If you have strong evidence that several monks have been involved in abuse, you should pass this to police without delay. Also, if you have received allegations, you must encourage those concerned to go to police. You are in danger of prejudicing prosecution if you carry out an unofficial investigation.It's a serious question and it deserves a serious answer.
If you have evidence that there are 'hundreds of abuse victims' at St Benedicts' you should contact the police immediately.
Of course, I have spoken to the police. I have told them that from time to time I receive emails from victims talking about their abuse. The detective I spoke to was happy with the approach that I take, which is to provide such support and encouragement as I can to persuade the victim to come forward voluntarily to make a statement, but not to forward correspondence without permission.
As I understand it, if the victim is unwilling to make a statement to police and is unprepared ultimately to speak in court, then any email sent privately to me by a victim is useless for the purpose of a prosecution.
So, I treat correspondence as confidential unless and until the victim is prepared either for me to contact somebody on his behalf or to make that contact himself.
It is not easy for victims to come forward. There is a considerable overhang of guilt and shame involved, which remains even though the adult rational part of their mind recognises that there is nothing for them to feel guilty about. That is why victims can often take 30 years or more to summon the courage to come forward. When dealing with child sex abuse and its effects, all ideas of what we think of as logical thought-processes count for very little, and the guilt doesn't go away just because the rational part of your mind decides that it should. This is because the experiences occurred before your adult rational mind was fully formed.
The victims have an experience of the adult world betraying their trust. I have no moral right to betray that trust all over again.
By the way, I'm not carrying out my own investigation. I can't barge into the Abbey and demand to see all its books and correspondence. I'm calling for the Church to carry out its investigation. My aim is to ensure that procedures are put in place to prevent abuse in the future. I hope you would agree that is a good idea. In order to know what must be prevented in the future, it is necessary to acquire a realistic perception of the nature and extent of the abuse in the past, even though relatively few cases might ultimately end in prosecution.
So let's have a think about what that realistic perception consists of. Given the range of dates on which Pearce committed crimes he was convicted of, it is reasonable to infer that he has been an active paedophile for pretty much the whole of the 40 years or so that he was resident at the Abbey. Moreover, we have dozens of accounts of abuse here in comments on this blog, most of them from people who have not yet come forward to the police, or at least hadn't at the time they wrote.
Given the difficulty in coming forward in the first place, and the active work in suppressing complaints which we can infer from the comment by "Paul", it is entirely unrealistic to think that anything but an extremely small proportion of Pearce's crimes have come to trial. But nonetheless, based on what we do know, we can make a conservative estimate of perhaps 3 boys a year whom he abused. That's perhaps 120 boys.
Then there is Maestri. He was at the school for something like 12 years. Chalk him up for an estimate of another 3 a year. That's another 36.
Then there are others about whom comments have been made. Even supposing they between them only account for 50 or so, that puts us over 200 in total. Hundreds is a vague but entirely reasonable estimate. It is the sort of figure indicated by the evidence we have so far. You might choose to make a different estimate. But don't think in terms of saying that since Pearce has only been convicted of abusing 5 boys that this is the total extent of his crimes. That's just wishful thinking, hoping that the problem will go away. I don't expect that Pearce or anybody else will get convicted of hundreds of counts of child abuse, unless I am vastly underestimating the extent of his crimes and they actually number in the thousands. But there isn't evidence to suggest that.
So, if you are former pupil at St. Benedict's School and are a victim of Pearce or anybody else, and feel that the time has come to share the burden you have carried for so long, I have these words for you.
You are not alone. Others have also suffered as you have. You have friends in the world who wish you well and want to help, even though you might never actually meet them.
If you wish, I can put you in touch with other victims of abuse who are willing to share their experiences, so you can compare notes and talk with somebody who really understands in a way I can't, not having been abused myself.
If you wish, I can help you contact the appropriate people within the police. I am assured that you will be taken seriously. The police have specialist units which specialise in child sex abuse, they understand what it takes to talk to them.
If you wish, I can help you find professional assistance which I hope might bring some healing to your life.
Or if all you feel able to do is take the step of privately contacting me in confidence, then I will hear you and take you seriously. Whether and when you take the matter any further is for you to decide, based on your strength and welfare and that of your family. You don't have to take all the decisions at once. Believe me, I have a good idea of how brave you have had to be even to have looked up this page and read down this far.
Unless and until you decide to take it further our correspondence will be confidential. I know what a massive step it is for a victim to confide in anybody at all, even 30 or 40 years after the event.
Naturally I hope that you will in due course feel able to contact the police, but I know enough about the effects of sexual abuse on children to realise what a gigantic step it is even to contemplate this. I will think no less of you if you decide that for now or for ever you feel unable to do so. The great majority of victims never manage it. There is no shame in being part of that majority. But tackling lesser hurdles first can help, for instance talking privately to somebody you decide you can trust. That's a big enough first step by itself. Other steps can be left for another day.
If you wish, you can email me at firstname.lastname@example.org. Or you may decide that talking to a sympathetic member of your family would be better. Or a trusted friend. You do what you think is best for you.
If you read this but don't feel able to make any approach, know that the door will remain open, and you can choose to walk through it some other time.