The Independent Inquiry into Child Sexual Abuse report was published today further to the Ampleforth and Downside hearings held last November and December which considered the nature and extent of child sexual abuse by individuals associated with the English Benedictine Congregation, and any failures by them or the Roman Catholic Church to protect children from sexual abuse.
Commenting on the findings Peter Garsden, an abuse law expert at Simpson Millar Solicitors and President of the Association of Child Abuse Lawyers, said: “The findings outlined in this report are damning, both in terms of the failure of the Roman Catholic Church to protect children from the abuse in the first place, and with regards the wholly dismissive way in which the subsequent allegations were acted upon.
“Abusive priests were permitted to stay in their posts and have contact with children and other vulnerable individuals, child protection procedures were pitiful, and obvious signs of what was going wrong were blatantly ignored or, worse, covered up.
“Whilst the victims of such abuse will no doubt welcome the conclusion of these proceedings, the sad reality is that for decades the complaints of so many have simply been disregarded, with no clear path to access the justice and the answers they deserve.
“Even now, whilst the criminal courts can punish individuals for their actions, they cannot look at the institutions which employed the sex offenders to find out how safeguarding systems failed the pupils concerned, and what was known about the abuse at the time.
“Lessons must now be learnt, and the law needs to change in order to put the wellbeing of victims first. As it stands we have no Mandatory Reporting law in England despite pleas to government and a consultation.
“At least, for now, those who suffered at the hands of those people who were supposed to be their protectors can take some comfort in knowing that the report will make it much easier for them to hold the institutions accountable, by bringing negligence actions against the owners of the schools in question.”
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