The Yorkshire Post, reporting on further allegations concerning sex abuse at Ampleforth College, has featured comments made by Rachel Thain, abuse team leader at Slee Blackwell Solicitors.
The story focuses on the Charity Commission's announcement that it is investigating Ampleforth's handling of sex abuse claims at its two schools; news which coincides with reports that North Yorkshire Police is also looking into three new cases of abuse at the Benedictine monk-run institution.
Last year a former housemaster at the college was imprisoned for 10 years for sexually abusing schoolboys while they slept in their dormitory beds and during singing lessons. And just three months ago the chairman of governors at Ampleforth College - which is an independent Roman Catholic school - stood aside while police made enquiries into other allegations of abuse.
It is understood that the charity commissioners will evaluate the safeguarding measures put in place by Ampleforth’s trustees and will scrutinise their handling of abuse allegations. The administration and management of Ampleforth charities by their trustees will also be examined, to ascertain whether “misconduct or mismanagement” has taken place.
The separate police investigation relates to allegations of historic abuse against pupils at Ampleforth. Earlier in the year, investigating officers interviewed a man under caution, but said he would not face further action. However, the force has confirmed it is currently pursuing three active investigations following fresh allegations being made.
Rachel Thain, who has handled compensation claims made by abuse victims at Ampleforth, was invited to comment by the Yorkshire Post. Rachel told the newspaper that she was aware of the long history of sexual abuse at Ampleforth, stating that:
"It shows a concerning line of men who took advantage of their positions at the institution to sexually abuse the pupils in their care.”
It was revealed by The Yorkshire Post in 2005 that Ampleforth pupils had suffered decades of abuse from at least six paedophiles. This followed Cardinal Basil Hume's decision not to call in the police when news of the scandal first broke. Hume, who was himself a former pupil at Ampleforth, received a complaint in 1975 from parents about one of the Fathers. The Father was sent away by Hume, who was abbot at the time, and the authorities were not informed of the allegations. The man was later convicted of abusing 15 boys at Ampleforth’s prep school from 1966 to 1975, and received a two year jail term. Another Father was sent to prison for four years in 2005 after admitting that he abused 10 boys between 1979 and 1987. In 1995 yet another Father was put on probation for two years for indecently assaulting a 13 year old. And the former head of Ampleforth’s finance department was sent to jail for a year for downloading indecent images of children.
The newspaper refers to a statement from Ampleforth confirming that it is “co-operating fully” with the Charity Commission investigation, adding that it is committed to good governance.
We run a free and confidential legal helpline for victims of sex abuse. You can call us in confidence on 0808 139 1597. Alternatively you can contact Rachel Thain direct by email at firstname.lastname@example.org