Priest assaulted in Australian embassy

Priest assaulted in Australian embassy

An astonishing and harrowing account has emerged about an assault by Australian embassy staff in Tokyo on a Catholic priest – Lawrence Lambert, above – after he had brutally raped the 11-year-old  son of diplomat.

The Age reports that the rape took place in 1965, but the victim remained silent about it for 48 years. He has now requested to testify in private before the Royal Commission into Insti­tutional Responses to Child Sexual Abuse, the largest inquiry of its kind in Australian history.

The mother of the victim, “Jacob Bernstein” (not his real name), explained in a signed affidavit the circumstances that led to a violent confrontation in the Australian embassy between the Canadianborn priest and embassy staff:

The ambassador’s wife met me and took me for coffee. We later entered a small room and there was a glass one-way mirror allowing us to see into the ambassador’s office.

Through the glass she saw the ambassador, Sir Allen Brown, together with her husband and several embassy staff. She watched as Lambert was brought into the room, accompanied by Brother John Paradis, headmaster at the time at St Mary’s, a Catholic boys’ school run in Tokyo by the Brothers of Christian Instruction, or Mennaisians.

There was a lot of yelling. Phil [Senior Trade Commissioner Philip Searcy] and Les [Com­mercial Counsellor Les Backen] grabbed Brother Lawrence’s arms from behind and held him, and Mr McRae [a cypher clerk] started punching him in the stomach and chest.

Brother John got up to perhaps intervene and was pushed to the ground, causing his glasses to fall off. The ambassador stepped on them; his wife and I then both left.

About an hour later, she was able to observe them leaving the embassy.

I recall seeing Brothers John and Lawrence being pushed hard out of the chancellery door to the driveway, down, perhaps, five steps. They hobbled away. It was like something I expected from the Soviet embassy.

Although “Jacob Bernstein” was abused at an institution in Japan, he says he made a submission for a private hearing on the basis that institutions and repre­sentatives of the government, namely the embassy and the Depart­ment of Foreign Affairs and Trade, and the ambassador to Japan at the time, Sir Allen Brown, all colluded to cover up his abuse.

The rape occurred in the school chapel. He had entered it to eat his home-prepared lunch. He said that Lawrence Lambert and another Catholic Brother suddenly entered, made the sign of the cross and then approached him.

Brother Lawrence said I was to be punished for eating in the chapel. I was taken to a table near the door and made to face it and drop my pants and bend over. I thought I was to be spanked. One of them pulled my pants right off. Brother Lawrence started to sodomise me. I had no idea of what he was doing, only that it hurt.

“Bernstein” says he was then also raped by the other Brother.

He put his hands under my T-shirt and pul­led it up over my head, so covering my face. Then he sodomised me. I did not make a noise. I was too frigh­tened.

After the ordeal, Bernstein says he was told to keep silent or his brother, a grade 2 student at the time, would be similarly “pun­ished”. The threat worked, but a few days later his mother began to sus­pect something was wrong.

In her affidavit, the victim’s mother said:

In 1965, our maid Mutsuko-san brought me a pair of [Jacob’s] underpants that were covered in blood. I immedi­ately took him to see Dr [Alan] Fair, who was the official embassy doctor. [Jacob] would not say what was wrong, earli­er that day he did not want to go to school and said he had a tummy bug. He was walking hunched over on the way to the car.

After examining Jac­ob, the doctor prescribed some medicine and told the boy’s mother that he didn’t know what was wrong. It wasn’t until later that she dis­covered the shocking truth when her husband revealed that the doctor had informed the ambassador of the rape.

She said her husband told  her that “the am­bassador would not have the police called” and had decided to deal with the matter internally.

Jacob and his younger brother were immediately taken out of St Mary’s, and the family returned to Australia. The mother says her husband was:

Advised to not mention it again if he wanted a career.

Lambert’s “punishment” was to sent back to Canada, yet records indicate that this was only a temporary measure, and by 1968 he had returned to Ja­pan.

Soon, Lambert would be back teaching at St Mary’s and in regular contact with boys again. Photo­graphs from the 1969 and 1970 yearbooks show he was teaching English to elementary students during that period, despite the fact the school and embassy knew he was a child abuser.

Lambert’s career as a teacher and Brother didn’t just continue un­checked, it flourished. In 1971 he was transferred out of Tokyo to Shizuoka City to teach at another Mennaisian school, Seiko Gakuin. In 1982, he re­turned to St Mary’s, this time as elementary school principal. The same year, he was promoted to vice-provincial of Japan for the Order. He remained elementary principal for about three decades, until 2011.

After retiring, Lambert continued to live on the St Mary’s campus until 2013. In 2014, he returned to Canada. He is now living in one of the Brothers’ residences in Trois Rivières, Quebec.

In May 2013, “Bernstein” contacted the then-headmaster of St Mary’s, Brother Michel Jutras, and told him about the abuse. This led to negoti­ations between Bernstein and Broth­er Raymond Ducharme, the vice-provincial for Japan and the Philip­pines, that culminated in a face-to-face meeting between Bernstein and the man who had raped him.

At that meeting, held in January 2014, at a synagogue in Shibuya, Tokyo, Lambert and Ducharme read out letters of apology in the presence of the rabbi. Lambert said:

The simple truth is that still today I cannot understand the fact I raped you. Some­how, passion suddenly took over and I did what I should never have done, and selfishly and violently hurt your body and hurt your heart for the rest of your life.

The letters were then signed and presented to “Bernstein”. He was also handed an apology written by Jutras, who was not present. Bern­stein had also asked for an apology from John Paradis, who was head­master at St Mary’s in 1965 and had known about the abuse since that time, but no such letter was forth­coming.

In an e-mail “Bernstein” sent to Ducharme in 2013, he talks about how the abuse affected his life:

Child abuse has devastating effects. For me, Brother Lawrence Lam­bert’s abuse has meant I have had a life which is severely compromised . . . I attempted suicide at age 12. The abuse has robbed me of not just my childhood, but also much of the adult who grew from that abuse.

A copy of Mrs Bernstein’s affidavit was sent to the Australian embassy in Tokyo. The embassy responded by saying:

The Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade has deep sympathy for victims of abuse. It takes these allegations seriously and has provided the information you passed to the embassy to the Australian Federal Police.

6 responses to “Priest assaulted in Australian embassy”

  1. Broga says:

    Summary justice of a sort. The only kind which was going to be available. He deserved all he got and was lucky to escape so lightly. The RC Church continued to protect and promote its priest sodomites. And, I assume, continues to do so in the more critical climate of today.

  2. Trevor Blake says:

    More information here…

    I can’t imagine what would happen if rapist clergy who were systematically sheltered by their church was an international problem over decades. Thank goodness this is an isolated case.

  3. Broga says:

    @Trevor Blake: Yes, we are lucky that these cases are so rare. Of course, children do keep complaining but we have heard from RC spokesmen that often the nippers, no doubt in a spirit of mischief, have enticed, if not seduced, the unfortunate priest.

    The bloody underpants did rather indicate a violent rape but, who knows, there are all kinds of reasons for this although none immediately come to mind. I thought this comment was interesting:

    “A number of requests for comment, including written questions, have been sent to St. Mary’s International School in relation to this story.

    In response, the school says that as a matter of policy, it will not comment beyond the statements that it has made to the St. Mary’s community.”

    A “matter of policy” immediately kicks any source into the long grass and the weasel word “policy” attempts to infer a gravitas into this statement.

  4. asquith says:

    You can’t blame the abuser though, it was Satan tempting him, so he’s not responsible really.

  5. Robster says:

    Jees, the RCC admin office will have problems if all the child molesting staff are fired. There’ll be hardly anyone left. There’ll be rooms full of silly hats with no one to wear them. Who’ll magically whip up fresh Jesus flesh for the cannibal ritual? From what I read, very few people(that is men) are choosing to join the happy clappy catholic clergy family, in my country they’re shipping them in from Africa as locals are shunning the church like a pack of JW’s.