A Christian Brother, who has been compared to notorious paedophile Fr Brendan Smyth, sexually abused children for two decades without ever being brought to justice, it has emerged.
For nine years he preyed on and abused children at the former boys' home Rubane House in Kircubbin where he was the school principal before becoming overall director of the home, which was run by the De La Salle Order.
The De La Salle Order has accepted that he "sexually abused children in his care before, during and after his time in Rubane", the Historical Institutional Abuse Inquiry heard yesterday.
However he was never reported to the police and has since died.
Lawyer to the inquiry, Joseph Aiken, likened the child abuser to Fr Brendan Smyth – whose abuse of children spanned decades and continents.
"The type of grooming behaviour, abuse of power and sexual abuse of boys are similar to those traits that the public will be familiar with from cases such as Fr Brendan Smyth," said Mr Aiken.
The Brother was the principal of the school at Rubane House from 1953 until 1956, when he took over as director of the boys' home until 1962.
The first allegations of abuse at the home came to light in 1958 when he was in charge of the home. At that time 70 boys were living there.
"The extensive and grave allegations ... in respect of (him)... have never been exposed publicly before. He was never reported to police or interviewed by them. Consequently he was never charged or convicted of the abuse that he perpetrated over a period of time that is likely to extend beyond 20 years," said Mr Aiken.
He added: "The material that we will look at is the minimum abuse that is known of." The inquiry, which is currently focusing on Rubane House, heard that there were five brothers who performed the role of director of the home up to 1980.
"All of those Brothers face allegations of either physical or sexual abuse or both," Mr Aiken said.
The Order has said it is not in the position to accept the allegations against all of them.
Evidence of 55 victims who claim to have been abused while at Rubane House will be given to the inquiry over the next few weeks.
Some of those to give evidence are victims of Brendan Smyth, who died in 1997 of a heart attack one month into a 12-year prison sentence for sexually assaulting 20 victims.
"The police investigation into Brendan Smyth in the mid-1990s revealed he had also abused children in Rubane and Nazareth Lodge in Belfast.
"He admitted much of that abuse and was convicted for it," said Mr Aiken.
He added that the inquiry will also address the failures within the Order and the Roman Catholic Church in Ireland "that allowed Fr Brendan Smyth to be in a position to carry out the sexual abuse of children in these two children homes".
The inquiry has gathered 700 pages of evidence relating to Smyth.
In recent years the De La Salle Order has dealt with 50 civil claims by former residents.
To date 22 of these claims have been resolved and almost £390,000 of compensation has been paid out.