Vatican investigates sexual abuse at Ealing Abbey
The school, which admits pupils aged 4 to 18, came under scrutiny in 2009 when reports emerged of sexual abuse, some of which go back as far as the 1960s.
Father David Pearce, the former headmaster of St Benedict’s School, was jailed for eight years after being found guilty of abusing five students.
A number of priests and lay teachers at the school in Eaton Rise, have been linked to the scandal, which has been subject of three previous inquiries.
They include Father Laurence Soper currently on the run after failing to appear at a police station for questioning in March. The 81-year-old taught at St Benedict’s between 1972 and 1984 and was abbot of the abbey, in Charlbury Grove, for nine years from 1991.
Following further abuse claims, a team sent in by the Vatican visited the connected Ealing Abbey where some monks, who have also been accused of abuse, still live.
The latest inquiry has been ordered by the Vatican’s Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith. It is led by Bishop Arnold, an auxiliary bishop of Westminster and Father Richard Yeo, president of the English Benedictine Congregation.
Supporters of the alleged victims have questioned the integrity of the Vatican’s internal inquiry, not least because its findings will remain secret. One campaigner went as far as to say that this latest inquiry is akin to ‘putting Dracula in charge of a blood bank’.
Meanwhile, Liberal Democrat peer, Lord Carlile, has been conducting a separate inquiry into the abuse cases and is due to publish his findings later this month.
A spokesman for the Diocese of Westminster said: “The effective safeguarding of children and vulnerable adults is a priority for the Catholic Church, and Ealing Abbey’s safeguarding policies and procedures formed part of the remit of the apostolic visitation”.
He added: “The Vatican will decide what actions, if any, need to be taken”.