A group of paedophile priests behaved “like the mafia”, abusing dozens of young boys at a west London school over a 50 year period, a report says.
St Benedict’s School, Ealing, was described as a “grim and beastly place” by the Independent Inquiry Into Child Sexual Abuse (IICSA).
A culture of cover-up and denial of sexual abuse operated at Ealing Abbey, which ran the school, the report found.
To date five priests have been jailed for abusing children at the school.
- In December last year Laurence Soper, 74, was jailed for 18 years for abusing boys in the 1970s and 1980s
- In 2009, Father David Pearce, 75, nicknamed the “devil in a dog collar”, was jailed after he admitted 11 charges of indecent assault dating back to 1972
- Between 2003 and 2009, “master of discipline” John Maestri, 78, of Chatham in Kent, admitted five indecent assaults against children at St Benedict’s in the 1980s and was jailed
- In 2010, John Skelton was convicted of indecent assaults against two complainants said to have occurred in 1983
- Father Anthony Gee faced accusations of abuse and a civil action was brought against him
The IICSA received 18 more allegations against 8 monks and staff, but the true scale of the abuse is “likely to be much higher”, the report found.
Children suffered severe corporal punishment which was often used as a means to initiate sexual abuse or for sexual gratification.
The IICSA report highlighted failings by school leadership, police, the Crown Prosecution Service (CPS) and child protection teams.
The report, the inquiry’s tenth, has been published as part of its investigation of abuse within the Roman Catholic church.