Caldey Island, which is a mile and a half long, has been a religious retreat since the first monastery was set up there 1,500 years ago. It has been known as one of the centers of Cistercian activity since Celtic times and thrived during medieval Europe. The island is home to nine monks in the monastery and a handful of farmers. It hosts more than 3,000 people between April and October, who visit to sample the home-made chocolate, perfume and shortbread made by the Cistercian monks. A small island has recorded its first crime in living memory in November last year when a father hit his seven-year-old son for misbehaving in the chocolate shop.
The problem is that the father hitting his mischievous child isn’t the first crime on the island. Emily and two other women are being sexually abused by one of the monks, a predator called Father Thaddeus Kotik. Those three women have spoken to the Guardian about being sexually abused by Kotik as children during the 70s and 80s. According to the Guardian, their names have been changed to protect their identities.
In August last year the women launched civil proceedings against the order, claiming personal injuries. Kotik offended against the six girls between 1972 and 1987, though the women believe there may be many more victims, over many more years, the court documents say. They allege that Father Thaddeus Kotik, who lived in the Abbey from 1947 until his death in 1992, abused at least six girls. Kotik, a former soldier who fought in the Free Polish army during the Second World War, moved to the island in 1947, joined the strict Cistercian order and was ordained a priest in 1956.
Kotik is said to have used chocolate from the abbey dairy and sweets in a chest in the garage to strike up relationships with girls whose families holidayed on the island, before assaulting them. He volunteered to babysit while their parents went out, pulling the sleepy girls from their beds to sexually assault them. Once inside the garage, he would lock the door, allow the children to eat as many sweets as they wanted, while he lifted them to his lap, removed their clothes and sexually assaulted them.
Charlotte, another victim, and her family had been frequent visitors to Caldey Island from their home in Scotland when she and her older sister were little. Kotik terrified girls into silence, telling them that if they told anyone about what he was doing, their parents would not want them anymore and would leave them behind on the island with him.
Adele, Charlotte’s cousin, had reported the abuse to her family during her childhood and later in her 20s, but her relatives persuaded her not to take legal action. They finally decided to take legal action and with the six women on board, Tracey Emmott of Emmott Snell solicitors led the case against Caldey Abbey. Their case maintained that the abbey knew about the offences and failed to report Kotik to police. The Abbey reached a financial settlement with the claimants but refused to apologize.
Photo Credits: Western Telegraph