Victims of historic child abuse at a Jewish boarding school have been offered thousands of pounds in compensation following the chance discovery of crucial documents in a basement on the school site.
Two of the eight former pupils at Carmel College — whose testimony led to the conviction in 2015 of Trevor Bolton, a former teacher — have accepted settlements worth up to £65,000.
In two other cases, solicitors are seeking improved offers from the insurance company dealing with the matter.
One of the victims said that while the settlement “brings a bit of closure…no amount of money can pay back for what occurred all those years ago.” He is still receiving counselling because of his experiences — “something I buried for 40 odd-years.”
Bolton, now 80, was jailed for 19 years at Oxford Crown Court for abusing eight boys aged 11 to 15 at Carmel between 1968 and 1988.
A junior housemaster at the school, “Uncle Trevor”, as he was known, befriended young boys who were homesick or otherwise needing comfort, inviting them up to his flat.
One told the court at Bolton’s trial how the teacher would slip his hand into his pyjamas. “I was screaming for it to stop,” he said.
Following Bolton’s conviction, Cambridge-based solicitor Andrew Grove, acting for four of the victims, began pursuing the possibility of compensation.
Although the college closed in 1997, the lawyers believed the school might have had an insurance policy which would cover claims.
After one of the victims posted an appeal for information on social media, someone familiar with the school’s site near Wallingford, Oxfordshire suggested a possible location for any documents.
When Mr Grove went to the disused site a year ago, he discovered an insurance policy with Eagle Star among papers in a damp cellar in the school’s Mansion House building.
Negotiations then began with Zurich, which is now the legacy company for Eagle Star.
Mr Grove said: “These awards bring a part of psychological closure for two claimants of sad events that go as far back as the 1960s. Two other claimants have offers made that are too low to reflect the devastating short-term and long-term effects of serious childhood sexual abuse.”
Bolton’s appeal to reduce the length of his sentence was rejected last year.
Meanwhile, Carmel’s site at Mongewell Park, which was acquired by developers and has planning permission for 166 homes, was recently put up for sale for £30 million, according to the Evening Standard.