Monday, 28 December 2009


I grew up a Roman Catholic, in a London parish attached to Ealing Abbey, a Benedictine foundation. The Abbey also runs a school, run and taught by monks and lay teachers, where all 3 of my brothers went, and where my father taught History, Classics and advised on careers.

In recent years one of the monks (a former head of the junior school) was accused of sexually abusing boys, suspended from serving, and investigated by the police. Dom David Pearce was found guilty and jailed for 8 years. The Charity Commission has investigated and criticised the Abbey for its handling of the case - you can find the report here:

I remember Father David well - and remember that my brothers and their friends disliked him greatly. Perhaps now I have some idea why that was!

What makes it more appalling and baffling is that he continued to abuse after he was suspended and under police investigation. I can't imagine what he was thinking (was he mad? was he addicted? did he think he was immune?)

It also seems pretty clear that the Abbey did not do enough to protect young people in their care, and that they need to sort themselves out. The Abbot apparently apologised during Mass to the parishioners, but I wonder whether lessons have actually been learned.

A personal sideline on the story - and a terrible warning, if you like - is that David Pearce had himself been a pupil at St Benedicts. He left the 6th Form intending to become a dentist, but my father, who was his careers advisor, made the following note about him: "priest?"

For years after my father's death, my mother mentioned that as an example of my Dad's wonderful insight....


Of course if Pearce had gone on to become a dentist and abused young lads from that position of trust, the profession of dentistry would have been horribly tarnished instead.

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