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.