Sexual abuse scandal in the English Benedictine Congregation

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The sexual abuse scandal in the English Benedictine Congregation was a significant episode in the series of Catholic sex abuse cases in the United Kingdom.

Abuse at Benedictine Monasteries

Ealing Abbey

In April 2006 civil damages were awarded jointly against Dom David Pearce, a former head of the junior school at St Benedicts, and Ealing Abbey in the High Court in relation to an alleged assault by Dom Pearce on a pupil while teaching at St Benedict's School in the 1990s, although criminal charges were dropped.[1] He was subsequently charged in November 2008 with 24 counts of indecent assault, sexual touching and gross indecency with six boys aged under 16. The counts related to incidents before and after 2003, when the law was changed to create an offence of sexual touching.[2][3] After admitting his guilt at Isleworth Crown Court to offences going back to 1972 Pearce was jailed for eight years in October 2009.[4][5]

The conduct of the Ealing monastic community, as trustee of the St. Benedict's Trust, was examined by the Charity Commission, which found that it had failed to take adequate measures to protect beneficiaries of the charity from Dom Pearce.[6]

There has recently[when?] been an allegation of cover-up involving Ealing Abbey and abuse towards a female pupil at St Gregory's Roman Catholic Primary School, a state school in Woodfield Rd, Ealing, with links to the abbey. The abuse is alleged to have occurred in the 1970s.[7]

Andrew Soper, former abbot of Ealing Abbey, is currently answering charges of sexual abuse in court. [8]

Buckfast Abbey

Father William Manahan of Buckfast Abbey pleaded guilty at Exeter Crown Court to eight charges of sexually assaulting pupils.[9]

Father Paul Couch was also found guilty earlier of two counts of serious sexual assault and 11 of indecent assault.[10] Father Couch committed the offences against six boys between 1972 and 1993 during two periods at the school. He was a Royal Navy chaplain from 1978 until 1983 and again from 1992.[11] In 2007 he was sentenced to ten years in jail.[12]

Ampleforth College

Several monks and three members of the lay teaching staff at Ampleforth College, one of the leading Roman Catholic schools in the country, had molested children in their care.

In 1995 Fr Bernard Green, then a housemaster, was arrested after indecently assaulting a sleeping boy in one of the school's dormitories. He received two years' probation for an incident which was said to have "petrified" the boy concerned.[13][14]

In 2005 Fr Piers Grant-Ferris admitted 20 incidents between 1966 and 1975 including beating boys bare-handed on the buttocks, and taking temperatures rectally. The Yorkshire Post reported in 2005 that former Abbot Basil Hume did not call in police when the initial incident came to light in 1975, but removed Father Grant-Ferris. Several other incidents came to light in 2003, when the abbey hired a psychologist to conduct risk assessments on staff.[15]

Belmont Abbey

Father John Kinsey of Belmont Abbey, Herefordshire was sentenced to five years at Worcester Crown Court in 2005 by Judge Andrew Geddes for a series of serious offences relating to assaults on schoolboys attending Belmont Abbey School in the mid 1980s.[16][17]

Kinsey attacked three schoolboys while a monk at Belmont Abbey during a two-year period, grooming and attacking victims during bell ringing lessons and altar service duties. The frequency of his attacks increased to a weekly basis before Kinsey was sent away from the Abbey for a short period to train as a priest.[citation needed]

Due to falling pupil numbers Belmont Abbey closed the school in the early 1990s.[18]

Douai Abbey

David Smith, jailed May 2007, was an assistant headmaster at Douai School from 1975, and an Anglican priest from 1981, who sexually abused a series of boys over a 30-year period.[19] The school closed in 1999.

Downside Abbey

In January 2012, Father Richard White, a monk at Downside Abbey, near Westfield, Somerset, who formerly taught at its school, was jailed for five years for gross indecency and indecent assault against a pupil in the late 1980s. White, 66, who was known to pupils as Father Nick, had been allowed to continue teaching after he was first caught abusing a child in 1987 and was able to go on to groom and assault another pupil in the junior school. He was placed on a restricted ministry after the second incident but was not arrested until 2010. Two other Downside monks, also former teachers, received police cautions during an 18-month criminal trial.[20] One of the cautioned monks has been named as Michael Hurt (Brother Anselm).[21]

See also


  1. ^ Alleged Assault Ealing Times 13 April 2006
  2. ^ Priest charged with paedophilia Ealing Gazette 9 December 2008
  3. ^ Ealing priest charged Ealing Times 9 December 2008
  4. ^ 'Devil in a dog collar' priest faces jail for sex abuse, London Evening Standard - 12 August 2009
  5. ^ Jailed child pervert priest ruined my life, Ealing Gazette, 9 October 2009
  6. ^ Charity Commission Report on St. Benedict's Trust, 15 December 2009
  7. ^ Ealing Gazette
  8. ^ [1]
  9. ^ Monk jailed for schoolboys abuse
  10. ^ Jail for child sex abuse teacher
  11. ^ Man, 61
  12. ^ Buckfast pervert is jailed.
  13. ^ Priest accused of dormitory assault , The Independent, 28 November 1995.
  14. ^ Silence and secrecy at school where child sex abuse went on for decades, The Guardian, 18 November 2005.
  15. ^ Ampleforth child abuse scandal hushed up by Basil Hume, The Yorkshire Post, 18 November 2005.
  16. ^ Five years for attacks on boys
  17. ^ Priest almost drove victim to suicide
  18. ^ The closure of the school
  19. ^ "Vicar jailed for decades of sex abuse after church failed to take action". The Guardian. 4 May 2007. Retrieved 12 February 2015. 
  20. ^
  21. ^

External links

  • Child And Youth Protection; US Conference of Catholic Bishops
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