Children were in serious risk of abuse at Catholic ‘care’ facility
Anthony McCallen, 69, left, and James Carragher, 75, this week began lengthy jail sentences for sexually abusing boys in their care at St William’s residential home and school run by the Roman Catholic De La Salle order in Market Weighton, Yorkshire, until its closure in 1994.
According to this report, former chaplain McCallen, an ordained Roman Catholic priest, was jailed for 15 years for 11 sex offences, including one of male rape, against four boy He was cleared of eight other charges.
McCallen, of Whernside Crescent in Ingleby Barwick, Stockton-on-Tees, had previously been jailed for two years for abusing two boys, children of his parishioners at the Sacred Heart Church in east Hull, and other offences.
Former headmaster Carragher, a member of the De La Salle order, was jailed for nine years for 24 sexual offences, including three counts of male rape, against seven boys. Carragher, of Cearns Road in Prenton, Wirral, was cleared of a further 30 charges.
It was his third conviction for abusing pupils at St William’s, for which he was previously jailed for 21 years.
Sentencing the pair at Leeds Crown Court, Judge Geoffrey Marson QC told them:
It is perfectly clear that each of you targeted some of the most vulnerable boys. You groomed them, abused them for your own sexual gratification, then threatened them to ensure they did not complain, and you, Carragher, were physically violent.
It is perfectly obvious that each of you has a long-standing and deeply ingrained sexual interest in teenage boys. It is an interest, I have no doubt, that continues to persist.
During the trial, the jury heard that, had the victims complained, it was unlikely they would have been believed because of the culture at the time, with some of the offences dating back more than 40 years.
One complainant, who often ran away, claimed he confessed to police who caught him, but was “slapped” and taken back to the home.
The abusers were snared by Operation Reno, the biggest child abuse inquiry in the history of Humberside Police.
Detective Chief Superintendent Christine Wilson, above, who led Reno, said:
I think for the children who were abused, it must have seemed never-ending. And because physical abuse was present with sexual abuse, acquiescence would often have seemed the only way to stay alive.
Because of the hierarchical abuse – people in charge abused children – those children must have felt incredibly isolated with nowhere to turn.
The victims came from troubled backgrounds and were some of the most vulnerable children in the country.
Wilson described both their tormentors as “unrepentant” paedophiles.
This case is not the first investigation into someone at the school, or those individuals, and at no point in any investigation have they admitted their guilt, and they are serial child abusers. Paedophiles.
My personal view is they were in positions of trust and authority and deliberately abused that trust and authority repeatedly, so their positions provided them with a degree of protection and anonymity.
They carried on until St William’s was shut down. If it hadn’t shut, they would have carried on.
Society didn’t accept child abuse was real; parents didn’t believe that people in positions of responsibility, or in the Catholic church, could abuse children.
And when you were in a place like St William’s, being looked after by the state, it was thought it was all going to be above board.
Despite the fact they had social workers who visited, and care providers, the reality was even if you said something, history shows us they would not have been believed because it wasn’t in the culture of society at the time [to accept it].
But the officer said the chances of such dangerous paedophiles offending with impunity for so long in a care setting were much less likely now.
Any child today can walk up to any professional and be taken seriously, and that’s how much we have shifted.
I think in care settings nowadays, it is far more socially unacceptable to abuse vulnerable people. The safeguards are much more robust in terms of checks and balances and inspections, and victims have much more confidence in the legal process and judicial system.
Reno was launched five years ago after information was passed to the force by Jordans Solicitors. At its peak it employed up to 50 officers, and featured about 10,000 “items” for disclosure, including medical evidence, statements, and interviews with suspects.
Det Chief Supt Wilson and her colleagues were praised by the judge for their “impeccable” work on a “particularly difficult” investigation.
Hat tip: Ernest Jackson