Hereford & Worcester

St Gilbert's approved school abuse investigation widened

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Media captionVictor Aldridge has waived his right to anonymity to speak about the abuse he endured at St Gilbert's

An inquiry into a campaign of sexual and physical abuse at a Catholic approved school has been widened.

Police began investigating after the BBC reported what happened to boys at St Gilbert's in Worcestershire in the 1940s, 50s and 60s.

As more victims have come forward the inquiry has been extended into the 1970s.

Although many of the abusers are dead, the later time frame means some could still be alive and face prosecution.

The treatment of the boys, who were described at the time as "delinquent", came to light at the end of last year.

Aged between 11 and 15, boys were sent to St Gilbert's in Hartlebury after being convicted of petty offences such as vandalism and shoplifting.

Some were beaten and raped by brothers from the De La Salle order, which ran the institute under the direction of the Home Office.

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Image caption One of the abusers, Brother Roderick (pictured centre), died in 2012

The deputy headmaster, Brother Maurice, was convicted of six counts of sexually abusing boys at St Gilbert's but reinstated as a teacher after serving a four-year jail term.

Having heard reports of the recent investigation, Victor Aldridge, who was 12 when he was sent to St Gilbert's in 1963, told the BBC he was abused by Brother Roderick, who died in 2012.

Mr Aldridge, who has waived his right to anonymity, said: "It was continuous and went on throughout my time in the school.

"[Brother] Roderick was a horrible, vicious, violent man.

"He once asked me if I knew who broke his hair clippers, and when I said 'no' he bashed me all around the classroom and afterwards started stroking my neck and said he didn't mean it.

"And then he interfered with me."

John - who does not want his surname to be used - was another victim of Brother Roderick.

Image caption A 1964 letter (l) from the Home Office notified the order that deputy head teacher Brother Maurice had admitted indecent assault. Other files (r) were embargoed until 2044

"He was my devil in there, yes. Because he abused me brutally but also sexually. He was an evil man.

"I just wish I could forget it all. I wish it would go. I wish it would go.

"If I could ask for anything out of this, it is for the other boys to come forward."

West Mercia Police has apologised after victims said they had tried to alert the force when they were still at St Gilbert's, and a review has been launched to discover why emails sent last year by a former pupil were ignored.

The Home Office has said "anyone who has been a victim of abuse, or knows of any abuse that has taken place at St Gilbert's Approved School, should report it to the police so it can be properly investigated".

BBC Inside Out West Midlands is available on the iPlayer.

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