EALING ABBEY SEX ABUSE CLAIM SETTLED OUT OF COURT

February 27, 2012
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A former pupil of a scandal- ridden Catholic school will receive £50,000 in compensation for abuse suffered at the hands of notorious priest Father David Pearce.

Bolt Burdon Kemp represented the man, a former pupil of St Benedict’s Independent School run by the monks of Ealing Abbey. We can confirm today that papers have been lodged with the High Court in London, putting an end to our client’s legal battle for compensation.

The former pupil – who cannot be named for legal reasons – claimed that he was regularly sexually abused by the former headmaster of the junior school, Father David Pearce. The abuse took place over a twelve year period in the 1980’s and 1990’s and started when as a boy he was just 10 years old. His claims were validated at Isleworth Crown Court in July 2009 when Pearce was convicted of 5 counts of indecent assault against him, as well as offences against other boys who attended the school, and sentenced to 5 years’ imprisonment. Father Pearce was known to pupils at the fee-paying, all-boys school as “Gay Dave” and he had a reputation among the students for favouritism and inappropriate sexual behaviour. He is due to be released from prison in April this year.

Commenting on the settlement, the claimant’s solicitor Jonathan Wheeler said “my client has had to live with the painful and confusing memories of his ordeal at the hands of Father Pearce for decades. I hope with this settlement he can put the worst behind him. The money can’t erase what happened to him, but with appropriate psychological treatment I very much hope he can move on with his life”.

Allegations of sexual abuse by pupils at St Benedict’s date as far back as the 1960’s and go right up to 2009, and have been levelled against monks, priests and teachers. As well as Father David Pearce, John Maestri, a lay teacher at the school was convicted of crimes against children in 2003 and 2005. Father Laurence Soper, the former Abbot of Ealing Abbey, recently refused to answer bail to be questioned about his own role, and was last known to be working at the headquarters of the Benedictine order in Rome although he now appears to be on the run from the police. An international warrant is now out for his arrest and if he is caught he too is likely to be charged with sexual offences against children. Further allegations against others are still being investigated.

In October 2011, the Pope ordered an historic apostolic visitation to look into the sexual abuse scandal involving pupils at St Benedict’s. This is the first time such an investigation has been ordered by the Vatican in England.

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