Pupils ‘not protected from abuse’ at Ampleforth

Ampleforth College, near Thirsk Credit: ITV News

Several former pupils at a prestigious Catholic boarding school in North Yorkshire have told an inquiry that they were not protected from sexual abuse at the hands of priests and teachers.

The Independent Inquiry into Child Sexual Abuse has heard there were 40 alleged perpetrators of abuse at Ampleforth College near Thirsk between 1953 and 2016.

A former pupil sexually abused by music teacher Dara De Cogan between 2007 and 2010 told the hearing in London that child protection at the school was “very poor.”

The victim said he was physically inappropriate with her in front of other staff and it was widely known they spent a great deal of time alone together during many evenings, but nothing was done.

De Cogan was jailed earlier this year after admitting engaging in sexual activity while in a position of trust.

A police statement from a former pupil was read to the inquiry, alleging that in the late 1960s, when he was between 7 and 10 years old, his headmaster invited him into his study and sexually assaulted him.

He said he was later told the headmaster, who was not named during the hearing, had died.

Another former pupil at the fee-paying school in the 1960s and 1970s detailed how he was physically and sexually assaulted by Father Piers Grant-Ferris.

Grant-Ferris was jailed in 2005 after admitting 20 indecent assaults. Credit: ITV News

He told the hearing that, as a teenager, he spoke to another priest about the abuse and was told that, when Grant-Ferris was sent to Ampleforth, it was known that he had a problem related to his behaviour with young boys.

The victim said he was “staggered” the priest was then allowed to have contact with children.

Ampleforth issued a statement apologising to victims of abuse when the public hearings started on Monday.

This aspect of the inquiry is focused on child protection failings within the Roman Catholic Church. Evidence is due to continue for the next two and a half weeks.