to be very friendly to me, taking me home after school and working his
way into my family. Then it began, and for the next two years he sexually abused me as
often as he could and wherever he could.

In February 1968, following the tragic death of my closest friend, Martin Allen, I went to confession and told my housemaster, Fr Madden, what Madley was doing to me.
Fr Madden then told the headmaster, Fr O’Shea, who informed the Rector, Fr Gaffney
and the Provincial Superior – Fr George Williams.

But, instead of helping me, they swore me to silence and moved Madley to the Salesian College in Battersea to protect him and the school’s name. I was left to fend for myself,
without any support from the school. Neither my parents nor the police were told. I failed
all my exams and was thrown out of the school.

The impact of the sexual trauma I had suffered was compounded by the betrayal of the Salesian priests, after I had gone to them for help, a combination which created deep-
seated psychological issues within me that would continue to damage me for years to
come. This damage manifested itself in different ways as I developed a range of harmful behaviours as ‘coping mechanisms’, in order to survive, including alcohol abuse,
self-harm and sex addiction.

I found it difficult to settle and was incapable of forming lasting relationships. I tried to
pretend that it had never happened by burying the memories deep in my mind, and for
the next 30 or so years, I stumbled on through life, but the legacy of guilt, confusion and
anger was never far from the surface.

Then, in 1995, the hidden memories began to re-emerge. A trickle at first, then more,
and more, each time becoming sharper in focus and more detailed. They pervaded my
mind during every moment of every day, and haunted my dreams at night. Eventually,
at the beginning of 1997, I broke down, unable to cope with the force of these awful
images, which totally overwhelmed me and took me to the brink of self-destruction.
I was lucky though; I had someone who stood by me. She looked after me while I tried
to find the support and counselling that I needed, and, eventually, I began to recover.
 
During my treatment, I was advised by my counsellor to tell the police about what had
happened to me, so, in November 1999, I made a full statement to Surrey Police who
launched an investigation. In April 2000, Madley was arrested, but he denied that anything
had gone on between us. Fr O’Shea also denied knowing anything about it, and, based
on their denials, the CPS decided not to prosecute due to lack of evidence, even though
the police had not even interviewed Fr Williams by the time they made that decision.

Despite this, I was not prepared to give up, so, In October 2000, I informed the Salesians
that I intended to start civil proceedings against them They responded by offering to
mediate with me, although they continued to deny having any knowledge of what I had
happened, saying that it would be far less painful and much quicker to mediate, rather
than go through the courts. I agreed, and they began conducting their own internal
investigation in preparation for the mediation.
 
The mediation took place in February 2001, at which the Salesians continued to deny
having ever had any knowledge of what I was claiming. However, they offered me £20,000,
on the understanding that I would not sue them or Madley, nor would I say anything about
the matter ever again. I took the money, but I did not stay quiet. Instead, I began my own investigation, using some of the money to fund it. The breakthrough came In April 2004,
after I tracked Madley down and told him that I intended to bring a private criminal
prosecution against him.
 
This time, instead of denying everything, he wrote me a series of letters asking me to
forgive him, and he had numerous telephone conversations with my friend David Williams,
in which he confessed everything he had done to me. He also disclosed the full nature of
the conspiracy the Provincial, Fr George Williams, had cooked up with him in 1968 to keep
the lid on everything.

Surrey police decided that these letters, together with the phone calls, which David had
taped, contained enough information to enable them to launch a new investigation, so,
Madley was arrested again on October 17th 2004, at his home in North London, and taken
to Collingwood police station, where he was interviewed under caution. Madley was
subsequently charged with buggery and indecent assault, under the Sexual Offences Act 1963, and sent for trial in December 2005. 

The full story of what happened to me, and the struggles I endured in my quest for justice,
is told in my book ‘Conspiracy of Faith’, which was published by Lutterworth Press on 22
February 2007. Since then, allegations of sexual abuse have emerged against Fr George
Williams, spanning decades and involving pupils at Shrigley Hall, the former Salesian
Missionary College in Macelsfield, Cheshire. These allegations have been brought into
the public domain by a former Salesian Priest, and are outlined in an open latter,
published by the former priest on 23 August 2007 (this letter and the trial documents
are on my website www.grahamwilmer.org.uk).

Greater Manchester Police, together with Bolton Social Services, investigated these new allegations. Following the investigation, Bolton police gave me the following statement:
‘Mr. Wilmer – regarding your allegation of sexual abuse at the hands of Fr George
WILLIAMS. The matter was jointly investigated by the Child Protection Unit at Bolton and
Bolton Social Services. All the information raised in your complaint has been passed to
DC Mike HOBBS from Surrey Police, by DC PARKER of our unit. The reason for this was
that the historical offences you outlined in your complaint were committed in the Surrey
area. The Salesian College has been visited and Fr Michael WINSTANLEY is aware of
the allegations. Fr WILLIAMS is now house bound and has no contact with any vulnerable
persons, and he is deemed currently not to be a danger to children. In respect of the Police
at Bolton there are no further lines of enquiry to pursue. Keith Isherwood, Detective
Sergeant, PPIU – Child Protection Unit.’

In 2003, I set up The Lantern Project, a counseling and support service to help other
survivors, but I still didn’t fully appreciate the scale of child abuse or the extent of the
damage child abuse causes both at the time, and after long the abuse may have stopped.
I do now, as, since then, the project has supported thousands of survivors, male and
female, and of all ages, and what we have learned through that work has enabled us to develop a recovery framework, which we call Unstructured Therapeutic Disclosure,
which is now recognised by our Primary Care Trust, who now fund us under contract as
a specialist support and counseling service for victims of psychosexual trauma.

All of the cases of child abuse that we deal with are horrific; there is no other way to
describe the damage that is caused, yet, despite all of the child protection measures
that schools, churches and the myriad of other organisations in the UK, which interact
with children and young people, are supposed to have in place, we continue to see
cases of child abuse coming forward, both historical and current, which demonstrate
the inadequacies and failures of the measures that are there, enshrined in law, to protect
children from abuse.

My case was far from unique; I have evidence of more than 20 other cases of child abuse
occurring in Salesian schools in the UK over the past 40 years, and there are many more.
The majority of the victims who have come forward and asked me to help them name the
same Salesian priests, including Salesian Provincials, yet my ongoing attempts to have anyone in authority inquire into these allegations continues to meet with a deafening
silence from Education Ministers, Secretaries of State, Church leaders, and, of course,
the current Provincial of the Salesians in the UK, Fr Martin Coyle.
Recently, Beverley Smith (Child Safeguarding Division – Department for Education),
in response to a document I had sent to Michael Gove, containing the personal disclosures from victims of abuse in Salesian schools, and asking him to set up an investigation, wrote
to me saying ‘it would not be appropriate for the Department to consider such an
investigation, not least given that the allegations relate to a period so long ago.’

This is, simply, unacceptable. Child abuse is a crime. It is now, and it was then.
If we can’t look to those we elect to protect our children, then we must find another way.
It is only through an inquiry on a national scale, that we will be able to expose the level
of abuse that has, and still does, take place in schools, churches and other institutions
in our land.

 

Misplaced Blame!

Click on the link below to read a survivors' letter showing just how out-of-touch many members of the clergy still are. See the letter HERE

Boundary Violation
Two poems by Marlene Marburg

"I think that these kind of violations
need to be acknowledged.

Although they seem small episodes,
they undermine a person's whole relationship with the Church
and with God.

And as with other more serious offences, they impose on the survivor shame and suspicion which struggle to find
freedom in God's loving desire."

1. ASSENT
a contagion of shoulds
from childhood to marriage
infects my whole self
I am lucky - the church tells me
what is best - the Pope, the Priest,
the Nun
I would not dare contradict
their plans for me and heaven
i deserve to go to hell

but i am lucky
I can go to see the Priest
tell him i don’t feel anything
and he can hold me
and kiss me on the lips
and I will think his motives are holy
because Priests know better than I

2. ASCENT
So I return to the place of hurt;
the garden, where we sometimes sat;
the wooden bench facing inward;
the house
like a square peg hammered on a hilltop.

Today, the smokeless chimney is thrust
stiffly into a soft and powdery sky.
From the other side of the aging black fence,
a black gum tree drops lucent black
clouds on the grass.

The paint peels from the cross, and underneath,
it wears a petticoat of pumice
and crushed granite.
The plaque of verdigris is etched,
It is finished.

The garden is wintry this early summer;
shaded in the umbrella of currawong song
There is a kookaburra somewhere nearby,
lifting the mantle, cursing my memory.

It might have been beautiful;
Iris and Salvia,
and red ballerinas on the flowering gum; perhaps
roses, even black beauty.
I might have bent over to smell them.

As it was, the fragrance was sour.
What is love anyway? I asked.
I imagined the letter he never wrote;
the reply that should have said,
I wronged you.

He is dead to me,
dead to all. Now
the place where I sit is newly stained
with the solid vows I embody.

I get up, shift my meditation
to bark and fallen leaves.
There, on the ground,
I put my fingers into shade;

feel the blades of grass.
I cut whorls in the soil,
disturb the mulch and tiny souls.
Again I hear the currawong,
the being song
of kookaburra, the joy as it laughs.

Dead arms around me decompose;
and rise in the wings of a Lark Ascending
soft feathers in the creases of myself,
stroking the soft and powdery sky.

______________________________________

Survivor’s story
By Ann Kennedy
- artist, photographer, survivor


“I am a clergy abuse survivor.

In my early twenties I joined a charismatic Catholic group. An American priest took
me into a room to ‘pray over me’.

He ‘laid hands on me’ not in the usual
healing style … it was terrifying. I was
a troubled young woman heading for years
in the psychiatric system. He certainly
knew whom to pick!

Nine years ago I reported him to his order.
To my horror, they told me he’d been in
a treatment centre twice to learn to
‘modify his ministry’. He wrote to tell me
‘He’d learned to shut the gates’,
mmmmnnn!

“I went to the Archbishop who made
many promises... ”
The religious order ignored my
complaints so I went to the police.
He faced a three hour interview but as
there were no witnesses to my abuse
and being so long ago no case resulted.
He and the Order, the Marianists,
denied it all. I went to the Archbishop
who made many promises. He let me
down on nearly all of them and nine
years later, nothing has happened and
no-one is the slightest bit interested.

During that time of challenge and
finding my voice, my artwork was going
very well. Funded by the Arts and Disability Forum in Belfast, I held an exhibition.
But the artwork you see on these pages
was to be my last. I developed a neuromuscular disorder and I now
use a wheelchair.

So I took up photography.
I passed my driving test at 54 after a
year driving, gave up smoking
(40-60 a day!), liberated myself
from psychiatry and all their drugs
and decided to LIVE.

What should I say that’s helpful?
Never give up seeking Justice.
Sometimes though, one has to ‘let go’
if it is too tough.

Never give up seeking fulfilment.
Creativity in any media is so GOOD for
the soul - and write your story! God gave
us this beautiful earth. A slow walk at
dawn by the sea with my two dogs
makes me feel good to be alive.

It may be a long road but I hope you
find pure joy in nature, which surely
won’t hurt us, unless a tree falls on
us in a storm! sic. ”
____________________________________

Silent Pain

Silent pain that reigns within
My wish it would be forgotten
It weaves and ebbs like an eel
In a stream
Oh! But it is sad and rotten.
Like a tailor's needle
with sharpened edge
That pulls through cloth forever
That is how you gored my
childhood dreams
With your shameful acts of terror.
If my mind had wings
that could fly and fly
Oh! I would let my pain fly away forever
But Alas,
Alas there is no gleaming glow
That could erase the trembling
pain of terror.
It’s like a slashing sword in a
swirling wind
Where you gashed me with your
reign of terror
Like a raging bull trapped in your ring
Where you speared and gored forever.
Like a thief in the night you robbed at will
And left scenes that won’t be forgotten
One’s dignity is a precious thing

That you destroyed, tore up,
and upon it,
left trodden.

________________________________________

 



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income.

Donations are vital if we are
to continue our valuable
work.

_______________________

What do
Survivors Need?

• To be believed
• To be heard
• Public acknowledgment
of harm done
• Safety of other children
• Response to the abuser
• Quality of remorse
• Atonement


Maeve Lewis, One in Four
______________________________

'A Letter to my Vicar'

In 1974, I was 16 and a member
of an Evangelical, Church of
England congregation.

You arrived, 27 years old and
freshly out of theological college.
Within a few weeks of arriving in
your new post as a clergyman,
you asked me to have a
relationship with you which had
to be kept secret due to your position.

You said it was hard for a man of
your status but we would marry as
soon as I was old enough.  

I put my faith in you, an adult,
a Christian and a cleric. Eight years
followed of accommodating your deceptions and demands.

As in all abusive relationships,
I blamed myself for your moods
and disappointments and simply
tried even harder to make you happy.
Of course we never married and
I remained discreet. I was too young
to articulate what I intuitively knew.  
Your life did not live up to the words
you preached from the pulpit. Also,
you had a problem with women.
In a female dominated community,
you flirted with them and encouraged their attentions.

It took me until I had matured into
an adult to untangle myself from
what we had. When you were out
one day, I searched your vicarage
for the evidence I knew I would find.  
A cache of letters showed that over
the years, there had been many arrangements such as ours,
moments and periods of intimacy
with members of several
congregations.

So I left you and went on to find
myself. I met and married a kind
and honest man, had children and
built a career as an academic.

I know that you are still out there.
Have you become good? Now that
my own children have reached 16,
I look back and feel sad that it was
so easy for  you to manipulate my  trusting, teenage self.  More so, do
I feel let down by that church
community, surely they knew?

There was much saving of souls but
no one protected a young girl from
a predatory clergy man

__________________________

Brian's Story

Brian's Story
_____________________________

Jimmy's Story

Jimmy's Story

___________________________

Phil's Story

Phil's Story

______________________________

YOU-TUBE-CHANNEL

Visit our YouTube Channel
for the Latest Video Stories

___________________________

Survivors Artwork
By Ann Kennedy

The Challenge
The Challenge

Monument to Instability
Monument to Instability


The Soul's Turmoil

Rising
Rising

______________________________

The Spirit’s
Surprises

May the Spirit
bless you with discomfort
at easy answers, half-truths and
superficial relationships so that
you will have love deep in your heart.
 
May the Spirit
bless you with anger
at injustice and oppression
and exploitation of people and the earth
so that you will work for
justice, equity and peace.
 
May the Spirit
bless you with tears to shed
for those who suffer
so that you will
reach out your hand
to comfort them.
 
May the Spirit
bless you with the foolishness
to think you can make a difference
in the world,
so that you will do the things
which others say cannot be done.
 
Interfaith Council for Peace and Justice
In “Finding Hope Again”
By Peter Millar pg 192
-
Submitted by Lorna

______________________________

This is the page
for women and men abused by clergy, ministers or church leaders when
children or adults.

Your thoughts, views, pictures (photos/artwork) and poems
should be heard and seen.

This page is our voice,
your voice – survivors’ voices.
Never to be silenced again.

We look forward to hearing
from you.

___________________________

MACSAS
is run by
Survivors
for
Survivors

YOU ARE NOT ALONE