In Brief

Monk accused of running sex club for young boys allowed to stay at Ampleforth College

Father Jeremy Sierla worked at leading Catholic school until 2012, despite multiple misconduct allegations

A monk accused of running a "sex club" for young boys was allowed to remain at the country's top Roman Catholic school after numerous allegations were made against him from students, reports The Times.

Father Jeremy Sierla lived and worked at Ampleforth College in North Yorkshire until as late as 2012, despite a criminal inquiry being launched in 2004 into claims he had summoned pupils to his study at night, "where they were given alcohol and told to perform sex acts".

According to the Times, police spoke to more than a dozen of former students at the school, some of whom "recalled that Father Jeremy often whipped boys' bottoms with a loose part of his monk's habit, pinched their bottoms in the swimming pool, encouraged pupils to tie him up with dressing-gown cords and shoelaces, put his hands under their duvets and sometimes showered naked with them".

The report also says police discovered he had posed as a girl in internet chatrooms, using the alter egos Easygirl19 and Cyberbitch in order to speak to young boys.

No charges were officially brought, but police advised the Department for Education in 2005 that Sierla should not be allowed "anywhere near a school".

However, he remained at Ampleforth until 2012, working in the abbey shop, before the Department for Education advised he should no longer be allowed on school grounds.

An Ampleforth College spokesman told the paper that Sierla's continued presence at the school "was approved at a meeting of safeguarding professionals in 2004" and that the case was reviewed again by an independent safeguarding commission in 2007.

However, the Times alleges that following the inquiry, Ampleforth officials told care inspectors it was "preferable for [Sierla] to be under the supervision of the abbey, rather than unsupervised elsewhere in the diocese".

Sierla, who now lives in a closed religious order, has always denied any wrongdoing, adds the report.

Ampleforth has a history dotted with similar accusations.

Since 1996, three monks and a lay teacher at the school have been convicted of historical sex crimes against more than 30 boys.

Last week, Dara de Cogan, a music teacher who began working for the school in 2004, was jailed for 28 months for sexually abusing a female pupil during lessons.

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