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IICSA Independent Inquiry into Child Sexual Abuse

The residential schools Investigation Report

Contents

Pen portraits

RS-A2

RS-A2 was a boarder at Chetham’s School of Music (Chetham’s) in Manchester in the 1980s, from the ages of 13 to 18.[1] She was far from home and found the atmosphere in the school to be “oppressive” and very competitive.[2] She felt that there were no staff members who were approachable.

Christopher Ling became RS-A2’s violin tutor at Chetham’s when she was 15. RS-A2 said that she saw Ling as a father figure, and that he had convinced his students that he was their only chance of success. RS-A2 noticed that Ling frequently commented on the appearance of his female pupils, and he sometimes gave RS-A2 a shoulder massage for pain she developed from over-practising.

When RS-A2 attended a holiday course at Ling’s house when she was 15, Ling told her that he was going to punish her for making a mistake during a lesson. He then pulled down her underwear, spanked her on the bottom, then made her lie down on the bed while he rubbed his penis on her back and ejaculated over her. Ling told her afterwards that she must not tell anyone because it was a secret and a special thing between them. Ling abused RS-A2 on a subsequent occasion in the coffee room at Chetham’s, when he pushed her against a wall and forcefully fondled her breasts through her blouse.

When Ling’s abuse of pupils at Chetham’s came to light in December 1990, RS-A2 was interviewed by Greater Manchester Police in the presence of the housemistress, Mrs Anne Rhind. Although the female police officer who interviewed her was “kind”,[3] RS-A2 had the impression that Mrs Rhind was worried about the impact on the school and that she was angry with RS-A2.

After RS-A2 disclosed the abuse at school, she spoke to her mother about it on the telephone. RS-A2 said that she later discovered that her mother tried to contact her at Chetham’s, but Mrs Rhind would not let her speak to or see RS-A2, saying that she was busy. RS-A2 said that she had not known at the time that her mother had tried to see her because Mrs Rhind did not tell RS-A2 that her mother had come to the school.[4]

Some time after she was interviewed, RS-A2 recalled being told by the police that the case would not proceed due to a lack of evidence. Neither the police nor the school offered any counselling or support.[5]

RS-A2 was allocated a new violin teacher at Chetham’s who also made sexual allusions in lessons and forcefully kissed her, but RS-A2 did not report it. She did not think she would be listened to:

if the other abuse hadn’t been listened to, then why would this?[6]

RS-A2 provided another statement to the police in 2013, when the case against Ling was reopened. Ling shot himself in the head when US marshals arrived at his home to serve extradition papers upon him in September 2015. When she heard of Ling’s suicide, RS-A2 felt that again the voices of his victims had not been heard. She felt shocked and angry, and described his suicide as “a final kick in the teeth”.[7]

The sexual abuse has continued to affect RS-A2 emotionally and physically, causing problems with trust and self-esteem, and has affected her relationships with men. RS-A2 has not played classical music since leaving Chetham’s and finds it difficult to listen to it.

RS-A3

RS-A3 began private violin tuition with Christopher Ling at his house in Reading in the 1980s, when she was 10 years old. RS-A3’s mother took her to the lessons and would wait outside in the car or at a cafe. Ling first sexually abused RS-A3 in a lesson when she was aged between 10 and 12, making her strip naked and touching her breasts and vagina, and making her rub his testicles whilst he masturbated himself. The abuse then occurred every time she went to his house for tuition. RS-A3 did not know what sexual abuse was at this age – Ling presented it as punishment for making mistakes in lessons. Ling threatened to kill himself if she told anyone.

RS-A3 joined Chetham’s when she was 15 years old, living at the school as a boarder. Ling was her instrumental teacher and RS-A3 said that she looked up to him as an inspiring teacher. He continued to sexually abuse her, not on school premises but at his private residence, during additional lessons or tuition courses at weekends and in the school holidays.

On one occasion, when she was 15 or 16, Ling took RS-A3 away from the school for a weekend. He took her in his car to his house in Reading on a Friday in term time, telling her she needed to be punished. During the weekend, Ling made RS-A3 wear clothes and underwear that he had bought for her. RS-A3 was very frightened by Ling’s demeanour and believed he intended to rape her. After RS-A3 refused to submit to sexual intercourse, Ling took her to the train station the next day, leaving her to make her own way back to Chetham’s.

In autumn 1990, during a self-awareness course, RS-A3 disclosed that she had been sexually abused by Ling. Her parents were informed and reported him to the police. By this time, Ling was teaching in the United States and RS-A3 was in the sixth form at Chetham’s. Greater Manchester Police interviewed RS-A3 and several other girls at the school, although RS-A3 recalled being told by the police subsequently that there was not enough evidence to extradite Ling to face trial in England.

In 2013, the police reopened the case against Ling. RS-A3 was interviewed again by the police because the evidence gathered in 1990 had been lost. Extradition proceedings were initiated to bring Ling back from the United States to face trial in England, but Ling killed himself before he could be extradited.

When RS-A3 heard of his suicide, she felt a sense of relief but also was disappointed that Ling had never faced justice for his actions:

I wanted it confirmed that we were telling the truth and I have missed out on the recognition of what we had gone through. I am especially angry that the school will never be held accountable”.[8]

The abuse continues to affect RS-A3. She struggles to show her feelings and feels numb and disconnected. She gave up playing the violin as it triggered uncomfortable emotions.

RS-A6

RS-A6’s early life was characterised by familial abuse and neglect, and he was excluded from a number of schools.[9]

In the early 2000s, when he was aged between 6 and 10, RS-A6 was a pupil at Appletree School, Cumbria (a specialist therapeutic care centre for children who have been abused or neglected) and a resident in an associated children’s home. In November 2006, when he was 9 years old, RS-A6 absconded from school with two older pupils – RS-C1 who was 12 years old and RS-C3 who was 11. RS-A6 later told the police that RS-C1 “pulled down his pants and put his willy inside his bottom, not just between the cheeks but in the hole”.[10] In the same incident, RS-C3 inserted his penis into RS-C1’s bottom. RS-A6 told RS-C1 to stop and get off but he did not until RS-A6 said it was hurting and managed to run away.[11]

The abuse came to light a couple of weeks later when RS-C4 (a friend of RS-A6) accused RS-C1 of having sex with RS-A6, and a member of staff overheard them talking. RS-A6 was later interviewed by Cumbria Constabulary but no action was taken due to a number of factors, including the boys’ conflicting accounts and their “damaged backgrounds”.[12]

In 2007, RS-A6 described to his foster parent that he had been repeatedly sexually abused, “maybe a 100 times”, by RS-C1 and other pupils while he had been at the school.[13]

RS-A6 said that he did not feel able to tell school staff because “all the staff knew each other”.[14] He said that he thought he would not be believed because:

essentially, from the day you’re brought in there, you’re essentially – you are the problem, you are the problem child. So anything that comes out your mouth is rubbish.[15]

RS‐A345

Jonathan Thomson-Glover was convicted in 2015 of a number of offences relating to the covert filming of pupils at Clifton College (an independent residential school in Bristol where he was the housemaster of a day house) and at his holiday cottage. RS-A345 was one of a number of former pupils who were secretly filmed by Thomson-Glover.[16]

In 2010, aged 10, RS-A345 joined the preparatory school at Clifton College. In Year 9 he chose to join ‘House 1’, a popular day house run by Thomson-Glover. RS-A345 said that the housemaster was an important figure in the lives of pupils, with a pastoral role and the power to influence a student’s progress or success at the school. RS-A345’s relationship with Thomson-Glover was “very friendly and almost familial”.[17]

In 2014, RS-A345 and around 10 other boys went on a residential trip to Cornwall organised and led by Thomson-Glover. Half the group stayed in Thomson-Glover’s personal holiday home and half stayed in a barn nearby with another teacher. During the trip, Thomson-Glover filmed RS-A345 and the other boys using cameras hidden in the bathroom of his holiday home. The covert footage of RS-A345 showed him engaging in private acts such as showering, using the toilet and masturbating.

Two or three months after the trip to Cornwall, RS-A345 became aware that Thomson-Glover had resigned from the school. Clifton College told the boys in House 1 that he had resigned for personal reasons, but RS-A345 heard rumours that Thomson-Glover had been arrested and read news stories about it.[18] He saw stills of the footage from the bathroom reproduced in the press, which he found very difficult.[19]

The police made contact with RS-A345 and gave him the option of identifying himself on video footage seized from Thomson-Glover’s address. RS-A345 told us:

that moment of identifying myself was the most traumatic moment of the whole process … I felt completely shocked, horrified, embarrassed and sort of ashamed”.[20]

RS-A345 felt that he had been manipulated by Thomson-Glover, and he said that:

The school’s approach was very much, ‘Don’t talk about it. Sweep it under the carpet. It’s embarrassing to talk about’.[21]

He worried that he might get in trouble if he spoke about it. Other Clifton College pupils joked about Thomson-Glover’s offending and teased the House 1 boys about it.

RS-A345 became depressed and, at one point, suicidal. He put on weight and became very self-conscious, and lost interest in doing sport at school. RS-A345 said that no one at the school picked up on these signs. He stated that he continues to have issues with poor self-esteem and a lack of confidence, which he has only recently connected to his experience of sexual abuse by Thomson-Glover.

RS‐A299

In the 2008/09 school year, when RS-A299 was under nine years old, she was sexually abused by Nigel Leat, her teacher at Hillside First School, a local authority maintained infant school in North Somerset.[22] She told the Inquiry that she and her friend (RS-A346) had been amongst a group of Leat’s “favourites”, selected for special attention.[23]

She said “things became weird” after the first couple of weeks in Leat’s class.[24] Leat moved her and RS-A346’s seats closer to his desk. He also kept the girls in the classroom when other children went to the bathroom to get dressed for PE and watched them get dressed. RS-A299 said that she and her friend knew that he was taking photographs of them, even though he tried to hide it. He also put his hand on their knees. Leat told RS-A299 that nobody would believe her if she told them what was happening. Leat threatened her, belittled her and bribed her with gifts so that she did not tell anyone.[25]

During piano lessons, Leat sat RS-A299 on his lap, often with his arms wrapped around her and his groin pushed up against her. She recalled how uncomfortable she had been and how much she had wanted to get away:

it was horrendous because there is nothing like being stuck in a position where you know – or you’re definitely starting to come to an understanding that, ‘This isn’t okay, I shouldn’t be here, I don’t like this feeling’.”[26]

She said that Leat had also sexually assaulted pupils behind the piano because nobody could see what was happening there.[27] She described an incident when Leat pushed RS-A346 against a bookcase and tried to kiss her, and RS-A346 had been sick. RS-A299 told the headteacher, Mr Christopher Hood, that “something had happened” between Leat and RS-A346, but he did not ask for any further details.[28]

RS-A299 and RS-A346 wanted to tell a teaching assistant about what was happening but were unable to because they “didn’t have the words, we didn’t understand what it was that we were even going to say”.[29]

When RS-A299 was 10 years old, Leat was arrested. She was interviewed by Avon and Somerset Police and had a medical examination.[30] She felt that, because she was so young, she did not appear to have been affected outwardly, but she was affected in many ways psychologically. RS-A299 said that she did not think she needed therapy at the time because she did not think anything needed fixing.[31]

RS-A299 was shocked that the adults in the school had not taken action:

Some reports were made and dismissed; others were ignored; others just didn’t have any follow-up on them. I just believe that, although people should have had the common sense, there also wasn’t a duty to them or any repercussions if they didn’t”.[32]

She said that it was too late for an apology and that the first time she had heard any sort of apology was as part of the Inquiry.[33] She changed as a person because of the abuse, becoming secretive, losing weight and becoming isolated from her family. When she was aged 14 or 15, she began to have panic attacks, flashbacks, anxiety and signs of post traumatic stress disorder. At this point, she had therapy, which she said helped. She also told us:

I want to somehow represent people that didn’t have a voice, that weren’t considered and that – we are the past, it happens in the future, but I want to protect the people that it potentially could happen to in the future.[34]

RS‐A300 and RS‐A320

RS-A300 and RS-A320 were both under nine years old when they were sexually abused by their primary school teacher, Nigel Leat, at Hillside First School between 2007 and 2010.[35] Their mothers, RS-H1 and RS-H2, told the Inquiry about their daughters’ experiences.

RS-H1 was increasingly concerned about her daughter, RS-A300, after she joined Leat’s class in 2010. RS-A300 became withdrawn and did not want to wear skirts to school. Her sleeping and eating patterns had changed and she had not wanted to have a bath or change her underwear. She seemed like her normal self during the autumn half-term holiday, but became quiet and withdrawn again once she returned to school.

At the end of the autumn term, RS-A300 told her mum that Leat had bought her a present but that it was a secret. RS-H1 was worried about this and the change in her daughter, and decided to talk to her about Leat. RS-H1 asked her daughter if anything was worrying her. RS-A300 said no. She then asked RS-A300 if Leat had “been … touching her” and RS-A300 said he had.[36] This prompted a major police investigation, during which RS-A300 described Leat rubbing her vagina, touching her and kissing her several times a day in the classroom. She told the police that she did not like what was happening but did not want to be “horrible” to him.[37]

RS-A320 was sexually abused by Leat in the 2007/08 school year. Looking back, her mother, RS-H2, said both she and her daughter had been “groomed” by Leat.[38] He “went out of his way” to help her daughter, who had learning difficulties and suspected autism.[39] He told RS-H2 how much RS-A320 reminded him of his own daughter and how much progress RS-A320 was making academically. RS-H2 said that these references to his daughter and also to his family allayed any concerns she had about how tactile Leat was with her daughter, adding that Leat was affectionate and tactile with children in plain sight.

In May 2011, Leat pleaded guilty to 36 sexual offences against six young girls, including the attempted rape of RS-A320 and several counts of penetration of a child under 13. He was imprisoned for an indefinite period.

Although support was available from the local authority, North Somerset Council, in the immediate aftermath of Leat’s arrest, RS-H1 considered that it was not sufficiently long term. RS-A300 was under nine years old when she was abused, and her mother considered that she needed ongoing support later in her life as she began to understand what had happened to her.[40]

RS‐A7

When RS-A7 was a child, he was seen as naughty, destructive and attention-seeking, with behavioural difficulties. When he was 16 years old, he was diagnosed with attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) and then, as an adult, with autism.[41]

In around 2000, he was sent to Stony Dean School in Amersham, then a day and residential special school for children with moderate learning difficulties and speech or communication difficulties including autism, maintained by Buckinghamshire County Council. RS-A7 was 10 or 11 years old when he joined in Year 7. Anthony Bulley was the head of care at the school.

RS-A7 described how, one night during Year 7, he was feeling unwell and went to tell Bulley. Bulley asked RS-A7 to go to his room and share his bed. RS-A7 said no. Bulley then said that RS-A7 could sit on the sofa in his room. RS-A7 went to Bulley’s room where Bulley threw him on the bed, took off his pyjama bottoms, masturbated him and performed oral sex on him. RS-A7’s hands were pinned down so he could not move. The assault ended because RS-A7 was banging his head on the floor and there was a noise downstairs, so RS-A7 thought that Bulley might be scared he was going to get caught.

RS-A7 said that he was taken into Bulley’s room and raped on at least 20 occasions over a 2-year period between the ages of 11 and 13.

RS-A7 was only able to tell the police about three incidents when he was interviewed at the time of Bulley’s arrest in 2004. He did not feel able to tell the police about the extent of the abuse because his father could hear everything he was telling the police and he was ashamed and embarrassed. Bulley pleaded guilty to a charge of indecent assault against RS-A7; as a result, the prosecution agreed to leave a charge of rape of RS-A7, which was denied, to lie on the file. This means that those charges will not be proceeded with unless a Crown Court judge or the Court of Appeal gives permission to do so, but the proceedings have not formally ended because no verdict is recorded.

RS-A7 was disappointed in the support he received from Buckinghamshire County Council. He was offered group counselling when he was 16 years old. He described these sessions as:

absolutely useless. There was no way I was going to talk about my sexual abuse in a group counselling session full of other boys. None of us really said anything. It was no benefit at all and, if anything, just made me feel worse, because it was embarrassing to have to go and sit with other boys and wonder if they had been abused as well. It just confused me even more and left me feeling more angry and upset.[42]

References

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