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IICSA Independent Inquiry into Child Sexual Abuse

The Roman Catholic Church (EBC) Case Study: Ealing Abbey and St Benedict’s School Investigation Report

A.1: The background to the investigation

Ealing Abbey and St Benedict’sEaling Abbey and St Benedict’s

Chronology of abbots and headmasters

Abbots of Ealing Abbey
Rupert Hall 1955–1967
Francis Rossiter 1967–1991
Laurence Soper 1991–2000
Martin Shipperlee 2000–2019
Dominic Taylor 2019–present

Headmasters of St Benedict’s School
Senior School
Father Bernard Orchard 1945–1960
Father George Brown 1960–1965
Father Bernard Orchard 1965–1969
Father George Brown 1969–1977
Father Anthony Gee 1978–1985
Father Gregory Chillman 1985
Dr Anthony Dachs 1986–2001
Mr Christopher Cleugh 2002–2016
Mr Andrew Johnson 2016–present
Junior School
Father David Pearce 1985–1993
Father Martin Shipperlee 1993–2000
Mr Denis McSweeney 2000–2005
Mrs Catherine Nathan 2005
Mr Robert Simmons 2005–2008

1. The Inquiry’s investigation of Ealing Abbey and St Benedict’s School (St Benedict’s) is our second case study concerning the English Benedictine Congregation (EBC). Our first case study concerned Ampleforth and Downside Abbeys and their respective schools and we published our report in August 2018.[1] It was necessary to consider Ealing separately because relevant criminal proceedings in respect of Laurence Soper, former Abbot of Ealing, were ongoing at the time of the earlier review.[2] This report should therefore be read in conjunction with our Ampleforth and Downside report.

2. The child sexual abuse perpetrated against pupils at St Benedict’s between at least the 1970s and 2008 was extensive. During his evidence to our inquiry on 7 February 2019, Abbot Martin Shipperlee, abbot since 2000, said of his own handling of child sexual abuse allegations at Ealing during his abbacy that:

“as has been serially revealed, my administration of safeguarding is of an insufficient standard … I have made at least one extraordinary – a very serious mistake which isn’t creditable [sic] to me and that my brethren who have offended have done serious wrong. I can only apologise for what I’ve done wrong … ”[3]

The following day, Abbot Shipperlee’s resignation was announced by the Abbot President of the EBC at the outset of his evidence to us. Abbot President Christopher Jamison said:

“in the light of what I heard during the hearing, and in the light of his own self-assessment, I have accepted his resignation”.[4]

3. Subsequently, on 8 February 2019, Abbot Shipperlee made the following press statement:

“As the IICSA hearings have shown, there has been a series of serious failings in safeguarding and some of those failings have been mine. Much has been achieved to correct this in recent years and I have confidence in the present structures and policies. However this does not take away from the seriousness of what went before. In order for the Abbey to look forward with confidence new leadership is now needed and so I have resigned as Abbot so that this may be possible.”[5]

4. Our investigations into these three EBC-related institutions, taken together, have provided insight into the nature of the institutional failures, the challenges faced by the EBC, and the efforts made to comply with the recommendations of previous reviews, including the Carlile Review in 2011. This insight in turn will inform the investigation into the wider Roman Catholic Church.

5. There are also a number of areas of potential overlap with other investigations, such as the Anglican Church, Residential Schools, and Accountability and Reparations. Therefore, some topics and themes may echo those in other investigations by the Inquiry.

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