Wales

Caldey Island: 20 people claim monk abused them as children

Thaddeus Kotik with child
Image caption Thaddeus Kotik with child 'Jenny' while she was staying on the island

Twenty people have now claimed they were sexually abused by a monk living on Caldey Island when they were children.

Father Thaddeus Kotik died in 1992 without facing any criminal charges into claims he abused children between 1977 and 1987.

The figure comes as one victim told how living with the trauma of being abused almost killed her.

The abbot of Caldey Abbey has not responded to requests for a comment.

Since November, 14 new people have reported they were abused by the monk when they visited the island off Tenby, Pembrokeshire, when they were children, Dyfed Powys Police has confirmed.

This is as well as six women who previously came forward and received out of court settlements last year.

Jenny, not her real name, began having nightmares and night terrors when she was six-years-old and had vivid dreams about a man watching her in bed and chasing her.

But while she knew she had been abused as a child in the 1970s, the details only became clear decades later that she found out her two sisters had also been abused by Kotik during family holidays.

Image caption Thaddeus Kotik with 'Jenny', who has released this photo to us of her as a child

She told BBC Wales that finally piecing together the information and putting together the story of her abuse made her realise how her life had fallen apart and led to her near death.

"I became an alcoholic, I had an eating disorder, and I was hanging around with drug addicts and prostitutes," she said.

"I was in relationships with violent, alcoholic men and all these terrible things nearly ended my life because I was very heavily into drink and drugs, and living with a heroin addict is pretty full on."

My sister said he went upstairs to pray and that's when I would have been in bed, asleep, and it all fell into place

'Jenny'

She has since managed to turn her life around and has lived without drink and drugs for 12 years and has been on a quest to find out what happened to her as a child ever since.

Jenny realised that she was abused between the ages of five and six when she compared two school photographs - she said she looked tormented in the later picture.

Image caption Thaddeus Kotik died without any charges being brought against him

After her sister told her about her own experience with Kotik, they looked up his details on the internet and saw the media coverage of the allegations that he was a paedophile.

"After that, all the pieces just started falling into place," she said.

"Fortunately, my mum keeps diaries and lo and behold between the two school photos when I was five and six, he came to stay with us for one night in the November of 1978.

"My sister said he went upstairs to pray and that's when I would have been in bed, asleep, and it all fell into place, that's when he interfered with me - and that's what started all the fear, the night terrors, the sleepwalking and all the problems that got worse and worse until my life nearly ended."

She said the girls did not tell anyone about the abuse at the time but she did not think the monastery responded well to the allegations that have come out since then.

"I think they should be more open. They don't seem to be saying enough, I think they need to be more forthcoming. I also think the whole monastery needs to be looked into," she added.

Det Ch Insp of Dyfed-Powys Police Jayne Butler said specially-trained officers were investigating and supporting victims of historical abuse and people should report crimes to the force.

BBC Wales made numerous attempts to contact the abbey for an interview and visited the island, but have been unable to get a comment from the abbey.

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