January 2006

Monk is jailed for sex assaults on boys

A MONK who admitted 20 counts of indecently assaulting young boys in his care was jailed for two years yesterday.

Father Piers Grant-Ferris, 72, a Benedictine monk at the Ampleforth monastic community, in North Yorkshire, carried out the assaults while he was a teacher at Gilling Castle Preparatory School between 1966 and 1975. All the offences relate to boys aged under 12.

He was arrested and charged after a North Yorkshire Police inquiry into Ampleforth Abbey, which is attached to the country’s leading independent Roman Catholic School, Ampleforth College (pic below).

Gilling Castle Prep School was used as a feeder school by the college, but it later merged with another school and is now known as St Martin’s Ampleforth.

In November, Grant-Ferris pleaded guilty to the offences, and was sentenced at Leeds Crown Court yesterday.

Judge Ian Dobkin ordered him to be placed on the sex offenders’ register for ten years and banned him from working with children until further notice.

The court had heard that children at the school during the time the offences were committed saw him as “a bit of a crackpot”.

After the hearing, an Ampleforth Abbey spokesman said Grant-Ferris’s connection with the school ended in 1975.

Piers Grant-Ferris in his younger days

Fr Cuthbert Madden, Abbot of Ampleforth said: “The offences for which Father Piers has been sentenced were a serious betrayal of his responsibilities as a monk, as a teacher and as an adult member of society.

“Whatever the standards of the day may have been 30 or 40 years ago, this was as unacceptable then as it would be today.”

In November, he offered an apology to the victims.

Father Madden added: “Today, our schools have a framework of reporting, monitoring and pastoral supervision which provide safeguards for child protection almost unrecognisable from those applying in those days.”

Last September, Father Gregory Carroll was jailed after pleading guilty to 15 charges of indecent assault and five counts of gross indecency between 1973 and 1983 when he was a Junior House master at Ampleforth College.

Detective Superintendent Barry Honeyett, who headed the inquiry, said the wider investigation at Ampleforth took two years and involved contacting more than 500 former pupils.