Review into alleged historic child sex abuse by monks on Welsh island announced

Yahoo! [Sunnyvale CA]

April 11, 2024

By George Thompson, PAThu

An abbey on a remote Welsh island has commissioned an independent review into alleged historical child sex abuse by monks.

Caldey Island Abbey has said the review will show that they take the allegations seriously and help build a “safe environment for everyone”.

Caldey, off the coast of Pembrokeshire in west Wales, home to Cistercian Order monks, has been facing allegations since 2017.

A group fighting for an inquiry – the Caldey Island Survivors Campaign – say that around 50 people are now claiming historic abuse by monks on the island.

The review announcement comes following the appointment of Father Jan Rossey as the abbey’s superior.

The review will be led by Jan Pickles, a former assistant police and crime commissioner at South Wales Police.

Father Rossey said: “In common with many other organisations, Caldey Abbey has, in the past, received disclosures and allegations involving members of the monastic community about their behaviour towards children.

“We take these allegations very seriously and, in order to uphold our commitment to safeguarding, we have commissioned a leading independent safeguarding consultant, Jan Pickles OBE, to conduct a thorough review.

“This review is about taking responsibility, learning from the past, and building a safe environment for everyone.”

Father Rossey has also appointed Maria Battle, a former deputy children’s commissioner for Wales, as a new safeguarding lead.

She will review Caldey’s safeguarding policies, practices and training in a bid to ensure all visitors are safe.

He added: “As we prepare to welcome visitors back to Caldey Island, we remain dedicated to providing a secure environment with effective procedures for safeguarding all who visit, live on, or work on the island.”

Kevin O’Connell, who has campaigned for an inquiry into allegations that he and others were abused on the island, has described the announcement as a “small way forward”.

But in a statement, he said it was not the independent safeguarding inquiry he and others had been fighting for.

He said: “Independent means a professional team of people who actually want to protect children and vulnerable adults.

“Our voices are being heard but not listened to.”