On Tuesday 2nd of March, 2021, the Jesuit Order released a statement identifying Fr. Joseph Marmion SJ who had “abused boys sexually, emotionally and physically” while he taught at Belvedere College Dublin from 1969 until 1978.
The decision to identify Fr. Joseph Marmion came to the following contact in 2019 by a student who had been sexually and emotionally abused by the priest during his time as a student at Belvedere College in the 1970s when he was 13. The former student met with Fr. Leonard Maloney, the provincial of the Jesuit Order in Ireland, and during the course of the meeting he made it clear he believed others had been abused by Joseph Marmion and sought that the priest’s name is made public “in order to reach as many former students as possible”.
Following Tuesday’s statement, a further victim of Fr. Joseph Marmion has come forward. The student known as Joe was sexually abused by Joseph Marmion when he attended Belvedere College in the 1970s. In an interview with RTE, Joe said it was widely known that Joseph Marmion was abusing pupils, but it did not come out as “he was quite a force within the school, with other teachers, with the pupils. Joe described Joseph Marmion as “premeditated, clever, manipulative, a high intelligent creep”. Joe revealed that students tried to help each other with “kids therapy sessions” but they did not inform any adults of the abuse.
In relation to the statement by the Jesuit Order, Joe felt it should have been made earlier, but he acknowledged it would be cathartic for other victims. While he gave credit to the former student who spoke to the Jesuits about Fr. Joseph Marmion’s abuse in 2019, he did note that “It is a little odd that conversation was in 2019 and we are only hearing now. The right thing to do would have been to come forward earlier and acknowledge this. That didn’t happen but better now than never”.
Having received information relating to sexual abuse of students at Belvedere College from concerned parents in 1977, Fr. Joseph Marmion was removed from the staff at the end of the 1977/1978 academic year. Belvedere College has given assurances that child protection has “changed entirely” over the years. There is no mandatory reporting and monthly reports on bullying and disciplinary issues. A spokesperson for the school said, “It is fair to say that part of every subject inspection includes an element of child protection”.
Despite the abuse suffered by Joe during his time at Belvedere, he continues to have fond memories and good connections. It is his hope that telling his story will help other victims of Joseph Marmion come forward “I think full accounting of what was known is necessary and whoever wants to come froward can, that’s why I’m adding my name to this”.