A former pupil has received an apology and a substantial settlement from a private school after it accepted he was sexually abused by one of their priests.
KentOnline can reveal Sutton Valence School in Maidstone, which charges parents thousands of pounds per term, has settled a legal case with a man who alleged he was raped and assaulted when he was a young teenager.
Reverend David Barnes was a chaplain at the school in North Street when the allegations are said to have taken place during his time there in the 1980s.
He died in 2012, aged 75, after working as an assistant curate of Crayford, RAF chaplain and assistant curate of Minster on Sheppey.
The revelation comes just over a year after chemistry teacher Mohammed Afzal, 67, was jailed for three years for sexually assaulting a girl at the school in 1993.
Barnes’ alleged victim, who is now in his 50s, began legal action against the school earlier this year.
The married father, who wants to remain anonymous, says he was sexually assaulted at Barnes’ home in the school grounds while they watched Top of the Pops.
He explained: “I was severely bullied on the first day. It gave me great anxiety and for the next six weeks I would hide in a cupboard to avoid the bullies. Barnes picked up on that and the fact I was homesick. He spotted I was vulnerable.
“He wanted me to come down to where he was living one night to chat about it all. He gave me several gin and tonics, cigarettes and we watched TV.
“That’s when he started rubbing up and down my legs. He took me upstairs and said he wanted to show me his house and that’s when he raped me. He then took pictures of me and put them in a box.
“There must have been about 30 pictures of other boys in that box. It has had a dramatic impact on pretty much every part of my life.”
The victim, who is set to visit the school for an apology, said the whole ordeal has had a massive effect on his life, but he wanted to tell his story to shine a light on the “dark corner of abuse”, and to help others.
He added: “I wanted to tell my parents or the school what had happened but I felt so ashamed. I felt as if I was to blame in some way. It takes on average 28 years for a man who has been abused to come forward and many never do due to the stigma and shame they feel.”
He admitted he probably never would have come forward about his abuse if he hadn’t spotted Barnes in a pub one day 11 years ago.
“Out of the blue I walked into a pub and there was Barnes standing across the bar, just weeks before he died,” he explained.
“You’d think after I saw him across the bar I’d want to knock the s*** out of him but it was like I was a teenager again. I started shaking and was terrified. I left the pub immediately saying I felt unwell.
“That caused a sort of explosion in my head which had been waiting many years to come out and as a consequence, I suffered a breakdown. I sought therapy in the hope to unravel the emotional turmoil that had been locked in for so long.
“I want to help any other people out there who might be suffering. I’m in the privileged position that I can afford to spend £20,000 on therapy over a long period of time, but others aren’t.
“Now that I’ve received a settlement from the case, I intend to donate it to charity or use it to set up a fund for other victims for them to get their treatment.”
He is now calling on Sutton Valence School to “step forward” and help solve safeguarding problems which he thinks are happening at other schools as well.
“These incidents happened and they should be encouraging people to come forward and offering to help,” he said. “If me speaking out helps one person come forward or stops a future staff member from abusing a child then it’s not in vain.”
A spokesperson for Sutton Valence School said: “What happened to this former pupil should never have happened. We apologise unreservedly for what they endured.
“When we received their legal claim last year, we immediately notified the police, local authority, and the Charity Commission, following our strict processes for all safeguarding matters. We continue to be in direct contact with the former pupil and we are providing ongoing support.”
Dino Nocivelli, of Leigh Day solicitors, represented the former pupil. He added: “My client has been denied justice for such a long time so the conclusion of this case understandably means a lot to him, and especially the apology.
“His bravery in disclosing the abuse he described has enabled others to do the same. I hope the school will continue to work on improving safeguarding to prevent any potential abuse in the future."