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OPENING STATEMENT – IICSA RC Archdiocese of Birmingham 12th November 2018

OPENING STATEMENT ON BEHALF OF

RCA31, RCA32 AND RCA33

IICSA ARCHDIOCESE OF BIRMINGHAM INQUIRY

My remarks here are made against the background of what we already know about the Catholic Institutions examined as part of this Inquiry, how the church is organised into Dioceses, how orders come from Rome, the guidance given by Lord Nolan and Baroness Cumberledge, the evidence given in the Ampleforth and Downside Inquiry and indeed what that revealed about the reluctance of senior Catholics to share information with the police and their lack of engagement with outside agencies in relation to allegations of child abuse.

This particular Inquiry has only five days of evidence but we do know that there are a long list of identified abusers in the Archdiocese of Birmingham.

Numerous failures by the Archdiocese and West Midlands Police will be identified in the days to come. I know that my colleague, Richard Scorer, has dealt with the cases of Samuel Penny and Father Tolkien. I will deal here with the case of Father Robinson.

The way in which the Archdiocese of Birmingham dealt with Father Robinson paints a very disturbing image not only of denial and obfuscation by the Church but the clearest evidence of the Church protecting its good name and the perpetrator by sending him swiftly to another country. The Catholic Church regards itself as above the law. It has laughed at the rest of us mere mortals for decades. It has covered up, used lawyers and its recruits in state organisations to protect itself from disgrace. It has been facing disgrace now for more than two decades with the revelations of abuse and cover up coming thick and fast. This week will prove to be another week of utter disgrace for this deceitful organisation.

A letter from the Archdiocese in 1985 states in terms that Robinson was being sent across to California due to the allegations made by RC-A31(CHC000246_044). A draft statement of a priest to whom RC-A31 first reported in May 1985 records how the Vicar General Daniel Leonard arranged for Robinson to be moved from the country (CHC000246_116). You will recall we heard in the Downside Inquiry of the movement of Anselm Hurt to Ireland when an accusation of child abuse surfaced.

The Inquiry will have the opportunity to view evidence that the Archdiocese paid for Father Robinson’s upkeep in Los Angeles to the tune of £800 per month, the money initially coming from parish funds but then being reimbursed to the parish from the Diocese throughout the 1980s and 1990s. This was further concealed by it being channelled via his cousin through a Scottish bank account to which Robinson had access.

It has to be said that there is scant evidence in the papers of the Archdiocese disciplining him in accordance with its own rules from Rome until 2018. Why was this ?

You may hear evidence that Father Robinson denies that the allegation was reason for him moving to Los Angeles and that it was actually his ill health that caused this move. This was a patent lie according to contemporaneous documents. You will no doubt hear obfuscation from Vincent Nichols and Bernard Longley. Their very careful use of language in press releases over the years has been designed to avoid admitting the truth of the matter which is that the Archdiocese has known about and protected its abusing priests. I ask you to pay attention to what these two men are not saying in their evidence. They will continue to distance themselves, the Archdiocese and their church from wrongdoing. You must see through this.

We have become used to uncovering this type of institutional cover-up in the Catholic Church and indeed the Church of England. It is of deep concern that we do not or may never know the true extent of concealment activity carried out in such an organised way by both Churches.

Perhaps the most grievous affront to children’s’ rights emerging from this case is the complicity of West Midlands Police which amounted to state protection of Father Robinson. On receiving RCA31’s complaint in 1985 he was not taken seriously. There was no thorough investigation of his serious allegations. He was instead accused of blackmail. West Midlands Police refused to accept a covert recording he made of Robinson admitting abusing him from the age of ten. The police suggested that it may not be genuine.       He was subjected to an unnecessary intimate examination with instruments. West Midlands Police carried out only a cursory investigation. It is unclear as to whether West Midlands Police even reached the stage of interrogating Diocese officials. No crime was recorded on the police system enabling Robinson to come back to the UK in 1997 before returning to Los Angeles.

What seems to have happened in fact is that police officers colluded with the Archdiocese officials by passing to them a statement made by RCA31, thus tipping off the Diocese and Robinson thus enabling him to live out his days in the sunshine in California (or so they thought).

I could catalogue the letters passing between RCA31 and RCA32 and the Archdiocese but I would need a few days to do so. Suffice it to say that these two men urged the Archdiocese to bring Robinson to justice throughout the 1990s and 2000s with no success, the Diocese throughout being defended vigorously by its lawyers whilst retaining the knowledge of Robinson’s admission and supporting him to the tune of £800 per month via a concealed route.

The position worsens when police conduct in the 1990s and 2000s was chalenged. Both RCA31 and RCA32 each attempted to have the case investigated properly throughout this period but were unsuccessful.

RCA32 attempted repeatedly to persuade West Midlands Police to investigate between 1998 and 2014. An investigation in 2007 by West Midlands Police revealed continued unwillingness to properly investigate the case and the complicity of the police in 1985.

In relation to RCA31 there was a failure by WMP to respond adequately in 1995 when he approached them again asking for a proper investigation. In total he provided West Midlands Police with detailed evidence which deserved to be investigated in 1985, 1995, 1998, 2002, 2003, 2009-10.

Why did it take West Midlands police 6 years from the BBC Kenyon Confronts documentary to investigate the case properly ? Wht did Vincent Nichols complain about the documentary to the BBC when he knew it had revealed the truth ?

It was only in 2009 that the position changed when Crown Prosecution Service authorised an application for an extradition warrant from California and Robinson was brought to trial. Many courageous survivors came forward to give evidence and Robinson was convicted in 2010 of offending against multiple individuals, some of whose abuse could have been prevented had the Archdiocese and the police responded well. We will never know how many children Robinson abused when living in California.

RCA31 and RCA32 have tried repeatedly to involve the police complaints system and their attempts to have the police complaints system operate in this case have exposed some truths about flaws in the system which enable the police service to protect itself from criticism and suggest that the rigour which should be applied to these investigations is lacking within the current IOPC. The most recent IOPC investigation, Operation Fennel, has been criticised by RCA31 as having been launched only as a result of the interest shown by IICSA in the investigation and of lacking serious intent.

The plight of another CP in particular, RCA33, deserves to be mentioned. He was abused by Robinson in the early 1960s whilst Robinson was still studying for the priesthood at Oscott College. RCA343 mentions that he went through theological college and was concerned at the attitude of other Ordinands and their motives for joining the priesthood. Oscott college was of course the college at which Pope Ratzinger spoke in 2010. It would be interesting to know what Rome knew about the college and its teaching when it seems to have turned out a significant number of clerics against whom allegations have been made.

RCA33 like many has devoted a good part of his life to this case. He has helped the police after 2010, gave evidence at the trial of Robinson but has not received any offer of compensation. He like many he is bitter and is hopeful that the IICSA will expose the facts of the case.

I am grateful to the Inquiry staff for their diligent work in obtaining the various documents and statements.

Finally, we should all acknowledge the bravery of the victims of abuse who have come forward in this and other investigations and the journalists such as Mr Kenyon who tracked down Robinson in 2002.

David Greenwood

Switalskis

07.11.18

Catholic Nun’s rapes of 13 year old boy covered up.

Catholic Nun’s rapes of 13 year old boy covered up.

The case of William Edward Hayes is a shocking but fairly typical case of the Catholic Church clergy abusing the trust they assumed when looking after children to sexually abuse them. We have seen this pattern emerge in many settings over the last 20 years.

What is extraordinary about William’s case is that he was sexually abused by a Nun who went on to have his child. She was expelled from the church and returned to Ireland. The child of the rape was taken into another convent and spent a lifetime looking for the biological parents. William fought for acknowledgement and redress and after a long fight through lawyers for compensation he eventually succeeded. This was not however without the Catholic Church putting obstacles in his way.

William has been helped in the last decade by Noel Chardon, a founder member of MACSAS (“Minister and Clergy Sexual Abuse Survivors”), a support organisation for clergy abuse survivors. Noel is a trauma recovery counsellor based in London.

William describes the abuse as follows :

“In June 1951 when I was 10 years old, my sister and I were admitted to the John Reynolds Home at East Beach, Lytham St Anne’s in Lancashire. This home was run by the Catholic Order of Religious, The Franciscan Missionaries of St Joseph who were in fact nuns. The house itself contained about 30 children both boys and girls and contained three separate houses. The sisters lived in one of the houses, the boys in another and the girls in the other one. What I did notice was that we were then cleaned up and fed adequately whilst in this particular home where I remained until the age of 15.

The nuns could be nice at times but also very strict and we weren’t allowed to get away with anything. I had been at the home for probably a couple of years before I got a job in the laundry room at the back of the house and one of the nuns Sister Conleth (birth name Bessie Lawlor) was in charge of the laundry. I hadn’t been working in the laundry very long when I was taken to the back of the laundry room and sexually abused by her. She would push me to the floor and either lay on top of me or have me lay on top of her and showed me how to perform sexual intercourse with her. She would not undress at his particular time but would just pull her habit up and pull my trousers down and I would have sex with her. Initially I wasn’t sure what to do but she showed me how to put my penis inside her and then on a number of occasions over the next few years we would have regular sexual intercourse, by this I mean probably every day. When I said that I didn’t want to do these things she told me that I would be in trouble if I didn’t and she would tell people that I had been bad and that I would be in serious trouble. 

I honestly believed her and I knew that nobody would believe me over a nun and therefore kept having intercourse with her. The sex was Sister Conleth carried on for probably a couple of years before I was moved to my own bedroom. After that Sister Conleth would come to my room on most nights and come to bed with me. She would take all her clothes off, get into bed and have sex with me. Looking back at it now I realise this was rape when I did try to complain I was told to just get on with it and she would often make jokes and phrases such as “lets have a prop up”. Obviously looking back on this now I know that the prop up for me to put my penis inside of her and have sex with her.

Sister Conleth always threatened me with punishment should I say anything about what was happening therefore I tended to keep quiet. This changed because I noticed that my sister had become very unhappy and I later found out that she had been abused by Canon Moxham. After that we ran away on a couple of occasions but were caught and were taken back to the home. I was running away because of the abuse, at that time I obviously didn’t know about my sister but she came with me as she was also being abused. On return to the home I did mention what was happening with myself and Sister Conleth to the Mother Superior who was called Mary Osmond. I remember telling her twice but nothing was done. I was really frightened and embarrassed about talking to her but she just acted as though everything was okay. It would have been about 1956/57 when I was aged about 16 that I was called to a meeting. There was Sister Conleth, Mother Superior, a priest and I believe Canon Moxham was present. I was told that I was being sent back to Carlisle because I had got Sister Conleth pregnant. I was put on a train with no money and told to keep my mouth closed and told that if I said anything to anyone, nobody would believe me and I was also told in no uncertain terms that if I mentioned about the abuse and the relationship with Sister Conleth I would be in serious trouble.”

What William couldn’t have known is that Sister Conleth had her baby and was returned to Ireland. The baby was brought up in a Convent and now with the help of Noel Chardon and William finally breaking his silence to the Daily Express on 3rd April 2018 the daughter of the relationship as made contact with William. (see web link here) https://www.express.co.uk/news/uk/940504/child-abuse-nun-raped-me-and-had-my-baby-schoolboy-victim

William’s counsellor, Mr Chardon, has discovered not only that the church covered up the fact of the abuse in 1957 but has repeatedly ignored William’s attempts to get recognition and redress from them.

In 2001 William made contact with the Catholic Care organisation, Caritas who ignored him. Thinking he would get no help from the church he took no action until 2007 when he asked his local MP to write to Cardinal Cormac Murphy O’Connor. O’Connor did not help but told William to write to the Bishop of Lancaster’s office. In 2008 William again tried Caritas who tell him that Bessie Lawlor passed away in 2002.

In 2010 William persisted and got a meeting with the Caritas and the head of the Franciscan Missionaries of St Joseph (who ran the children’s home where he was abused), Sister Philomena McCluskey. She told him she’d never heard of this report. William not has the feeling he is being passed around and ignored. No-one in the Church has taken ownership of his case, offered to help and support him, or investigated his case.

In November 2010 William contacts Noel Chardon through MACSAS and Noel provided support, advice and counselling.

In 2011 William, by now age 70 suffers a near fatal heart attack. In 2012 Noel asks for a donation of £1,000 to help William who is struggling financially. The request is denied and Noel is accused of “being on the political wing of MACSAS”. Between 2012 and 2015 Noel provided support and counselling to William. Throughout this period William is “befriended” by a Caritas social worker who works to persuade William that his lawyers are actually his enemy. This causes William great confusion and worry.

On 3rd April 2015 (Good Friday) Noel Chardon, after much research, writes to all 30 Catholic Bishops in England pointing out their breaches of Canon Law in failing to provide help and support to William (Cannons 678, Article 1 and 683 Articles 1 and 2). The 1956 evidence was included in the correspondence to evidence the case.

In 2016 William’s legal case was settled by the Franciscan Missionaries of St Joseph for a minimal payment.

In summary William and Noel accuse the Catholic Church of :-

  1. The abuse itself committed to William between the ages of 13 and 15 on a boy forced to live in the convent.
  2. Failing to support him after leaving the convent.
  3. Failing to try to find his child.
  4. Ignoring his case from 2001.
  5. Failing to alert the police and social services to the case in 2001. Failing to undertake any investigation in to these serious offences (failing to follow its own safeguarding guidance)
  6. Despite knowing his need for support with housing and benefits in old age, failing to help him.
  7. Actively using Jim Cullen, a Caritas social worker, to try to persuade him to drop his legal case.
  8.  Failing to follow its own Cannon law when it failed to help William.

David Greenwood

28th April 2018

New book on church responses to child sex abuse allegations – Responding Badly by David Greenwood

Click here to see the book cover


All royalties from this book go to the support organisation which helps support and signpost survivors of clergy sex abuse, MACSAS (Minister and Clergy Sexual Abuse Survivors).

Click here for the link to Responding Badly on Amazon

Numerous isolated examinations of particular clergy child sex abuse cases have been published but this book digs deeper than the narrative and explores the cultures of churches, their internal dynamics and self-protection mechanisms. It isolates failings and suggests positive and achievable solutions ahead of the Independent inquiry into Child Sexual Abuse (“IICSA”). This book looks at the issue from an institutional perspective as opposed to the individual case. For the last two decades we have seen countless clergy abuse scandals covered in the news. Year after year there have been clergy in both the Anglican and Roman Catholic churches prosecuted. Suspected cover-ups have been exposed. Case reviews have taken place yet the UK Government has allowed the churches to continue to govern themselves on safeguarding issues. This book opens up publicly:- • the scale of the problem, • the cost to individuals and society of child sexual abuse (“CSA”), • the obstructive attitude of both churches, • the internal culture of the churches, • the dynamics of power relationships in churches, • The legal and psychological barriers against reporting, • Case studies of cover ups in both churches, • The failures of our criminal and civil justice systems with solutions, • Plans for reform and independent resolution of CSA reports, The state has repeatedly failed to intervene and has allowed religious organisations to police themselves with dire consequences. This has led abusers to feel relatively safe to commit sex crime without being brought to account. Organisations have put their good name before the protection of children. Abusing clergy have been moved between parishes, dioceses, and countries when discovered. The book sets out to demonstrate the effects of abuse, how they have festered and what is needed for the future. The Roman Catholic Church and the Church of England are singled out although the power relationships and lack of effective responses apply to almost any institution from which vulnerable individuals from time to time seek help. Decision makers in schools, other religions, social services, caring professions, young offender institutions, and youth movements should look with introspection for parallel bad practice in their organisations. This book sets out some of the issues to be examined by the Inquiry in digestible detail. The book concludes that an entirely independent body should be established to receive and deal with all institutional allegations of CSA, providing uniformity of approach and establishing trust with disaffected survivors. This conclusion and references throughout to the proposed approach being suitable for schools, detention centres, children’s homes and youth groups, broadens the appeal of the book to institutions responsible for children’s’ welfare. Clergy in both churches and those with interest institutions to be examined in the IICSA are likely to be readers. Survivors of Clergy abuse will read with interest.

Catholic Church Inquiry week 2

This is week 2 of the Inquiry into the Catholic English Benedictine Congregation. It has also dealt with some aspects of Catholic theology and how they affect the Catholic response to child sex abuse allegations.

The second week of the Inquiry has unearthed more shocking revelations and began with evidence from the former headmaster and Abbott of Ampleforth, Leo Chamberlain. His complacent evidence was breath-taking when set against the fact that numerous allegations of child abuse on boys had been made yet not passed on to the police or social services. He eventually agreed that that monks running Ampleforth school have had no awareness or accountability on child abuse.

Former detective Barry Honeysett from NY Police underlined his shock at the Abbott’s responses to safeguarding issues when he strongly criticised the monks’ and the headmaster’s behaviour after 2003 when evidence of the activities of a number of monks had been reported to the police by the psychologist, Elizabeth Mann. He referred to a letter he had received from Abbott Timothy Wright in which he clearly set out why he would always put the defence of his monks first above the interests of abused pupils. Mr Honeysett criticised Abbott Wright’s failure to disclose abuse to social services and the police, his insistence on drip-feeding the police with what he knew about abusing monks. At this point I was left wondering why the police didn’t seek and execute a search warrant for documents as the Abbott and his lawyer seemed to have led the police on a merry dance for over 12 months before they worked out who the offenders were.

We heard moving evidence from another boy from Ampleforth and abuse from F Piers Grant-Ferris.

We heard that an offender, Gregory Carroll, had been moved out of Ampleforth and into a parish without his offending being brought to the attention of the police or social services. This was more crass disregard for the safety of children in the receiving parish.

Another (current) headmaster of Ampleforth, Cuthbert Madden, gave evidence in a ghostly and slightly aloof manner and was cataloguing the errors of he and his predecessors. F Bernard Green’s indecent assault on a boy resulted in prevarication before there was eventually a report to the police. Importantly there was tampering with the boy’s evidence as the school talked to him and his family before the police. This has emerged as a common theme at Ampleforth and Downside. Even Headmaster Madden was critical of the decision to allow the repeat offender, Grant-Ferris, to work in the Abbey bookshop at which boys regularly attended. He ran through more errors resulting from the monks’ failure to alert the police and keeping cases in house.

Importantly Headmaster Madden agreed that he had to obey orders from Rome and that he could expect to be removed from his post if he didn’t obey. This is important as Rome requires allegations against Catholic clergy to be kept entirely secret – this is in direct contradiction to the CSAS own guidance and the “working together” protocols to which all are expected to adhere.

A startling revelation came when Headmaster Madden revealed that he himself had been under police investigation arising from allegations from 4 boys but that the police had confirmed they would take no action. He still faces an internal inquiry.

The Inquiry then turned it’s attention to Downside Abbey school and began with very moving testimony of a very vulnerable girl who at the age of 17 was groomed and repeatedly sexually assaulted by a Downside Abbey monk. She described indecent assaults and a catalogue of reports which were met with either no response or totally inadequate and sometimes aggressive and defensive responses. At one point when she was at a low ebb she was invited to have a retreat at Ampleforth. During this time she suffered an attempted rape by one of the monk. These were truly shocking experiences.

Jane Dziadulewicz, the former safeguarding co-ordinator at the RC Diocese of Clifton gave her evidence. In summary she described finding resistance and cynicism from the monks towards safeguarding. She describes not having been told about all the disclosures. She explained that Abbott Aidan Bellenger didn’t give her detail on cases without her having to ask.

She recounted a few incidents of abuse by monks at Downside. Dunstan O’Keefe had been caught masturbating outside a primary school and had been cautioned. Another monk fathered a child whilst undertaking missionary work in Peru. He also assaulted a novice nun in Washington. He was moved to East Anglia where a further complaint was made about him.

Jane Dziadulewicz (‘JD”) described a bullying culture at the Abbey community among the monks, the junior of whom felt unable to have a voice. She found in files that having received complaints there was a tendency to be defensive, to blame the children and fail to inform the police.

Overall JD felt frustrated by the lack of reports to her, the police and social services when the Abbey and school found out about complaints. She described :-

  • a lack of enforcement by the Bishop and Abbott
  • names were omitted from documents, documents were lost
  • Many cases had been covered up
  • there was a failure to challenge monks
  • monks were allowed in children rooms
  • the proximity of the Abbey to the school posed a safeguarding problem

Structural issues she raised were :-

  • She had no powers to require anyone to do anything
  • Support from Bishops was patchy
  • Bishops can choose whether to comply with no accountability
  • There is too much emphasis on forgiveness and an unwillingness to laicise offenders (allowing monks to offend repeatedly)
  • Canon lawyers generally refuse to recognise the COPCA or CSAS procedures (church guidance on responding to complaints)

JD felt we needed Mandatory Reporting to be introduced and a body that can hold the church accountable. She also advocated that safeguarding training is compulsory for all clergy.

The Inquiry also heard from a young man who had been sexually abused by F Nicholas White and the fact that his abuse was repeatedly brought to the attention of the Abbott and was swept under the carpet. There was no report to the police until he himself spoke to the police in 2011. In a dreadfully sad reflection he noted that his own Father wanted to protect the name of the Catholic Church so didn’t report it to the police and sent him back to the senior school where the abuse continued. This complainant felt religion is a space in which paedophiles can go “under the radar” as the organisation believes in redemption through the confessional.

We also heard from Dr James Whitehead, the current headmaster of Downside. He is the first lay head of Downside. His criticisms of the Abbey and school were :-

  • Management structures – the Abbott is the influential chair of the governors
  • the monastic trustees are in control of the school finances
  • there is consequently a conflict of interest if a complaint is received
  • Abbeys are not controlled from outside with no oversight

He felt there should be Mandatory Reporting introduced and a body set up to oversee safeguarding in this area.

Liam Ring is the new Clifton Diocese safeguarding co-ordinator and like his predecessor, JD, complains that he had no power over the school. He also complained that he tried to direct the school to carry out safeguarding response but was ignored by the head and Abbott.

DC Mark White of Avon and Somerset police described a lack of co-operation from monks and the Abbott and delays in provision of documentation. He states the Abbott was close to being arrested for obstruction of justice.

James Michael Hubert Fitzgerald Lombard (Abbott Charles), the Abbott between 1992 and 1998 was questioned and said “It is regrettable that we’re in a position where Abbott can’t say a monk has an unalterable right to return to his monastery. Its very sad but its the world we live in.” He is effectively saying this Order will only obey the law when they are required to. When asked who controls him he said “I don’t answer to anyone but the almighty.” This makes disturbing reading as Abbott’s primary duty is to their monks before anything else (including children safety).

On confessionals he confirmed that a priest can give mass even when his sins of child abuse have not yet been absolved in the confessional.

It emerged that Abbott Charles helped a convicted child abuser, Anselm Hurt, to find a position at Glenstal Abbey in Ireland and acknowledged that there was an order from Rome that he should destroy correspondence about this.

On the issue of F Nicholas White (also known as Richard White), this Abbott was letting Nicholas White know that he could come back after child abuse once contemporaries of an abused boy had left “to avoid scurrilous gossip” (a 1991 letter). This came after Abbott Charles in his statement had denied having anything to do with Nicholas White. It seems he was caught out. In another 1991 letter he minimised White’s behaviour. In 1993 he goes on to try to persuade Abbott Mark Dilworth at Fort Augustus Abbey to house Nicholas White for a short time. This all underscores the disregard for child welfare by this order and the church.

In summary it appears that the English Benedictine Congregation and Catholic Church should not be responsible for supervising children for four reasons :-

  1. Their Theology, teaching and practice demonstrate their faith always trumps safeguarding.
  2. Their legal status means they are difficult for statutory authorities to control.
  3. Their hierarchical structure with power concentrated in Bishops and heads of Orders means adherence to safeguarding pends on the attitudes of individuals.
  4. Church culture and traditions with bonds of priesthood mean secrecy and defence of institutional reputations comes before child safety.

For all these reasons I will be asking the Inquiry to recommend mandatory reporting of suspicions of child abuse is enacted immediately and that an independent body is established to be the first port of call for any complaints and which will remove responsibility for responding to complaints of child sex abuse from institutions.

The position of the Catholic Church at this point appears, on the evidence heard so far, to be stark. It is doubtful that there should be religious control of schools or indeed contact between priests or religious with children in any circumstances.

David Greenwood

8th December 2017

 

Catholic Church Is investigated at Inquiry

This week IICSA (the Independent Inquiry into Child Sex Abuse) started its examination of how the English Benedictine Congregation dealt with allegations in its monasteries and schools.
The English Benedictine Congregation is an amalgam of monks following the teaching of St Benedict. It owns and runs monasteries and private schools, principally Ampleforth, Downside and Ealing Abbey school.
Evidence brought out during evidence of the first 5 days shows an organisation which considers itself above secular laws, preferring to deal in house with allegations of child sex abuse by its members. Abuse covering the mid 1960s to 2010 has been uncovered and two survivors gave compelling evidence of thoroughly wicked abuse from monks at Ampleforth.
Eileen Shearer, an official advising all UK catholic clerics on safeguarding gave a straightforward account of the barriers put up by the church and religious communities against adopting good standards of safeguarding responses. She found most Bishops to have been disinterested. One record of a conversation between the psychologist Elizabeth Mann and Abbott Timothy Wright of Ampleforth showed the Abbott was not willing to accept external advice and that effectively “Ampleforth’s policy on safeguarding was that there was no policy for monks”. The disagreement on how to deal with offenders led to Mrs Mann being sacked from her role by the Abbott.
An experienced social worker, David Molesworth gave evidence that he was met with “obfuscation, defensiveness and obstruction” when he tried to persuade the Abbott and Prior to share information. He found it incredibly that Ampleforth was unwilling to share information on allegations and had even failed to disclose to him the fact that they had known about offending by multiple abusers for many years.
All this evidence affirms what we already know – which is that Catholic doctrine and orders from Rome encourage Bishops and Religious to keep these allegations secret. It seems they hold on to this teaching rather than follow advice from their own advisers like Eileen Shearer.
The evidence continues next week. Former Abbott General Richard Yeo returns to the witness box. His evidence is likely to be just as interesting. Read more

St William’s 2016 decisions

The decisions can be found at the bottom of this article.

The Judge at Leeds, HHJ Gosnell, heard the cases of 5 men who were claiming compensation for sexual abuse whilst at the St William’s school, East Yorkshire. The men gave evidence that they were sexually abused by James Carragher, Anthony McAllen and others whilst at the school between the ages of 13 and 15.

The former headmaster, James Carragher, and the former priest, Anthony McCallen, were convicted of sex offences against boys at the School in November 2015. Carragher was convicted previously in 1993 and 2004 of sexual offences against boys at the school.

The St William’s school was operated by two Roman Catholic organisations, the Diocese of Middlesbrough and the De La Salle Institute (Great Britain province).

Despite the convictions of Carragher and McAllen the civil cases were challenged on the basis that the men’s cases were brought out of time. The Limitation Act 1980 section 33 allows a judge to decide whether he thinks a case should be allowed to proceed despite more than 3 years having passed since the abuse occurred.

David Greenwood of Switalskis Solicitors represents 109 men who were sexually assaulted at St William’s. He started the civil compensation case in 2004.

Commenting on the case David Greenwood says :

“I welcome the finding in favour of claimant CD which demonstrates the way in which Carragher preyed on young boys by violently raping them at St Williams.

However despite the obvious suffering caused to the Claimants by the abuse in the first place, all the men were subjected to further humiliation and the examination of tiny details of their allegations by the defence barristers to a greater extent than that faced even in criminal trials.

It is understandable that Claimants recalling painful memories from many years ago will get details wrong and the judge has penalised three of the claimants by allowing these inconsistencies to affect his judgement of the strength of the evidence of the abuse and also on whether the cases should go ahead after the passage of time.

In my opinion these claimants have been treated harshly by the civil justice system which needs reform in the area of child abuse cases. The restrictions placed on the law of limitation has been cynically exploited by the Defendant’s insurance company. The system has let down these deserving claimants. A more appropriate system would be a redress scheme similar to the Irish Catholic schools scheme.

The claimants who were unsuccessful will consider appeal and the remaining 244 claimants will continue their pursuit of justice.

I am hopeful that these cases mark a turning point in the case and that the Diocese of Middlesbrough and the De La Salle organisation will now attempt to reach an out of court settlement with the Claimants.

ab-v-catholic-child-welfare-society-dt

cd-v-catholic-child-welfare-society-ch

ef-v-catholic-child-welfare-society-rc

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IJ v Catholic Child Welfare Society (GF)

 

St William’s abuse: two guilty

Two men have been found guilty of over thirty offences against children at a former Approved School after a ten-week trial.

James Carragher, 75, the former principal of the school, and Anthony McCallen, 69, the chaplain from the late 1970s to the school’s closure in the 1990s, were accused of abuse spanning over two decades at St William’s Community Home, Market Weighton. After two weeks of deliberations, the jury found them guilty of abusing twelve boys who had been resident at the home.

Carragher was convicted of abusing 7 boys and McCallen of abusing 5 boys following a trial which painted a graphic picture of physical and sexual violence at the school, where boys who had been placed in care would be sent by local authorities.

Both Carragher and McCallen have been remanded in custody. Sentencing will take place on 4 January 2016.

The investigation into abuse at St William’s was the latest into the school. In 1993, Carragher was convicted of a number of offences against boys in his care, and he was again convicted in 2004. He has previously been sentenced to 21 years in prison for his abuse of residents at St William’s. McCallen served a 2 ½ year sentence in the 1990s for sexual offences unrelated to St William’s. Last year, former farmer at the school Albert Marvin was jailed for 7 years for sexual abuse including offences at St William’s.

David Greenwood, Director and Head of the Child Abuse Department at Switalskis Solicitors, represents 109 survivors of abuse at St William’s. He started a civil compensation case in 2004, which remains ongoing. Commenting on the case, David said:

“The criminal prosecutions represent some justice for the survivors but the public should be aware that the boys (now men) who were at St Williams have had to endure no only the abuse itself, but not being believed by police and social workers who they told, incomplete police investigations and years of delays caused by legal delay tactics of the home’s Catholic operators. Legal technicalities are to this day being used to prevent them getting compensation and restoring some dignity to their lives.

“I am hopeful that the convictions will mark a turning point in the case and that the Diocese of Middlesbrough and the De La Salle organisations will now attempt to reach an out of court settlement with the Claimants.”

For more information, please contact David Greenwood on 01709 890400.

‘More than 50’ Catholic priests defrocked: more action required

More than 50 Catholic priests have been defrocked in England and Wales since 2001, new figures have shown.

But critics of the Church have hit out at the investigative process, saying that more needs to be done.

Although 55 priests have been evicted from the Catholic clergy since new rules were put in place to protect children and vulnerable adults, many more complaints have been received. In some cases, priests who have been convicted of serious abuse have not been defrocked and remain members of the clergy despite significant prison sentences.

This is still the case with Father James Robinson, jailed in October 2010 for 21 years after spending more than two decades on the run for his heinous crimes. Despite having spent almost five years in prison, the Catholic Church has yet to take action to remove him from their ranks.

The National Catholic Safeguarding Council’s figures also showed 79 separate allegations of abuse by the clergy last year, involving 83 suspects and 118 victims.

David Greenwood, Director and Head of the Child Abuse Department at Switalskis, is a long-standing campaigner against the abuses of the clergy. Speaking to the Yorkshire Post, he said, “Whilst both [the Catholic Church and Church of England] have improved their written policies and guidance there are really strong concerns about how that guidance is being implemented.

“It’s really down to individual bishops in their own dioceses when to report allegations to the police and what action to take.

“The number of recent investigations and prosecutions of clergy for abuse suggests this is an ongoing problem and the response of the church in the past leads us to believe they can no longer be trusted to police themselves.

“I’ve called for a number of years for a completely independent body to take complaints regarding the two main denominations. We may have to wait until the national independent inquiry (into child abuse) makes its recommendations to have something concrete on that.”

An independent body would be able to consider cases such as that of Robinson and take swift action to prevent the inertia that currently dominates the Catholic approach to child abuse. Despite the setting up of bodies such as the National Catholic Safeguarding Council not enough is being done to protect the vulnerable, nor is positive action being taken on the disclosure of abuse.

Show of sympathy for O’Brien in Scottish Catholic Church betrays victims

One of the men sexually assaulted by Cardinal Keith O’Brien has attacked the Roman Catholic Church for its actions following the revelations about O’Brien, the former leader of the Catholic Church in Scotland.

It came out in 2013 that O’Brien had been sexually inappropriate with a number of men, some of whom were junior priests within the Catholic Church. One had to leave the Church when he realised that O’Brien, Would always have power over him’, while another needed long-term counselling after the actions of O’Brien. The Cardinal subsequently stated that his sexual conduct had ‘fallen below the standards expected of me.’

Following the revelations, O’Brien resigned as archbishop. Donations to the Catholic Church in Scotland dropped, to the point where the poorest church in Edinburgh was forced to close.

The Times reported on Sunday that O’Brien is currently living through his retirement in a house in Northumberland bought by the archdiocese of St Andrews and Edinburgh. He remains a cardinal. A number of senior figures in the Scottish Catholic Church have emphasised forgiveness in the case. A report by Archbishop Charles Scicluna of Malta, which investigated allegations of sexual misconduct, remains unpublished.

This has prompted one victim of O’Brien to condemn the Church, stating that, ‘The Vatican seems to be playing the old game.’

‘This emphasis on forgiveness is insulting,’ O’Brien’s victim said to The Times. ‘What about justice? Truth? There has to be accountability. Justice has to be seen to be done and further down the line we might talk about healing. Yes, healing is important, but this is the last stop on the bus route, not the first. There are many stops on the route.’

Despite Pope Francis seemingly supporting a more open Catholic Church, the O’Brien case shows that substantive change has yet to take place. Victims are still secondary to the Church protecting its own reputation and its own notorious priests. Self-interest continues to reign supreme at the Vatican.

David Greenwood speaks out as Pope meets sex abuse victims

On Monday, Pope Francis met victims of sexual abuse by the clergy for what is believed to be the first time since his election as pontiff. He invited six victims of abuse to a special Mass in the Vatican before a special meeting with himself.

The move is the latest in the new Pope’s efforts to engage with those who found themselves suffering at the hands of the clergy of the Catholic Church after widespread condemnation of his predecessors’ brushing the issue under the carpet. In recent months the Pope has made gestures of reconciliation to survivors of the abuses of his church as well as denouncing sexual abuse. However, these gestures are too little too late. David Greenwood, Switalskis Partner and Chairman of the Stop Church Child Abuse campaign, has said, “Why isn’t Francis knocking on the doors of my clients [who suffered sexual abuse at the hands of the clergy] and begging their forgiveness? This is another stunt.”

David, who has acted on behalf of many survivors of clergy abuse and who has been instrumental in changing the law to ensure that Church organisations are responsible for the actions of their agents, feels that the olive branch offered by the Pope to a small number of survivors is insufficient:

“I cannot understand why any survivor of clergy sex abuse would want to meet the Pope. My view is that the Pope should be visiting them in their own homes and begging their forgiveness.

“Successive Popes have made and promoted rules for Bishops and priests which have shielded clergy from investigation by the police throughout the world. The church’s lamentable behaviour has been criticised by survivors, lawyers and now two United Nations committees [the Committee for the Rights of the Child and the Committee against Torture] yet Pope Francis and other senior clerics continue to defend the Church.”

He finished: “The Pope now has an opportunity to put his organisation’s house in order by acknowledging the UN’s criticisms and implementing their recommendations but sadly I very much doubt he or his officials are serious about promoting child protection.”

Gestures such as the Pope inviting survivors to a private audience do not address the serious issues which have plagued the Catholic Church for many years. Though gestures may go some distance to rehabilitating the Church’s image in the public eye, they do not act as any kind of child protection measure, nor do they help to heal the deep wounds which the actions of the clergy have caused. For years the Church has avoided taking responsibility for its actions and failures and this appears to be just another smokescreen which hides the fact that there is no revolution taking place with regards to the established approach to the very real problems of child abuse.

David Greenwood commented, “I will continue to work alongside other campaigners to improve safeguarding in churches and to improve churches’ responses to survivors who came forward as adults.”