In recent years the prevalence of sexual abuse within private schools has become apparent, as victims have come together to share their experiences and, as a result, prolific abusers have been brought to justice for their crimes.
As addressed in one of our previous articles, Simon Clague, an ex- maths teacher at Repton School, was jailed earlier this year for sexual offences against young school girls. Similarly, the trial of David John Hope took place on the 28th February 2022, resulting in his conviction for seven offences against boys at Malsis School in North Yorkshire.
Somewhat disturbingly, David Hope’s colleague, Peter Andrew Holmes, is now on trial following accusations of around 40 historical sexual offences. Over 20 brave survivors have come forward, together alleging multiple indecent assaults, acts of gross indecency and 2 counts of buggery.
Holmes was an English teacher and rugby coach at the boarding school, which closed in 2014. The trial began on April 19th and we await confirmation of the verdict.
The news of three convictions within such a short space of time is positive, reflecting survivors’ increasing willingness to come forward. With the rise of social media and online spaces for individuals to connect and share their boarding school experiences, survivors have found that they are not alone. Coupled with an increasing societal awareness around abuse, particularly in settings where there is a power dynamic, more and more recent and historic crimes are being reported.
Nonetheless, despite increasing numbers of reports and vast improvements to safeguarding in schools, the true extent of abuse within educational settings will never be truly known.
When you dive into the wealth of media coverage, independent reports and reviews, it is difficult to compute the extent of the problem and how it has gone unnoticed for so long.
Depicting the severity of the issue in the UK, journalist Alex Renton has recently revealed that he has received reports of more than 700 allegations covering over 300 boarding schools following his articles about his experience of sexual abuse at a private UK institution.
Furthermore, in January an independent review was published into John Smyth QC, who abused countless young pupils at Winchester College over a period of more than 30 years. The review urges all institutions to challenge themselves to do better within a society where abuse is increasingly recognised and reported.
Although safeguarding has improved and crimes are being reported, this does not take away from the recent and historic crimes that continue to affect survivors every day of their lives. Whilst survivors are encouraged to report matters to the police, no matter when the offence occurred, there are other legal routes to redress.
At Farleys, we listen to survivors and use our specialist knowledge to advise as to potential claims, considering multiple avenues in the process. Whilst compensation can never erase what has happened, any damages recovered can go towards helping survivors to access the support that they need.
If matters have been reported and investigated by the police, survivors may be eligible for Criminal Injuries Compensation. Additionally, where the abuse was perpetrated by a teacher, the relevant school/ Local Authority will be vicariously liable for their actions.
A civil claim of negligence is also possible where the school has allowed abuse to continue despite being on notice of the same.
We at Farleys continue to bring claims against schools, Local Authorities, and other institutions, securing valuable compensation for survivors. If you or someone you know is a survivor of sexual abuse at the hands of a teacher, we are available to discuss this with you. Our dedicated team support hundreds of survivors throughout the process of bringing a civil claim, treating every case with sensitivity, confidentiality and integrity.
Contact us in confidence on our dedicated abuse line on 0330 134 6430, by email or by using the chat function below.