Caldey Island: Police to re-examine abuse claims after man reports being raped by monks

The claims of abuse on Caldey Island date back to the 1960s and 70s Credit: J Thornett

Police have confirmed they are reinvestigating allegations of historic child abuse on Caldey Island in Pembrokeshire after a man reported being raped by monks.

Kevin O’Connell came forward to say he was sexually abused in the 1960s and 70s by Cistercian Order monks who lived on the island off the coast of Pembrokeshire.

Kevin has also claimed he was trafficked to Surrey and Sussex where he fell prey to other paedophiles.

He has joined over 20 survivors who have come forward in recent years to talk about the abuse they suffered at the hands of the monks.

Dyfed-Powys Police said they received the complaint on April 11, 2019 and that enquiries were made to identify the suspect, however, the man died two days after the report was made.

The force said further information has since come to light of alleged offences in the Sussex area which has been referred to Sussex Police.

A spokesperson for Dyfed-Powys Police said: “While we cannot prosecute persons who are deceased, all victims are asked to provide an account to police in order that any other persons linked to the offence can be investigated fully.

“All reports of sexual abuse are taken extremely seriously, and specially trained officers are appointed to investigate and support victims of non-recent abuse.”

There are fears that the force failed to conduct appropriate investigations and communications into (the new victim's) claims and highlights the failure of the Independent Inquiry into Child Sexual Abuse (IICSA) to include the Cistercian Order and alleged abuse in their inquiry.

The Welsh Government’s Petition Committee also decided not to hold a full public inquiry into the matter.

'Many years of failure'

The Caldey Island Survivors Campaign, which supports and advocates for victims, is relaunching its campaign for a public inquiry.

The campaign is supported by Wales’ leading victims’ public inquiry lawyer, Michael Imperato, of Watkins & Gunn, who has said the issue raises concerns about “potential failings of public bodies and lack of safeguarding protection for children”.

The group believes an inquiry should look into a range of matters, including the potential failings of social services which organised the trips to Caldey via the Roman Catholic Church, the police’s alleged failure to thoroughly investigate and draw connections between the sexual abuse of at least 27 child victims, and the failure of the Cistercian Order on Caldey to protect the children in their care.

Campaign coordinator Dinah Mulholland said: “Dyfed Powys Police have over many years failed to address the concerns of survivors and have shown a lack of commitment to investigating reports of abuse.

“A reinvestigation also does not address the historic and ongoing failure of other statutory bodies or the Roman Catholic Church in protecting children on the island from abuse. Hence the call for a public inquiry.

“It’s the only way all the truth about Caldey Island will emerge, and the only way that survivors can find the justice and resolution they deserve.”

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