Some serious allegations against the Ipswich Knights I have already forwarded to Catholic Safeguarding who have forwarded them to the police at Operation Hydrant.
Some of these allegations are historic, relating to the close relationship of the Knights and St Joseph’s College, Ipswich. But I realize that current safeguarding issues naturally take priority.
So I have taken another look at an account about the Colchester Knights. The newspaper accounts below took a little ‘unpacking’ to realize the full seriousness of what was involved.
And its current implications. This is happening in OUR era, after all.
In 2016, in Colchester, a half hour drive from Ipswich, Ronald Smith, a Knight of St Columba,whose sexual abuse crimes on eight children, some under ten years old, carried out while he taking advantage of his position as a Knight, ‘organizing parish family events’, was given a 19 – 25 years prison sentence: https://www.gazette-news.co.uk/news/14650497.churchgoer-finally-jailed-after-40-years-of-child-abuse/
The account related that Smith and his fellow Knights had sworn an oath to “develop young people in their journey of faith” and “help the development of young people”.
Just as the Ipswich Knights did in my childhood with injurious results.
When Ronald Smith was sentenced, all references to the Knights were removed. https://www.gazette-news.co.uk/news/14723144.prolific-paedophile-who-abused-eight-young-boys-jailed-for-19-years/
The case never made the national press.
It’s an example of how the Knights would seem able to successfully ‘kill’ a news story.
By comparison, when Laurence Soper, Abbot of Ealing Abbey, was given an 18 year prison sentence for child abuse, his case was reported by the BBC, The Guardian,The Tablet, The Times, The Sun, Express, numerous websites and also covered by IICSA.
And yet Ronald Smith’s case was an equally big news story.
He had spent more than 40 years abusing young boys between 1972 and 2014.
There were three reports to the police about him during those years which were never prosecuted!
The account relates that:
‘Despite already being a convicted sex offender (in1973), allegations against the Catholic member of Colchester’s St James the Less and St Helen Catholic Church in Priory Street in 1994, 2000 and 2011 did not end in prosecution.’
And was a DBS check run on Smith? It would also seem not.
In summary, why was a convicted sex offender, an uneducated, semi-unemployed man, with no DBS check, organizing children’s events – associated with or run by the Knights – at a Catholic church up to 2014?
And why was the story minimized with no further reference to the Knights connection to the crimes?
Are all today’s UK Knights who deal with children or parishioners given a DBS check? Given that Smith was probably not DBS checked and another source tells me that current Knights of St Columba – in a different diocese – aren’t DBS checked, it seems unlikely.
I’ve raised these concerns with Catholic Safeguarding who have passed this post onto Operation Hydrant. Personally, I think, with today’s children possibly at risk, as I’ve exampled, that the Knights should set up an Independent Investigator to look into this and other allegations about them on this site. Just as the De La Salles have done. If the Knights are as concerned about child safety, past and present, as they claim, It should be a priority.
It concerns me that the response of all Catholic Safeguarding agencies to any allegations is to just pass them onto Hydrant or the regular police without comment or interaction. It does feel to me that they’re dumping everything onto Hydrant but without the intermediary which Hydrant tell me they require. And that they are not looking at important issues that this and previous examples on this site raise. For instance – do the Knights of St Columba have DBS checks? NOT according to my source. That’s not so relevant to Hydrant who are primarily concerned with actual offences, but has everything to do with Catholic Safeguarding and protecting children and preventing offences ever taking place. Thus far, I’ve had no response to this issue by Catholic Safeguarding.
So I have to assume they’re ignoring it.