Catholic boarding schools ‘prioritised monks and their reputations over children’s safety’, sexual abuse inquiry finds

The Independent Inquiry into Child Sexual Abuse (IICSA) found that pupils at Ampleforth, in Yorkshire, and Downside, in Somerset, suffered “appalling” treatment stretching over decades. The Independent reports

The inquiry found that children as young as seven were sexually abused at Ampleforth, and 11 at Downside, amid a “culture of acceptance of abusive behaviour”.

Professor Alexis Jay, chair of the inquiry, said: “For decades Ampleforth and Downside tried to avoid giving any information about child sexual abuse to police and social services.  

“Instead, monks in both institutions were very often secretive, evasive and suspicious of anyone outside the English Benedictine Congregation.

“Even after new procedures were introduced in 2001, when monks gave the appearance of cooperation and trust, their approach could be summarised as a ‘tell them nothing’ attitude.”

Both schools are linked to the English Benedictine Congregation, which has 10 monasteries in England and Wales.

IICSA found that “secretive, evasive and suspicious” church officials had avoided reporting misconduct to police and social services.

One alleged offender at Ampleforth, which currently charges £35,424 a year for senior boarders, abused at least 11 children aged between eight and 12 over a “sustained period of time”, but died before police could investigate.

“Many perpetrators did not hide their sexual interests from the children,” the report found, allowing abusers at Ampleforth to prey on entire groups of pupils both outdoors and indoors during communal activities.”

Richard Scorer, a lawyer from Slater and Gordon who represented several victims at the inquiry, called for the onward reporting of sexual abuse allegations to be made legally mandatory

“This familiar and shameful story of coverup has been told time and time again, and is a devastating indictment of an organisation guilty of gross failures on child protection. It is clear that the Catholic church is woefully incapable of policing itself.

Read more Catholic boarding schools ‘prioritised monks and their reputations over children’s safety’, sexual abuse inquiry finds

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