The Abbot of Ampleforth has “stepped aside” while police investigate abuse claims from four former pupils at the abbey’s school, Ampleforth College.
The college confirmed that Abbot Cuthbert Madden has “temporarily stepped aside” while North Yorkshire Police investigated claims dating from the 1990s.
“Fr Abbot denies any wrongdoing and will be cooperating fully while the allegations are investigated by the appropriate authorities,” Ampleforth College said in a statement.
“In the interests of transparency, we want to ensure the Ampleforth community and friends are aware of the current situation.”
The statement added: “This course of action accords fully with established civil and ecclesiastical protocols, and is a neutral action, which will remain in place for the duration of the investigation.”
A spokeswoman for North Yorkshire Police said the investigation was “ongoing” since the allegations were reported in August, and had “triggered safeguarding measures which have been put in place while it continues”.
In the interim, Fr Terence Richardson, the prior of Ampleforth Abbey, will act as superior.
Fr Madden had been at Ampleforth for 30 years. He was ordained as a priest in 1990 and first elected as abbot in 2005, and re-elected in 2013.
The college is an independent boarding school that has been co-educational since 2010. It was set up by Benedictines in 1802, and has about 600 students. Former pupils include Downton Abbey creator Julian Fellowes and sculptor Antony Gormley.