Robin Lindsay was the headmaster and owner of Sherborne Preparatory School, where he sexually abused young boys for thirty years. A mother from Devon has called for a fresh inquiry into the case to find out how a man branded as a “fixated paedophile” could avoid prosecution for so long.
Peter Garsden, Head of Abuse Claims, explains the story.
Sherborne Preparatory School was hailed as one of England’s most prestigious private schools. The wealthy and elite paid thousands in preparations to ensure their children would be able to attend Sherborne. One thing no one could have been prepared for, however, was the paedophile working within the school that preyed on the children for 30 years.
Robin Lindsay targeted boys who were boarders at the school, which numbered at around 40, as opposed to abusing any of the 100 day boys who attended the school. The children resided in Netherton House, with Lindsay’s own bedroom on the same floor as their dormitory.
Victims described the school as a “hell hole“, with many coming forward with harrowing stories of how Lindsay would prowl around their dorm in the dead of night in search for his next victim.
Lindsay had worked at Sherborne since 1953, and took over as headmaster in 1972. Teachers attempted multiple times over the years to expose him, but Lindsay repeatedly managed to avoid any legal backlash.
“A Serious Risk To Children”
Lindsay managed to avoid prosecution for the entirety of his career, right up until he was forced into an early retirement in 1998. After his departure a tribunal was set up based on allegations that the man was a “fixated paedophile” and “a serious risk to children“.
Among the tribunals, disturbing findings were that on top of being sexually abusive to students, Lindsay weighed boys while they were nude, and often exposed himself to the young boys around the school. When asked to, he repeatedly refused to move out of the boy’s boarding accommodation.
Lindsay received a ban from teaching shortly after, but his leaving was made out as an early retirement, with many attending his retirement party at Sherborne Abbey, despite the headlines condemning him at the time.
Linsday died in July of 2016 without facing any form of prosecution.
Devon Mum Campaigns For Truth
The survivors of Lindsay’s reign of terror would reach out to each other years after, using online forums to share their stories and offer each other support.
It wasn’t until Joanna Brittan, a Devon mother of three, came forward to champion the victim’s cause that matters began to move forward.
Joanna’s three brothers attended Sherborne from 1972 to 1985, during which time she is adamant police missed several opportunities to bring Lindsay to justice. Unfortunately, her attempts to uncover the truth were met by a wall of silence.
Last year Joanna’s brother John came to her, finally disclosing the details of his abuse while at Sherborne, something Joanna has suspected for years, but never been able to prove.
In order to help expose Lindsay as the paedophile he was, John waived his right to anonymity, coming forward with disturbing stories which saw Linsday observing the boys at the school showers, and sometimes joining them. John also explained that Linsday would come into the dormitory at night in order to sexually abuse the boys.
Dorset Police Explain Why Lindsay Avoided Justice
According to Dorset police, Lindsay was investigated three times in total, but never faced charges. A senior investigator on the case stated that parents were reluctant to allow their children to be interviewed.
Former Dorset Police Chief Superintendent Gill Donnell said on an ITV documentary that: “The majority that I spoke to were very hesitant and some of them made it very clear that they were not going to let us talk to their children.”
Donnell also commented that: “It was said to me on more than one occasion that the most important thing for the parents was that their children went to the required public school and that anything that was done to endanger that, they weren’t terribly supportive of at all.”
“Their priority was about the future of their children, and not what may or may not have been happening to them at the time.”
Dorset social services recently released a report showing police records, in which multiple complaints over Lindsay’s behaviour were lodged in 1974, 1982, 1985 and 1986.
The Call For A New Investigation
Joanna Britton is now campaigning for a new case to be taken up by Operation Hydrant, the hub headed by the National Police Chiefs’ Council to look into cases of historical sexual abuse in schools.
Ms Brittan has also gone to the Independent Inquiry into Child Sexual Abuse as part of her campaign to get justice, as well as having made a complaint to Dorset police over its handling of the past allegations against Lindsay.
Ms Britton is supporting the Mandate Now campaign, which Simpson Millar is also a supporter of. Mandate Now aims to make a new law that requires staff working in schools to report any allegations of sexual abuse to local authorities immediately.
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