David Pearce, a monk of Ealing Abbey and a former teacher at St. Benedict's School, is to stand trial on 4th July 2011, for alleged historical offences committed during his time at the school.There are three things which strike me about that sentence.
First, the headmaster has started to distance Pearce from the Abbey by omitting his full clerical title. He is Father David Pearce and remains so unless and until he is removed from the priesthood.
Second, the headmaster has made no mention of John Maestri, Pearce's co-defendent in the forthcoming trial, who also was a teacher at St. Benedict's School at the time the alleged offences were committed.
And third, the headmaster has sought to minimise the case by committing the insult of calling it "historical" abuse. A murder committed some years ago is not described as an "historical" murder, it is still a murder, and is treated as being just as serious as if it had been committed last week. This habit of uniquely describing older child abuse cases as "historical" is an insult to the victims who suffer the effects to this day. It is anything but historical for them.
It seems that the headmaster would very much like the abuse to be consigned to history and not be considered to have any current relevance, but that is just not going to wash. It is the failings of the policies, procedures and overall institutional culture of the school which has permitted the abuses to go on for so long, and unless and until it can be shown that the policies and the culture have comprehensively changed, then this issue will remain very current.