Monk’s Victim Seeks Church Apology

Western Daily Press
January 5, 2012

A man who was preyed on as a schoolboy by a monk jailed on Tuesday in the latest UK sex abuse scandal, has demanded the Catholic Church apologise for “brushing it under the carpet”.

Richard White, who taught at Downside School in Stratton-on-the-Fosse, Somerset, pleaded guilty in November last year to charges of indecent assault and gross indecency in the 1980s.

Downside School

Following White’s jailing for five years on Tuesday, his victim, in his 30s, has demanded the Church takes responsibility for failing to act after it learned of the abuse

Angela Dobbs, a legal expert specialising in sexual abuse cases, is representing the victim. “My client was first abused by White – known as Father Nicholas at the time – when he was just 12,” said Miss Dobbs, a partner with Fentons Solicitors LLP.

“He had tried to block the abuse from his memory, but was amazed when police contacted him more than 20 years later.

"He was shocked and appalled to learn that White was still working within the abbey and had access to children.”

Miss Dobbs said her client spent the following years trying to block out the abuse.

“Although he has struggled to build and maintain relationships, he is a father and is now engaged to be married to his partner,” she said.

“Today’s sentencing is just the first step as far as my client is concerned,” said Miss Dobbs. “More than 20 years have passed since White’s hideous crimes first came to light, crimes committed when my client was a child and was in no position to do anything about them.

“It was the duty of the Church and the school to ensure the safety of my client and all the other children and instead, White was allowed to continue at the abbey. It was like putting the fox in charge of the chickens,” she said.

Miss Dobbs explained that her client is eligible to claim compensation from the Criminal Injuries Compensation Authority.

“But the CICA is funded by taxpayers," said Miss Dobbs. “My client does not want the public purse to pay for the crimes committed by White and the Church’s failure to protect him. "Instead, he wishes to take action against the authorities responsible and wants the powers-that-be to apologise to him and all other victims of abuse for not only failing to act to protect them, but for also brushing the offences under the carpet

“White has finally been jailed for his crimes against my client, but by rights he should have been jailed years ago – and could have been," said Miss Dobbs.

Abbot Aidan Bellenger of Downside, apologised for the abuse suffered but said police had been made aware of what occurred.

“Being conscious that the care of children is our paramount concern as educators, we are truly sorry that any child should have been abused at Downside,” he said.

“The police and the press were aware at the time of the accusations but the victims’ parents and the police did not proceed to prosecution."

In 2010 the police and the Clifton Diocese, with the full co-operation of the abbey, undertook a detailed review of cases that involved safeguarding concerns.








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