Saturday, 11 May 2019
Headmaster's Letter to OAs - May 2019 - Paul Stevens
Dear Old Abberlians,
Historic Abuse Case
I am writing concerning a former member of staff at Abberley, Mr Paul Stevens, who worked here between the 1981 and 1999. It saddens me to report that following a police investigation, which I know included talking to many OAs, he was put on trial on 29th April 2019 at Worcester Crown Court accused of many counts of abuse against three former Abberley pupils. On Wednesday 1st May he pleaded guilty to charges of indecent assault on a child and charges of indecency with a child on several counts.
The offences took place between 1982-1991 against three boys who were at the school. He has been remanded in custody and will be sentenced on 5 July 2019.
My immediate thoughts and sympathy are, of course, for the victims in this case, who are old boys of the school. One can only commend their bravery in coming forward to bear witness to such painful and distressing memories.
Although the incidents predate my appointment as Head by some 20 – 30 years, as a parent and Headmaster I am appalled with the details of this historic case. Naturally, we have provided every assistance to the police investigation over several years, facilitating their work as promptly and helpfully as possible. Thankfully the perpetrator is now facing justice and a lengthy custodial sentence.
If you do have any evidence of abuse during your time here while Paul Stevens was working at the school do feel able to contact me so that I can pass this on to the West Mercia Police, or do so yourselves directly. I can provide you with the investigating officer’s name and telephone number. Similarly do make your school friends aware of the situation.
It may be that there are other victims who we are unaware of. If anyone needs support they can contact West Mercia's Victim Advice Line. It is a free, independent and confidential support service. One can call 0800 952 3000 or visit www.victimadviceline.org.uk.
It hardly needs me to point out that we are living in a different era today, particularly in schools. The welfare of children is at the forefront of the how schools are run and at Abberley it most certainly determines our policies and practice and permeates the culture of the school. I hope that those of you have visited recently already know and realise that this is the case. Our successful ISI Inspection in 2017 was a reassuring, independent confirmation of this, though we are far from complacent on this front. I would go as far as to say that pastoral care and a culture of happy, confident pupils is a key quality of the school’s character and sets us apart; we pride ourselves on it.
Please do contact me if you would like to discuss anything in relation to this matter, I would be happy to talk things through or meet you at school if you wished.
Headmaster – Abberley Hall