Newshub has seen evidence that the Marist Brothers knew one of their members was offending against children over decades, but didn’t prevent him from being around children.

One of his victims, who asked to be referred to only as James, described his abuser, Brother Giles, as a “monster”.

Published in News Hub

James says he was raped and abused by Brother Giles every week over a two year period when he was a 12 year old at Xavier Intermediate in Christchurch between 1980 and 1982.

Brother Giles was the principal at the school and James told Newshub he’d be singled out at lunchtime and taken to Brother Giles’ office, where most of the abuse occurred.

“How I picture him is just a monster. The way he treated me, I was not only sexually abused, I was mentally abused and I was also caned by him as well”, James told Newshub.

It started when Brother Giles took him to his office, instructed James to read a pornogrpahic magazine, and said he was there to teach him how to be a man and learn about his body.

The abuse escalated quickly.

“Over months it all changed you know to me having to leave my pants at the door and coming in basically performing the acts that he wanted.

For two years at the school, James says he was raped every week. Sometimes twice a day.

“So every day, I was in fear. I would arrive at school Monday morning and I would be shaking and just trembling basically at knowing what could be happening. Sometimes, I would wee myself. I was known in the class as the kid that pissed himself basically.”

James told his deeply religious father what had happened, but he wasn’t believed saying his father told him “a man of the cloth wouldn’t do that.”

Last year, James made a formal complaint.

He then discovered the Marist Brothers had knowledge of multiple abuse complaints about Brother Giles dating back to the 1950s. Newshub has seen an email from Brother Peter Horide which states that the Marist Brothers were aware of complaints about Brother Giles from the 50s, 60s and 70s.

  • If you have more information, email michael in confidence on michaelmorrah@tv3.co.nz

Despite this, Brother Giles continued to work at multiple schools across New Zealand until his death in 2011.

“He should have never been allowed around children with that history. And they knew about it. They did nothing about it. To be honest, I’m absolutely gutted.” James told Newshub

Compounding the trauma, the Marist Brothers hired an investigator to look into James’s case, but then refused to share the findings.

He eventually got the report under the Privacy Act, but key information, like the number of Giles’ victims, was redacted.

Christchurch Cathedral of Blessed Sacrament is another location where James, as an altar boy, was abused.

He tried to get information from the top and approached Christchurch Bishop, Paul Martin.

“I wanted to know if there were other boys that were raped in the Cathedral, if there was any other history.”

But that history wasn’t forthcoming.

Brother Giles died in 2011 – a tribute from his peers spoke of a warm-hearted community man who loved sport.

But James says he is nothing but a “monster, an absolute horrible monster.”

He knows there are many victims from many schools, and has a plea for those who’ve remained scared and silent.

“If you’ve been abused, stand up and say something.”

Newshub emailed questions to the Christchurch Bishop..

A spokesperson for the Catholic Church said they can’t comment until they’re called to give evidence at the Royal Commission.

Marist Brothers Respond: “We failed them undeniably”

In a statement from Marist Brothers District Leader, Brother John Hazelman, he said the group acknowledged the pain and suffering caused by some of its members.

“We strongly condemn any form of abuse, we consider it criminal behaviour and are committed to ensuring the highest standards of child protection in all aspects of our work,” Hazelman said.

He reaffirmed an apology he said the Brothers had given to victims and said they now have training, police vetting and psychological assessments of new candidates.

“We should have protected those in our care from any form of abuse and we failed them undeniably”, he said.

Where to find help and support

By Michael Morrah
Published in News Hub
4 2020