RTE told: produce evidence of abuse
Family insists Brother not behind offence
Published 26/11/2011 | 05:00
THE family of a Christian Brother named as an abuser by 'Prime Time Investigates' last night ramped up pressure on RTE to produce the evidence for its allegations.
Br Gerard Dillon was named as an abuser in the controversial documentary 'Mission To Prey', which focused on Irish missionaries in Africa.
The same programme led to a massive libel settlement with Fr Kevin Reynolds, who was falsely accused of fathering a child with a woman in Kenya.
Br Dillon, who taught in Pretoria, South Africa, was accused of sexual abuse by former pupil Tyrone Selmon in the programme broadcast last May.
Mr Selmon strongly defended his version of events when contacted by this newspaper last night.
The family of Br Dillon, who was originally from Clarecastle in Co Clare and died in South Africa in December 2005, have demanded that RTE produce its research into the allegations.
His niece Marian Dillon said she wanted to see more evidence, and find out how RTE researched the allegations surrounding her uncle.
“RTE presented this one allegation as fact. It’s totally unjust. If we had any doubts we would not be going to this much effort,” said Ms Dillon, speaking from her home in Co Clare.
“We’ve asked them for their research and to show us how they can back up their claim,” she said. Ms Dillon also said she had received several letters supporting the family’s campaign from some of Br Dillon’s past pupils.
RTE work practices are under intense scrutiny with three probes now under way into how the Fr Reynolds libel was broadcast, including a governmentordered investigation by the Broadcast Authority of Ireland. However, RTE says it is standing over the portion of the programme that concerned Br Dillon, arguing it made attempts to seek comment from others, including the Christian Brothers school authorities in South Africa.
It says a number of other former pupils of Br Dillon now living in other countries have corroborated Mr Selmon’s testimony. Mr Selmon confirmed last night that he stands over his accusation against Br Dillon. “I have no reason to have lied,” he said. And he said the relatives of Br Dillon have never contacted him to query his claims.
“What happened was very, very true to me and I am certainly standing by it,” Mr Selmon said. Meanwhile, Ms Dillon said the family had to put up with an amount of “whispering” in the wake of the RTE broadcast. “It’s just unbelievably unjust and he (Br Dillon) is not able to defend himself and RTE expected us to remain silent,” she said.
Br Dillon went to South Africa in January 1946 when he was 22 and died there 60 years later. Ms Dillon remembers her uncle as a much-loved member of the family who visited Ireland every few years. Ms Dillon said she and her cousin Sean wrote to RTE after the programme was broadcast but got no response. Her cousins Mary and Amanda Dillon also wrote. She said Amanda had received a response but it had not addressed the questions the family raised.
However, RTE said it had written twice to members of the Dillon family.