The Executive Summary of a report detailing sexual abuse at a HSE-run centre in Stranorlar has been published.
The Brandon report outlines 108 incidents of serious assault carried out by a resident between 2003 and 2016 at Ard Greine Court and the Sean O’Hare Unit.
The National Independent Review Panel found at least 18 intellectually disabled residents were abused by the resident, referred to as Brandon, who’s now deceased.
Victims’ families received the report yesterday.
The Executive Summary of the Brandon Report is available on the HSE website here: https://www.hse.ie/eng/services/news/media/pressrel/hse-publishes-independent-review-of-the-management-of-brandon.html
Donegal TD Thomas Pringle says there needs to be assurances this won’t happen again…
In the Dail this afternoon, Deputy Padraig MacLochlainn raised the report with Tanaiste Leo Varadkar, with the Tanaiste confirming that Minister Anne Rabbitte wants to publish the full report.
Deputy Mac Lochlainn told the Dail that must happen, and also challenged the fact that publishing the summary today means it can’t be debated in the house….
You can read a summary of today’s report below:
The Executive Summary reveals that the first instance of “Brandon” sexually assaulting another resident was not in 2003 like previously thought, but in January of 1997 – meaning that he had sexually assaulted other residents in the John Smith Unit of St Joseph’s Hospital in Stranorlar, now referred to as Stillwater Services, over a period of 19 years.
The summary states that 4 instances of assault happened between 1997 and 2003, but the period between 2003 and 2011 is when Brandon “engaged in a vast number of highly abusive and sexually intrusive behaviours”, and he often was “able to identify particularly vunerable residents that he persued relentlessly”.
His behaviours included exposing himself and masturbating in front of others, as well as sexually touching other residents’ genitals and intimate areas. The summary also noted he would often enter the rooms of vunerable residents he had targeted before at night.
Brandon was found to have assaulted a total of eighteen residents from January 2003 to November of 2011. After November 2011, there were no further recorded instances of written reports of Brandon assaulting another individual, but there were a number of reports on file that suggested he continued to engage in inappropriate behaviour up to May of 2016, when he was transferred from the facility in Stranorlar to a local nursing home.
The families of his victims were never told of the instances of sexual assault at the time at which they happened.
According to the executive summary, the most common strategy for managing Brandon’s care within the John Smith Unit was to move him between wards, where he was moved a total of nine times to different wards within the fifteen year period the review covers.
The report found that in November of 2011, he was moved to a house within the facility on his own, which resulted in a “sharp reduction” of the sexual assaults recorded. But, in September of 2013, he was moved back onto a ward with other residents, to live with residents that he had already previously assaulted.
It is also detailed the communications that were made with An Garda Síochána regarding Brandon, which occurred on four separate occasions.
On the first occasion, a nurse manager reported Brandon’s assaults to a local Garda sargeant in June of 2011 – but no HSE follow-up was ever made regarding this Garda report.
The second contact with Gardaí was made in March of 2017, informing Gardaí of the look-back review being carried out into historical sexual abuse at the centre, but no notes were taken by An Garda Síochana at the time.
It was only in December of 2018, when a service manager met with the Garda liason and presented them with the full look-back review, that the matter was elevated to senior Gardaí.
In April of 2019 An Garda Síochana confirmed to the HSE that their investigation regarding Brandon was being completed.
That was confirmed to the NIRP, who carried out the review into Brandon, in Febuary of 2020 – but it was stated that not only were the allegations of abuse at the facility being investigated by Gardaí, but also “the alleged withholding of information on the sexual abuse of patients by staff employed by the HSE”.
Regarding the safeguarding and protection team within the facility, the report found “evidence that the HSE on occasions disregarded the advice and guidance offered… in terms of how serious safeguarding concerns should be dealt with”.
A HIQA report into Stillwater services in 2014 also found “significant risks to the safety and welfare of residents in the centre”, as well as referring to failures in reporting and investigating allegations of abuse; “Inspectors identified several allegations of abuse that had not been appropriately reported to management or when reported, had not been properly investigated in accordance with national safeguarding policies or procedures”
The report found that it was “clear from the evidence reviewed that this (abuse) occurred with the full knowledge of staff and management at the facility at that time”. It also noted that a number of factors contributed to the situation continuing for such a prolonged period of time, including the “clinical environment” of the facility which referred to residents as “patients”.