Decades of sexual assaults at top Yorkshire college revealed Monk faces jail over 20 incidents
PUPILS at a leading Roman Catholic school suffered decades of abuse from at least six paedophiles following a decision by former Abbot Basil Hume not to call in police at the beginning of the scandal.
Hume, the future Cardinal and guiding light of Catholicism in Britain, was Abbot of Ampleforth Abbey in North Yorkshire when he received a complaint from parents in 1975 about Father Piers Grant-Ferris, the son of a Tory peer.
It was alleged that Grant-Ferris – son of the former Deputy Speaker of the House of Commons, Lord Harvington – had "inappropriately touched" a boy at Ampleforth College's former prep school, Gilling Castle.
Hume dealt with the matter internally by moving Grant-Ferris from Gilling Castle, where he was second year form master, to Workington parish in Cumbria.
It was not until 2003 that a police investigation was launched into Grant-Ferris, another paedophile Gregory Carroll, and a third monk after psychologist Dr Elizabeth Mann – engaged by Ampleforth to carry out risk assessments – turned whistle-blower.
Police found Grant-Ferris's offences dated back virtually to the start of his 1960s teaching career and were far more extensive than the school realised. But although his were the earliest crimes, he and Carroll were the last to be brought to book.
In other cases, Ampleforth housemaster Christian Shore was sacked in 2002 for sexually abusing a teenage pupil a decade before, while fellow monk Bernard Green given community punishment in 1996 for a torchlight sex assault on a sleeping 13-year-old boy.
Carroll, 66, was jailed for four years in September for abusing at least 10 boys aged 11 to 14 between 1980 and 1987. Detectives believe two other monks and a lay member of the community who are now dead also abused pupils.
Yesterday at Leeds Crown Court the case against Grant-Ferris, 72, was adjourned for reports after he admitted 20 indecent assaults involving 15 boys under 13 between 1966 and 1975.
The allegations involve the priest beating boys aged eight to ten on the buttocks with his bare hands and taking their temperature rectally with a thermometer in his quarters at Gilling Castle or in boys' dormitories.
He was released on bail but faces jail in January when he will be sentenced.
Det Supt Barry Honeysett, leading the investigation, believes 30 to 40 boys were abused, some by more than one of the offenders - who were acting independently rather than as a ring.
He added that although there was no suggestion Grant-Ferris re-offended after 1975, it was "absolutely" his belief other cases might have been avoided had police been called in then.
On the 1975 complaint he added: "The abbot makes all the decisions. Grant-Ferris did minimise the incident but accepted what happened should not have happened – and he was gone."
Current Abbot Fr Cuthbert Madden said: "These were most regrettable offences involving a grievous abuse of trust. While they took place between 30 and 40 years ago, we offer a heartfelt apology for the hurt he caused to his victims.
"When the incidents first came to light in 1975, he was immediately removed from further contact with students by the abbot at the time.
"A great deal has changed in the years since, so that today our schools have a framework of reporting, monitoring and pastoral supervision which provide safeguards for child protection almost unrecognisable from those applying in those days."
Austen Ivereigh, director for public affairs of the Archbishop of Westminster, Cardinal Cormac Murphy-O'Connor, said: "There has been a sea-change in the way we respond nowadays to these sort of allegations, not only in the church but in society as a whole.
"What happens in the church now is that the investigation both into what happened and what could happen in future is left entirely to social services and police.
"New guidelines are now in place which mean that if anyone comes with a complaint about a priest now we tell them to go immediately to the police. Or we alert the police ourselves."