Former monk facing extradition over child abuse

By Mark Daly
BBC Scotland Investigations Correspondent

image captionFr Denis Chrysostom Alexander denies the allegations

A former Catholic monk who taught at the Fort Augustus Abbey school is set to be extradited from Australia to face charges of child sex abuse.

The move to bring Fr Denis Chrysostom Alexander back to face trial in Scotland follows criticism by his alleged victims that the Crown was dragging its heels over the case.

It comes after a two-and-a-half-year inquiry, sparked by a BBC Scotland investigation.

Fr Chrysostom denies the allegations.

Run by Catholic Benedictine monks, Fort Augustus Abbey school in the Highlands closed its doors to the public in 1993.

Allegations of decades of child sexual and physical abuse at the exclusive boarding school were finally made public by a BBC Scotland investigation in June 2013.

The BBC spoke to former pupils who claim they were abused by monks or teaching staff over five decades.

Many of those then reported their allegations to the police, sparking a major historical abuse police inquiry.

However, some of the former pupils had expressed concern over the length of time prosecutors were taking over deciding whether to prosecute.

Hugh Kennedy, 52, who first told the police about his allegations against Fr Chrysostom, who now lives in Australia, more than two-and-a-half years ago, told the BBC this week he had been ready to give up.

He said: "My experience of having brought this to the attention of the Scottish judiciary and the police has been quite frankly awful. I can see why so many men decide not to bother and why so many men decide it's just not worth the effort.

"It's almost as if it feels as though if I'm held at bay long enough, this matter will just go away."

The BBC interviewed Mr Kennedy on Tuesday. That same day he had been told by his liaison at the Crown there was no news about his case.

On Wednesday, the BBC put Mr Kennedy's claims to the Crown, that it had been dragging its heels over the case.

Today the Crown told the BBC it was seeking Chrysostom's extradition.

A spokeswoman for the crown said: "Crown Counsel have instructed proceedings against Denis Alexander. Charges are being finalised with a view to seeking his extradition."

This morning the BBC spoke to Fr Chrysostom in Sydney. He denied the allegations, and said the matter was being looked at by his archbishop.

The final decision to extradite Chrysostom will be up to the Australian authorities, but it is now possible that Mr Kennedy will get the opportunity to face his alleged abuser in a courtroom.

One other former Fort Augustus monk has appeared in court on charges of assault, a further seven cases remain under consideration.

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