A BoysTown ex-pupil receives a settlement many years later

By a Broken Rites researcher

Broken Rites research has discovered that in 2011 the Catholic religious order of De La Salle Brothers agreed to offer an out-of-court settlement to a former pupil (let's call him "Zachary" — not his real name), who lived at BoysTown, a residential institution in Beaudesert, Queensland, for a part of the 1960s.

This institution, to which disadvantaged boys were sent in their early teens, was established in 1961 by Monsignor Owen Steele, who was the parish priest in charge of St Mary’s parish at Beaudesert, south of Brisbane.

The institution was staffed by De La Salle Brothers, assisted by some lay employees. In the 1960s, the senior De La Salle Brother at BoysTown was Brother Alban Dwyer. Later, other members of De La Salle Brothers took over as the administrator and as assistants. BoysTown received State funding.

The Beaudesert residential accommodation closed in 2001. More than 1,000 boys passed through it during those 40 years. This Queensland "Boys Town" is not to be confused with another Catholic "Boys Town" at Engadine, New South Wales.

An out-of-court action

In 2010, “Zachary” served an official complaint on the De La Salle headquarters (in Sydney) regarding certain actions which he alleged were inflicted on him at BoysTown, Queenslalnd, in the 1960s.

In January 2011, Zachary and De La Salle reached an agreement for an out-of-court settlement.

The settlement deed says that the settlement was made on behalf of the ”Trustees of the De La Salle Brothers, a Body Corporate under the Roman Catholic Church Communities Lands Act 1942 (NSW)”

The settlement deed was signed by “Brother Ambrose Payne in his capacity [in 2011] as Provincial of the De La Salle Brothers (the Institute)”.

According to the settlement deed, the ex-pupil [whom Broken Rites is calling “Zachary”] has alleged that he was “unlawfully assaulted" by:

  • the late Brother Alban,
  • other students at Boystown and
  • other employees at Boystown.

According to the settlement deed, this ex-pupil “further alleges that, as a result of such unlawful acts, he sustained loss, damage and injuries and he may require specialist counselling and therapy.”

The deed states: "The Body Corporate [that is, the Trustees of the De La Salle Brothers], on an ex-gratia basis and without any admission of liability on the part of any party, agrees to pay a lump sum … inclusive of costs and disbursement, to [the ex-pupil].”

The deed mentions the amount of the payment but says this figure is to be kept confidential.

According to the deed, the ex-pupil “acknowledges that, by accepting the agreed sum and executing the deed, he is not entitled to make any further approach to the Body Corporate or the [De La Salle] institute for financial assistance, including assistance with respect to any specialist medical advice or for damages or otherwise..."

[That is, the settlement deed released De La Salle from being subjected by any further legal action by this ex-pupil.]

Complaint re Brother Alban

Zachary's settlement deed does not state what form the “unlawful assaults” took. However, Broken Rites has been informed that Zachary's complaints included being sexually abused by Brother Alban Dwyer — in the BoysTown chapel. In 2011 the De La Salle Brothers were keen to obtain Zachary's signature on the settlement deed, thus releasing the De La Salle Brothers from any further legal liability regarding Zachary.

Complaint re Monsignor Steele

In his complaint to De La Salle headquarters in 2011, "Zachary" also alleged that, during his time at BoysTown, he was sexually assaulted by Monsignor Owen Steele at the local parish church — St Mary's, Beaudesert. Zachary stated that he had to serve as an altar boy for Monsignor Steele, and Steele also required Zachary to do some jobs around the church grounds. According to Zachary's complaint, Monsignor Steele used to sexually assault him in the church sacristy.

Monsignor Owen Steele had a life-long association with the De La Salle Brothers. When the De La Salle Brothers came to Australia from Ireland in 1906, young Owen Steele became a pupil at Australia's first DLS school. (This is stated in an article about BoysTown Beaudesert by De La Salle Brother Paul Smith, who became the director of BoysTown Beaudesert in 1982.) Therefore, when establishing BoysTown Beaudesert in 1961, Steele arranged for this institution to be conducted by the De La Salle Brothers.

Zachary stated that, as he was an inmate of BoysTown, there was nobody to whom he could complain in the 1960s about Brother Alban Dwyer and Monsignor Steele. In 2011 Zachary finally sought to rectify this by lodging an official complaint to the Catholic Church authorities about both Dwyer and Steele.

De La Salle headquarters accepted responsibility for Br Alban Dwyer (as this Brother was a member of their Order) but they refused to be responsible for Monsignor Steele, who belonged to a different corporation — the archdiocese of Brisbane. Therefore, the De La Salle settlement deed for Zachary did not mention Monsignor Steele.

More about Brother Alban

Broken Rites research has revealed that Alban Dwyer (the only alleged offender whose name is stated in the settlement deed) was born in Australia on 23 May 1908 and died on 27 May 1983. His real birth name was John Alphonsus Dwyer but when he joined the De La Salle Brothers, he adopted the "religious" name Alban (in honour of an ancient "Saint Alban").

Before establishing BoysTown Beaudesert in the 1960s, Br "Alban" Dwyer had previous experience in being in charge of disadvantgaged boys. In 1942  the De La Salle Brothers were put in charge of another Boys Town - at Engadine, south of Sydney - where Br Alban Dwyer became the principal. In 1952 the De La Salle Brothers were replaced at Engadine by another Catholic order of brothers and priests  - the Salesians of Don Bosco.

Br "Alban" Dwyer also worked at other De La Salle schools, including (in the 1950s) St Bede's College, Mentone, Melbourne.

"Alban" Dwyer was the eighth in an Irish Catholic family of ten children. Of these ten Dwyer children (who grew up in Sydney), five took up careers in the Catholic Church — two as De La Salle Brothers, two as priests and one as a nun.

  • Number Seven in the Dwyer family — Louis Victor Dwyer (three years older than “Alban”) — adopted the religious name “Brother Fintan Dwyer" (named after an ancient “Saint Fintan”) when he joined the De La Salle Brothers. Brother Fintan Dwyer, who was widely known as a child-abuser, was put in charge of recruiting boys to become De La Sale Brothers. Fintan Dwyer is the subject of a separate Broken Rites article. To read more about the abuse by Br Fintan Dwyer, click HERE.

To read another Broken Rites article about BoysTown Beaudesert, click HERE.