The Mail describes the ghastly experiences of a boy it calls Jeff (not his real name), and then goes on to describe an even more shocking incident.
In an apparent fit of despair, one of his friends in the middle school, Lewis de Luca, shot himself in the temple with an airgun at 16. It took 13 months for him to die.Mrs de Luca, I don't know if you will ever read this blog, but if you do, please realise that if Lewis was sexually abused, it is no surprise that he was unable to tell you at the time. Because of the psychological manipulations carried out by their abusers, many victims are unable to tell anybody at all for many years, and a significant proportion feel unable to come forward until both their parents are dead, because they cannot bear the distress it would cause to those they love the most.
An inquest heard that he had become depressed after being accused — falsely, he insisted — of stealing a tennis racquet at St Benedict’s, and expelled on the eve of his O Levels. Jeff is convinced it was the paedophile masters who really drove him to his death.
At 13, he says, Lewis had been one of the school’s most popular boys — outgoing, handsome and a champion athlete. Then he was summoned to a monk’s office where it seems he was violently assaulted. Jeff saw him emerge white-faced and trembling with his trousers soiled.
‘Lewis was terribly abused; broken down,’ he told me. ‘You just knew. I left the school at 13, and lost touch with him, and then one day I heard he was dead. I am absolutely convinced it had something to do with what happened to him at that school.’
Having followed the unfolding scandal at St Benedict’s, Lewis de Luca’s mother Rosalind harbours the same suspicions.
The experience of losing her teenage son was so devastating, she told me, that for many years she blanked out many memories. But now she remembers how he came home one day and told her someone, a teacher, had ‘made a pass’ at him, and he had made it clear he wasn’t interested.
She hadn’t thought this incident to be serious, but now wonders whether it was a hint of something far more sinister. ‘It’s very disturbing for a mother to think he might have been subjected to abuse and couldn’t tell me about it,’ she said. ‘It’s such a horrible feeling. In those days, I’d heard about Gay Dave, but I thought the boys were making it up. I didn’t think it was happening. They were priests. Men of God. I just didn’t believe they could go around doing that sort of thing.’
If Lewis couldn't tell you it is not because you are a bad parent, almost certainly it is because you are a good parent and he was trying to protect you as well as he knew how.
I have heard of other suicides amongst pupils and former pupils of St. Benedict's. It is of course impossible to prove that those pupils were abused or that there was a connection between the abuse and the suicide. That is something known only to their abusers, and they aren't likely to admit it, even to themselves. It is to prevent more pupils going through the experiences described by Jeff, and to reduce the risk of suicides such as Lewis's that I will not rest until I am satisfied that the child protection measures at the school and Abbey have been made a model of best practice, and that there has been a complete change of culture there, from the denial that exists now to one of awareness and education in these issues.