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Hundreds of Children Beaten, Sexually Abused and "Terrorized" for Decades at Catholic-run Schools in Ireland

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From the Los Angeles Times:

Reporting from London — Boys and girls were beaten, sexually abused and emotionally terrorized for decades in workhouse-style schools run by Ireland’s Catholic Church, in which a "culture of silence" showed more concern for protecting victimizers than the children in their care, according to a long-awaited report released today in Dublin.

For more than half a century, excessive and arbitrary punishment created a climate in which students at schools administered by Catholic religious orders lived "with the daily terror of not knowing where the next beating was coming from."

Sexual molestation was "endemic," committed by offenders who were often transferred to other institutions rather than dismissed or turned over to authorities, said the report by Ireland’s Commission to Inquire into Child Abuse.

And through it all, government inspectors failed to stop what was going on, despite attempts by some individuals to bring their abusers to account in an effort to lessen the trauma that many still suffer years later.

These are some of the findings of the 2,600-page report unveiled after a nine-year investigation. Drawing on the testimony of nearly 2,000 witnesses, men and women at more than 200 Catholic-run schools during the 1940s through the 1990s, the commission pieced together a damning picture of a church engaged too often in covering up misdeeds within its ranks instead of rooting out their perpetrators.

The five-volume report is a major blow for a religious institution that continues to wield enormous, albeit declining, influence on Irish society, especially on moral issues such as divorce and abortion.

Even then, it wasn’t tough enough for some of the victims. Many are angry that the report includes no names of alleged offenders, an omission that one of the religious orders under investigation won in court. Only pseudonyms are used, making the chances of criminal prosecution slim.

"We expected that these people would be named and shamed and that some of them would be convicted," John Barrett, who testified before the commission, told Irish radio station TodayFM. "At the end of the day, some of us won’t sleep tonight. We’re still nowhere near the truth."

Barrett alleges that he was sexually abused while at a school for boys with learning disabilities, which was run by the Brothers of Charity in Ireland’s County Cork.

Edmund Garvey, a spokesman for the Christian Brothers, one of the religious orders whose schools came under investigation, said: "Our first response to the report is to openly and unreservedly express our heartfelt sorrow and sadness and regret to those people who were victimized . . . We are deeply sorry, deeply regretful."