Thursday, 15 July 2010

Carrying on

One of the anonymous Abbey supporters has made the following comment on the Father Gregory Chillman thread.
It seems from what is posted on your blog that the 'protection policy' operating at St Benedict's is not in any way an aberration, in so far as it would seem to be very much in line with those operating in private schools generally.
Not all private schools have a child protection policy as bad as that of St. Benedict's. Not all private schools have had two of their former teachers (including one of their former headmasters) recently convicted of child sex abuse and sentenced to a lengthy terms of imprisonment. I can't help but wonder if there may be a connection between these two facts.

One would have thought that those in charge of a school where this has happened would want to do their absolute best to ensure that this sort of thing can never ever happen again here. And one would have thought they would be very keen to describe in detail to the parents what is being done.

But as we can see, that isn't happening here. The Abbot writes to parents of the school promising an independent review into this matter, but when the summary of the report of the review appears, it does not include the school in its Terms of Reference, and it makes no recommendations concerning improvements in safeguarding at the school.

When the child protection problems get some publicity, the Abbot writes again to all parents, a letter which to put it bluntly contains lies, and moreover lies that are easily demonstrated to be so.

One has to wonder why this is. I think it is entirely reasonable to ask the Abbot this question. I would ask him myself and report the answers to you, except that the Abbot refuses to meet with me. Hardly the attitude of somebody looking to provide reassurance to concerned parents!

Even if it were true that the St. Benedict's Child Protection Policy is characteristic of private schools generally, that wouldn't excuse the Trustees' failure to improve it in the light of recent events.

My anonymous commenter goes on to say:
On this score, you have made your point/points, Mr West, and no one, as far as I can see, has accused you of being 'wrong'. Not on this particular score at least!
When somebody says "you have made your point" what they generally mean is "I want you to shut up now".

But he goes on to say:
However, if problems in this area remain outstanding, they are in all likelihood not going to be resolved by you and certainly not via this blog!
So, I'm being encouraged to shut up, because nothing I do is going to change anything. I should just give up and go home.
All that is necessary for the triumph of evil is for good men to do nothing.
(Edmund Burke)
The situation at the school is one where children are in very real danger if there is another paedophile among the staff or Trustees, because there is nothing in the school's child protection policy that would effectively detect this and bring an end to it.

But there is one thing I can do, no matter how intransigent the Trustees remain. I can publicise this lamentable state of affairs, in order to warn parents of the dangers of sending their children to St. Benedict's School.

They can then make an informed choice as to whether to send their children there or elsewhere. If they still choose to send their children to St. Benedict's, then they can at least be alert to the possibility of child sex abuse there, and unlike C's mother (who didn't know any better), be ready to believe their children if they report something untoward.

I have heard the stories of quite a large number of victims of abuse at St. Benedict's School and Ealing Abbey, and the effect on them has been devastating, extending long into their adult lives. If my action helps prevent or bring an end to the sexual abuse of just one more child at the school, then the time I've spent on this will be more than worth it.

It is such a pity that the Abbot doesn't seem to agree.


  1. Déjà vu !

    I know an old lady in a care home, catering primarily for those suffering from dementia. What characterises this poor soul is her obsessive need to repeat, day in and day out, the same thing over and over and over again!

  2. Abbeyvista's defending the woefully inadequate safeguarding policy of St Benedict's. You could not make it up.

    If are thinking of sending your child to St Benedict's this is what you can expect if you DARE to question the regime on safeguarding.

    It's "The St Benedict's way."

  3. I am sorry my misguided friend I'm not what you like to label an Abbeyvista and nor am I attempting to defend Ealing Abbey or its 'safeguarding policy'. Think again!

  4. Re 19:24 and 19:28 -

    Sadly, the obsessed have little room in which to 'think again'!

  5. Anonymous at 19:24 - you say that you are not an Abbeyvista and are not attempting to defend the Abbey or its policy. Would you then care to tell us what you are trying to do?

  6. If that isn't obvious to you, anonymous 19:32, any further explanation would be utterly superfluous!

  7. I'm just wondering if Mr West notices the irony of his title, 'Carrying On'? Shades of Ealing Studios, peut-être?

  8. Mr West.. just a quick question, you have stated you have received stories from quite a large number of alleged victims, I was just wondering how many of the pupils reported their uncomfortable feelings they had to other members of staff?
    Could you give us a percentage or did they suffer in silence?
    If it was the latter what good is all the wording on a child protection policy?
    If they did report this to staff lets name and shame.

  9. Some suffered in silence and didn't report the matter to anybody until years later. "C" is an example of one such.

    Some reported the matter and the reports were suppressed. "Paul" who has commented on a previous thread is an example of this. He reported abuse by Maestri and Pearce to Father Anthony Gee, who threatened him into silence, a silence he kept for a long time.

    I'm not in a position to give any details regarding those who have only contacted me privately. I keep those communications confidential. I encourage them to report to the police any crimes they were victims of. It is for them to decide whether they feel able to do so, and also whether they wish to take up a civil case against the Abbey.

  10. Yes I understand, but no one reported it to a lay teacher?..and like I said what good is the wording on a child protection policy? have to spot it to report it...

  11. The lay teachers are hardly likely to be in a position to do anything. We've had one public account of the headteacher threatening a child into silence. If that is the modus operandi it wouldn't be all that hard to point out to teachers that they will be sacked if they do anything other than raise concerns with the headmaster for "appropriate" action.

  12. Highly inappropriate calls for appropriate action.

    I just love the many the references on this blog to "'appropriate' action"! Any half-decent Solicitor, looking at through this material, could easily find at least half-a-dozen instances of libel. Just two examples: Fr David Pearce is accused of 'sodomy' and Fr Gregory Chillman, on several occasions, of the 'sexually abusing' children.

    Mr West's blog - and he's the person ultimately responsible for it - is, in truth, little short of a bear pit!

  13. A P.S. - I'm sure the above message is clear enough but I apologize for its typos and bad corrections!

  14. So Mr West what you are saying is that you or people like you would put a childs discomfort for the sake of a job......BUT THEN YOU ARE NOT A TEACHER AND DO NOT WORK WITH CHILDREN.but the thousands that do WOULD.
    We do not need to read a policy we follow our morals.

  15. If the Abbey wishes to sue me for libel they know where to find me.

    But you might care to note that had the Abbot acted in the first place in accordance with his promises to have an independent review to ensure that there could be no repetition of father David's crimes, then there would have been no need for this present conversation, I would long ago have moved on to other topics.

    It is the complete brick-wall intransigence of the Abbot and the other Trustees in terms of actually doing anything to improve child protection at the school which is the root of this issue.

  16. This poor man is sounding more and more like a parrot!

    Has he really not got the message? It is spelled out for him, again, very clearly by the blogger at 17.50 ( Child Protection - 6). I hope he or she will not mind if I quote what they have written there? It sums the situation up rather well and reads as follows:

    " I understand the situation, neither the Abbey nor St Benedict's feel they can respond to anything on this blog. And it is not difficult to see why. Its track record is even poorer than St Benedict's. As has been pointed out many times, there is here scant regard for the facts, other than those that suit its own book, and it is riddled with libellous statements.

    Over and above all that, this is not the arena in which to resolve difficult and delicate issues. The history of Ealing is, I can assure you, well known to all concerned - the social services, the police, the archdiocese, the Benedictine order, the parents of St Benedict's school and the parish at large. Over time, whatever issues remain to be dealt with will, with the intelligent support of those just mentioned, be resolved. Of that I have no doubt."

  17. The poster at 17:04 seems to think that Father David Pearce might be able to bring a successful libel action for damage to his reputation.

    He is currently serving a substantial prison sentence for sexual offences against young boys.

    He does not have a reputation to lose.

  18. Please, 21:35, do try to be just a little bit adult! Thanks.