Children abused (Raped) for decades at ‘sadistic’ Catholic school where Paedophile Priests ‘acted like Mafia’, inquiry finds Monks at London Abbey Sexually Raped Boys ‘with apparent impunity’, Panel says
A “sadistic and predatory” atmosphere and a culture of cover-up and denial allowed monks and teachers to abuse children at a Catholic school for decades, a report has found.
Paedophile priests acted “like the mafia” and sexually assaulted pupils with “impunity” at St Benedict’s School in Ealing, west London, said the Independent Inquiry into Child Sexual Abuse (IICSA).
Senior figures at the independent day school and the adjoining Ealing Abbey perpetrated the abuse, leaving staff afraid to speak out and victims with nowhere to turn, according to the damning report.
Since 2003, four members of staff – an abbot, a monk and two teachers – have been convicted of sexual offences relating to 21 children. The inquiry panel received evidence of at least 18 further allegations against those men and eight other monks and teachers, although it said the true scale of the abuse was likely to be “much higher”.
The report also highlighted the “flawed” response of the Catholic church, police, the Crown Prosecution Service, and child protection teams who failed to act upon “significant opportunities to stop abusers in the school”. This led to “a culture of abuse spanning over 30 years,” the panel said.
“For years, a culture of cover-up and denial meant children at Ealing Abbey and St Benedict’s School suffered appalling sexual and physical abuse,” said professor Alexis Jay, the inquiry’s chair.
She added: “When action was taken, the responses of senior staff, headmasters and external institutions were often poorly judged or flawed. As a result, children were left at risk of abuse which could have been stopped decades earlier.”
Paedophiles at the school were “emboldened by this inertia”, the report suggested. “Serial abuser” David Pearce, a monk and headteacher of St Benedict’s junior school, committed sexual assaults “with apparent impunity” over a three-decade period, the inquiry noted.
At least 14 boys complained of being sexually abused by Pearce, who would line up naked pupils and openly film them at the school’s swimming pool.
Teachers and other monks were aware of his behaviour but “seemingly powerless to do anything about it”, with staff afraid that they would lose their jobs if they spoke up, the report said.
At least two teachers told the inquiry the culture at St Benedict’s was “like the mafia”. Staff said raising concerns “meant putting your job on the line”.
The report added Pearce had been protected by Laurence Soper, Ealing’s abbot between 1991 and 2000, who himself abused at least 10 children while in other senior roles at the school and abbey between 1972 and 1983.
Many of the assaults, which included multiple rapes, were committed by Soper “during acts of corporal punishment apparently inflicted on the slightest of pretexts”, the inquiry heard.
One of the abbot’s victims told the inquiry he ”feared going to school once the abuse started” and in adulthood had suffered depression and alcoholism, struggled to hold down work or maintain personal relationships, and attempted suicide several times.
“I feel like I am still in a black hole and just can’t climb out of it,” the former pupil said. “He has damaged me for life.”
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In 2017, Soper was jailed for 18 years after being convicted of 19 charges involving 10 former pupils. He was tried at the Old Bailey after being extradited from Kosovo, where he had fled in an attempt to evade justice.
Pearce was jailed for eight years in 2009 after being convicted of indecently assaulting five boys.
Two lay teachers, John Maestri and Stephen Skelton, have also been also jailed for sexually abusing children at the school.
The IICSA strongly criticised Martin Shipperlee, the abbot who took over from Soper in 2000, for “serious shortcomings” in his handling of to abuse allegations, noting he failed to pass information on to police and “any action he did take was often inadequate and ill-judged”.
Father Shipperlee resigned from his role during the inquiry’s investigation into the school, acknowledging “serious failings” under his leadership.
Christopher Cleugh, headmaster of the school from 2002 to 2016, was also criticised in the report, which said he had minimised questions of child sexual abuse “to the point of materially misrepresenting significant facts”.
The inquiry highlighted mistakes by the Metropolitan Police in investigating early allegations against Pearce and Soper and found the CPS at fault for failing to prosecute of the pair in 2004.
The Charity Commission’s inquiry into Ealing Abbey’s handling of Pearce between 2006 and 2008 was found in the report to be “deficient”. Its review, which took place during the period when Pearce was abusing, concluded he was being managed appropriately.
The IICSA said the school’s current headmaster Andrew Johnson, appointed in 2016, had since made a number of improvements to safeguarding, including record-keeping and vetting.
But it added: ”It remains to be seen whether Ealing Abbey proves itself capable in the future of ensuring proper safeguarding of children at risk.”
The report, published on Thursday, forms part of the IICSA English Benedictine Congregation (EBC) case study within a wider investigation into the Roman Catholic church.
It said the EBC had a “closed, defensive and resistant” culture with teachers and monks “reluctant to support complaints for fear it would undermine the institutions and the church”.
The report noted the Vatican had declined a request from the inquiry for a witness statement on what steps were taken after Soper disappeared while on police bail in 2011, when he resided at Sant’Anselmo monastery in Rome.
“As a result, the inquiry is unable to fully understand and assess the role that the Holy See may have played,” said panel. John O’Brien, secretary to the IICSA, described the Holy See’s refusal to provide a statement as “regrettable”.
The inquiry had requested a statement from the Vatican through the Apostolic Nuncio to the United Kingdom, the Holy See’s diplomatic representative in the UK, who is covered by diplomatic immunity and cannot be compelled to give evidence.
Asked why the Vatican had declined to provide a statement, the Nunciature referred questions to the Catholic Bishops’ Conference (CBC) of England and Wales.
A spokesperson for the CBC told The Independent: “While a witness statement was not forthcoming from the Holy See, the IICSA report does confirm that there has been a disclosure of material from the Holy See, and this is under review.”
Cardinal Vincent Nichols, the Archbishop of Westminster and head of the Catholic Church in England and Wales, issued an “unreserved apology to all who have suffered” and “profound regret at all that has taken place”.
The cardinal will give evidence to the wider IICSA next month, which he said would “enable me to offer assurance of our willingness to learn further lessons” about safeguarding and the church’s response to abuse.
The headlines in the Irish Times Friday September 27th. 2019 reads ‘Funeral of emigrant who died alone: Joseph Tuohy ‘ashamed of his existence’ As hundreds gather for Irish man who was separated from his mother at five years of age’
Now you may well be wondering and asking quietly of yourself, who was this man that died? And what is his story,? after all hundreds of Irish people die every year in England and without fanfare. So what was so special about him, than say the hundreds of others who die without fuss every year in England.
The intriguing story in all the Irish Press and not just The Irish Times uncovered his story. ---Joseph Tuohy was “forgotten in life and remembered in death”, mourners heard at the funeral of the man who died alone at the age of 83 in London last July, after a lifetime of mental health problems and homelessness. So said the Catholic Priest at his funeral mass, at a packed church, St Joseph’s in Glasthule, in Dublin City. The Priest didn’t know Joseph Tuohy, neither did most of the well meaning congregation who attended the Catholic services on a wet and cold Friday morning. The elderly Priest, Fr Denis Kennedy spoke about Mr Tuohy’s good deeds, his courage he displayed “in the face of injustice piled on injustice. His sufferings did not diminish you—continued the Priest -you were dignified to the end.” The Priest, Fr. Denis Kennedy didn’t know this man, Joseph Tuohy, Fr. Kennedy was mouthing off practiced platitudes which were trite, meaningless statements, aimed at quelling Irish social, emotional, and cognitive unease.
A Little History
Joseph Tuohy Mother Mary, was a single unwed Mother who gave birth to Joseph on the 18th. Of May 1936. Mary Tuohy, had returned from New York City unmarried and pregnant with Joseph while working in the city of New York. Mary clearly wanted to be with her family, but she also knew the risks, the ensuring shame and disgrace that would attach itself upon her return to the small, rural village of Toomevara, in the very north of the county of Tipperary, Ireland. It was a time when having a child out of wedlock brought social disgrace on a woman and her entire family. Mary Tuohy was to travel down that same lonely road, as tens of thousands of other women would do so in the coming decades.
On day at noon in 1941 in the rural village of Toomevara, while the five year old Joseph was happily playing on the street outside his family home, with his mother watching, a black car appeared and without any warning kidnapped Mary, Joseph Tuohy’s Mother in full view of the child and some other local people. Such was the vast power of the Irish Catholic Church, that they alone could remove a person, any person they deemed unfit to live in the community. And the irony, Father Kennedy, has a connection to Joseph’s home village in Toomevarra, years later he was the Parish Priest there for a few years.
The Chronicles of Terror-
This was the similar experiences of tens of thousands of Irish women and their children who were shamed, criminalised and emotionally brutalised, raped- because of a pregnancy that was deemed socially unacceptable by the powerful Cult that ran Ireland. The Round ups, became an essential daily feature of Irish life in Ireland, streets were sealed off by the local Priests and enabling locals, including the Legion of Mary and the local Irish Police, under the full control of the local Parish Priest. Women and Children were carted off to concentration camps of the notorious Gulags known as the Magdalene Laundries and Industrial Schools dotted around Ireland at the time. The Women and Children were herded like cattle into the back of cars, many were to never see home or family again.
Several thousand Irish children were kidnapped by the powerful Cult, an act of Clerical terror, in this way, and trafficked to North America for illegal adoption to rich Irish American families. While many thousands of other women and children were transported as slaves to feed the vast Irish Gulags, to be raped, brutalised and beaten to death in the many work camps of the Religious run Institutions of Ireland.
This was the fate that awaiting an innocent five year old Joseph Tuohy who was also taken away, stolen from his mother with the assistance of the local Parish Priest and other local enablers. Joseph Tuohy was to be incarcerated for the next fifteen years of his life, locked into various Religious run Institutions in Ireland. Both him and his mother committed no crime, except in the eyes of an evil Cult, the Irish Catholic Church, their crime was that Joseph’s mother Mary was an unwed woman and Joseph was her child.
At the time the Cult, the Irish Catholic Church, said --
“We must hasten this process of unwed mothers with cold ruthlessness.” in eliminating this scourge from our pure Irish society, these unwed women, and their filth, their offsprings.’
The irony of this is in his homily, in his church, Fr. Kennedy spoke about how Joseph Tuohy was separated from his mother in childhood, how cruel, inhuman and brutal, and this was done by people who staunchly professed the Catholic faith.” Father Kennedy does not know what he is taking about, he has no idea. It’s like the Gestapo saying let’s forget the past and please forgive us the Gestapo.
Joseph Tuohy and his mother were just one of the many victims of The Cults terror, the experience of arrest was often similar. Most frequently, women and their children were denounced from the altars of their local churches. Joseph Tuohy spent two years with wilfully cruel Nuns in an orphanage and the remainder of his childhood, until the age of 16, with the pedophile band of Christian Brothers known as The Rosminians, at Ferryhouse Industrial School in Clonmel in Tipperary. Were by all accounts including his own, Jospeh was raped regularly by the so called The Rosminians.
Meanwhile his mother, Mary was sent to the Magdalen Laundry at Peacock Lane, in Limerick City and was to spend the rest of her life there as a slave of The Cult, she died there and was dumped with a few hundred other women in a mass cesspool nearby. The Good Shepherd Nuns that ran many of the Gulag Laundries in Ireland profited and grew fat of their slaves like Mary and thousands of other women like her, my mother included.
The ongoing trauma of his childhood remained so intense throughout his life, that it destroyed his entire life. Everything of value had been wounded and cut off when he was separated from his mother. Joseph had like many others a debilitating sense of inferiority, we fight our many demons daily, this was a man like thousands of other men and women from the Gulags of Ireland who were brutalised and raped throughout their captive childhoods in the Clerical rape -rooms of the many Religious run Institutions in Ireland. Joseph Tuohy never returned to Ireland. “He was so wounded he would say, no, I’m never going back home to Ireland.”
He was not interested in compensation from the Redress Board after the Ryan Report came out. Joseph Tuohy didn’t speak to the Ryan Report or want anything, but he was entitled to compensation. You see in his mind -Money couldn’t compensate for what he lost or the pain that was inflicted on him as a child, by the very same church that now wants his forgiveness even in death.
Something I do know as a former child of these Religious run Institutions in Ireland is, they stripped us of our dignities, our faith, our happiness and finally Joseph of his life;- R.I.P Joseph Tuohy. There are thousands of Joseph Tuohy and Mary Tuohy’s still alive, both in Ireland and the UK, all have similar stories to tell. I will no longer be kept in the dark, will someone please turn on the lights. All day long my dishonour is before me and my humiliation has overwhelmed me. Owen Felix O’Neill