Former pupil suing East Lothian council over abuse caused by jailed monk

Michael Murphy, 68, known as Brother Benedict, the former monk who was found guilty 20th June 2003, of abusing boys in his care during the 1960s.
Michael Murphy, 68, known as Brother Benedict, the former monk who was found guilty 20th June 2003, of abusing boys in his care during the 1960s.

An abuse survivor is suing a Catholic Church sect and a local authority after he was assaulted by a monk at a residential school.

Michael Murphy, known as Brother Benedict or Brother Ben, abused children in the 1970s and 1980s when he worked at St Joseph’s School in Tranent, East Lothian.

He was jailed for seven years in April 2016 at the High Court in Edinburgh after being found guilty of physically and sexually abusing eight boys.

The physical abuse he carried out included habitual and sustained physical punishment as well as the administration of electric shocks, the Crown Office said at the conclusion of the case.

The anonymous survivor, now aged in his 50s, is suing East Lothian Council and De La Salle Brothers for damages and is seeking reparations estimated at a six-figure sum for the pain caused by the former schoolmaster.

He said Brother Benedict “ruined not just my childhood but my adult life”.

He added: “He abused his position while working alongside the council and the Church to fulfil his own sick desires.

“I hope now to be able to find the means to help me rebuild my life.”

Murphy, from Liss in Hampshire, also had a previous conviction for ten earlier assaults on boys when he worked at St Ninian’s School, Gartmore, near Stirling, between 1960 and 1969 which resulted in a 12-month jail sentence.

He has been placed on the sex offenders’ register for an indefinite period.

Kim Leslie, partner and specialist abuse lawyer at Digby Brown Solicitors, said: “Following the conviction of Brother Benedict we are now investigating the matter on behalf of our client who was subjected to a horrendous ordeal and there is no doubt that others will have found themselves being similarly affected.

“An action has now been raised in court on the grounds of vicarious liability against both the local authority and the De La Salle Brothers.”

East Lothian Council said it would be inappropriate to comment.

The De La Salle Brothers said: “As legal proceedings have commenced we are unable to comment at present. “

At the court case in 2016, Murphy denied a string of charges against him during the High Court trial.

He said: “I should not be here in this court at all.”

However, a jury convicted him of 15 charges of assault and indecent assault involving eight boys spanning a decade up to 1981.

At the trial, evidence was heard that one boy had his hands burned and another lapsed into unconsciousness. One pupil was locked in an unlit cupboard overnight and another was urinated on.

During proceedings, the jury heard another former pupil at St Joseph’s describe how he was sexually molested by Murphy. The 49-year-old witness said: “He said he was checking me.”

At the sentencing, Lord Uist told Murphy: “The crimes set out in charges 11, 12 and 14 consisted of particularly abhorrent and despicable sexual abuse of two boys.

“In behaving as you did, you betrayed the trust reposed in you as a guardian of those boys and flouted your religious ­calling.”

He added: “I do not know what caused you to treat those boys, who have clearly all been damaged by what they suffered at your hands, in such a cruel manner.

“Your continued denial of these crimes shows that you have no remorse or regret.”

Murphy was acquitted of a further two charges. He was also placed on the Sex Offenders Register for life.

He was previously convicted for similar offences at the High Court in Edinburgh in 2003.