Thursday, 8 December 2011

Stephen Skelton

And now there's another.

Stephen Skelton (Mr. X in the Carlile Report) was convicted today in Isleworth Crown Court of two indecent assaults against boys. He was sentenced to six-months jail suspended for two years. He was required to sign the Sex Offenders’ Register and banned from unsupervised contact with children under 16.

His first victim in 1983 was an 11-year-old boy, a pupil of St Benedict's where Skelton was teaching at the time. The abuse occurred during maths tuition at Skelton's house. The boy's mother reported her concerns to the school and attended a meeting with Abbot Francis Rossiter and Father Stanislaus Hobbs.

Though she was in no position to know it at the time, she could hardly have chosen two worse people to voice her concerns to. Rossiter presided over the abbey and the school at a time when we now know from the Carlile Report and other sources that there was a whole shoal of abusers present at the school - Father David Pearce, Father (later Abbot) Laurence Soper, John Maestri, Father Anthony Gee, Father Gregory Chillman, and of course Father Stanislaus Hobbs, present at the meeting with the mother!

Rossiter and Hobbs promised to sort things out. The way they did this was to send Skelton quietly on his way. He was given a reference and went on to work at three more schools, finishing his career at West Hill Park, Tichfield, Hampshire.

Ten years after this first assault, when Skelton was teaching at West Hill Park, he assaulted another boy, aged 10, again during a private lesson at his home. His victim had been playing on Skelton’s computer and with a train set before being attacked.

When the St Benedict's pupil came forward to the police, they contacted school to make enquiries about Skelton, but found that the school had kept no records of Skelton’s employment.


Let us make something very clear here. St Benedict's School broke the law in giving Skelton a reference which made no mention of the reason he was sacked, and in failing to make a Notification to the Department of Education. Even in 1983, it was a legal requirement to send a notification when a school got rid of a member of staff in circumstances where the school thought him unsuitable to work with children.

Had the school made the report they were legally obliged to at the time, there would not have been the slightest possibility of Skelton ever getting another teaching job elsewhere. The notification almost certainly would have resulted in Skelton being placed on List 99, which would have barred him from any other job working with children, provided other employers actually carried out the List 99 checks they were obliged to. Abbot Francis Rossiter is therefore wholly responsible for Skelton continuing to occupy positions of trust which gave him further opportunities to abuse.

In addition, this shows the police's normal approach to these matters - they do contact the school where an alleged abuser worked at the time as part of their enquiries. It is inconceivable that they did not also do this in the course of the investigations that resulted in John Maestri's three convictions in 2003, 2005 and 2008. And yet Mr Cleugh, the present headmaster, has claimed he was unaware of them and so could not mention them to the inspectors.

Cover-up? What cover-up? I'm afraid that line will no longer wash. There was a cover-up, and it clearly extends to include the current management of the school.

After the hearing, Detective Constable Christine Hobson said “Skelton has worked for many schools in and around Hertfordshire, Bedfordshire, Berkshire and Hampshire and we would encourage any similar victims of such crimes to make contact with police. They will be treated with respect and their allegations will be taken seriously.”

With two indecent assaults 10 years apart at different schools, each with an identical method, there is every reason to think that there may be other victims of Skelton who haven't yet come forward, either at St Benedict's School or other schools where he taught. If you were abused by him, I would like to reinforce the plea from the police - please go and tell them what happened to you.

25 comments:

  1. How many paedophiles does it take to make a ring?

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  2. Also, how many of those on the list you provide are Old Priorians? I know Pearce and Soper both are.

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  3. Mr. West, I have evidence of child on child sexual abuse at St. Bs in the early nineties. How do I contact you about this?

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  4. You can email me - there is an email link on the right hand side of this page.

    My advice will almost certainly be that you contact the police and/or social services about it so that it can be properly investigated. I can provide you with the appropriate contact details.

    If you would prefer to contact the police directly without going via me, then contact the Ealing & Hillingdon Child Abuse Investigation Team.

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  5. Chillman was an evil and vile man yet he was protected by Gumley Mason and Strahan at St Augustines.
    Gumley Mason and Strahan should also be investigated as they deffo knew what he was capable of, but still let him loose around the school.

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  6. Having read the latest report about Skelton, my first thought was that there must have been some paedophile website that recommended St Benedicts as a school to be employed by if child abuse was your thing.

    As a former parent of the school, I am so glad my son no longer attends. There has been a complete cover up and everyone in management should be replaced. The members of the Abbey clearly can't be trusted. Mr Cleugh has failed and Mr Symmonds as an old Priorian was probably aware of Gay Dave and his cohort of abusers.

    Well done Mr West for keeping the focus on the school. I feel nauseated to think how much more would have been covered up if not for your efforts.

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  7. Still waiting to hear what abuse Father Gregory is accused of?

    All I have read is he is listed as behaving inappropriately but is now being called an abuser by Mr West and others

    I went to Benedict’s and totally agree that Pearce and Soper were nasty pieces of work and their abuse does not surprise me in the slightest. Maestri was a depressive alcoholic and the whole science staff were bullies, beyond what was acceptable even back then.

    But, and I know a lot of the “Mr West says it’s true so it must be” brigade won’t like it, while Father Gregory is not everybody’s cup of tea because of his nature and like for a drink, until I see him convicted in a court of law, as opposed to kangaroo court I and I would suggest the vast majority of the Catholic population of Ealing will back him

    He along with Father Vincent and Michael were the most approachable priests at the Abbey and Father Gregory went out of his way to help thousands in the Parish including the annual Jetset trips taking the handicapped to Lourdes.

    I stand to be proved wrong but based on what I know and have seen of the man over 40 years I don’t believe he is a sexual abuser of children in the terms being bandied about on this blog.

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  8. In today's Times:

    "When police arrested Skelton, a model railway enthusiast, he was a volunteer driver on a miniature steam train for children at a park in Hampshire."

    This could have come straight out of Brass Eye.

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  9. 12:30
    Chillman of course hasn't been convicted of anything, as you well know. Neither has Hobbs and yet he has been placed on List 99 and required to move away from the Abbey.

    And at the time he was placed on restrictions, neither had Father David Pearce been convicted of anything. He hadn't even been placed on List 99. And yet he had been evaluated as being a risk to children and kept at the monastery under restriction.

    If you take conviction as the only standard sufficient to justify keeping somebody away from children, then no school need ever run a child protection policy at all, they can just rely on the courts to handle it. In effect that is what the school did, with the disastrous result we now all know.

    In other words he was at the time operating under the same conditions as apply to Chillman now. Shipperlee has been going round apologising to all & sundry for his error in keeping Pearce at the Abbey, and yet he appears to be continuing to make the same error now.

    Either Chillman has been evaluated to be a risk to children or he hasn't. If he has, then he shouldn't be there. If he hasn't, then there is something very odd about the contents of the Carlile report, and we need an explanation.

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  10. In answer to the queries about Chillman, I want to point out as an ex-St B's pupil, there was a feeling widespread in the school in the 70s that he had sadistic tendencies. Julian Clary has written about him extensively, including coverage of his "mass execution" some years ago in the Independent newspaper, referring to him as Father G, ie Father Gregory (Chillman). In the article, Julian C describes how he was emotionally hurt by being beaten by Father G for nothing and, it was only later as an adult, he realised that for Father G the motive had been sexual pleasure. I'm afraid that this was long before the complaints that were made about Father G's inappropriate behaviour at St A's. All this was widely understood by many pupils at the school at the time. There was a lot going on at St B's from the 70s that has not been brought to light, and I have no doubt that the floodgates have now been opened by the recent court hearings.

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  11. there was a lot going on in the 60's believe me!

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  12. @ 12:30

    If Chillman feels that he has been libelled then he is perfectly free to sue. The fact that he hasn't done so speaks volumes.

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  13. I would be very interested to know who gave Skelton a reference when he left St Benedict's.

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  14. reluctant athiest14 December 2011 at 20:57

    the latest case i.e.stephen skelton gives positive evidence that abbot Rossiter and headmaster Gee knew that skelton should not be allowed near children but allowed him to go unhindered onto two more schools and to abuse again in one of them.this must be a criminal offence but also i should think that both his new victim and the new school should have a strong case to seek damages from them both

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  15. @ 10:44

    Skelton's references must have been signed by someone who was in a senior position at the time so the list of possible candidates is fairly short.

    The Abbot was Francis Rossiter, the Upper School Headmaster was Anthony Gee, the Second Master was Basil Nickerson and I think that the Middle School Headmaster was Laurence Soper.

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  16. Soper was the Prior and Bursar during this period Maestri was Head of Middle school for half a term followed by John Byrne now deceased.

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  17. And the Times reports that the school had no records of ever having employed Skelton! Presumably the record of his reference would only appear in the records of the next school he worked at - assuming their record keeping is not as interestingly selective as St B's appears to have been. Anyone know what school that was?
    Does this not look somewhat as if embarrassing files have been weeded out at St B's?

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  18. Sarah

    Carlile's report (paragraphs 81-82) more or less openly says it. Carlile is stressing the need for accurate recording keeping and proper and secure storage of files so that there is no possibility of loss.

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  19. This is very reminiscent of the findings of the Bichard report into the police failings with regard to Ian Huntley, the serial abuser who went on to murder two children in Soham while working as a school janitor. Vetting did not work with Huntley because record keeping by two police forces was so poor.
    Except, in the Huntley case, a chief of police was given the choice of resigning or being sacked.

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  20. In reply to Dec 9th, 12:30

    I agree with you that Fr. Michael was of very sound substance. Vincent...... not sure (he acted very strangely after his year long trip to India)!!

    As for Maestri being a depressive alcoholic, that is complete nonsense, he never touched a drink. Are you getting him confused with Bill Twist by any chance? The latter being a superb man, the former being a paedophile.

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  21. Reluctant Atheist23 December 2011 at 00:16

    Julian Clearys autobiography mentions a "strap wielding monster" whom he calls "father G".Sadly there were quite a few brutes and perverts at St Bs at the time but at least the "G" restricts the identity of the monster to either Gregory Chillman or Anthony Gee.

    Anonymous has the opinion that it was Chillman but I think that Anthony Gee is the one. He fits the picture of cruel deep dark hidden menace.

    Whatever, what a horrible place to be placed at for your catholic education with so much depravity. Too many people have been harmed. Some of the culprits have been exposed but some others probably think that they have gotten away with it.

    Does anybody know when Anthony Gee comes up for trial? He "resigned" in a hurry. Gee was headmaster 1977 to 1987 when the parish magazine of december 1987 announced that he was resigning at the end of the year i.e. right away! No reason was given.

    Fr Gregory was to take over temporarily until a new head could be appointed. You are left to assume that, like Maestri, Gee was found out and pushed out.
    Gee however did not leave the monastery, I believe, untill 1990 and again the parish magazine announced in 1995 that he was leaving the priesthood.

    Anthony Gee appeared briefly, as a witness for the defence, at the recent Maestri/Pearce trial where apparently he testified, on oath, that he had no idea or knowledge of any of the shenanigans going on!! That is extraordinary and frankly not believable.

    Does anybody know when Anthony Gee goes on trial? Perhaps the net will catch some bigger fish now.

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  22. I studied French with Anthony Gee as a sixth former in 1966-8. He wasn't the greatest teacher, but I saw nothing indicating any sexual misconduct.

    I had not realised that Carlile would take the canings as sexual misconduct.

    ‎"Suffice it to say that most of the complaints I have received, some against individuals who are now deceased, related to forms and methods of what purported or was represented at the time to be chastisement and physical punishment. It is clear to me that some of those ‘punishments’ were carried out in entirely inappropriate ways and circumstances, and on many occasions with sexual motive."

    Had I been aware of his willingness to consider this, I would certainly have given evidence against Kevin Horsey and Edmund Flood (both now deceased). Horsey once caned me with my trousers round my ankles and Flood clearly relished the caning process, and used to smirk at me in class afterwards.

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  23. 00:16 "Gee was headmaster 1977 to 1987 when the parish magazine of december 1987 announced that he was resigning at the end of the year"

    This is incorrect. Father Anthony was headmaster until the end of December 1985 (not 1987).

    Father Gregory became caretaker headmaster for the whole of calendar 1986.

    Anthony Dachs became headmaster in January 1987.

    I know as I was at the school throughout this time.

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  24. In my memory as an ex-St B's pupil:
    Flood relished caning, did it frequently, and a reputation for being sadistic. He was a man with very serious problems - and he (in context of his caning antics) also features in J Clary's autobiography.

    J Clary's references to Father G were to Father Gregory Chillman - I was in the same year as Clary and recognise it all.

    My personal experience of Anthony Gee was that he had no dubious sexual proclivities, but that does not mean he didn't. He seemed a pleasant, rather ineffectual character, but not a sadist and a bully - although he was caught up in what was clearly a ring.

    For every incident that is provable and harmful, there are a thousand that are not provable, slight, more innuendo, caning, touching, but not provably predatory, but, for the parties involved, absolutely clearly giving sexual pleasure to the actor, and the entire Ealing Abbey - every goddamned Benedictine priest teaching at that place, was infected by that culturally induced disease. It was the collective impact of this, pervasive and rotten, that was harmful - as well as although not so much as - the indivividual abusive acts which, I happen to know, were far more than have actually been reported.

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