Bernard McGrath: Catholic Brother of the Order of St John of God

Wednesday 25 February at 9.30pm on TV One

In 2006, Bernard McGrath, an ex-Catholic brother of the Order of St John of God in New Zealand, was found guilty of 21 charges of sexually abusing boys at Marylands School in Christchurch in the 1970s.

In this episode of Real Crime: Beyond the Darklands, clinical psychologist Nigel Latta examines why McGrath started abusing children, how he managed to silence his victims – and how he continued to abuse for more than two decades.

Latta goes behinds the headlines and talks to McGrath’s victims – men who speak bravely and openly, but admit that their lives were shattered by their time in his care. Says victim Sean Herbert: “He’s just betrayed a lot of people’s trust. Not just for a length of his time on this planet, but for people who have got to still get to live the rest of their lives.”

Producer/director Peter Bell says, “The bravery of the men we interviewed was astounding – none of them wanted to hide their identity. They just wanted their story to be told after years of feeling like they have been ignored. When you see them reliving their past, it is hard not to be affected”.

This episode also features interviews with two of the police officers who led the investigation into the abuse at Marylands School, which became New Zealand’s largest sexual abuse case.

And McGrath? He was sentenced to five years in jail in 2006, but is currently on home detention in Christchurch.


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