I did not think that before 2010 there was a safeguarding issue, I regarded it as a pastoral issue. Now I think that was possibly not the correct judgement. I didn’t speak to the safeguarding people until 2010. If that was an error, I just don’t know. I accepted [the complainant’s] word, but Fr Raphael was a person whom many people idolised. He is not in denial of a relationship, but denies it was abusive.In one short paragraph, this perfectly encapsulates why it is vital that all allegations should promptly be reported to the authorities. The Abbot has fallen into the classic trap of assuming that Fr Raphael was such a good person that he would never to anything like that. Fr Raphael after all was a senior monk and former headmaster of Downside School, and was "a person whom many people idolised".
And of course Fr Raphael would deny that he was an abuser. That is what abusers do, partly simply because they don't want to get caught, but also because they convince themselves that what they do is not abusive.
The Tablet's report goes on to say.
The victim maintains that from the first meeting with Abbot Aidan, a complaint of abuse was made against Fr Raphael. The victim also says that in 2009 a letter giving full details of the abuse was sent to the abbot. Abbot Aidan made no comment on reports that correspondence on the abuse was missing from Fr Raphael’s personal file when police officers from the Avon and Somerset force came to investigate the person’s claim. A force spokesman said they had to obtain duplicates from the victim.Ah, the missing records malady! Ealing sneezes and Downside catches the cold. This unfortunately is by far from being the first I have heard about inconvenient records going astray. At the start of the Carlile inquiry, I learned that St. Benedict's School had no records of John' Maestri's employment. And during the trial of Stephen Skelton last autumn, it turned out that the school had kept no records of him either.
There are seven monks now know to have acted criminally or improperly. Two convicted, two cautioned, one given a police warning and two placed on restricted ministry because they are thought to pose a risk to children. Just imagine the strain it has been on successive abbots trying to keep all that quiet all these years.
And that is just the monks. At Ealing, only one monk has been convicted but also two lay teachers.As far as I know, there has been nothing looked into with regard to lay teachers at Downside. The abbot has passed over the records of the monks to the police and diocesan authorities, but not so far as I know those of the lay teachers. I wonder what nasties there might still be waiting to crawl out from under that particular rock.