Former Christian Brother jailed for indecently assaulting boy at North Mon

Former Christian Brother jailed for indecently assaulting boy at North Mon
Edward Bryan. Pic: Michael Mac Sweeney/Cork Courts

A former Christian Brother who indecently assaulted a 14-year-old boy at the North Monastery secondary school in Cork in 1981 after picking him out to meet for basketball training was jailed for one year yesterday.

Judge Brian O’Callaghan imposed a sentence of two years, with the second year suspended, on Edward Bryan, aged 67, of Dugort, Achill Island, Mayo, at Cork Circuit Criminal Court.

Brendan Kelly, defence barrister, said the defendant apologised and was fully remorseful for his crime.

Detective Garda Eimear Brennan said the indecent assault was carried out on a 14-year-old boy when Bryan was a Christian Brother.

The complainant was playing a hurling match when he noticed the defendant at the field. 

He approached the boy after the match and said he was a fit boy and asked would he be interested in basketball training. 

The boy was muddy and said he had no other clothes with him for basketball training. The defendant persuaded him to go and said he would give him clothing.

Det Gda Brennan said that when he arrived there was no one else in the basketball hall. Bryan arrived, gave him large tracksuit pants, and watched him change into them.

He told the boy to do press-ups with him on his back. The victim could feel the tracksuit being pulled down and the defendant’s erect penis between his cheeks.

The boy told him to stop and he did. The defendant left the room and did not come back.

The victim said he had to lie to his mother about why he was late that day and could not tell anybody what happened until he met his partner many years later. 

He gave up sport because he could not face togging off in front of others. 

He said yesterday in his victim impact statement: “I later had to sit in that very hall and do my Intermediate Certificate exam. I froze with fear and nervousness and feeling sick in my stomach.

“Needless to say, I failed my exam. I sat there looking at the clock on the wall, the minutes ticking by — the same clock that was on the wall when Brother Bryan had me on the ground and he was on my back sexually abusing me.”

Judge Brian O’Callaghan said what stood out was “the gravity, not only the harm caused by you, but the moral culpability of you in committing these vile acts”.

“Described as historical, they are by no means historical, because the effects on the victim occur every day of the week,” the judge said. “Incredible and profound, this was a victim impact statement by a very fine person.

“He was obliged to sit his Intermediate Certificate in the same place where this cruelty had been inflicted upon him.

“Despite the fact that he could no longer continue with his beloved hurling and other hobbies, and despite the fact that his youth was stolen from him, he displays a confidence and positivity which is very striking.

“He is not here today for any vindictiveness. He wants Mr Bryan to know how he destroyed his life. And says: ‘I am finally believed. I have spoken the truth. This dirty secret I had to carry is no longer mine to keep.’

“The aggravating factors are more than clearly outlined by the victim in this court. First and foremost, the culpability was exceptionally high. It was premeditated. 

"The level of harm was exceptionally high. The court acknowledges the actual offence occurred in 1981, though its consequences continue to this very day.

“He has served custodial sentences for similar offences against other parties [for seven indecent assault convictions in 2013, and two in 2015]. He is now 67 and has never come to the attention of gardaí since the ’80s.

“His apology is no doubt genuine and he is remorseful. As well as destroying the life of this victim, your own life has been destroyed and your reputation, which is only as it should be.

"The court must not forget who the victim is. 

"There is a certain spirit of benevolence in the victim impact statement. 

"That is quite impressive. Despite the damage done to him he is in no way vindictive. This man feels at long last as though he is believed. He has already in fact moved on.

“What was done here — the court cannot ignore the age of the victim and the serious breach of trust, the devastating effect of your actions on this young man.”

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