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Caldey abuse: More victims say police

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A STATEMENT released by the police has confirmed that the force has received further reports of historical sexual abuse at Caldey Island.

The alleged offences have been reported with the same named perpetrator, Father Thaddeus Kotik, who died in 1992.

The original abuse claims were uncovered by an Australian Journalist, Doctor Amanda Gearing, whose article on the subject was published in The Guardian newspaper last week.

Since the story was published, and followed up by The Pembrokeshire Herald, the BBC, and other media organisations, three more women have said they were sexually abused by Father Kotik. One of the women said her two sisters were also abused, bringing the total number of alleged victims so far to 11.

One case was reported to Dyfed-Powys Police as recently as Monday.

Macsas, an organisation that supports survivors of clerical abuse, said an inquiry was needed to establish the extent of the alleged abuse. Meanwhile the children’s commissioner for Wales has asked the abbey for information on its child protection procedures.

The commissioner, Sally Holland, said: “I would like to make sure that any child or young person visiting Caldey or its churches is safe”

Ms Holland confirmed that she had discussed the allegations with the Catholic Safeguarding Advisory Service, who have not yet responded to media queries.

Last week’s Guardian article revealed that six women, who were abused as children on the island by the same monk, were paid compensation by Caldey Abbey.

In the report, it’s claimed that Father Kotik gained the trust of families who were visiting the island and then sexually abused children he was babysitting.

The women said that the abbey knew about the offences but failed to report Father Kotik’s abuse to the police. One victim said Kotik ‘terrified them into silence’.

The new statement released by Dyfed Powys Police yesterday (Nov 22) reads: “Following the recent media reporting of sexual abuse at Caldey Island, police received two further reports of non-recent sexual abuse on November 21.

“They relate to offences committed during the same time period (between 1977 and 1987) and with the same named perpetrator Thaddeus Kotik. These crimes have been recorded and Officers are in contact with the victims during the investigation and to offer specialist support.

“Police have also received one further report of a sexual assault by another male at Caldey Island around the same time frame. The report has been made by one of the original six victims. This is being investigated separately to the Caldey Island abuse and concerns a man who was visiting Caldey Island at the time and no longer lives there. No further information can be released at present as it would jeopardise the investigation.

“Dyfed-Powys Police continues to work with safeguarding partners and the Abbey at Caldey Island to ensure appropriate safeguarding measures are in place to prevent children from suffering abuse or coming to any harm.

Detective Superintendent Anthony Griffiths told The Pembrokeshire Herald: “We have specially trained officers at Dyfed-Powys Police to investigate and support victims of non-recent abuse. If there are more victims out there who wish to report, please do so by calling the police directly. We cannot formally record complaints or offer support to victims based on reports via the media. They can do so by calling 101. I would say the same to anyone who has suffered abuse in the past, or is suffering today, that if they find the courage to report it, we will take it seriously and we will offer the support they require.”

READ A FULL FOUR PAGE REPORT IN TOMORROW’S EDITION OF THE PEMBROKESHIRE HERALD.

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Tragedy above Milford Haven takeaway

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DYFED POWYS POLICE has confirmed that a 20-year-old male passed away in Milford Haven last Saturday, April 17.

Police were called to the USA Fried Chicken store on Charles Street at around 1:30pm but have said there are no suspicious circumstances.

A Herald reporter was at the scene and witnessed a number of police cars and an ambulance while plain-clothed officers were also seen.

HM Coroner has been informed.

A Welsh Ambulance Service spokesperson added: “We were called to Charles Street in Milford Haven on Saturday 17 April at approximately 1.34pm to reports of a medical emergency. We attended the scene with one emergency ambulance where we assisted colleagues from the police.”

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Tavernspite School the ‘healthiest of schools despite the pandemic’

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THE STAFF, governors, parents, and of course, the children of Tavernspite Community Primary School are delighted to gain the Welsh Network of Healthy School Schemes National Quality Award for an incredible 5th time after a recent and very rigorous assessment.

The school is already well known and highly regarded for its outstanding work in developing the health and wellbeing of all members of its school community. To achieve this prestigious recognition in the midst of a pandemic is all the more impressive. 

Health and Wellbeing at the school is led by teacher, Lauren Arthur, who has done an incredible job preparing for this re-assessment and raising the profile of the Healthy Schools scheme.

The assessor Mrs Lynne Perry, enjoyed a virtual tour and presentation by Year 3 pupils who took great pleasure in proudly showing Mrs Perry all the wonderful work the school has done to ensure its children are safe, happy with high levels of emotional and physical wellbeing.

In her report, Mrs Perry wrote, ‘Tavernspite School continues to be an outstanding health promoting school. The health promoting school ethos is evident across the whole school population and it runs seamlessly throughout everything that the school does. Tavernspite School continues to give high priority to promoting and enhancing the health and well-being of the whole school community.’

The school received fantastic support from Mrs Liz Western, Senior Public Health Officer and Lead for Healthy Schools and Pre-schools, Pembrokeshire, to whom they are very grateful.

Head teacher Kevin Phelps said, ‘We were delighted to receive this award for the fifth time, particularly considering the experiences we have all been through these past twelve months. Health and wellbeing has never been so important and we are proud to be leading the way like this.’

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Joinery learner through to Screwfix Trade Apprentice of the Year Finals

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PEMBROKESHIRE COLLEGE joinery learner, Conor Ratcliff has made it through to the final ten in this year’s Screwfix Trade Apprentice of the Year competition.

Now in its seventh year, the competition celebrates the next generation of tradespeople as they start out on their career. With over 2,500 nominations, Conor was shortlisted to the top 30 where he had to deliver a video presentation to industry-leading judges and trade body representatives. Judged on professionalism, creativity, innovation, enthusiasm and knowledge of their trade, Conor impressed the judges and is now in the final 10.  

Simon Jackson, Screwfix Customer and Digital director, commented: “Every year we are amazed by the outstanding quality of entrants and, this year, we are on the lookout for apprentices who go above and beyond to succeed within their chosen trade.

“We’ve seen how this career-boosting accolade and £10,000 prize bundle helps kickstart an apprentice’s career. I’d like to wish everyone through to this stage the best of luck!”

The prize package includes everything a future tradesperson may need to start up their own business including £5,000 of tools, a £3,000 training budget and £2,000 worth of technology. The college where they study will also receive £2,000.

Conor is thrilled to have made it through to the finals and commented: “I am extremely honoured to have made it this far in the competition and I am very excited for the final event. It would be an amazing opportunity for me, if I won this competition.

“I hope it encourages more people to consider an apprenticeship in a trade, the Carpentry and Joinery department have been incredibly supportive during my studies.”

The Final is due to take place imminently where the judges will conduct an online interview with the ten finalists before selecting and announcing their overall winner.

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