The former custodian of the Castle Howard stately home has been charged with attempted rape in addition to historic child sex offences he has already denied.

Simon Howard, 65, who ran the 17th property in North Yorkshire for 30-years, was charged last week with three offences against one woman.

It was always a bit weird when his brother turned up and demanded the keys back.

It is understood the allegations came to light following publicity after Mr Howard was charged with historic sex offences dating back to 1984.


9 thoughts on “Ahhhh….”

  1. The Master of Trinity Hall, Cambridge, has just resigned after an investigation decided that he’d made a pig’s ear of handling sexual assault (and rape?) allegations against a Fellow. (I think that’s right; the account I saw wasn’t entirely clear. Anyway, there was none of that “it was in 1974” rubbish.)

    I’m baffled: if a girl alleges rape surely you should hand the matter over to the police, not fanny around within the College disciplinary system. Rape, for God’s sake; what was he thinking of?

  2. dearieme
    Not sure. Old unis asserted independence from civil power. So (like US colleges) may have a vestigial police force (proctors, beadles, etc). So first investigation must be by college authorities.

  3. Could there be some sort of deal between the police and university colleges governing who starts an investigation?

    Years ago I was a warden of a hall of residence. One of my chaps had been taking LSD. His chums cliped on him when they thought he was going to launch himself down a stairwell. It turned out that we had an agreement with the local police: such cases were to be dealt with by the university health service. I gathered that that meant that the boy would be popped into a loony bin while his sanity was assessed.

    As for the Master of Tit Hall it still sounds to me as if he was foolish. Maybe he thinks so too, now.

  4. The current policies are described in sections 10 and 11.

    “11.7 In consultation with the Master, Bursar, and Compliance Officer the Safeguarding Officer will be responsible for contacting any statutory agencies such as the Local Safeguarding Children Board (LSCB)1 or the Police, if necessary. The Safeguarding Officer will also have responsibility for fulfilling any legal obligations to report an individual to the DBS.
    11.8 The College is not expected and should not attempt to investigate suspicions of abuse independently.”

    Maybe they altered their policy in light of the case that led to the Master’s departure.

  5. @dearieme

    Yeah, you’ve got to recognise what shouldn’t be touched with a barge pole, particularly if it’s obviously the police’s job. Having said that, may not be possible to fob everything off onto them and leave it at that either – there may be two or three layers to this kind of problem? When there’s the possibility of a criminal investigation and even prosecution, clearly the academic authorities would be expected to cooperate fully,* but it’s possible that won’t turn anything up (particularly given the standard of evidence required for prosecution or conviction). If so, you’re still lumbered with any residual issues of safeguarding other staff and students, and any breaches of the institution’s own disciplinary code – these fall into the lap of the academic authorities and don’t have such a high evidential bar for action to be taken. (Strictly speaking, the university still needs to run through its own disciplinary procedure if there *has* been a successful prosecution, but that’s probably rather less difficult to deal with.) As a result there will always be cases, including those with a sexual element, where the University runs its own investigation. If the police investigation doesn’t reach threshold, they may still have found things they can’t share with the University (to protect witnesses for example) so the authorities may need to go over some of the same ground as the police did, unfortunately.

    This happens outside the sexual sphere too, and universities must have robust procedures for disciplinary offences. For example, one of my students had used fraudulent certificates to pass academic entry criteria and this was discovered several months after they’d started their course – in that case, an internal investigation and subsequent disciplinary procedure resulted in their swift expulsion, without waiting for the police to act. (I think the police were informed, and it may well have been a criminal offence. However, the facts of the case were clear and they would have been expelled regardless of the result of any prosecution, so it probably made sense not to wait for any of that. The facts in sexual allegations are often much cloudier, sadly, and certainly the University shouldn’t be running the primary investigation.)

    From what I’ve seen, it’s common for student or staff to be suspended if a police investigation is underway, but if there’s no prosecution, the University still needs to decide whether to accept that individual back, and whether to impose any restrictions on their return. A student who got “overenthusiastic” at a halls party may be allowed to return after suspension, but not to live in shared accommodation (definitely seen this before) and may be ordered not to come into proximity of the original complainants (heard of such cases, but seems tricky if eg they’re both in a small department). A tutor who’s too “handsy” may be forbidden from taking on teaching work. A supervisor who had an affair with their research student (not inherently illegal – though police may investigate elements of the relationship if there were allegations the power imbalance strayed into coercive control) may still be censured for breaking disciplinary rules and safeguarding measures may be put in place to prevent a repeat. Or depending on circumstances, perhaps the aforementioned student/tutor/supervisor will be kicked out permanently. Whichever action or inaction the authorities opt for needs be grounded in evidence they have collected and processed appropriately – which appears not to have happened at Tit Hall. (Are they going to change their unfortunate nickname?)

    * I can conceive of criminal cases where a university may feel justified to dig heels in and do the legal bare minimum to help the police investigate staff or students, but surely for alleged sexual offences they’ve got to go all-out to assist. For cases involving free/offensive speech, academic discussion of national secrets, illegal protests, maybe certain computer security offences, I can imagine universities being keener to protect their own.

  6. Theophrastus (2066)

    I was once on nodding terms with Simon Howard. Always struck me as a decent chap. His staff liked him. If a bog got blocked at Castle Howard, he would roll up his sleeves and unblock it. Never struck me as a kiddy fiddler or rapist…

  7. Probably Me Too bollocks anyway.

    Nothing much happens to false accusers unless they are truly egregious . Like the female who made 11 accusations-all bogus-before the CPS morons finally turned on her.

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