Caldey Island: Victim’s call to remove abuse monk’s body

Media captionCharlotte describes the devastating impact the abuse has had on her life – her words are voiced by an actress

A survivor of abuse perpetrated by a monk from Caldey Abbey has called for his body to be exhumed and removed from the island.

The woman, who was abused by Father Thaddeus Kotik in the 1970s and 80s, said she wants an inquiry to be held.

Charlotte said that she did not speak out about the abuse as a child because Kotik threatened her.

Caldey Abbey has previously apologised for not passing the reports of abuse on to police at the time.

Charlotte (not her real name) visited Caldey Island as a child until she moved to Australia when she was 11.

She was one of six women who received compensation from Caldey Abbey in an out-of-court settlement. The abuse was exposed by the Australian journalist, Amanda Gearing.

Charlotte said that Kotik should not be allowed to lay to rest on holy ground on the island.

“I still think that the island itself is one of the most beautiful places on earth, I just feel sad that it’s inhabited by a monastery,” she said.

“I feel sad for the island that it’s had to harbour revolting creatures. I have nothing against the physical island, it’s a piece of nature and it’s absolutely beautiful but I think that Father Thaddeus needs to be removed.

“That’s just the first step. The abbey should be thinking about that themselves. They need to get with the programme and start realising that this is a very, very serious issue.”

Image caption

Father Thaddeus Kotik worked in the abbey’s dairy

Charlotte said she did not speak out as a child as Kotik had threatened her, saying her parents would not take her back home and that she would go to hell.

She said the impact of the abuse had been catastrophic.

“It changes how you grow up. It changes how you see the world and most importantly, it changes how you see your place in the world,” she said.

Charlotte said she “desperately” wanted an inquiry to happen.

“It’s very important for me to not just have my story told. I don’t want anybody to say to me ‘oh you poor thing, oh that’s really sad, that must have been really hard’.

Image caption

Father Thaddeus Kotik lived on the Pembrokeshire island for 45 years

“I want the whole world to say this is an outrage, and it’s happening and why is it still happening?

“We are destroyed souls and we are left to do our own healing. And it’s an epidemic. There are thousands and thousands and thousands of people like me.”

Angela Burns, the Conservative AM for Carmarthen West and South Pembrokeshire, supported the call for an inquiry and said the Catholic Church needed to do more.

“I think they’re burying their heads in the sand. They know it’s awful and they’re hoping that if they just keep up a wall of silence it doesn’t impact on them,” Ms Burns said.

“I think they need to be really clear about their motivations. Are they protecting their faith or are they protecting the body of the church? If it’s just about protecting the body of the church they should be ashamed of themselves.”

Image caption

Claims against Kotik could not be investigated following his death

BBC Wales contacted Caldey Abbey, who did not respond to these new points from Charlotte and Angela Burns, but referred back to a previous statement from the abbot, Daniel van Santvoort.

In it, he apologised and expressed regret for any harm caused by a member of his community.

He said anybody with concerns should contact the police or the Independent Inquiry into Child Sexual Abuse so that allegations could be considered sensitively.

Brother Daniel added that he would fully co-operate with statutory agencies and any investigation.

Article source: http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-wales-south-west-wales-42257053