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St John of God Order Abuse

If you are a victim of sexual abuse by a member of the St John of God Order, Coleman Legal LLP can help you pursue justice and compensation. Our experienced solicitors have a deep understanding of the legal issues surrounding these cases, and we are committed to fighting for the rights of victims in Malawi.

Background

The Hospitaller Order of Saint John of God is an Irish religious order with operations in Ireland, Great Britain and Malawi. They are part of the international Saint John of God Order. 

The Order is dedicated to providing healthcare, social, education, and welfare services throughout the world.

Dating back to 1985, complaints of abuse have been made against a member of the Order, Brother Aidan Clohessy. However, these complaints were dismissed and covered up which ultimately lead to his unsupervised access to hundreds of young boys both in Ireland and Malawi.

Brother Clohessy at St. Augustine’s School, Blackrock (1970 – 1993)

In 1985, the first complaints of abuse were made against Brother Aidan Clohessy relating to his time at St. Augustine’s in Blackrock, a school for boys with special needs. He had worked at St. Augustine’s since 1970. The complaint was dismissed internally, and Garda were not informed.

St. John of God- New Mission in Malawi led by Brother Aidan Clohessy (1993 – 2012)

Malawi Flag

  • In 1993, Brother Aidan Clohessy was sent on a new mission to Mzuzu in Northern Malawi by the then Provincial of the St. John of Gods Order. Brother Aidan set about establishing facilities for street children in Mzuzu. Children were housed in a converted garage attached to his house. As Brother Aidan continued the operations in Malawi, the St. John of God Order received further complaints of abuse in Ireland.  Some of the complaints were dealt with through the Redress Board.Authorities in Malawi were not informed of the complaints, nor were the charities that funded his work in Mzuzu.   
  • In 1997 Brother Aidan was told by the Order not to work with children, but he continued to do so.   
  • In 1998, St. John of Gods informed authorities in Ireland that Brother Aidan was “no longer involved in services to children”. His work with children in Mzuzu continued.

Further complaints of abuse were received in Ireland.

  • In 2003, now with 10 complaints of abuse by Brother Aidan received, the Order wrote to him and told him “not to have direct contact responsibility for programmes attended by children”. Again, he continues living and working with children in Malawi.
  • In 2011, at which stage 14 complaints of abuse by Brother Aidan had been received, the St. John of God Order carried out a risk assessment which found that Brother Aidan was a low risk of sexual abuse as “he is not in a position of authority over children”. Brother Aidan remained unsupervised in Malawi and was responsible for children’s services there. 
  • In 2012, Brother Aidan returned to Ireland after having been withdrawn from public ministry. New allegations of abuse continued to be received. St. John of Gods finally report the 1985 allegations of abuse to An Garda Siochana. Nobody in Malawi was informed of the reason for Brother Aidan’s departure.
  • In 2017, the cover-up was exposed and the Irish Government and other donors funding St. John of Gods mission in Malawi was suspended. New investigations were launched by Gardai.

Brother Aidan Clohessy has been charged with the indecent assault of six boys in St. Augustine’s and will go on trial in 2024.

Recent updates

Brother Aiden was relocated from Ireland to Malawi in Africa in 1993 where he had established mental and other health services for vulnerable people and children in Mzuzu. In 2012, Brother Aidan Clohessy in the St. John of Gods Order was officially withdrawn from public ministry in Mzuzu, the third largest city in Malawi after St John of God finally prompted a Gardaí investigation circling sexual abuse allegations made in 1998. Br. Aidan Clohessy returned to Dublin and now has restricted access to children, due to a set of rules called the Covenant of Care.

Currently, we act on behalf of upwards of 20 Malawi clients, of which High Court Proceedings have been issued in 12 cases. In one particular case, the Notice of Trial to fix a date for a hearing was served in February 2023 and a hearing date for this case is awaited.

How Coleman Legal LLP can help?

If you are a victim of sexual abuse by a member of the St John of God Order, Coleman Legal LLP can help you pursue justice and compensation. Our experienced solicitors have a deep understanding of the legal issues surrounding these cases, and we are committed to fighting for the rights of victims. We can provide you with the guidance and support you need to navigate the legal process and hold those responsible accountable for their actions.

Contact us today to learn more about how we can help you. (For enquiries from Malawi) 

All calls will be in the strictest confidence and privacy.

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Clodagh Magennis

Clodagh Magennis

Head of Client Services

(1800)-844-104
[email protected]

”At Coleman Legal, excellence in customer care is paramount. We aim to meet both prospective and existing client’s needs in a professional, engaging, and friendly manner with a clear objective to give quality legal advice and reach a positive outcome.”

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