The Xaverian Brothers, a Roman Catholic religious order that operates five high schools in Massachusetts, has identified 34 men found to be credibly accused of sexually abusing minors dating back to the early 20th century.
At least a dozen of those named were associated with St. John’s Preparatory School in Danvers and at least five men worked at Xaverian Brothers High School in Westwood. Others taught at Malden Catholic High School and St. John’s High School in Shrewsbury, according to the list.
The Baltimore-based congregation, which operates 13 schools in five states, said the list released Friday was compiled by an independent investigator who reviewed personnel files for the brothers accused of sexual abuse since the early 1900s.
The names were published on its website, along with a letter from Superior General Brother Edward Driscoll apologizing for the actions of the brothers, many of whom are deceased.
“As religious, the Xaverian Brothers are deeply sorry for the pain caused by the crime of sexual abuse of minors committed by any Xaverian Brother,” Driscoll wrote. “We regret not being worthy of the trust of young people. We must confess and repent as we ask forgiveness for the actions of ‘shepherds’ who betrayed this sacred trust and inflicted great suffering.”
The headmasters of Malden Catholic, St. John’s Prep, St. John’s High School, and Xaverian Brothers High School also sent letters to students and alumni on Friday, identifying the brothers named who once taught at their institutions, and outlining steps taken to protect students now enrolled.
At St. John’s Prep, the brothers accused were associated with the school between 1922 and 1978. Ten of the 12 are dead. One, George Gardiner, has left the order and is still alive, and another, Thomas Morrissey, is currently a Xaverian Brother who is on a “safety plan,” according to a letter Headmaster Edward P. Hardiman sent to the school’s community.
Morrissey, known as Brother Gabriel, was associated with the school between 1965 and 1967, and the allegations of abuse are related to his time there, as well as his time working at Xaverian in Westwood, where he was from 1967 to 1979. He also had two different stints at St. John’s High School in Shrewsbury.
According to the letter to the St. John’s Prep community, “any living Brother with a credible allegation of sexual abuse of a minor has been removed from ministry and lives under a closely monitored safety plan.”
Allegations made against half of the 12 men who had ties to St. John’s Prep were connected to their stints at the school, which was founded by the order in 1907.
That group included William Burns, who was known as Brother Francis Jerome and worked at the Danvers school in the early 1930s, the early 1950s, and the early 1960s. Burns was also assigned to Malden Catholic during the 1930s and from 1968 to 1974, Xaverian Brothers High School in Westwood in 1966, and St. John’s High School in Shrewsbury the following year, according to the order.
Also in the group were John Sullivan, who was known as Brother John Augustine and was at St. John’s Prep from 1937 to 1938, Albert Kerressey, who was known as Brother Ricardo and served at the school in the mid-1940s and from 1956 to 1971, Thomas Harrison, who was known as Brother Bosco and served at the school for seven years starting in 1949, Thomas Holihan, who was known as Brother Rudolph and was at the school for more than 40 years starting in 1940; and Morrissey.
With the exception of Morrissey, all of those men are dead, according to the school. Harrison left the Xaverian Brothers before he died.
In Shrewsbury, at St. John’s High School, five of the six accused brothers are dead, with their assignments spanning from 1907 to 1998, according to a letter sent from Headmaster Alex Zequeira, and Christopher Creed, chairman of the school’s trustees.
The school officials emphasized their “strict protections” against child abuse and urged concerned community members to contact the administration directly.
“Please know that we prize, above all else, the trust you have placed in us to educate and protect your sons,” they wrote.
At Malden Catholic, all three of the accused brothers are dead, only one of whom allegedly abused a student while working at the school, according to the letter sent Friday by Brother Thomas J. Puccio, who served as acting headmaster this past school year.
Brother Francis Jerome allegedly abused a minor at Malden Catholic, where he was assigned from 1935 to 1938 and again from 1968 to 1974, according to the school’s letter.
Also accused were John Donovan, who was known as Brother Ronald and was assigned to the school in the early 1970s, along with Leo Gillis, known as Brother Wenceslaus who served there from 1987 to 2004, Puccio wrote.
As part of the school’s response to the overall sex abuse crisis in the Catholic church, Puccio noted the all-boys school has “. . . implemented strict protections for the students in our care — enforced through zero tolerance for any violation.”
At Xaverian in Westwood, two of the brothers identified are dead and two others have withdrawn from the congregation. Another dead brother was accused of an offense against a minor that “could not be fully investigated to determine credibility, but for which there is a reasonable possibility (semblance of truth) that the alleged offense occurred,” according to a statement from the school.
Eugene Trainor, known as Brother Hart, worked at Xaverian from 1966 to 1973. His alleged abuse is said to be “related to his service” at the Westwood school. Trainor withdrew from the congregation in 1973.
In his letter to Xaverian alumni, Brother Daniel Skala, the school’s headmaster, encouraged alumni to report abuse to civil authorities and the school.
“Child abuse stands in direct conflict with everything we stand for and believe,” he said. “I am sorry to learn that abuse of any kind took place here.”