Sunday, 15 January 2012

The second cautioned monk

Abbot Aidan Bellenger only named one of the two monks who has recently been given a caution. The other who has gone to live in Ireland, was left unnamed. The Belfast Telegraph has named him. He is Richard Hurt, also known as Brother Anselm.

He is presently living at Glenstal Abbey in Co Limerick, a Benedictine monastery in the Republic of Ireland. The Abbey has a school attached. It appears they did not know of his past, and Downside did not tell them.
The current headmaster at Glenstal, Brother Martin Browne, said last night that Glenstal operated totally independently of Downside and had not become aware until last February that an allegation had been made against Brother Anselm.

He pointed out that Brother Anselm had no teaching role there and that his only contact with pupils had been through a chess club. That contact was immediately terminated when Glenstal became aware of the allegation, he added.


  1. The abbot of Downside boasts of sharing monks files with the police, which we now know led to them taking action against numerous monks. Surely this disclosure is holding up his hand to a cover up and collusion on a grand scale, that needs exposing. The records go back beyond Aidan Bellenger's tenure and will have been 'sat on' by the likes of Abbot Richard Yeo, who happens to sit on the Cumberledge Committee and who heads up the UK Benedictine Congregation - And like Abbot Aidan he will have known that there were safeguarding procedures that should have led them taking appropriate action to protect children and vulnerable people in their care, rather than hiding their bretherns crimes and abuses, a wall away from the school, or in the case of some monks leaving them in active ministry. Shame on them all... And only putting their house in order when the police, Ofsted, ISI and other statutory bodies stand over them, is not something to be proud of.

  2. I was at Downside between 1963/67.Dom Anselm I remember fairly well as he came with a background of having been involved in the West End-slightly racy for a monastery renowned for its academics- we were 12th in the school league tables in those days (only problem was that Ampleforth was #1). He was i/c swimming and helped run the Physics club both of which I was involved with. I certainly heard nothing mentioned about any "extra-curricular" activities (trust me , we were not naive in such matters!) by Dom Anselm (or any other monk) and would hate to see him demonised now by the media and internet commentators many of whom were probably not even born. He may have been cautioned, and I am not defending his possible actions, but there was no trial or proof of guilt and certainly he was no loose cannon. Probably in those days rather too radical to have been ordained, but he's probably matured. Leave him alone unless you were directly affected or know a victim.

  3. Thank you for your posting Trevor Hughes and it is pleasing you have some fond memories of Michael Hurt. That you hold these clearly makes you fortunate. I know of many people who hold fond memories of the man who abused me, and they do not believe he is capable of abuse and have a foul opinion of me and others for daring to suggest it possible. I understand whaty this can happen. Returning to your comments though, would I have made the next point which is to tell all comers other than those you specify to remain silent? No. West does not conform to your specification, and had he stayed silent the decades of St Benedict’s child abuse would likely still be unknown.

    This site comments on the failures of two institutions (which excluded Downside until recently) for the reasons stated here by the author. Some posters have regrettably become abusive towards West, but the articles posted are all about safeguarding as you can see very easily. Articles now include Downside in light of recent disclosures which mirror St Benedict’s Ealing. Both Benedictine schools appear to have been operating a similar 'soft' policy towards perpetrators at both settings for decades.

    Mr Hurt could have easily refused a caution from the police, but he did not. A police caution is a formal alternative to prosecution. It is administered by the police and other law enforcement agencies in England and Wales and is commonly used to resolve cases where full prosecution is not seen as the most appropriate solution, or would not succeed. Given the passage of time since the known incident involving Hurt (this is known as the Selwyn Bell precedent in pre-trial pleas at bar to stay a case) which makes prosecution challenging; the absence of a formal complaint which makes formal prosecution impossible; Mr Hurt being in Ireland; it was decided a caution seemed the most appropriate procedure. It is important to appreciate that Mr Hurt accepted the caution. In the circumstances I’ve outlined above, he could easily have rejected it and the likelihood of the CPS being able to do anything was almost nil. (see next paragraph - no complainant)

    Also please see the first comment in the brother Anselm strand which is claimed to be from Hurt’s former wife. Why do I speculate this has more than a grain of truth about it? The language used and the clarity of the claims. A number of technical matters within the content of the claim are of the ‘period.’ It seems to be a credible post.

    You may also consider listening to the Woman’s Hour piece on Roger Took that follows the posting by Hurt’s alleged former wife. The shock of discovering someone close to you is a perpetrator is profound. In unconfirmed internet research this afternoon I read that following his release from prison last year, Took jumped under a train in August.