Father Pinkman Wants to Examine Me

Groin Injury

I loved a game of football. I loved playing for the school.

This particular day we were playing football on the lower pitch. I’d had a bit of a groin strain before but it really went this time. Down I went. I was in quite a bit of pain. Pinkie said I should go back to the dormitory. As I couldn’t play on it seemed a good option.

I went back to the dormitory and went to bed. Not long after Pinkie arrived. Now, this surprised me a bit. He was supposed to be supervising the game and those playing it.

It seemed very nice of him to take such an interest in my footballing injury. After all, he was our substitute dad – although I had to share him with around 55 others.

Bottom of the Bed

He stood at the bottom of my bed in the dormitory. Even though I was just 12 years old I could smell something that wasn’t right. There was something about his demeanour. He didn’t seem relaxed. He said that he needed to examine my groin injury. I wasn’t keen on anybody examining my groin.

He was rubbing his hands together in a nervous fashion, which was his wont. Something didn’t seem right even to a 12 year old who had never heard of sex.

I didn’t want anybody near my groin, thank you. But his arguments were quite compulsive. He said that he needed to see what was wrong with me and he could probably fix it. I still said ‘no’. He said “How are you going to get better? Do you want to stay like this?”

I didn’t. It was quite painful. His arguments were beginning to seem winning arguments and I was starting to think that it might be very embarrassing but that it might be necessary to let him have a look – when he suddenly changed tack.

Weighty Question

He asked me if I’d been weighed yet by Fr. Valmaggio the Infirmarian. I thought this a strange thing to ask. How would my weight affect my groin strain? I was only a slip of a thing.

We seldom got to see a Doctor or a Nurse. Fr. Valmaggio was in charge of the Infirmary (a grand name for a room with six beds). I learned later that he was a keen ‘weigher’ of 11-14 year old boys. Why he needed to weigh them no one ever asked (till much later). One never asked why in those days. Children did what they were told then. Adult power was pretty much absolute – and you know what they say about absolute power.

Winning Argument

So, Pinkie quit just as I was wavering. Lucky I didn’t show it. One wonders if life would have been very different if he’d had one more attempt.

Jim Kirby met one of the boys in Mirfield in London’s West End some years ago. The boy was a few years his senior. That boy told Jim that he felt his homosexuality had been induced by what happened to him by serial abuse by two of the priests at Mirfield.

Jim thinks the boy may have been embarrassed by admitting he was Gay, as this meeting took place in the 80s and it was still early days in the age of enlightenment and attitudes towards the Gay community.

The boy expressed astonishment that Jim was not Gay as he felt that the treatment meted out to the boys by the abusive priests would have made many of them Gay in distorting their thinking and attitudes towards sexual activity because of that abuse.

The boy was of course, by then, a grown man and was himself obviously very confused and even distressed even at that age by what had occurred at Mirfield. Some years later Jim did make contact again with him and asked him if he wanted to make a statement about the abuse. He said he didn’t as he had closed that part of his life. He was living abroad, in fact on another Continent.

I suspect, though, it is far harder to become a homosexual than that. But I don’t know and I’m glad I never had to go down that route to find out. I am not anti homosexual, but like pretty much all heterosexuals whether they are gay bashers or very sympathetic and empathetic to gays, they are very glad they are not one themselves.

Handed Over to Father Valmaggia

So, Pinkie suggested that the best route for me was to go to see Fr. Valmaggio at the Infirmary. It seemed a great suggestion. It never occurred to me that it was out of the frying pan and into Fr. Valmaggio’s Infirmary.

So, I went to see our resident ‘medical expert’. I explained the problem and he said that I needed to stay in the Infirmary for a few days.

Fair enough!

I spent the next 8 days in there. Being in the Infirmary was pretty good. You didn’t have to do any school or work and you got your food delivered to you. If I remember right it was of better quality than the normal fare.

They even had a radio and I got to listen to a European title fight involving Walter McGowan, the pocket Scottish boxer.

Anthony Summers

The first day was fine. Already in the Infirmary was Anthony Summers who was in the year above me. He said that he was in because he had swallowed biro ink. He said that it caused him to have sudden blackouts.

Several times when he was sitting up in bed he would suddenly ‘black out’ and fall ‘unconscious’ on his bed and pillows just to prove what he said about the sudden blackouts. It wasn’t a convincing performance though. Even as a 12-year old I could see through it.

I was just about to reach the age of puberty. It would happen later on that summer when I was at home during the holidays. However it hadn’t quite happened yet – which was pretty lucky for me.

Despite Summers’ ‘serious blacking out’ illness he was booted out of the Infirmary after a couple of days, leaving me on my own. He protested saying that he wasn’t any better. “Get out!” yelled Fr Valmaggia and he went.

Start of the Treatment for a Groin Injury

Then came the real start of my treatment. It seems that the best treatment for a groin strain (instead of rest) was to rub coal tar over the testicles and penis of the injured person. It seems, also, that the treatment would work better if the penis of the injured person was erect.

Being on the verge of puberty this was something that I was sometimes able to do (to a small limp degree) but most times not. It was also a bit of an effort and a bit annoying to keep trying to do it. I knew it was for my own good but most times I couldn’t do it. It was such a mental effort.

I’m not an expert on puberty but even though (at great effort) I sometimes could get my penis erect the pleasure gland (or whatever it is) had not arrived yet – so he might as well have been massaging my big toe with coal tar.

He got a little annoyed that I couldn’t always ‘get it up’ which he deemed necessary to cure my affliction, but I also noticed that there was other times when he seemed annoyed with himself for doing it and would suddenly stop. It seemed a little strange but as I didn’t know about sex or puberty at all there was no way I could piece any of it together.

Paedophiles

How different the kids are now. Surely it can’t be bad that they know about sex and paedophiles etc. The fact that we didn’t, made us all potential victims. My parents subscribed to the view, that was common then, that children should stay children as long as they could.

One feels that this ‘common view’ was more because they had a fear of the ‘adult world’ and couldn’t cope well themselves in this complicated world. There was a great desire to keep children as long as possible in the Age of Innocence. Unfortunately the implementation of that wish gave children no tools or knowledge for when the predators came hunting. Their innocence and naivety made them perfect victims.

There may be problems with the world now for children but we surely don’t want to go back again to the ungolden ‘Age of Innocence’.

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Comboni Missionaries | How I was Immersed in the Organisation

On the Committee

It was soon after this that Pinkie decided to set up an Ideas Forum for the lower school. People were to put in ideas (anonymously) about how to make things better. There was a Suggestions Box and people put their suggestions in there.

I was really pleased when I was picked by Pinkie to be on the Committee. In fact I was to be the guy who was actually to pick out the suggestions from the Suggestions Box and read them out.

What power!

I had really arrived. I was becoming part of the inner circle.

Suggestion Box

Making the Suggestion Box anonymous was a huge mistake. Repressive Systems don’t like anonymity – and not just repressive regimes.

It is not only the repressive regimes who are trying to remove anonymity for those who post on the Internet. Anonymity is the great enemy of those in power. Anonymity means that people can say whatever they want.

How horrible must that be to those who are in power? It is not just repressive regimes who want powers to find out who is doing what and who is saying what on the Internet. It is the US, the British and leading European democracies who are trying to stop us saying what we want under the guise of anonymity.

First Meeting

At the first meeting, held in the adjoining First and Second Year classrooms, the Committee (Pinkie, myself and a couple of others were at the front). Now, when organisations have Suggestion Boxes, the real reason they are having them is so that they can find suggestions that benefit themselves. However, staff (or pupils) sometimes get the wrong idea and make suggestions that are for the benefit of those who work for the company or the organisation.

This is mainly what happened here. The suggestions tended to be not to have the horrible porridge that we had for breakfast (which I actually liked) but to have Cereal instead. Another suggestion was to for the sisters to stop putting huge amounts of pepper in the dandelion leaves soup (picked from the grounds) that they were always giving us. Surprisingly these two ideas were implemented.

Regime Criticism

However, there were several ‘suggestions’ and criticisms of the regime put into the Suggestion Box. To my great shame I picked them out, but instead of reading them out, I handed them over to Pinkie with a disapproving look as if I was handling a rotten fish.

The first one or two came as a big surprise to Pinkie and he gave a stern lecture about the kind of person who would make suggestions like that. However, when the next few came out he simply put them in the bin. I can’t remember what they said now but I wonder if any of them made criticism of Pinkie and what he was up to with the boys.

I think under any regime when you give the people an opportunity to say something without the fear of being caught and punished a lot of true feelings and grievances will come out.

Helped the System

I was glad I was able to help the system by intercepting some suggestions from what I saw as some very sad boys who didn’t appreciate what was being done for them.

Pinkie seemed to appreciate what I had done. I could be trusted. Things were looking up. I was in Pinkie’s good books. Better than that, he appreciated what I could bring to the organisation. I was pleased. The future was looking very bright indeed.

It is a shame that this was the last ever Suggestion Box meeting. It was scrapped after that. The boys had been given an opportunity and they had abused it.

Comboni Missionaries | How I was ‘Called By God’ – My Vocation

Comboni Missionaries – The Sell

I had already decided, mainly because of Fr. Maloney and my mother’s pride, that I wanted to enter the priesthood, that I was sold on the idea of being a priest. It seemed like a great career move. It had status. I had also wanted to be a footballer and play for Scotland but this seemed equally as good.

So, when Fr. Tavano hit town when I was just 10 years of age I was an easy sell. He had been sent by the missionary order the Verona Fathers, an offshoot of the Jesuits, to find boys who would become priests.

Greenock was a fertile area for him as he grabbed five boys on the trip. Greenock was a place, in those days, where the British Army were able to grab lots of boys to join up. It sounded great – certainly compared to a life in Greenock. OK, you night go to war and have people shoot at you – but at least in the Army that was just a might.

Great Salesman for Comboni Missionaries

Fr. Tavano really sold. He would have made an excellent salesman in another profession. He sold and he sold and he sold. He made the college, where we would be living, sound like an upmarket holiday resort. Then there was the opportunity of foreign travel to exotic Africa when you became a priest.

He told us that we would have a tour of the surrounding district every Wednesday. Little did we know that this would be virtually the only time we were allowed out of the grounds. Even this was heavily supervised. The junior head boy would be at the front and the priest who was head of the junior school, Fr. Pinkman (of him, more later), would be at the back.

Liam Gribben

One of the Greenock boys, Liam Gribben, who joined at the same time as I did felt hard done by as regards the walk around the locale. He had thought that these would be bus tours. After all the local bus company in Greenock, Doigs, regularly advertised tours to places like Loch Lomond at advantageous rates. Unfortunately for us these rates were well beyond the means of our parents.

Maybe he had yearned to do something like that. Maybe he had seen the ads and begged his parents to go. Now there was an opportunity to go on a tour every week.

However, Fr, Tavano was a born salesman and a tour was how he described the weekly walk. I bet he would have sold lots of houses or second hand cars. Unfortunately for us he was not just selling us a commodity that we could sell on. He was selling us a philosophy and a way of life.

With slides of the college and Africa and a description of the lifestyle, he was on a winner. At the end he asked the 10 and 11-year-old boys who wanted to come. I remember that quite a few hands went up. Mine was one of them.

I don’t know what happened to the others. Perhaps their parents told them not to be so daft. Mine were proud of me and proud that the local priests were so proud as well. I volunteered myself they said. It wasn’t down to any of them at all.

Special Summer

It was a great summer. I was special. I was going to become a priest. I had a vocation. I was chosen by God. I was specially picked out of so many other people by God. I was to be his chosen one.

By God those were heady days for a ten / eleven year old (my birthday was in June).

Other people were desperate to know what a vocation was like. How did I know I was called by God? What did it feel like? It was like I had the secret of life, the Holy Grail.

To be perfectly frank I was as in the dark as they were but I explained it all to them – like it was explained to me. They nodded as I explained – but I could see that they still felt a bit on the outside.

My Vocation to the Priesthood

I was not on the outside. I was right bang on the inside. I was chosen and they were not. I must admit it was hard not to get a superiority complex. How could you not when God had specially picked you out? He wanted you and not the rest of them. He didn’t want them. He wanted you.

And I was only just reaching my eleventh birthday. Life was so full of hope. This was the sixties when hope abounded among the young anyway. And the rest of them weren’t even God’s chosen ones.

We had it in spades!

A Gang of Brothers

I was put in touch with the other guys who would be ‘entering the priesthood’ as we thought at the time. In total there were five boys from Greenock, including myself. It was a particularly good catch by Fr. Tavano. I don’t think that he got as many anywhere else including London.

We spent the summer together – the Chosen Few. It was a time of great optimism. We had a whale of a time together. I remember that we hit it off greatly and we laughed a lot – in fact a hell of a lot. It seemed that people chosen specially by God had quite a lot in common. We were like brothers in arms. In fact looking back perhaps that was the greatest summer of my life. Life stretched out long in front of us – and we were going to be in God’s special legion.

We really believed that we were all going to be priests – the whole five us. We felt that we had already passed the audition. We believed that we had already been selected, that all we needed now was the training.

Vocations Lost

Fr. Tavano didn’t tell us otherwise – although he must have known. It seems that only about one in twenty of the boys ‘chosen by God’ in this way actually make it through to the priesthood.

Some of them leave having ‘lost their vocation’ along the way. The majority, though, are simply ignominiously dumped. There remains the strong suspicion that some were dumped to save paedophile priests from being found out when the boys got a little older and wiser.

Can you imagine how it feels to be selected by God and then dumped by his emissaries on earth?

What would you do after that?

I remember once reading that John Lennon said that when the Beatles broke up when he was in his late twenties he wondered “what do you do after you’ve been a Beatle?”

When Your Vocation is Gone

I think that, to an even greater extent, we could ask the same question. “What do you do after you’ve been specially chosen By God – and then he no longer wants you”?

The answer sadly for many of those who were rejected is ‘not much’.

As I said, only about one-in-twenty of those ‘chosen by God’ actually make it through to the priesthood and Fr. Tavano didn’t tell us about that when we signed up. We thought we were already there.

We were called by God – and then, seemingly, he dumped us because we had become’defiled’ by one of his servants.

Comboni Missionaries |The Rise and Fall of My Vocation

Comboni Missionaries

This website was set up, originally, so that people could post their memories of the Comboni Missionaries (ex-Verona Fathers) and especially of their seminary in Mirfield from the early sixties to the mid eighties.

It has been dominated, recently, by bad memories of the appalling sexual abuse perpetrated by Comboni Missionary priests on young boys as young as 11 in their care. The cover up by the Comboni Missionaries continues to this day.

I had set down my memories of Mirfield and the seminary of St Peter Claver at Mirfield, Yorkshire a few years ago. I haven’t done anyting with them. They have just been lying in my Word folder, although I have sent them to a few of the ex-Boys.

Good and Bad Memories

What I’ve decided to do is to serialise them here. There are good memories and bad memories. I hope they entertain you.

It, also, shows the methods that Father Pinkman and Father Valmaggia used to lure, and groom, young boys. At the time I thought I was the only one. Now, it seems, that it was rife.

I have learned, that someone that I considered my best friend at Mirfield, Frank McGinnis, was being abused by Father Pinkman. I learned this around fifty years after the events took place – although he said some things to me, at the time, about it which I wodered at and didn’t understand at the time – but it seems obvious what he was talking about now.

I’ll publish the first episode shortly.

Paedophile Priests / Great Friendships

Incidentally, if anyone has any good memories of Mirfield, please send them in to us and we’ll publish them.

To me, it was a place with some bad memories but also lots of good memories. I made lots of friendships there – as well as being chased by paedophile priests.

Let’s hear your memories, good and bad.

Why Do Comboni MIssionaries Collaborators Collaborate?

Stockholm Syndrome

I remember, a number of years ago, when an aeroplane was hijacked that those who were victims of the hijackers became sympathetic to them and started to help and advise them.

It seems that this is not unusual.

A new syndrome was founded called the Stockholm Syndrome called, presumably after the place where the plane was hijacked from, or taken to.

I’ve noticed two curious syndromes at work as regards the sexual abuse of children as young as 11 by the Comboni Missionaries and those who have covered it up.

I don’t know if these syndromes have names.

Needing an Apology

Firstly, there is the syndrome where the victims need to meet those who abused them and to receive an apology from them for their abuse – and, indeed, to be able to forgive their abuser.

Not all of those who were abused want this. Some of them would like to hang them from the nearest lamp post. However, a significant number of abuse victims do feel this need.

Indeed, they are massively frustrated when they find out that their abuser is dead and that they will never have the opportunity to be apologised too and to forgive the abuser.

If it doesn’t have a name, let’s call it Mirfield Syndrome.

Need to Collaborate

The second syndrome I have noted is the desire of some of the St. Peter Claver Seminary Old Boys to collaborate with the Comboni Missionaries to hush up, or suppress, the accusations of child sexual abuse.

When an abuser in a family is first found out the immediate instinct of family members is often to protect the abuser rather than the abused.

This syndrome that we have is probably similar to this. It’s probably close to the Stockholm Syndrome as well. They bond with their ‘captors’.

Refuse to Testify

There are boys, even those who were abused, who refuse to testify against their abuser and those who help to cover up the abuse of others whom they know to have been abused.

I’m not talking, here, about those who were absued but just want to leave it in the past and don’t want to take any action. They want to leave it in the past.

I’m talking here of those who can talk about their abuse but who take an active part in helping to cover up the abuse pepretrated on others.

Swimming Without Trunks

There are others, still, who weren’t abused, but who knew of the abuse, who are prepared to say that they didn’t – to help out those accused of the cover-up.

There does seem a need to ‘protect’ the abusers and those who covered it up at the time and new.

I suppose that this would be the equivalent of kids in a family siding with their father who abused their sister and who were prepared to tell the authorities that nothing happened or they knew nothing of it, when they did.

If it doesn’t have a name let’s call this one Vichy Syndrome.

Of course, it will all come out ‘in the wash’ when the Home Office Panel sits and when the high court cases come up.

As Warren Buffet once said, “It’s only when the tide goes out that you see who was bathing without trunks”.

The tide is going out for the Comboni Missionaries and their collaborators.

They have no trunks!

Five Years in Jail for those who Don’t Report Abuse

Comboni Missionaries

The net is closing on those who were told about the sexual abuse of young boys as young as 11 at Comboni Missionaries Seminaries and didn’t report it to the authorities. Indeed, it will apply, also, to those who just suspected abuse but didn’t report it.

Indeed, it has become an election issue.

David Cameron, the Prime Minister of Great Britain, said that there would be “Jail for those who turn a blind eye to child abuse”.

He announced that professionals who fail to act upon suspcions of child abuse could be facing up to five years in jail.

Changed Times

My goodness!

How things have changed.

First the Home Secretary, and now the Prime Minister, have come down heavily on the side of those who suffered sexual abuse as a child and heavily against not only the abusers but those who covered it up.

It is becoming more and more obvious who is on the right side of history and who is on the wrong side of history – those who were abused or those who covered it up and their apologists.

Front Page News

The story appeared in both the Telegraph and Guardian. Indeed, it is front page on both with the Guardian headline saying “PM: jail those who ignore child abuse”.

It’s just a shame that it could not be retrospective.

However, that doesn’t mean that existing laws could not be used to pursue those who covered up sexual child abuse at Comboni Missionary Seminaries and those who continue to do so at the very highest level of the Order.

Home Office Panel on Institutional Sexual Abuse

All will be exposed when the Home Office Panel sits. Comboni Missionaries who took part in the cover up will be legally obligated to attend and be questioned in front of the Parliamentary Committee and the nation. It will be televised.

Indeed, they could also make requests, backed up by EU Law, for those residing outside of the UK, to attend too.

End Game for Comboni Missionaries

It has taken a long time but justice is close at hand.

In chess terms, this is the end game now for the Comboni Missionary abusers, those who covered it up and their apologists amongs the Boys.

In poker terms, we’ll soon see what hands both sides have.

In David Cameron and Theresa May, those abused have two powerful cards in their hands – perhaps the King and Queen.

The Comboni Missionaries will soon find out that, no matter how many Jokers they have available, none of them will count in this game.

Foundations of abuse at Comboni Missionaries seminary in Mirfield

Comboni Missionaries

During the 1960s and 70s, and possibly into the 1980s, priests and brothers of the Comboni Missionary Order (formerly Verona fathers) sexually abused children as young as 11 years of age at their seminary in Mirfield, Yorkshire, United Kingdom.

A group of ex seminarians, The Mirfield 12, have successfully prosecuted a civil case against the Comboni Missionaries: a legal case remains outstanding. More ex seminarians abused by Comboni Missionaries have now come forward to pursue both legal and civil actions.

A culture of abuse existed at the Comboni Missionaries seminary in Mirfield. All of the abused have struggled to come to terms with the experience and to understand how it came about. Our concern was not only about the individuals who perpetrated the abuse but also the organisations which allowed this to happen, and is to this day in denial that any abuse took place.

A 2013 report from CEOP ‘The Foundations of Abuse:
A thematic assessment of the risk of child sexual abuse by adults in institutions’
provides some telling analysis of the way institutions operate to produce such fertile ground for child sexual abuse to take place. The key findings are below.

Key Findings

1) Children in institutional settings are not only at risk from adults who are inclined to abuse them sexually; but also from adults who either fail to notice abuse or, if they do, fail to report it.

2) Where institutions put their own interests ahead of those of the children who engage with them, abusive behaviours are likely to become normalised, potentially leading to sexual abuse.

3) The culture within an institution has a strong influence on the degree to which abuse might occur within it. Poor leadership, closed structures, ineffective policies and procedures together with the discouragement of reporting, facilitates a malign climate which colludes with those inclined to sexually abuse children.

4) Where institutions are held in high regard and respected by the communities they serve, positional grooming can be perpetuated, whereby offenders conduct social or environmental grooming and mask their actions by virtue of their formal positions within an organisation.

5) Potential risks from those with a sexual interest in children who pursue work in institutions can be mitigated by vigilant and effective leadership and management.

6) Intense loyalty and conformity of workers to the mission, norms and values of an institution can inhibit them from reporting concerns.

7) The historic nature of many cases currently exercising media attention, together with developments in safeguarding, might give a false perception that this type of offending can no longer occur. Offenders continue to exploit systemic vulnerabilities where they exist.

The full report can be accessed here

http://www.nationalcrimeagency.gov.uk/publications/49-ceop-institutions-thematic-assessment/file