BRAVE TESTIMONY |
Galway man has ‘finally claimed justice’ after ex-Christian Brother pleads guilty to sex abuse
Former Christian Brother Thomas Caulfield (77), of Castlerea, Co Roscommon, pleaded guilty to three sample charges of indecent assault
20th December 2022
A man who, as a fourth class pupil, was sexually abused by a Christian Brother has said he has finally claimed justice for his nine-year-old self 50 years later.
Former Christian Brother Thomas Caulfield (77), of Castlerea, Co Roscommon, pleaded guilty to three sample charges of indecent assault against one of his pupils which began when the victim was nine years old.
Caulfield was due to face trial at Galway Circuit Court on 10 separate charges of indecent assault against the same child in November but pleaded guilty on the day a jury was empanelled.
At Caulfield’s sentencing hearing yesterday, his victim, Paul Grealish (60), a prominent businessman in Galway, delivered an emotional victim impact statement.
Mr Grealish, who owns the King’s Head pub in Galway city centre, said he was motivated to report his abuse to save other children from Caulfield and to get justice for his nine-year-old self.
He told Judge Brian O’Callaghan at Galway Circuit Court that before the abuse, he was a happy-go-lucky child who loved playing soccer, watching cowboy movies, and playing with his friends.
However, unlike in the movies, Mr Grealish came to realise the cavalry were not coming to rescue him from his abuser.
The abuse began in September 1972 when he entered fourth class in St Pat’s Christian Brother primary school in Tuam, Co Galway.
Mr Grealish said Caulfield was a violent and menacing teacher who controlled and terrorised the class with daily random outbursts of violence, including beating boys with leather straps.
“I was nine years of age and a happy child in Tuam when my fourth class teacher, Brother Thomas Caulfield, first sexually abused me,” Mr Grealish said.
“The abuse continued throughout that school year and took place in the classroom, during class, and in front of my classmates.
“The abuse has left me and my family irreparably scarred.
“I am here today to recount the impact of that abuse; to place the blame, the guilt, and all of the shame of that systematic sexual abuse back where it truly belongs with Thomas Caulfield but especially to finally claim justice for my nine and 10-year-old self.
“I have waited 50 years for this day.
“I have waived my anonymity today to highlight what was done to me, to identify the perpetrator Thomas Caulfield and to give hope and encouragement to others who have suffered similar abuse to seek support from family and friends – and the justice system – as I have done.
“Furthermore, having carried the abuse like a dark secret for 50 years, I feel it is finally time to share the load.”
Mr Grealish said he initially took a civil action against the Christian Brothers in 2009 and found the adversarial manner in which they met the case re-traumatising.
The religious order settled the action out of court but refused to apologise and left Mr Grealish feeling under “threat” to settle.
“What I wanted were an apology and accountability, but what I got was a cheque,” he said.
“I have also waived my anonymity to enable me to call on the Christian Brothers to publicly explain why they allowed this to happen to a nine and a 10-year-old boy, why they denied all liability and why they allowed their legal team to behave disgracefully and re-traumatise me in 2009 and subsequently.”
The court heard that after his time in Tuam, Caulfield went to teach in the Artane Industrial School for several years.
Caulfield, who was subsequently laicised, also taught in Mullingar, Drogheda, and in Whitehall in Dublin.
In the early 1980s, he was transferred to Zambia but returned to Ireland in 1998.
The court heard that despite settling the civil action in 2009, Caulfield attempted to rejoin the teaching register several years later.
However, the HSE found a note relating to the civil action and contacted Mr Grealish.
The thought of Caulfield returning to teaching children and the risk he posed motivated Mr Grealish to make a complaint to gardaí in 2013.
The court heard the abuse began at the beginning of the school year, September 1972, and involved Caulfield calling boys to his desk to correct homework. Caulfield would place his hand down Mr Grealish’s trousers.
The abuse took place in front of other pupils and could last for up to 10 minutes.
Mr Grealish said during the abuse, which he estimated happened on around 20 occasions, he would zone out and stare at the floor, as his childhood brain could not process the trauma.
The fact the assaults happened in front of his classmates further traumatised him in the years since.
As he left the witness stand, he thanked Judge O’Callaghan, who said: “Don’t you dare thank me, I thank you.”
The judge praised Mr Grealish’s courage in coming forward and said he had achieved justice for his childhood self and protected other children.
Judge O’Callaghan also apologised for the “appalling” delay in the case coming to court.
Caulfield will be sentenced next March.