Edward Hayes, a resident of Carlisle, UK, has come forward to waive off his right to anonymity in a long legal battle he has been facing against the Catholic Church. Hayes has stated that as a 12-year-old back in 1953 he was repeatedly raped and abused by a Catholic nun at the former John Reynolds Home located in Lytham St Annes, Lancashire.
The John Reynolds home was run by The Franciscan Missionaries of St Joseph, a Catholic congregation of nuns. Edward Hayes, (76), who was earlier known as Billy, was sent there as a 10-year-old after being neglected by his parents. In his interaction with The Daily Express, he recalled his initial years at the home as pleasant. But in 1953, his fate took an unfortunate turn after the arrival of the then 27-year-old Irish nun, Sister Mary Conleth (originally named as Bessie Veronica Lawler).
Hayes explained that Sister Mary ‘sought him out’. He was assigned to assist her in the Laundry room and she started sexually abusing him regularly. Edward has stated that he protested against it but he was threatened by her and coerced into a sexual relationship. The sexual abuse continued for years and at 14, Edward was allocated his own room, which was very unusual in a care home but it was so Sister Mary could visit him during nights.
Edward stated that the abuse stopped suddenly in 1956 when Sister Mary got pregnant. The authorities at the Reynolds Home sent Sister Mary back to Ireland in disgrace and they arranged for Edward to be quietly sent to another facility in Cumbria. Edward has added that over the years, the Mother Superior of the Reynolds Home, Mother Mary Osmund kept tabs on him in Cumbria, which he later realised was only to make sure Sister Conleth didn’t get in touch with him and the matter does not become public.
Edward Hayes has added that he doesn’t know what happened to the child he was forced to father and Sister Mary Conleth has passed away. Recalling his traumatic experiences, he added that the abuse and the mental trauma had made him turn into an alcoholic and he had never been able to have a ‘normal relationship’. Edward, who is now 76, has suffered a broken marriage, alcoholism and has never been able to lead a stable and happy life.
Over the years, Edward had tried to narrate his experience and explain to the authorities, but he had failed. He was able to legally pursue the matter only after meeting Noel Chardon, who is also a survivor of Catholic Church abuse. Chardon was a volunteer at a support group Macsas (Ministry And Clergy Sexual Abuse Survivors). With Chardon’s help, Edward was offered a shelter to live and has started making amends with his ex-wife and family. Edward received legal aid to pursue the case in 2012 and Finally, in 2016, he was offered 20,00 Pounds in compensation and ‘a sincere apology’ by the Sisters of the Franciscan Missionaries of St Joseph.
Though most of the money he received was spent on legal expenses, Edward Hayes stated that he was satisfied that he at least managed to bring them to account. He stated, ” I may not be able to win, but I can get even”. Edward acknowledges that what happened to him must have bee the tip of the iceberg. He added, “I went through hell my entire life, trying to hide what happened to me. Nobody should go through that.”
Edward, who was a bright student, choir singer and a local football player, struggled through mental trauma and was drawn to alcoholism throughout his adult life. He was medically discharged from the Royal Artillery after he developed ulcer due to alcoholism.
Noel Chardon of the support group Macsas stated that the way the victims of the Catholic Church sexual abuse are treated is absolutely appaling. “They have no interest in self-empowerment, they don’t want victims to heal because they do not want to face up to what they did. They are waiting for people like Edward, like myself, like the Magdalene women, to die so they can say that this all happened such a long time ago and that they’re so very sorry.”
There are countless cases of child sexual abuse against Catholic priests all over the world.