Michael Riddle Was as Good as Gold With Me

Michael Riddle

My name is Andrew Routledge and I was a student at Roe Head in Mirfield from 1970 to 1975.

This is my statement.

I knew all of the persons mentioned in this article very well.

I never knew of any Paedophile activities that went on.

Mr Riddle, my English Lit teacher, knew Father Pasqualone in Uganda.

In Michael Riddle’s Room

I was in his room several times, only to talk about philosophy and to smoke a pipe.

Other boys were present also.

No petting went on during the times I was there.

Some of the priest were a little eccentric.

This is a quality that many bachelors have. By no means does this qualify them for paedophilia.

Paedophile’s Can’t Sleep When Chidren Around

I learned long ago that a person that has paedophilia leanings can never sleep in the presence of children.

The Priests I remember were always dropping off.

I was struck on two occasions by outside secondary school teachers that worked part time for the Verona fathers.

Father Hicks sacked them both immediately.

Father Cerea

Some of the priest were disciplinarians of sorts but nothing that could be described as violent, not even Fr. Cerea.

I do not remember any beatings as punishment during the whole time I attended St. Peter Claver College.

The Nuns were always darlings and took good care of us, especially when we were sick.

Verona Fathers Perfect Hosts

I have since Visited and stayed as a guest of the Verona Fathers in their Rome residence and the feeling I always get is one of coming home.

They are always most generous.

I do not dismiss the claims that certain things may have happened.

I only say that I never know of any such events.

Private Rooms of Priests

Yes, there should have been a rule placing the private rooms of priests out of bounds to pupils.

The atmosphere was lax in certain areas and distance was not maintained in all cases.

The school had faults but in no way did I experience the same level of suffering at Roe head than I did at my First Junior high school.

Suffering from ADD and PTSD made my schooling difficult both for myself and teachers.

There were stressful times but overall I have to say that I was not targeted in anything like the same way at Roe Head.

10 responses to “Michael Riddle Was as Good as Gold With Me

  1. I am glad to hear of your account at Roe Head. You say you knew nothing of the paedophile activities etc, i would just like to say that all the boys who were abused including myself until 2013 thought we were the only child there that it happened to. Enjoy your memories, seriously, but to write on the blog the way you just have smacks of not believing us, and scoring some points for the Verona fathers, which in my eyes are despicable for what they let happen all those years ago and their unbelievable attitude to the abused now

  2. From Jim Kirby:-

    I m travelling at present but felt I had to comment. Certainly not everyone was molested but I was and so were many if not most of my friends. While I accept Andrew at his word there is one at least inconsistency here.

    The nuns never came near us except occasionally to our chapel but that was rare. They cooked our meals and sorted our laundry but they never took care of us when we were sick

    They had no interaction with us and lived in segregation in the convent. They had their own chapel there. Sometimes we would serve Mass there for whichever priest was saying Mass. In my four years at Mirfield I never knew the names of one of them.

  3. Andy, you are one of the lucky ones. I’m sure we are all so very pleased you were not targeted. It’s likely (my guess) most guys emerged from Mirfield unscathed by the child-abusing priests. A large minority were not as fortunate as yourself.
    Enjoyed your observation about Paedos never sleeping when kids are around. That’s a hoot, maybe we should have kids visit the House of Lords, that might ‘awaken’ one or two old bachelors. Eh what ? Frank McGinnis

  4. Hi Andy
    Thanks very much for your post, as stated before the Blog is an open forum all opinions are welcome.
    I do remember you from Mirfield ,the year below me,in with Dono ,Brian Fallon, Peter Petz, John McGovern, Tony Walsh ect. Like yourself I too had a mainly positive experience . However I did receive several physical chastisements and a lot of verbal humiliation from one or two of the priests. I was thick skinned but for some of the other more sensitive lads it did have quite an impact on their time at Mirfield.
    Like you I had not heard of any sexual abuse or witnessed any at Mirfield .However after attending a few reunions people began to disclose .I have been supporting a good friend of mine in his struggle to find closure for the abuse that he suffered at Mirfield . He suffered this abuse alone yet slept in the same dorm ,ate in the same refectory, studied in the same classroom, prayed in the same chapel, played on the same pitch as me .Get my drift ?. I was completely unaware. Now as a 59 yr old worldly wise adult I can look back and see the signs.
    As for Jimmy Riddle I have heard first hand of his exploits and I am convinced that he sexually abused several students .
    The thing for me is that the respect and admiration that I held for most of the priests that I encountered at Mirfield is now lost. As adults they must have seen what I as a child could not, and even now when presented with the overwhelming tide of evidence supporting documented claims of hundreds of incidents of abuse,refuse to do the right thing .
    Once again thanks for the input
    All the best

  5. Hi Andrew thank you for your recollections of the time you spent at Mirfield. One thing puzzles me the Nuns had nothing to do with boys when we were sick and my only memory is Valmaggia. I also remember the nuns as being very cloistered. Was that traditional of the order. Did they ever go out and integrate with the general community. They occasionally gave you a smile when you bumped into them but they were generally more like w shadows or willow the wisps . Not a clue as to their names. Did they ever attend mass in the main chapel? More questions than answers.

  6. Andrew, our paths never crossed as I attended the Verona Fathers seminary, now Comboni Missionaries, in the early 1960s. I am pleased for you that you were never sexually abused by any of the priests or lay teachers at the seminary, however I was, along with about twenty other boys that I know of. I can only describe the experience I went through as genuinely life changing and still impacting on my life to this day over fifty years later. I suspect it is the same for all of us who were abused by the paedophiles at the seminary.

    Andrew, you strike me as someone who sits firmly with that group of ex-seminarians who are ‘abuse deniers’, who don’t believe any sexual abuse took place and that non of the priests or lay teachers were paedophiles; an apologist for the Verona Fathers, now Comboni Missionaries. If it didn’t happen to you and you were unaware of it at the time, then it couldn’t of happened to anyone else. The logical conclusion of such a position is that ex-seminarians like myself are for whatever reason, making up stories about sexual abuse; that we are liars.

    Andrew, let me tell you how that makes me feels: pretty fucking shitty.

    Andrew, I lived for fifty years under the impression I was the only boy abused whilst at the seminary. That I was complicit in the abuse and somehow brought it on myself, that it was my fault. Throughout this time I was petrified that as an abused child I would go on to abuse my own children. Andrew, think for a minute about the impact such a set of thoughts would have on an individual, on a family. The sexual abuse I suffered was bad enough but the seeds of fear that were sown at that time have followed me throughout my life.

    And then you come along Andrew and just about say ‘it didn’t happen’ ‘everything was great’ ‘why are people dissing the Order?’ Well let me tell you Andrew, by doing that you are prolonging the effects of the abuse we suffered at the seminary, just as the present day hierarchy of the Comboni Missionaries are by refusing to apologize for what went on while we were young vulnerable children in their care.

    Andrew, it is time to understand that there are no ‘good’ paedophiles; they are all evil monsters and, there are no ‘good’ defenders of paedophiles. There is overwhelming evidence of at least four pedophiles operating at the seminary, (evidence so strong that were the perpetrators alive today they would certainly be arrested and tried for their crimes). It is impossible to believe other members of the Order were unaware of what was happening. They are complicit; they are guilty of child sexual abuse just as much as those who physically carried out the abuse.

    Andrew, please reflect on these thoughts

    Bede Mullen

  7. Yes I do agree that this blog should be a forum where we can all express our views. Whilst feeling challenged by your email because I was one of the boys who was sexually abused I recognise that there was a number of boys who did not have to endure the suffering we had to endure and still do endure. You can choose to ignore Bede’s email but I feel that he has succinctly captured the heart of this discussion. Just because you did not experience sexual abuse does not mean that it did not occur. Please be challenged by Bede’s email and take this opportunity to shine some sunlight into a very dark and evil past. I also like emails that provide balance to the great things that occured at Mirfield but I also think that we should be careful about posting distorted sugary coated recollections that MAYBE are at odds with what occured. We are working hard to take our fight to the order so that we can have an honest discussion and disclosure about what actually happened. Your email Andrew unfortunately allows the Order to reside in their current place of denial and provides them with a platform of belief that they have a legitimate constituency of supporters and fuel their belief that no sexual abuse occured. I personally informed the Father Superior and nothing was done. I do not intend to let them get off the hook now!

  8. Hi all , I fully support all of the guys on here who had to/have to endure the abuse whilst in the care of these supposed good men …I remember mark murray very well in the time capsule of my st peter claver memory it shocked and now saddens me to think whilst I had to endure my own demons …he and many other lads had to endure much worse …but to see mark in Italy …verona..confronting the priest who abused him and many other lads is courage far beyond my measure …and I hope all of these boy’s get the validation to closure they deserve … my experiences of seminary are different to these guys but somewhat traumatic to me …thankfully I was not sexually abused but I do believe everyone of their statements. …regarding the nuns …maybe it was just our class or times changing a little ..I remember Sr Lydia who was nice and kind and Sr valentina who used to serve from the dinner trolly slapping my hand with the hot metal spatula when I tried to get a few extra chips …and the older sister working in the infirmary who instead of a poultice gave me a bottle of some acid based treatment and a spoon …Needless to say a trip to Dewsbury A & E followed quickly thereafter but generally we never saw them around. ..I remember the lads well of my era . .the great guys the shy guys the comedians the ace faces the arseholes the bullys. …..There were some great lads there. ..sadly it’s a great shame most of the faculty couldn’t measure up to them …charles FTM

  9. Hi I have just come across this in” Der Spiegel” which makes me think that the Pope probably saw Mark on Italian T,V.
    It says that he has just set up a commission to combat the hushing up of child abuse,
    I tried in vain to find a translation as I realise that not many of us will be able to read it,but I guess that It will be in the english-speaking press.

  10. I was never particularly adept at using the confession box for it’s intended purpose nor particularly skilled at forgiving others but I have mysteriously been gifted with 60 years of unmerited life which I have consumed without a great practice of gratitude and it’s abundant opportunities to repair a catalog of personal toe stepping on others, (without apologies). My lack of understanding of the love, mercy and compassion of God continues to embarrass me as I awake to the awareness of each hopeful new day.

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