Monday, 1 January 2018

A survivor of Soper's abuse speaks out

"Peter" (not his real name) is one of the complainants in the trial of Fr Laurence Soper. He has spoken out about Soper and St Benedict's in an interview published on the the Guardian website today: London Catholic school abuse survivor speaks of 'constant violence'

You can of course read the full article if you follow the link above, but it's worth quoting a few of Peter's words here.
  • "There wouldn’t be a day when there wasn’t a queue of boys outside [Soper’s] study to be caned"
  • "[The abuse] was accepted, it was the norm, it was routine. Everybody had been into Father Laurence’s study. I realised it had happened to lots of boys before me and would happen to lots of boys after me.”
  • “Mine was the last generation where [abuse of children] was acceptable. Because of the culture at the time, it was excused. Now the whole system is changing. There’ll always be those who slip through the net, but it needs to be a bloody good net.”
Some comments to previous articles here have suggested that this sort of violence was common to most private schools in those days. Peter started at St Benedict's age 11 in 1979. He is therefore a few years younger than me, I took my A levels in 1979.

I didn't attend St Benedict's, I was educated elsewhere. But I can say that at the two private secondary schools I attended, there was not the culture of violence that Peter and others have described. Yes, the cane was used (very) occasionally, and yes there was something of a bullying problem, but I do not remember anything like the culture of violence that has been recounted at St Benedict's. St Benedict's might not have been unique (the IICSA heard similar accounts about Ampleforth and Downside during its recent hearings), but that level of violence certainly wasn't typical.

The violence and the fear it kindled among the pupils facilitated the abuse, as pupils were too terrified to complain.