18 Dec 2010

British police investigating allegations of child abuse at prestigious Catholic school

Google News - AFP August 18, 2010

Abuse claims at top Catholic school

LONDON — Police said Wednesday they were investigating allegations of child abuse made by two former pupils at one of Britain's most prestigious Roman Catholic schools.

London's Metropolitan Police said two men in their forties had made allegations against teachers and staff at St Benedict's School in Ealing, west London, which is attached to a Benedictine monastery.

Chris Patten, the former governor of Hong Kong who is the government's co-ordinator for the visit of Pope Benedict XVI to Britain next month, is a former pupil of the school.

One of the men made allegations against an 80-year-old man, who is being investigated but has not been arrested.

Police said two men, aged 68 and 71, had been arrested in connection with allegations made by the second former pupil. They have been released on police bail while the investigation continues.

The two former pupils contacted police in June 2010 following articles in The Times newspaper relating to other abuse cases.

One of the men named in the new allegations is Father David Pearce, a 68-year-old monk and former teacher, who is serving a five-year prison sentence after pleading guilty to abusing eight pupils between 1972 and 2008, The Times reported on Wednesday.

The Roman Catholic Church has been rocked by allegations of child abuse by priests which have spread across Europe from Ireland to the United States and South America.

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  1. Vatican orders inquiry into Ealing sex abuse claims

    by Neil Lancefield The Independent October, 26 2011

    The Vatican has ordered an inquiry into historic sex offences at a London abbey.

    St Benedict's School, a private independent Catholic school that is part of Ealing Abbey in west London, has been the focus of allegations of abuse.

    The apostolic visitation, as the inquiry is known, is reported to be the first of its kind in Britain.

    It will be conducted by Bishop John Arnold, an auxiliary Bishop of Westminster, and Father Richard Yeo, president of the English Benedictine Congregation.

    A spokesman for the Diocese of Westminster said its representative had visited Ealing Abbey to meet members of the community as part of the inquiry.

    In October 2009, a Catholic priest was jailed for eight years for sexually abusing boys at St Benedict's. Father David Pearce was jailed at Isleworth Crown Court after pleading guilty to a series of indecent assaults and sex attacks on five boys, four of whom were under 14, over a period of 36 years. After the case, one of his victims described him as the "devil in a dog collar". Pearce admitted 10 counts of indecent assault and one count of sexual assault on five victims between 1972 and 2008.

    St Benedict's abbot Martin Shipperlee commissioned an independent review by Lord Carlile of Berriew QC into the case and a review of safeguarding arrangements, policies and procedures is on the abbey's website, with a range of recommendations. Meanwhile, earlier this month, police said they were hunting a Catholic cleric wanted over allegations of child abuse said to date back to when he taught at St Benedict's.

    Father Laurence Soper, who was Abbot of Ealing Abbey from 1991 to 2000, failed to return to a police station for questioning.

    He was believed to have been living in a monastery in Rome and was due to return to London in March to answer bail. Police are considering issuing a European Arrest Warrant for him.


  2. UK High Court rules Catholic Church liable for crimes of priests

    By STEVE DOUGHTY, Daily Mail November 9, 2011

    Dressed as Father Christmas, with a girl perched on his lap, this is Father Wilfred Baldwin, accused of raping children at a Roman Catholic Church-run home. It is an image which still haunts the alleged victim who won a High Court battle yesterday. In the landmark ruling, the Roman Catholic Church faces having to pay millions to sex abuse victims after the court ruled it could be liable for priests' crimes.

    ‘There are things I have hated for years because of it,’ she said. ‘I can’t stand Christmas because he used to abuse me dressed as Father Christmas.’ The mother of three, an administrator, says she suffered flashbacks and nightmares and has tried to commit suicide.
    She claims she was assaulted during two years at The Firs, in Waterlooville, Hampshire, which has now closed, after being sent there with her three siblings.

    She said he would sexually assault her as ‘punishment’ for misbehaviour, adding: ‘The nuns knew. He was allowed to take any child and rape them. It was always my fault. He would even make me give money afterwards, tuppence in the poor box. He said God had told him to do it.’ JGE, as she was referred to in court, never spoke of what happened until she was contacted by police investigating abuse allegations at the home.
    ‘I didn’t tell anyone,’ she said, ‘even one of my siblings who I found out later had also been sexually assaulted.’

    In the landmark ruling, Mr Justice MacDuff said the Church can be held responsible for the sins of its clergy because of the ‘immense power’ it gave them. His judgment could lead to thousands of claims by people in England and Wales who say they were sexually abused by priests, perhaps decades earlier. It also means the Church may be held to account for other criminal acts by priests.

    In the test case yesterday, Mr Justice MacDuff found that the behaviour of Father Baldwin, who died in 2006. was the Church’s responsibility.
    The decision means the victim can sue the Bishop of Portsmouth, Crispian Hollis. The Church told the court it should not be answerable for wrongdoing by Father Baldwin because it did not employ him. Lawyers for the Portsmouth Roman Catholic Diocesan Trust, led by Lord Faulks QC, said priests were not paid by the diocese, nor could they be disciplined or sacked by the bishop. They lived on money from the collection plate and a priest could not even be made to change his job without agreeing.

    But Mr Justice MacDuff said: ‘Father Baldwin was appointed by and on behalf of the defendants.
    ‘He was provided with the premises, the pulpit and the clerical robes. 'He was directed into the community with that full authority and was given free rein to act as a representative of the Church. 'He had been trained and ordained for that purpose. He had immense power handed to him by the defendants. 'It was their empowerment of the priest which materially increased the risk of sexual assault, the granting of the power to exploit and misuse the trust which the defendants had granted to him.’

    The diocese refused to comment but is expected to appeal. Anne Lawrence, of the victim support group Minister and Clergy Sexual Abuse Survivors, said she was relieved by the ruling, adding: ‘We hope it opens the way for the settlement of many hundreds of cases pending in courts.’ The Church has been trying for a decade to end scandals over sexual abuse by priests, and is set to publish a report today on abuse at a school in Ealing, West London.