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Child abuse inquiry report finds schools 'prioritised' reputations over child protection

TWO leading Catholic schools “prioritised” their own reputations and those of sex-abuser monks “over the protection of children,” according to a damning report published today.

The Independent Inquiry into Child Sexual Abuse (IICSA) found that the “true scale of sexual abuse of children” at Ampleforth and Downside schools over four decades was “likely to be considerably greater than numbers cited in the convictions.”

Ten men, mostly monks, at Ampleforth in North Yorkshire and Downside in Somerset were convicted of or cautioned for offences involving sexual activity towards children or child pornography.

The IICSA report said that the “blatant openness” of sexual abuse of children at the schools “demonstrates there was a culture of acceptance of abusive behaviour.”

Inquiry chair Alexis Jay said: “For decades, Ampleforth and Downside tried to avoid giving any information about child sexual abuse to police and social services.

“Safeguarding children was less important than the reputation of the Church and the wellbeing of the abusive monks.”

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