Police Launch Investigation into Charles Spencer's Boarding School for 'Allegations of Non-Recent Sexual Abuse'

The update comes after the police conducted preliminary inquiries into allegations of abuse at Maidwell in the 1970s

<p>David M. Benett/Dave Benett/Getty</p> Charles Spencer at an event in London on Feb. 5, 2020.

David M. Benett/Dave Benett/Getty

Charles Spencer at an event in London on Feb. 5, 2020.

Authorities have launched a criminal investigation into Maidwell Hall, the elite British boarding school where Charles Spencer recently claimed that he was abused as a pupil.

On June 10, the Northamptonshire Police announced that an investigation was launched into allegations of non-recent sexual abuse at the school. The update came after the police "conducted preliminary inquiries into allegations of abuse that are said to have taken place in the 1970s at Maidwell Hall School earlier in the year."

"We are in the early stages of investigating a number of non-recent allegations of sexual abuse at Maidwell Hall School," a spokesperson for the force said in a statement. "Northamptonshire Police takes all allegations of abuse very seriously and where reports are made to us, we will pursue all available lines of inquiry to help bring perpetrators to justice."

Anyone who has suffered abuse within the county, at any time, is encouraged to contact the authorities.

Maidwell Hall declined to comment when reached by PEOPLE, citing the ongoing police investigation.

<p>Getty Images</p> An aerial view of Maidewell Hall in Northampton, England, in March 2018.

Getty Images

An aerial view of Maidewell Hall in Northampton, England, in March 2018.

Related: Charles Spencer Hires Divorce Lawyer Used by King Charles in Split with Sister Princess Diana: Report

Princess Diana's younger brother enrolled at Maidwell Hall at age 8 and detailed his harrowing five years there in his memoir, A Very Private School, published in March. The 9th Earl Spencer claimed that he was a victim of physical, verbal and sexual abuse at the all-boys school in the English countryside not far from Althorp House, the Spencer family's ancestral home where he and Diana grew up.

It was a difficult book to write, plunging Charles into a painful past.

"I had always felt that I had dealt with this chapter of my life and had put it to bed," Earl Spencer, 60, told PEOPLE in an exclusive interview. "But talking to classmates and hearing their experiences was very triggering for me. I'd be very struck by the horror of what they had shared. And that was the hardest bit."

"A Very Private School: A Memoir" by Charles Spencer.
"A Very Private School: A Memoir" by Charles Spencer.

Related: Charles Spencer on Whether He Told Sister Princess Diana About His Boarding School Abuse (Exclusive)

After A Very Private School was published, Maidwell Hall released a statement saying they "immediately made a referral to the LADO (Local Authority Designated Officer) to ensure that any disclosures are handled sensitively, expediently and professionally" after learning of the allegations and encouraged anyone with similar experiences to contact the school or the police.

Their statement said in part: "It has been very sobering to read about the experiences the young Charles Spencer, and some of his contemporaries, had at the School, and we are sorry that this was their experience. It is difficult to read about practices which were, sadly, sometimes believed to be normal and acceptable at that time."

Adding that "almost every facet of school life has evolved significantly since the 1970s," the school said, "At the heart of these changes is the strict safeguarding of children — protecting them from abuse and maltreatment — and the promotion of their welfare."

<p>Chris Jackson/Getty</p>

Chris Jackson/Getty

The Northamptonshire Police probe into Maidwell Hall comes amid the news that the 9th Earl Spencer and his wife, Karen Spencer, are getting divorced after almost 13 years of marriage. Charles announced the split to The Mail on Sunday on June 8.

"It is immensely sad," he told the outlet. "I just want to devote myself to all my children and to my grandchildren, and I wish Karen every happiness in the future."

According to the outlet, Charles' relationship with the Countess of Spencer, 52, came to an end amid the writing of his memoir. The former couple announced their split to the staff at Althorp in April.

Charles and Karen married at Althorp on June 18, 2011, and share a 12-year-old daughter Charlotte Diana, whose middle name honors her late aunt. Both were previously married and are parents to older children from their previous unions.

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On June 9, The Times reported that Charles hired the same lawyer King Charles tapped for his divorce from Princess Diana in 1996. Earl Spencer reportedly retained power barrister Fiona Shackleton, who has also represented Prince Andrew, Paul McCartney and Princess Haya bint al-Hussein of Jordan in their splits from former spouses.

If you or someone you know has been a victim of sexual abuse, text "STRENGTH" to the Crisis Text Line at 741-741 to be connected to a certified crisis counselor.

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