Monks leave abbey with connection to school investigated for abuse

Monks living at an abbey previously associated with a school investigated for child sexual abuse have decided to leave their home of over 200 years following the scandal.

Downside Abbey was formerly affiliated with Downside School in Stratton-on-the-Fosse, Somerset, before the school and abbey separated in September 2019.

The separation followed the school being highlighted in an independent inquiry into child sexual abuse where it was found ‘appalling abuse’ was inflicted upon pupils.

Both Downside School and Ampleforth School in North Yorkshire were accused of trying to cover up allegations of abuse to protect their reputation.

Ten individuals from the institutions, including monks, were convicted or cautioned for abuse.

Monks from the Benedictine Community have been based at Downside Abbey since 1814 but have now decided to leave their home following the investigation and separation from the disgraced school.



A spokesperson said: “They have now unanimously decided to make a new start and to seek a new place to live.

“To lead them in the renewal of their monastic vocation and in their search for a new home, they have elected Dom Nicholas Wetz as their Abbot.

“The last six years have given the Downside Community time to reflect with sorrow on failures in the care for children entrusted to them and to discern the Community’s future.

“With smaller numbers and changing circumstances, the current monastery buildings are no longer suitable.”

Parents paid £17,500 a year to send their children to the Roman Catholic day school that hid decades of abuse whilst prioritising their reputation over the safety of pupils.

The disgraced school repeatedly attempted to deal with allegations of abuse internally rather than reporting the crimes to the proper authorities.

An inquiry report spoke of appalling abuse inflicted on pupils over four decades, stating that the true scale of abuse “can never be known” due to the school’s cover-up.

Since 2003, four monks or teachers have been jailed for multiple offences against more than 20 children.

There have been allegations against eight former staff and in 2016, a teacher was jailed for child abuse imagery offences.

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