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]

In 2011 there was 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]

In October 2017, Andrew Soper (known as Father Laurence), former abbot of Ealing Abbey, was found guilty on 19 sexual offences against pupils of St Benedicts's school in the 1970s and 1980s.[8][9]

Buckfast Abbey

Father Paul Couch was jailed for ten years in 2007, on two counts of serious sexual assault and 11 of indecent assault.[10] He had committed the offences against six boys between 1972 and 1993 during two periods at Buckfast Abbey Preparatory School in Devon; he was a Royal Navy chaplain from 1978 until 1983 and again from 1992.[11]

Father William Manahan pleaded guilty in 2007 at Exeter Crown Court to eight charges of sexually assaulting pupils at the same school between 1971 and 1978, and was jailed for 15 months.[12] The school closed in 1994.

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] News Archive Community Pride Education Features In depth Letters National Video Road to Justice campaign Tour de Yorkshire 28th March Ampleforth College teacher Dara De-Cogan jailed after sexually abusing pupil Megi Rychlikova JAILED: Dara De-Cogan JAILED: Dara De-Cogan

2017 A TALENTED musician and teacher Dara De-Cogan,has been jailed for sexually abusing a pupil at Ampleforth College over some years. Judge Andrew Stubbs QC told Dara De-Cogan, 58: “You used her to satisfy your sexual desires and to act out your own sexual fantasies. “It was an abject failure of the trust her parents had placed in Ampleforth College and more particularly in you.” Dan Cordey, prosecuting, said the former senior member of the Halle Orchestra and head of strings at the Roman Catholic private school in Ryedale befriended the girl after she became a boarder there.

He groomed her during her first years and acted as a surrogate father, before constantly engaging in sex acts with her throughout her sixth form years, on and off the school premises and during school hours, including tying her up.

In a victim impact statement, the girl, now a woman, said the abuse had had a devastating effect on her ability to trust others and form relationships. The fact that it took place in a Catholic institution and that De-Cogan told her she would “throw him into hell” if she left him had shaken but not ended her faith.

De-Cogan, of Kilburn near Thirsk,Yorkshire,pleaded guilty to ten charges of engaging in sexual activity while in a position of trust and was jailed for 28 months at York Crown Court. He was also put on the sex offenders’ register for ten years and banned from ever contacting the girl again

His barrister Rod Hunt said: “This was one infatuation. There have been no other infatuations. When the temptation came his way he was no longer strong enough to resist it.”

At the time, he was having family difficulties including the death of his father.

De-Cogan will never work as a teacher again, he said.

An NSPCC spokesperson said: “De Cogan used a position of trust for his own gratification and those he abused have shown incredible courage in coming forward and speaking out.

“Now that he has been sentenced we hope his victim can begin to move forward with their lives.

“We want anyone who has suffered abuse to know they will be listened to, adults with concerns about a child can call our Helpline on 0808 8005000, children can call Childline on 0800 1111.” has repeatedly been troubled by sex abuse. In 1987 Roman Catholic Priest Father GREGORY CARROLL confessed to abusing a Junior House pupil. The then head, Father Dominic Milroy, suspended him and transferred him to a Catholic parish in Workington, Cumbria – but there he sexually abused a nine-year-old altar boy. In 2005 Carroll, 66, got four years’ jail after admitting 14 offences in the 1980s against at least ten pupils. In 1990 FRANK HOPKINSON, 56, ex-head of the school’s finance department, was jailed for two-and-a-half years for sex offences against a boy of 14 who was not at Ampleforth. In 1996 history teacher Father BERNARD GREEN, 43, was given 50 hours’ community service for indecent assault of a sleeping pupil of 13. In 2005 Father PIERS GRANT- FERRIS, 72, got two years for 20 indecent assaults against 15 pupils at Ampleforth’s prep school. february 2015 David Lowe, 61, from Bristol, who is now retired, sexually assaulted boys aged from eight to 13 between 1978 and 1984, Southwark Crown Court heard.

The offences took place at Westminster Cathedral Choir School and Ampleforth College in North Yorkshire.

He targeted 10 boys, leaving treats for them and spanking them at his home, the jury heard.

Lowe was convicted of 15 counts of indecent assault.

Judge Martin Beddoe told Lowe he took advantage of "vulnerable" boys.

The Charity Commission’s inquiry into Ampleforth Abbey and its educational trust, which runs Ampleforth College, was launched after The Times revealed the school’s past cover-up of a potential scandal when 11 boys alleged inappropriate conduct by a teacher.

Pupils told Ampleforth’s headmaster in 1989 of having been stroked, touched and kissed by Paul Sheppard. The Canadian was asked to leave but police were not informed and he was given job references praising the quality of his “exceptional dedication” and “care for the children”.

DECEMBER 2016 The Charity Commission’s inquiry into Ampleforth Abbey and its educational trust, which runs Ampleforth College, was launched after The Times revealed the school’s past cover-up of a potential scandal when 11 boys alleged inappropriate conduct by a teacher.

Pupils told Ampleforth’s headmaster in 1989 of having been stroked, touched and kissed by Paul Sheppard. The Canadian was asked to leave but police were not informed and he was given job references praising the quality of his “exceptional dedication” and “care for the children”.Dr Sheppard, now aged 53, subsequently taught at schools in seven countries across four continents.

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 was alleged to have 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 was said to have increased to a weekly basis before Kinsey was sent away from the Abbey for a short period to train as a priest.[citation needed]

Kinsey’s conviction was subsequently quashed by the Court of Appeal, which found that the trial judge had misdirected the jury.

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.

Roman Catholic priest,Fr Michael Creagh. POLICE yesterday accused a leading Roman Catholic public school of attempting to obstruct inquiries into a homosexual Roman Catholic priest who sexually molested a 12-year-old pupil.Fr Michael Creagh, 56, former deputy house master at the Douai Abbey School, Upper Woolhapton in Berkshire, was jailed for nine months after pleading guilty at Reading Crown Court to three counts of indecent assault. After the case detectives from the Reading family protection unit alleged the school had hindered their investigation by withholding information about the priest and other pupils he was suspected of abusing.< 6 August 1992> The court heard Creagh began a sexual relationship with the boy in 1988, soon after the child arrived at the pounds 2,500-a-term boarding school run by Benedictine monks. Judge Stanley Spence, sentencing Creagh, told him: 'You were a member of a religious community and in a position of trust - in loco parentis for that child. 'What is particularly reprehensible is that the child sought counselling when he came to you about signs of puberty. It was a double betrayal of trust.'

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]

Letter from abbot Aidan Bellenger In August 2016, Abbot Aidan Bellenger sent a letter to Dom Leo Maidlow Davis, the prior administrator at Downside Abbey and chair of governors at Downside School. Abbot Aidan said: "there are still three members of the community who have weaknesses in that direction" and "at the heart of darkness in the community is the issue of child abuse which was 'tolerated' by all my predecessors as abbot". In a subsequent letter in July 2017 to Dom Leo he wrote: "As prior and abbot I became increasingly aware of the long-term...problems of the community, and I would like to take this opportunity to share some thoughts with you."

The letter goes on to say: "Dom Nicholas and Dom Dunstan were both imprisoned for paedophile offences. Neither was penitent. Both were protected (and implicitly) encouraged by their abbots." The (IICSA) inquiry heard that Dunstan O'Keefe was convicted for a public order offence in 2003 when he'd been found masturbating in a car outside a primary school. He was handed a conditional discharge.

There was a further police investigation in 2004 regarding the possession of indecent images of children said to have occurred between 1997 and 2004. In September 2004 he was sentenced to 9 months in prison, according to inquiry papers. Dunstan O'Keefe was withdrawn from contact with children while investigations continued.The inquiry contiues. › News › Somerset News

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. ^ Pennink, Emily; Clifton, Katy (6 December 2017). "'Sadistic' former abbot found guilty of abusing boys at school". getwestlondon. Retrieved 17 December 2017. 
  10. ^ "Jail for child sex abuse teacher". BBC News: Devon. 31 August 2007. Retrieved 17 December 2017. 
  11. ^ "Man, 61, denies school sex abuse". BBC News: Devon. 16 July 2007. Retrieved 17 December 2017. 
  12. ^ "Monk jailed for schoolboys abuse". BBC News: Devon. 8 November 2007. Retrieved 17 December 2017. 
  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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