Charity separated in two after decades of child abuse is exposed in report 

29 Nov 2019 News

A charity has been split into two separate organisations following the recommendation of a report which shed light on historic child sex abuse at Ampleforth and Downside.

The Charity Commission has approved the creation of a new charity to run Downside School, while the abbey will continue as Downside Abbey General Trust.

The separation of Downside Abbey General Trust was completed on 11 September 2019. Downside School, the new charity to run the school, came into operation on 12 September 2019. 

The Independent Inquiry into Child Sexual Abuse (IICSA) has published a report into historic abuse at the charity, which ran the school and abbey. 

On the release of the report, the Commission held an initial meeting with the charity and agreed on a number of immediate actions including the separation of the school and abbey.

The report, published by IICSA on 9 August 2018, highlighted the evidence heard by the inquiry regarding sexual abuse inflicted over decades on children as young as 11 at Downside school and abbey. 

It concluded that there was a “culture of acceptance of abusive behaviour”, and the prioritisation of monks and their reputations over the protection of children. 

It added: “The true scale of sexual abuse of children in the schools that occurred over 40 years is likely to be considerably greater than numbers cited in the convictions.”

Tracy Howarth, head of regulatory compliance at the Commission, said: “The abuse, and subsequent culture of cover-up at Downside, was appalling, and so far removed from what charities exist for. It’s right that the history of this charity has been exposed.”
The report made a number of recommendations for the charity, one of which included the separation of the school and abbey to ensure safeguarding policies and practices could be implemented and maintained for the school, and that safeguarding arrangements were always free from the conflicting priorities of the abbey. 
Howarth said: “The creation of two separate charities is part of a number of measures Downside have made in the interests of strengthening their safeguarding measures. We expect the trustees of both charities to make safeguarding an absolute and unwavering governance commitment and ensure the lessons from their past are never forgotten.”  

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