22 Aug 2020

Marylands School abuse inquiry: 'It's about time'

12:38 pm on 22 August 2020

A victim of abuse at Marylands School in Christchurch says a new investigation is overdue but he hopes it will result in justice.

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A victim says abuse of boys by a Catholic order in Christchurch continued for decades. Photo: RNZ

The Royal Commission of Inquiry into abuse in state care has launched eight new investigations including one about the Christchurch school which was run by the Catholic religious order, the Hospitaller Brothers of St John of God, from the 1950s to 1984.

It will look into the nature and extent of abuse that occurred, why it happened and the impact it had on victims.

How the Catholic Church responded to the allegations will also be investigated.

Survivor Darryl Smith spent a year at the school in 1971 when he was seven years old.

"Everyone knew it was happening, the older boys would warn us to not go into certain rooms. It's about time the school is being investigated."

Abuse survivor Darryl Smith as a 10-year-old.

Abuse survivor Darryl Smith as a 10-year-old. Photo: Supplied / Darryl Smith

He wants people to be held accountable.

"As soon as the government found out this order was preying on little boys with special needs they should have stepped in. People were coming forward about abuse in the school in the 50s, long before I was even born."

Smith said the order and church kept the abuse quiet and denied it for years.

"It's time the order which I think are a pack of criminals are bought to justice. The church would investigate abuse allegations and then nothing would happen."

Smith has written multiple books about the abuse he suffered in state care and travelled to the Vatican last year to meet with cardinals to discuss it.

"The fact there's a separate investigation into the school shows the extent of the abuse. The leaders of the order need to be made accountable. I want the whole thing disestablished. Everywhere they've gone in the world they've left a trail of destruction.

"They say they don't know the numbers, of course they know the numbers. They keep records of everything so they'll know exactly how many complaints have been made," Smith said.

Te Ropu Rautoko, the group coordinating Catholic engagement with the Royal Commission, has welcomed the investigation into Marylands.

Group chair Catherine Fyfe said the church will work supportively and diligently to do everything possible to co-operate.

"We will work with the royal commission and the leadership of the brothers of St John of God to ensure that our response is as timely and comprehensive as possible, to honour those harmed at Marylands" Fyfe said.

"We see this inquiry and the wider work of the royal commission as a way for the Catholic bishops and religious congregations to positively engage in this important process of listening, acknowledging, learning, and reaffirming our commitment to safeguarding the vulnerable in society."

Brother Timothy Graham from the Sydney-based St John of God order said the Marylands inquiry is an acknowledgement of those who were harmed in the care of the brothers.

Anyone who was abused at Marylands or in state care between 1950 and 1999 can call the royal commission confidentially on 000 222 727.

The other investigations launched by the royal commission include into the experiences of Maori and Pacific people in state care, abuse in state psychiatric care, a case study into abuse at the Lace Alice Child and Adolescent Unit and abuse in the Anglican Church.

The inquiry's findings are due in 2023.

More information on the investigations and how to get in touch with the royal commission can be found here

Where to get help

NZ Police

Victim Support 0800 842 846

Rape Crisis 0800 88 33 00

Rape Prevention Education

HELP Call 24/7 (Auckland): 09 623 1700, (Wellington): be 04 801 6655 - 0

Safe to talk: a 24/7 confidential helpline for survivors, support people and those with harmful sexual behaviour: 0800044334.

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