Catholic school sheltered child abusers, says former abbot
A former abbot at Downside Abbey in Somerset, Aidan Bellenger, above, claims that a school attached to the monastery sheltered child sex offenders and tolerated abuse.
According to this report, Downside Abbey is is being investigated by an Independent Inquiry into Child Sexual Abuse after two of its monks were jailed for child sex offences.
Letters from Bellenger revealed his fears that:
The issue of child abuse was tolerated by all my predecessors as abbot.
In a letter sent last year, he said of two monks who had been imprisoned over abuse:
Neither was penitent. Both were protected (and implicitly) encouraged by their abbots.
He said of two other monks:
[They] avoided trial, but their offences (more than allegations) remain on record.
His letter including a warning that a monk who still lives at Downside had taken part in “perverse and criminal” activities.
Two others he said were open to allegations of “paedophilia”, adding:
Small fry perhaps but in outside perceptions they would be in trouble.
And he warned:
More ‘historic’ cases will emerge’, listing five other names, which have been redacted by the inquiry.
Earlier this week, the inquiry heard from a woman who said she was abused by a member of the staff at the school in the 1980s, when she was a disabled teenager having to use a wheelchair.
In 2012, when he was still Abbot at Downside, Bellenger apologised to former pupils for abuse that led to the jailing of a monk, Richard David Monk, 66, for five years.
In a lengthy letter to past pupils, known as Old Gregorians, he disclosed the extent of the failure to protect children at the school.
Hat tip: Angela_K and BarrieJohn