Up to 40 Monks and Teachers Accused of Sexually Abusing Children at English Catholic Boarding School
A review of Reports in the News 1 December 2017
Children at a Roman Catholic church school in England are “still at risk”, with claims that up to 40 monks and teachers have sexually abused pupils. Since 1996 three monks and two lay teachers at Ampleforth have been convicted of sex offences against pupils, but Ms Karmy-Jones said that the inquiry had been notified of multiple allegations.
The Independent Inquiry into Child Sexual Abuse (IICSA) is examining the prevalence of paedophilia in the English Benedictine Congregation and failures in protecting young people. But although numerous inquiries have exposed the problem of child abuse within church institutions and a string of offenders convicted, lingering safety concerns could remain, it was heard. The inquiry is focusing on offenders that targeted children at two Roman Catholic schools, Ampleforth in North Yorkshire and Downside in Somerset, over the course of many decades.
Counsel to the inquiry Riel Karmy-Jones told a hearing at IICSA’s headquarters in south London: “It may be that during the course of evidence and the submissions to come (that) there is some acceptance of failings, but reliance will be placed on changes that have been made over the years. “But, as you will hear, concerns remain and you are likely to hear evidence that suggests safeguarding problems are still ongoing, in some instances, and with the inevitable result that children may remain at risk.”
The Roman Catholic Church is one of 13 arms of public life being scrutinised for child safety failings by IICSA. Turning a blind eye to paedophilia should be made a criminal offence so Church institutions are discouraged from hushing up scandals, a victims’ lawyer said. Richard Scorer, who represents 27 core participants to the inquiry, said some Catholic Church schools concealed offending out of concerns for their reputation. Many rely on private school fees to survive and cannot risk exposing misconduct, turning schools into “honeypots where multiple offenders operate”, he said. “The reputational pressures, the cultural and theological factors which led to abuse being covered up in Catholic institutions have not gone away,” he told the hearing.
Previous inquiries into Catholic Church schools such as Ampleforth have revealed behaviour ranging from rape to voyeuristic beatings over many years, and resulted in convictions. Predators include teacher David Lowe, jailed in 2015 for 10 years for 15 indecent assaults on boys under Lowe’s offences were traced back to the 1980s at Westminster Cathedral School and Ampleforth.
Matthias Kelly, representing Ampleforth, offered a “sincere and heartfelt apology to anyone who has suffered abuse whilst in our care”. He added: “All students, past and present and future, are entitled to expect that they will be safe and cared for by us – I am deeply sorry that this was not always the case. “We wish to apologise for the hurt, injury, distress and damage done to those who were abused as a result of our failings.” He said the school would “strive with every fibre of our beings to alleviate the damage done “and, he said, “ensure that we do everything we can to ensure there is no repetition”. Kate Gallafen, representing the English Benedictine Congregation and Downside school, also expressed the remorse of both institutions. She said a review and audit of safeguarding procedures had been commissioned at Downside, which will be carried out by the Social Care Institute for Excellence.