Boy, 7, died after a beating at a Catholic school, abuse inquiry told

Boy, 7, died after a beating at a Catholic school, abuse inquiry told October 9, 2019

ALDO Moroni, a pupil at a prestigious Catholic school in Scotland, was beaten so viciously for spending too much time in the toilet that he died of his injuries.

Aldo Moroni’s photo on his gravestone

Details of the boy’s death in 1980 emerged yesterday during a hearing at the the Scottish Child Abuse Inquiry, established in 2015.

The boy was assaulted by Brother Germanus – David McKell – who was part of the teaching team at St Columba’s College in Largs, Ayrshire

A man, identified only as Edward, told the hearing his nephew said Aldo was “killed”.

He also said he was abused by McKell numerous times while he was at the Scottish school in the 1960s.

Edward said:

Aldo Moroni, a little boy, was getting a vicious beating on the landing outside the toilet for supposedly being in the toilet too long.

[My nephew said] there was screaming and holy murder going on; it got worse, and the next thing we [the nephew and his classmates] knew, there’s an ambulance there, and the next thing we knew we are at a funeral in Dunoon – Aldo was dead.

The hearing was told the pupils had been told the boy had died of a heart attack at the time.

Senior counsel to the inquiry Colin MacAulay QC said Edward:

Drew a link between the beating happening and the death.

The inquiry was told Edward felt guilty for not reporting his alleged abuse at the hands of McKell, claiming he informed the Marist Brothers – who ran the school – and they told him not to tell the police.

Edward said:

I thought about my cowardice – could I have stopped that boy being killed?

He told how he ran away from the school in around 1964 or 1965 while living in “fear and horror”.

The former pupil said he would be woken in bed my McKell and abused, being beaten if he made a noise.

He told the inquiry:

I would describe myself as being zombified… I wasn’t able to speak.

Edward also told how McKell broke the news to him after his brother had died in 1965, saying he had “gone to heaven” and if he ever told anyone about the abuse he would never see his brother again.


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  • Jennny

    This was horrible to read. Just a week ago, Scotland became the first country in the UK to ban spanking and other physical punishment for children. Great to hear.

  • CoastalMaineBird

    I wonder if there’s a religious exemption?

  • Jim Jones

    I wonder how bad McKell would have been without religion to make him moral?

  • Jennny

    Absolutely not, it’s been illegal to administer physical punishment in all UK schools since the early 2000s. A private x-tian school near me got 15 minutes of fame back then as the head pathetically tried to challenge this new ruling…and got very loudly shouted down.

  • Vanity Unfair

    The rules in Scotland might well be different from those in England and, of course, Inquiries are allowed to accept a wider definition of evidence.
    Much of what is reported above wold be inadmissible in normal legal proceedings as hearsay.
    If “Edward” had such a bad time at the school, why would he not tell his nephew’s parents, knowing that the perpetrator was still employed? If he did, what actions did the parents take?
    Is McKell still alive and able to challenge the allegations?
    I do not know anything about the school so can neither accept nor dismiss this evidence but I can say that parts of it are open to severe challenge.

  • Broga

    What is not open to “severe” challenge (just challenge seems not enough for you) is that the child is dead; beaten to death.

    I doubt whether your ability to accept or dismiss “this evidence” matters although you do seem to imply that it does.

    Since that death the treatment of children, often persistent and sadistic abuse by nuns and priests, has become routinely exposed.

    Children who report abuse have for years been listened to with an open mind, indeed by Social Services on the basis of a prima facie assumption that they were telling the truth, and I don’t think your “inadmissible in normal legal proceedings” is relevant. That has been the only way to make a little progress against the religious liars, gullible parents and terrified children.

  • Matthew Ireland

    Is there a statute of limitations in Scotland on murder? There isn’t in the US. The evidence would be circumstantial at best, but a smart prosecutor might be able to make it stick.

  • Contractions of Fate

    1980 and this is just coming out?

  • Vanity Unfair

    What worries me is, thinking back to the 1980s and 1990s, there were widespread accusations of “satanic ritual abuse” in schools, nurseries and similar children’s establishments. The children making the claims were believed because they couldn’t make up that sort of thing. None of he accusations was ever proved to be true. Even recently we have had the Westminster child abuse case where several politicians have had their reputations maligned because the accuser was believed without hesitation. He is now in prison having been found guilty of fabricating lies about Edward Heath, Leon Brittan and others.
    My opinion of the evidence as reported matters only as much as your seeming insistence that he’s a priest therefore he must be guilty.
    A child making an allegation deserves to be heard by the police but the claim should be properly investigated before being made public. Edward giving evidence that he had been assaulted by McKell is allowable but the evidential quality of his report that his nephew had claimed that McKell is a murderer would not be sufficient to allow it as evidence in an English court.
    If you want normally inadmissible evidence to be allowed in court you will have to make a better argument.

  • persephone

    Back then, and even today, the victim is blamed in sexual abuse cases. Edward was apparently sexually abused, then beaten if he spoke up about it. Considering the number of people who still refuse to believe children, even the parents of victims, in favor of whatever lies the church says, it is not in the least surprising that Edward kept his mouth shut. He probably blamed himself for the abuse he endured. He was undoubtedly told all his life that the church was good and right and whatever the church and its clergy did was directed from God.

  • Jennny

    All the upvotes Persephone. it’s hard for younger people to understand how things were several decades ago. Police, teachers, clergy etc were authority figures who were never questioned. Heck, my parents in the 1960s were almost obsequious if the had to ask a police officer the time! That’s how abusers got away with it for so long. When I was 10yo, a family friend, at a party caught me as I came out of the bathroom and tried to kiss me on the mouth. I thought I was to blame because I was wearing my first bra! I got free and rushed downstairs, very shocked and stuck to mum’s side. If I’d accused him, my good parents would have probably given me a rare slap on the legs and said they were so ashamed they were raising a liar. 50yrs later, at a funeral in my attacker’s village, I said I’d known the senior teacher who’d lived just along the street and there was cynical laughter ‘Oh that lecher, girls knew not to be alone with him in school,’ So he got away with abuse for decades…..and that’s how things were back then…children never reported adults. You just coped as best you could. Now, heaven forbid, but if my 6-10yo g/kids were touched inappropriately by an adult they could use the correct anatomical terms, loudly and clearly…”That priest touched my p***s or my v****a”. Thank goodness for that!

  • Broga

    I agree. For too long it has been impossible for the child to be believed. Worse, as you say, the victim has been blamed.

  • Broga

    It wasn’t the children who “made up that sort of thing” it was the social workers. A woman from the USA went around giving talks about satanic abuse and she was believed by some social workers. They persuaded the children. Some clergy believed her because it suited their beliefs. I don’t think only clergy sexually abuse children although the revelations by priests continue. The RC nuns in their hellish laundry in Ireland is a terrible example. We now have examples of scout leaders, football trainers, others and the infamous examples of Jimmy Saville and Cyril Smith. Both protected at the highest levels by police and politicians.

    Children have now been listened to in a way they never were before. Abuse in children’s homes in the past is now belng exposed and I can see why the exposure could only come after the victim had left the home. The legal tests should come later. First accept what the child says.

  • Brian Shanahan

    The poor man and the poor boy. Church should be forcibly disbanded and all it’s leadership tried under the Nurnbug laws.

  • markr1957

    I went to a Catholic boarding school in England in the sixties, and no amount of telling my parents made them believe the abuse I endured at that damned school at the hands of the ‘Sisters of Mercy’. The school simply said I was a bad boy and got what I deserved and my parents took their word for it. Religion does that to feeble minds.

    Then again my parents abused me at home too, although their standard for abuse was hitting with a closed fist or leaving permanent marks, so there is that.

  • Judy Thompson

    Sexual abuse is also not limited to the religious. It also can be a father, a brother, an uncle, (you know, the one your mother always kept you away from); my best friend in grade school was sexually abused by her adopted father AND brother, and she grew up a sad, angry woman. In the fifties and even sixties it was assumed a child was lying to divert attention away from other bad behavior (bad grades, etc).
    My own parents used to have one of the neighbors babysit me. Years later she casually mentioned that he and another man in town used to “procure’ young men. I said, and you let that man BABYSIT me? She seemed totally surprised by that.

    I’ve also seen studies where they showed that a very young child could be persuaded to add to a story, one layer at a time, because she was rewarded with each answer. I think you have to judge what the child says, but not ‘feed’ them the answers. Too easy to do.

  • Jim X

    Very timely investigation. Catholic justice served 39 years later. Confess your sins well after the statute of limitations has expired and ye shall be forgiven.