Revealed: Police Probing Claims of Sex Attacks at Another Catholic Order

By Craig McDonald
Sunday Mail
September 1, 2013

The Verona Fathers seminary where men say they were abused

THE allegations surround the Verona Fathers Junior Seminary in Yorkshire where men from Scotland, England and Ireland claim to have been attacked between 1960 and 1980.

ALLEGATIONS of sex abuse by priests at another Catholic order are being probed by police, the Sunday Mail can reveal today.

Men from Scotland, England and Ireland claim to have been attacked between 1960 and 1980.

Police are investigating the alleged abuse at the Verona Fathers Junior Seminary in Mirfield, near Huddersfield, Yorkshire.

A civil court case is also being prepared by those who say they were abused by priests at the order.

Five men have made allegations against priests at Mirfield.

One of them, who asked not to be named, told the Sunday Mail: “This matter needs to be out in the open. This dates back 40 years and is very traumatic for all involved. People are moving from being victims to being survivors.

“What happened cuts across every aspect of people’s lives. It takes in Scotland, England and Ireland. The Catholic Church draws from broad communities.

“The result of recruitment drives many years ago is that a bunch of boys were brought together into this seminary, under the care and guidance of Catholic priests.

“The allegations are that boys were sexually abused at the seminary. It is a complicated and difficult subject to deal with – you are going against people’s faiths and beliefs. But our position is that wrong was done and we are now seeking justice.”

An online blog set up by those who attended Mirfield has attracted comments from some of the alleged victims.

One said: “I thought a priest could do no wrong – so I let him just do what he did. I thought it only happened to me. I am dumbfounded at coming across this site.”

And one man claimed: “I was at Mirfield in the early 60s. My whole time there was a non-stop series of mental, emotional and physical – and, on two occasions, sexual – abuse by the priests, coupled with total neglect of all the boys, who were left to their own devices to cope with the problems produced by the abuse.”

The Verona Fathers order have also become known as the Comboni Missionaries and are located at Carmyle in Glasgow, Sunningdale in Berkshire and Notting Hill in London.

A solicitor for the men involved said inquiries were at the “evidence gathering” stage and declined to comment further.

The allegations were reported to police in December. A spokesman said: “We are investigating historic allegations of sexual abuse reported to have occurred between 1960 and 1980 in Mirfield. Inquiries are ongoing.”

The Sunday Mail’s request for a comment on the matter was referred by the Verona Fathers to the Catholic Church Insurance Association, where a spokeswoman said: “We are not aware of any police investigation into historic allegations at Mirfield.

“If at any stage the police contact the Verona Fathers in connection with such an investigation, we will certainly extend their full support and cooperation to the investigation.”

Cardinal Keith O’Brien, formerly Scotland’s most senior Catholic, resigned earlier this year after being accused of inappropriate sexual behaviour by priests and former trainee priests, including claims that he molested a young man at a Scottish seminary. Last month, it was revealed that more than 20 potential victims of alleged abuse by monks at two Catholic boarding schools in Scotland have been identified by police.

Former pupils at the Fort Augustus Abbey school in the Highlands and its East Lothian feeder school, Carlekemp, claim they were molested and beaten by the monks who taught them decades ago.

Police say they have been investigating since March after a report from a former pupil at Fort Augustus, where shamed presenter Jimmy Savile was a regular visitor. More allegations later emerged in a BBC Scotland probe.


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