Ampleworth College

Report on abuse at leading Catholic schools to be published

Thu 09 Aug 2018
By Press Association

A report examining the nature and extent of sexual abuse at two leading Roman Catholic schools will be published by an inquiry on Thursday.

The Independent Inquiry into Child Sexual Abuse (IICSA) has investigated whether Ampleforth in North Yorkshire and Downside in Somerset failed to protect pupils from predators.

Lawyers representing former students allege the schools turned a blind eye to offending over many years.


Following several weeks of evidence hearings last year, the probe, led by Professor Alexis Jay, will publish its findings at midday on Thursday.

The inquiry carried out a case study on the English Benedictine Congregation as part of a wider investigation into the Catholic Church.

Counsel to the inquiry Riel Karmy-Jones said in her opening last November that there were many instances when church officials chose to keep abuse quiet.

A "wide spectrum of behaviour", ranging from rape to voyeuristic beatings, was inflicted on school pupils over many years, she said.

Reasons for cover-ups included families being pressured not to report assaults, offenders getting shifted to different establishments but not punished and complaints simply being ignored, she added.

Predators from the two schools who were convicted include David Lowe, who taught at Ampleforth and was jailed for 10 years in 2015 for 15 indecent assaults on boys aged under 14.

During the same hearing, Richard Scorer, representing 27 core participants to the inquiry, said some schools concealed abuse out of fear for their reputations.

Many rely on private school fees to survive and cannot risk exposing misconduct, turning schools into "honeypots where multiple offenders operate", he told a hearing in November.

"The reputational pressures, the cultural and theological factors which led to abuse being covered up in Catholic institutions have not gone away.

"They remain as powerful as ever."

The hearings considered the prevalence of child sexual abuse by individuals associated with the English Benedictine Congregation, and failures by them or the Roman CatholicChurch to protect youngsters.

IICSA also scrutinised the adequacy of the church's response to the allegations.

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