A victim of this Christian Brother receives an apology, at last

  • By a Broken Rites researcher

This Broken Rites article exposes the activities of Christian Brother Maurice Howard during his long teaching career in Victoria and Tasmania. Now the Christian Brothers have been forced to give a written apology (and a settlement) to at least one of Brother Howard's many victims.

This is not necessarily the only victim who has managed to extract some kind of a settlement from the Christian Brothers for the harm that was done to boys by Brother Maurice Howard. The Christian Brothers leaders (and their lawyers and insurance company) try to keep such complaints confidential, hoping to protect the Christian Brothers' corporate image and assets.

Brother Maurice Howard taught at many schools including: St Patrick's College in Ballarat; St Kevin's College in Toorak; Christian Brothers St Kilda; and St Virgil's College in Hobart.

Maurice AndrewHoward was born in 1914. He is believed to have been a pupil at St Patrick's College, Ballarat, in the late 1920s and early 1930s. He was recruited as a member of the Christian Brothers and he began teaching at schools in their Victoria-Tasmania province.

In the late 1940s, he was back at St Patrick's College as a teacher — "Brother Howard". He was one of the school's main coaches for cricket and football.

In the 1950s he taught at St Kevin's College, Toorak (in Melbourne). In the 1960s he spent time at Christian Brothers colleges in Warrnambool (in western Victoria) and St Kilda (in Melbourne). He had another period at St Kevin's College in 1970-72 and later another short stay at CBC St Kilda. It is understood that he also taught at St Virgil's College in Hobart, Tasmania, and in South Australia.

He died on 21 September 1984, aged 70 years.

Ballarat, late 1940s

Broken Rites has received a report from "Boris", whose father was a pupil at St Patrick's College, Ballarat, in the late 1940s and early 1950s.

Boris said: "My father was born in 1939 and he became a boarder at St Patrick's at the age of eight. Dad told me about Brother Howard. As well as teaching, Howard was a cricket coach. Howard would often summon one or other of the boys to go and see him in private. Howard would molest these boys. My dad used to be terrified when he heard the words 'Brother Howard wants to see you.'

"Brother Howard caused damage to boys that sent ripple effects through Ballarat and beyond and the impact may still affect families today.

"It is a shame that the school and church authorities allowed this molestation to go on under their noses. Howard's superiors and colleagues would have known what he was doing but church offenders such as Howard knew that their activities would be tolerated and covered up. The authorities assumed, correctly, that Catholic children and their families would keep quiet about these molestations for the sake of the church. But the cover-up must end, and now it is time for the truth to come out."

St Kilda, 1960s

Broken Rites has also received a report from "Matthew" (born in 1947),who encountered Brother Maurice Howard at Christian Brothers College, St Kilda, Melbourne, in the 1960s, when Matthew was about 14.

Matthew said: "Howard was an artist and kept me back after school so that he could paint my portrait. During one of those sittings, he tried to molest me. I fled.

"I am sure he would have offended also at other schools.

"It annoys me that Maurie Howard escaped conviction while others have been exposed."

Toorak, 1969-71

A student of St Kevin's College, Toorak ("Basil") told Broken Rites in 2011:

"Br Maurice Howard is shown in the group photos of staff at St Kevin's in 1970 and 1971, when I was a student there. It was widely known at St Kevin's that Brother Howard preyed on students, mainly in the art room. He would ask students to go there alone with him on the pretext of drawing them, and then he would molest them.

"He would frequent the showers, staring at you and trying to touch you on the pretext of straightening your clothing.

"Two students in my year suffered serious abuse. One reported it to the principal and nothing was done.

"Ultimately I would like St Kevin's to admit publicly what happened."

Another incident at Toorak

"Claude", who was a student at St Kevin's College, Toorak, when Brother Howard was there, has told Broken Rites:

"I was in year 9 or 10 at St Kevin's and Howard asked me to stay back so he could draw a picture of me. We sat in one of those old-fashioned 'double desks', and he drew the picture. He then leant close to me, asking to kiss me, and telling me that I didn't have to tell my parents everything that I did.

"I got out of the room as fast as I could, and didn't stop until I got to the tram stop in Glenferrie Road. When I got home, I told my father, who forbade me to go to school until he had talked to the headmaster (McKenna). My father told me that if Howard raised the matter with me, I was to tell him: 'My father has told me not to talk to you about that.' And the next day, Howard did want to talk to me about it, and denied that he had ever asked to kiss me.

"I never told a soul about this at the time but I have never forgotten."

St Kilda, early 1970s

Brother Maurice Howard returned to CBC St Kilda in 1972. Broken Rites has received the following information from "Angus" who was a pupil at St Kilda in 1972:

"Brother Maurice Howard was my class teacher in Form 2 (Year 8) at St Kilda for a part of 1972. I have checked back through the College annual magazines, and his photograph is included, with the caption 'Br. Howard'.

"After a few days on the job, he brought to the classroom and displayed about six pictures of boys he had painted at previous schools. He was quite enthusiastic about this hobby, and expressed the wish to perhaps paint some of us and 'be friends'.

"Still later, he started to turn his attention to a friend of mine, whom I will call 'Clive' (not his real name). Clive later told me that Howard had approached him, wanting to be 'good friends' with him. He then placed his hand on Clive's leg and moved it up the leg of his shorts. I understand the assault went no further than this. Clive promptly reported Howard's behaviour to his mother, who complained to the headmaster at the time, Brother M. Miller. There was no immediate action taken, but Howard was moved away before the end of the year without explanation.

"I have often wondered if he offended at a more serious level at one the schools where he worked."

FOOTNOTE

This religious order — the "Congregation of Christian Brothers" — was founded by Edmund Rice in Ireland in 1802 and was introduced to Australia in 1868. In some countries, this order is known as the "Irish Christian Brothers" but in Australia the word "Irish" is dropped.

 

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