The abbot of Caldey has said he is “truly sorry” that allegations of child sexual abuse made against a monk were not passed on to police.
Daniel van Santvoort acknowledged that allegations made against Fr Thaddeus Kotik should have been reported to authorities, and apologised for any harm caused to alleged victims.
The monk, who died in 1992, allegedly abused at least nine children during the 1970s and 80s. He was a member of the Trappist community that is situated on the island of Caldey, off the coast of southern Wales.
Abbot van Santvoort said in a statement on the island’s Facebook page that the community felt “great sadness and regret”.
“Any allegations of child abuse should be reported to the appropriate authorities and investigated,” he said. “This clearly did not happen and we apologise.”
“The claimed abuses took place between 1971 and 1987. At this time, the present Caldey Abbey community was not on the island, a fact which exacerbated the difficulties of the claims,” he added.
“When I came to the island in 1990, and then became abbot in 1999, I knew nothing of any such claims, but I was made aware of them in 2014 when one claimant contacted me.
“I forwarded the matter first to the police and then our solicitors as, due to the complexities, it was a matter which lay outside the realms of my abilities. I acted at every step with compassion and empathy, and expressed my regret and sorrow at any such abuse. I flew to Australia to meet two claimants expressly to apologise.
“I confirm that as a result of the communication between our solicitor and the claimants, Caldey Abbey compensated six people out of court in 2016, some 40 years later. I am truly sorry that my predecessors did not report allegations to the police and I am sorry that, as an abbey, it has taken so long to compensate for these claims.”
He said the abbey has since adopted “robust child protection procedures” and is “working with the children’s commissioner for Wales who has advised that anybody with concerns should contact the police or the independent inquiry into child sexual abuse”.