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The Atonement And The New York Times

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And, in furtherance of these teachings, the reports allege, Smyth would beat some of the boys with a cane seeking to drive out the sin of masturbation or carnal desires.  The articles report that after one boy attempted suicide after he was invited to return to Smyth’s home, the Iwerne Trust commissioned an investigation and in 1982 found the reports to be credible. No sexual abuse was found to have occurred -- just sadomasochism.

Smyth was banned from the camps and Winchester College, and encouraged to leave the country -- eventually settling in Zimbabwe -- where he is said to have continued his criminal behavior at camps he set up. The New York Times piece reports that while the investigation concluded Smyth had engaged in criminal behavior, the police were not informed until 2013.

The article uses a different verb to describe Smyth’s departure from the UK, saying he was “sent” to Zimbabwe by the Iwerne Trust, when the other press accounts say he was “told to leave” the country by trust officials.

The story had a number of returns to the public eye in the British press because the current Archbishop of Canterbury Justin Welby served as a counselor at one of Smyth's camps when he was a teenager. Welby said he had no knowledge of the abuse, and to the delight of the press the Bishop of Buckingham told Channel 4 that he did not believe the archbishop was telling the truth on that point.

It subsequently emerged the Bishop of Guilford attended one of Smyth’s weekends and was abused by Smyth, which prompted another wave of news articles and opinion pieces.

The New York Times piece, arriving rather late in the game, developed its own angle to the affair by interviewing Mark Stibbe, one of the victims, and others affected by the abuse.

If the New York Times had stopped at this point, it would have saved the story. However, the editorial decision was made to explain the backstory of the abuse, and at this point the stock characters come forward.

The New York Times offered the Rev. Giles Fraser a soapbox to explain what all this meant.

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