Monk accused of child sex abuse 'was allowed to stay at leading Catholic school for years after claims emerged'

Ampleforth College, where a monk formerly based at the school is accused of running a 'sex club' for young boys.Wikimedia Commons

A monk who is said to have run a weekly 'sex club' for young boys was allowed to remain at the country's leading Catholic school after multiple misconduct allegations against him, The Times has reported.

Former pupils of the Ampleforth College in Yorkshire, a £30,000-per-year private school, told police that they were summoned in their pyjamas to the study of Father Jeremy Sierla, where they were given alcohol and said to have performed sex acts.

A criminal inquiry began in 2004 resulting in no charges, but police were so concerned by the risk the monk posed that they wrote to the Department for Education the following year, asking that he be denied access to children.

Detectives believed that he should not be allowed 'anywhere near a school'. But, with the approval of child protection professionals, he lived at Ampleforth and worked at its shop until 2012.

During this time he was in proximity to pupils before being removed when education officials ruled that his presence was 'incompatible with good safeguarding practice'.

The criminal investigation began after a man claimed that Sierla had subjected him to sexual assaults when he was a pupil at Ampleforth's Junior House in the early 1990s.

Sources told The Times that when officers examined the monk's computer, he was found to have posed online as a teenage girl to contact young males in internet chatrooms.

Police also found a photograph of the former pupil, aged 12 at the time, who triggered the inquiry.

Ampleforth said it was 'committed to ensuring the safety and welfare of each and every pupil in its care'.

Sierla, 59, who now lives in a closed religious order, said that he has 'always denied any wrongdoing' and 'gladly co-operated when asked to do so by the authorities'.

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

Such cases will be examined this year at a public hearing of the Independent Inquiry into Child Sexual Abuse.