Surviving brother  shocked at abuse claims

Giving emotional testimony at royal commission hearings in April, former child migrant witnesses believed their alleged abusers were probably all dead.

The once-powerful Christian Brothers who ran institutions - young boys' guardians and, as several tearful men testified, their sadistic tormentors - were thought to be in the grave.

But _The Weekend West _ has discovered there is at least one surviving Brother who was never called to the witness box.

Brian Morgan, 82, was twice named in evidence by Maltese child migrants who were sent to Tardun farm school and orphanage. He was not accused of committing or being aware of sexual abuse.

Witness VG told the Royal Commission into Institutional Responses to Child Sexual Abuse that then-Brother Morgan, with other Brothers, was involved in the bashing of a boy "until he could no longer stand".

Raphael Ellul testified about a beating of himself and his older brother and another incident when he had run away from Tardun and attempted to report sexual abuse by Brother Patrick Synan to the police at Mullewa.

He said a policeman told him "don't tell lies about these good Christian men", telephoned the Brothers and "on my return to Tardun I was belted by Brother Brian Morgan as punishment".

Frail and wearing hearing aids in both ears, Father Morgan is now a semi-retired Catholic priest in the South-West.

In the Catholic newspaper The Record two years ago, Father Morgan's 80th birthday was celebrated with praise for a priest described as an inspiring, humble, unassuming "gentle man of God".

He has been oblivious that his name has been linked to physical abuse 50 years ago.

Father Morgan said this week that if he had been called, he would have categorically denied the allegations to the royal commission.

"The life story of Ray Ellul is moving beyond words, however he is completely mistaken," he said. "It wasn't me. It's a huge shock.

"My nature and my reputation have been of a gentle person and a respectful person and my approach to boys was one of love and affection."

He said he was denied natural justice by the inquiry.

A spokeswoman for the royal commission said steps were taken before the hearing to establish which relevant persons, including alleged perpetrators, were alive.

"Those steps included a request to the solicitors acting for the Christian Brothers," she said.

"The royal commission's processes include giving those who are alive and named adversely in evidence advance notice that they will be named and an opportunity to see the evidence before it is tendered publicly.

"In that process the royal commission did not identify that Brother Morgan was alive.

"The prospect that Brother Morgan may be alive emerged only during the hearing itself and after material naming him had been publicly tendered."

Mr Ellul, who at 64 is still haunted by his childhood, was angry when informed by _The Weekend West _that Father Morgan has been in the priesthood since 1989.

"I thought he was dead and all of a sudden I've got to accept that he's a priest and he hears people's confessions," he said.

"He should confess himself. What gave him the right to hit boys of my age and stature?

"Did he achieve anything? All he achieved was us hating them more.

"They were to teach us how to be good Christian boys but all they taught us was to hate. I've got no peace of mind. All I've got is hate."

Mr Ellul said that in 2009, during a process of claiming compensation, he documented allegations to the Christian Brothers.

He said he asked whether any were still alive then and was told they were all dead, except for another former Brother who had gone to Canada.

"What that Brother told me at the meeting was a pure lie," he said. "They just can't help themselves."

A statement from the Christian Brothers did not address questions about what Mr Ellul was told in 2009 because the process was confidential. The statement said information requested by the royal commission about specific individuals, dead or alive, was provided in line with their records, including individuals' addresses where those details were known.

This week, Father Morgan listened to _The Weekend West _'s recorded interviews with Mr Ellul and his older brother Emmanuel.

The old priest grimaced and shook his head.

"I'm amazed they're saying this; how they portrayed me," he said.

He has different memories of Tardun than Mr Ellul, who told the commission: "I remember three Brothers who I considered to be decent individuals (but) generally speaking, I lived in fear of extreme, arbitrary and severe physical punishment for the entire time I was resident at Tardun.

"I felt like the Brothers hated the boys, including me, and that the child migrants such as myself were especially hated by the Brothers."

Father Morgan recalled "community life in the Brothers was a very rich experience; it was wonderful", although he conceded it was "very severe" for parentless boys far from home.

Father Morgan was himself schooled by Christian Brothers, who would use the strap on him if he missed classes, and was just 19 when he went to Tardun in the brotherhood.

He said he and the other Brothers were doing their best with "already damaged" adolescent boys who he felt "very sorry" for.

"Many of them were difficult kids. The migrant boys, the State ward boys: in many ways they were damaged and behaviour-wise they were not easy.

"The approach to children those days (was) very severe and very disciplined.

"In many ways it was overdone."

Father Morgan said that once when he saw headmaster Brother Bruno Doyle hit a boy on the basketball court, making his chin bleed, he reported the conduct.

"It made me sick to the stomach and I reported it to the provincial and nothing happened, so I reported it to Rome," he said.

Father Morgan said he had never seen or heard of sexual abuse at Tardun.

"I'm very, very sorry about that and I would unconditionally apologise to those boys for that kind of treatment," Father Morgan said.

"To me, that is clearly wrong and that was bad. I might have been living the fool's paradise and being naive because I was young but I never heard even a rumour of that in my time."

He found it difficult to reconcile the perverted behaviour graphically described by numerous witnesses with the colleagues he knew.

"They were wonderful; they pioneered the place," he said.

"We dedicated our lives to the cause of trying to give those boys a start."

Mr Ellul said he now wondered about whether others might be alive.

The Christian Brothers would not reveal whether they hold such information.

The West Australian

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