Priest ‘sexually and physically’ abused boys at Belvedere College in 1970s
A Jesuit priest abused boys at Belvedere College in Dublin’s city centre when he taught there in the 1970s, the congregation has confirmed, two years after being confronted by a former victim about the secrecy surrounding the case.
Fr Joseph Marmion “abused boys sexually, emotionally and physically while he was on the teaching staff at Belvedere College in the 1970s”, the Jesuits said in a statement.
Tuesday’s statement followed contact with the Jesuits in early 2019 by a former pupil of Belvedere College. A student at the College in the 1970s, at the age of 13 he was sexually and emotionally abused by Fr Marmion, a teacher in Belvedere from 1969 until 1978. The priest died in 2000.
In their statement on Tuesday, the Jesuits said they were issuing it so “following engagement with a former pupil who was himself abused, in the hope that others who may have suffered would come forward and get the support they may need”.
They also said that they “have been in contact over many years with others who were abused by Joseph Marmion while they were young students. They have spoken of sexual abuse and physical and emotional bullying by him. We believe that the secrecy imposed by Joseph Marmion may still be preventing some victims and survivors from accessing help and support”.
In recent days, they said, “a former student has written about his experience of Joseph Marmion and recounted the stories of others who have spoken to him and who were also terribly harmed. We are making efforts to reach out to those individuals and to offer them our support if they wish”.
All information regarding abuse received by the congregation had been shared with the Garda, Tusla, and other relevant authorities, they said.
In 1977 the Jesuits received information from parents alleging sexual abuse at Belvedere College. “In consequence, a decision was taken that Joseph Marmion be removed from the staff in Belvedere with effect from the end of the academic year 1977/1978,” they said.
Fr Marmion “then spent a year on sabbatical in Paris with the Jesuit Community Saint François Xavier. He was then assigned to the Gardiner Street Jesuit Community. In 1990 he was appointed Chaplain to St. Vincent’s Private Hospital. We recognise that these subsequent appointments should not have been made.”
The statement continued that “while this particular communication relates to abuse that occurred in Belvedere College, Joseph Marmion also taught in Crescent College Limerick and Clongowes Wood College. Every effort will be made to communicate this information to former students in all schools”.
The Irish Times understands that despite being informed of the abuse in 1977 the Jesuits never alerted the Garda at the time.
Gardaí were only notified after fresh complaints were made in 2002, two years after Fr Marmion had died.
In the statement on Tuesday, Jesuit provincial Fr Leonard Moloney said he had met the former pupil who in 2019 said Fr Marmion abused him. “He made it clear to me that he was concerned for others who may also have suffered and that they should be proactively offered a response and support.”
Fr Moloney continued “this man also conveyed to me that he believed others who were abused may be helped by the recognition that they too were dreadfully harmed. He asked that we name his abuser, Joseph Marmion SJ, publicly and that we make this information widely available in order to reach as many former students as possible”.
He said it was “a matter of profound regret to me personally and to the Society of Jesus that children were abused whilst in our care. We are truly sorry. Words are never enough.” They had “in the past apologised and invited victims and survivors of abuse by members of the Society to come forward and to seek help. We do so again today. These efforts must always be continuous”.
Fr Moloney also praised the man who came forward in 2019 with complaints about Fr Marmion and “who asked us take this course of action. His request, made solely out of concern for others has been an example to us all”.