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Ampleforth College was first established in 1802 as a co-educational Catholic school, run by the Benedictine Monks from Ampleforth Abbey, in the North Yorkshire Moors. The school became a Roman Catholic Boarding School in 1900. predominantly for boys from Catholic families. In 2002, the college began welcoming girls as students onto their campus.
Downside Abbey, which is located in Somerset, South West England is centred around a large Monastic community including a Catholic school and sixth form.
On 9th August 2018, the Independent Inquiry into Child Sexual Abuse (IICSA) released its latest report into decades of child abuse committed against children at Ampleforth and Downside colleges, naming some of the perpetrators and their heinous crimes. There are historical reports of physical and sexual abuse at both Ampleforth and Downside however, there are indications that in more recent times, offences have been ignored or minimised.
This report suggests a perception of a “cover-up on the part of Downside”, implying that college staff have institutionally denied conforming to Safeguarding protective measures, turning a blind eye to the destruction of student and staff files; these files may have supported the reports of sexual offences committed against them.
The headmaster in 2012, Dom Leo Maidlow Davies has explained in the report how the failures to protect children have gone unknown to agencies for several decades, stating, “Looking back, this culture was very wrong and helps explain how incidents of abuse took place at Downside and why they were poorly managed with inadequate responses”.
During this public hearing, the Senior Clergymen admitted to “wrong-headed judgements” and failed to recognise the impact that the abuse has had on the victims and how the institutional abuse of children was tolerated for many years.
The report highlights 10 individuals who have been convicted or cautioned for offences of sexual activity or pornography, against children as young as seven years old at Ampleforth and 11 years old at Downside.
The report indicates how the IICSA, do not believe they have uncovered the full scale of the victims of the abuse inflicted by the college staff and Monks.
The charity, Survive, has a National Helpline for those seeking support and counselling for the abuse at Ampleforth. The helpline also aims to support victims who resided at St.Benedict’s School in Ealing, following recent media coverage of similar abuse.
Here at Ramsdens Solicitors we have a team of expert legal specialists, who are experienced in helping clients to access the legal options available to them and to seek justice for the abuse suffered. If any issues within this article have affected you or a loved one please contact Natalie Marrison and the Abuse team on 0113 887 1834 for a chat in total confidence. Alternatively, you can text LAW to 67777 or make an enquiry using the enquiry form and we will be in touch when it is convenient for you.