Priest accused of dormitory assault

School suspension: Inquiry to decide future of housemaster at Catholic college
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The Independent Online
PETER VICTOR

A housemaster was suspended from one of Britain's top Roman Catholic public schools after he allegedly touched a sleeping pupil in an "inappropriate" manner.

The action came after an incident in a dormitory at pounds 11,500-a-year Ampleforth College in North Yorkshire last Friday when the housemaster of St Aidan's, Father Bernard Green, touched a pupil while he slept.

In a statement last night, Father Leo Chamberlain, the school's headmaster, confirmed he had immediately suspended Fr Green: "The housemaster had entered a dormitory and touched a sleeping boy in a manner which he now recognises was inappropriate.

"We are conducting an immediate and full investigation. But our first concern is for the welfare of the boy concerned. Parents are being fully informed," he added.

Fr Green has taught history at Ampleforth for 18 years and has been a housemaster for three years. Masters wrote to parents about the incident last weekend and decided yesterday to make a public statement rather than have details leak out to the media.

Cardinal Basil Hume, the head of the Catholic church in England, is a former pupil and headmaster at the school. Other former pupils at the school include Piers Paul Read, the Duke of Norfolk and Lord Nolan.

The college belongs to the largest Benedictine monastic community in Europe. It has remained single sex and has a strong Catholic ethos, though not all parents who send their boys to the school are of that faith.

Established in 1802, the school adjoins the Benedictine monastery and abbey of St Laurence. It caters for around 550 boys, around 20 day pupils and more than 500 boarders, aged between 13 and 18. Fees are pounds 3,110 a term for day pupils and pounds 3,840 for boarders.

The school has been the subject of controversy in the past. In June 1994, police revealed that six pupils were arrested for alleged drug offences. In 1990, four boys were expelled and six others suspended after the discovery of a drug ring. Two sixth-formers were later prosecuted for buying cannabis in a York wine bar and supplying it to other pupils over a six-month period. They admitted the offences and received conditional discharges.

A spokesman for the school said yesterday it was not anticipated that the police would become involved, and Fr Green's future depended on the outcome of the investigation.

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