Wednesday, 5 October 2011

Abbot Francis Rossiter

I've been in correspondence with the police concerning certain aspects of the recent trial of Pearce and Maestri. I'm not in a position to disclose the entire correspondence, but the following piece of information can be published.

According to the police, the circumstances of John Maestri's departure from the school in 1984 were as follows: A parent made a complaint to Fr Francis Rossiter, who was Abbot at the time, concerning alleged sexual abuse by John Maestri. Rossiter arranged for John Maestri to leave the school "on health grounds".

This is a classic case of what is known as a "covert departure". The parents are not informed of the true reason for the departure, there's no investigation to find out whether there are any other victims. The authorities are not informed - even in 1984, it was against the law to make an arrangement like this and not report the circumstances of the departure to the Teacher Misconduct Section of the Department of Education.

And worse still, we know from his own evidence in court that John Maestri went on to teach elsewhere, at a school in Berkshire. I find it hard to believe that he was not given a reference by St. Benedict's. I sincerely hope that Maestri did not abuse at the school in Berkshire. If he did, then a large part of the responsibility would lie squarely on Rossiter's shoulders.

Had the Teacher Misconduct Section of the DoE been informed, it would have been their duty to decide whether Maestri should have been placed on List 99, the list of those considered unfit to work with children. It is reasonable to think that Maestri almost certainly would have been placed on List 99 had the proper report been made. In that case, reference or no reference, Maestri would have been unable to obtain another teaching post anywhere in the UK.

Fr Francis Rossiter remained Abbot until 1991. He has remained a Trustee of Ealing Abbey (and therefore of the school) until his retirement from that post earlier this year. I have no doubt that even in old age he continues to wield considerable influence within Ealing Abbey.

I understand from Lord Carlile that his report will be published "very soon". It will be interesting to find out whether any mention is made of this incident, and if so, the circumstances under which Lord Carlile was made aware of it.

The ISI Supplementary Report's Recommendation 1 is as follows.
Ensure that any staff or members of the religious community live away from the school, if they are subject to allegations of misconduct related to safeguarding or convicted of wrongdoing..
I think that arranging the covert departure of an abusive teacher counts as "misconduct related to safeguarding". It is for Abbot Martin Shipperlee to decide the proper course of action.


  1. Thank goodness Saint Benedicts now conform to proper child protection procedures. They cannot change the past but can the future

  2. Mr. West.
    with regards to the report which you expect to be published soon. Are there any more outstanding cases which could cause it to be delayed.

  3. I presume not, otherwise Lord Carlile would not have told me to expect publication very soon.

    That's not to say that there are no outstanding cases - we know from the evidence given in court during the Pearce & Maestri trial that the police have an active investigation ongoing into Fr Lawrence Soper, Abbot Martin Shipperlee's immediate predecessor as Abbot. but I think we can take it that Lord Carlile (who ought to know) doesn't regard that as an impediment to publication, otherwise he wouldn't have told me to expect it soon.

    If the investigation of Fr Lawrence Soper had got to the point where he had been charged and a trial date set, then it might have been different.

  4. Thank you for the clarification. Could you tell us if the report will be released into the public domain by Lord Carlile himself or will it be given to the Abbot or authorities at St Benedicts first.

    Also will there be the potential for edited parts to be released or has Lord Carlile insisted that it is released in full.

  5. I have no information on that point. All I can say is that at the parents meeting held in September last year, when the Carlile inquiry was announced, the Abbot was questioned by a parent on this point - whether the report would be published, and whether it would be published "in full". The answer given was "yes".

  6. As long as the children are safe and everything is transparent and the rotteness of the past is used to make it never HAPPEN AGAIN

  7. If the information from the police is correct then Rossiter behaved in a totally disgraceful manner. To allow a known paedophile to leave on "health grounds" without notifying the authorities is contemptible.

  8. Have you been in contact with the school in berkshire? You should