Wednesday, 4 January 2012

Not just Ealing, Downside as well

The BBC website has a story this morning Monk jailed for abusing two boys at Somerset school. Richard David White, a monk at Downside Abbey and a teacher at Downside school, has been jailed for five years for five counts of indecent assault and two of gross indecency with a boy. The BBC report states
The court heard that White was warned about his behaviour after molesting one 12-year-old boy but, instead of being reported to police, the Benedictine abbot of the monastery, which is attached to the school, simply prevented him from teaching younger students.

He went on to indecently assault a second boy - the one he was charged with assaulting - over the course of several months while he was aged 12 and 13.

Later in the article we have the following.
The Abbott for Downside School said: "Our first thoughts are for those who were abused as children.
"Being conscious that the care of children is our paramount concern as educators, we are truly sorry that any child should have been abused at Downside."

He added that White has lived under restrictions since 1998 and has been withdrawn from active ministry.

This is precisely the approach to safeguarding which failed so thoroughly at Ealing in the case of Father David Pearce. The restrictions imposed on White in 1998 would have been applied by the then Abbot of Downside, Father Richard Yeo. Yes, the same person who was appointed to the Cumberlege Commission to make recommendations on effective safeguarding practice in the Catholic Church, and the same person appointed to the Apostolic Visitation to look into the child protection failings at Ealing Abbey.

Lord Carlile suggested that Yeo should resign from the Visitation because of conflicts of interest arising out of his prior connection with Ealing. The case for his resignation is even stronger now, he has operated the same policy of keeping monks at his abbey under restrictions when he knew them to be a danger to children which was so severely criticised by the ISI, the DfE and Lord Carlile at Ealing.

The Daily Mail also has details of the case.
White lured the pupil, who was interested in old books, to the monastery library, which was usually off-limits to students.

He was discovered after other pupils at the independent Catholic School in Stratton-on-the-Fosse near Bath, Somerset saw the boy had extra money to spend at the tuck shop and he admitted how he had come by it.

Astonishingly, the police were not told even when the matter was again reported to the monastic school authorities, and White himself told the principal what he had done.

Instead the former British Army soldier, whom the court heard was repressing his homosexuality at the time, was dismissed from his teaching post and sent to monastic communities across the country over the next 20 years, a move designed to keep him away from children.

After the News of the World ran an article about the scandal, the boy's own family obtained a court injunction to keep him out of any further reports before removing him from the school.

Despite the publicity, no complaint was ever made at the time to the police and White's offending was only brought to light when police investigating another teacher at the school for child pornography offences found a file in school records detailing what he had done and contacted the second victim.
This is why a policy of always reporting abuses to the authorities immediately is so important. White should have been prevented from abusing before he ever got to the victim of the offences for which he was charged.

If you are going to cover up abuses in this way, word will get around about the cover up, and so both monks and lay teachers will see that they are protected if they abuse. You might as well put up a sign at the gate saying "paedophiles welcome here".

This is all of a piece with the various reports into clerical abuse in Ireland. The welfare of the abusing priest is always put ahead of the welfare of the abused child. This has to change.


  1. A key question that needs to be asked:

    On the undated initial discovery of abuse (the 12 year old that the school authorities warned Richard White about) did the school return a Notification (as it was then called) to the Teacher Misconduct Section (as it was then called - now the Independent Safeguarding Authority) within 28 days of the event being discovered?

    If not - what was the reason provided for not returning a Notification?

    Has a Notification since been returned - and what was the date of issue?

    Of course we might have the St Benedict's default of not returning Notifications (referrals) at all and as a result Downside, like St Benedict's, was breaking the law.

    Yeo clearly knew this was coming.

  2. Schools in the Benedictine congregation appear to be a paedophile franchise. As a poster on this site said, poor safeguarding combined with concealment of incidents attracts perpetrators.

    Does anyone at these schools get it?

  3. I wonder what St Benedict would make of this rabble of deviants who claim to follow his rule?

  4. I know what father benedict made of this rabble and it was not nice

  5. As no one has yet done it I promise to put up lots of signs that say "Paedophiles welcome here." I consider it to be my duty. Then any child who goes to st bs cant make excuses for their lousy parents not giving a sod about them. happy days

  6. Try being there and being told he had "Gone to reconsider his relationship with God". They knew about it before the two boys in the court case

  7. The sodomite Pearce will be released from HMP Wandsworth in April having served half of his sentence. Let's hope that Shipperlee doesn't try to welcome him back into the monastic community. The only way that he should be allowed to return to Ealing Abbey is feet first in a box.

  8. Have the police bothered to interview the groundsmen past and present at Perivale? when you want to know whats wrong with a firm you don't start with the boss , you start with the man that pushes the broom. the shape ;)

  9. Why would the police interview groundsmen without a complaint - as everyone I thought knew - no complaint, no investigation.

  10. Nothing would surprise me from the catholic church, they may be able to talk intellectually about the issues but are they really capable of getting or understanding the point ? I was recently reading an article on the relationship between the catholic church and the horrible military dictatorship in Argentina in the 70s and 80s. One would expect an institution such as the church to unreservedly condemn such a horrible bloody regime that killed 10s of thousands of Argentinians, its own citizens ? Not a bit of it, the church supplied catholic chaplains to military death squads, priests comforted soldiers remourceful from pushing live human beings into the sea from helicopters quoting the bible "wheat and chaff" etc to make them feel better. Priests actually involved in torture and informing, church authorities with the names of the disappeared and knowledge of exactly what was going on but did nothing ? ( sounds like a re run of Franco´s Spain) What if the church had done its Christian duty and condemned the dictorship rather than pro-actively support it ? Might that dictatorship have fallen sooner and saved many civilian lives in Argentina,might there not have been a Falklands war as their last desperate stunt with the loss of young life and the need to spend millions. Don´t take my word for it do you own research on Google etc.

    Makes St Benedicts look like small fry but leaves us in no doubt about the capacity to abuse status and privedegde and the lengths that people will go to to protect their own interests, regardless of who else suffers in silence.

    We may often knock the country that we live in, the UK, but at the end of the day we luxuriate in freedoms that others can only dream about and the knowledge that a free legal system does restrain the worst of human instincts and that if people will do their bit and speak out the system will work and protect the weak and vunerable. In some ways that makes it all the worse that those who could have spoken out, even annonymously, without having to fear a knock on the door in the night, seemed to do nothing for so long..