Ealing Abbey: Paedophiles acted
'like the mafia'
A group of paedophiles behaved "like the mafia", abusing dozens of young boys at a west London Catholic school over a 50 year period, a report says.
St Benedict's School, Ealing, was described as a "grim and beastly place" by the Independent Inquiry Into Child Sexual Abuse (IICSA).
A culture of cover-up and denial of sexual abuse operated at Ealing Abbey, which ran the school, the report found.
To date five men have been convicted for abusing children at the school.
In December last year Laurence Soper, 74, was jailed for 18 years for abusing boys in the 1970s and 1980s
In 2009, Father David Pearce, 75, nicknamed the "devil in a dog collar", was jailed after he admitted 11 charges of indecent assault dating back to 1972
Between 2003 and 2009, "master of discipline" John Maestri, 78, of Chatham in Kent, admitted five indecent assaults against children at St Benedict's in the 1980s and was jailed
In 2011, Stephen Skelton was convicted of indecent assaults against two complainants said to have occurred in 1983
Peter Allott, a deputy head at the school, downloading and distributing indecent images of children
Father Anthony Gee faced accusations of abuse and a civil action was brought against him
Staff who reported concerns about teacher behaviour compared it to going up against "the mafia" and "ramming your head against a brick wall".
Peter Halsall, a teacher at St Benedict's for 40 years, made complaints about both Pearce and Maestri "but they didn't go anywhere and it definitely harmed my career".
The IICSA received 18 further allegations against 8 monks and staff, but the true scale of the abuse is "likely to be much higher", the report found.
Children suffered severe corporal punishment which was often used as a means to initiate sexual abuse or for sexual gratification.
"It remains to be seen whether Ealing Abbey proves itself capable in the future of ensuring proper safeguarding of children at risk," the report said.
The IICSA report highlighted failings by school leadership, police, the Crown Prosecution Service (CPS) and child protection teams.
The report, the inquiry's tenth, has been published as part of its investigation of abuse within the Roman Catholic church.
A request was sent to the Holy See for a witness statement covering questions on what steps were taken after Soper disappeared from the country in 2011.
The Vatican declined to provide a statement, a move John O'Brien, secretary to the inquiry, described as "regrettable".
Diocese of Chichester: Abuse victims welcome 'powerful report'
Victims of sexual abuse by clergy in the Diocese of Chichester have welcomed a "powerful report" that exposes the "devious" methods used by offenders.
Authors of the independent report, commissioned by the diocese, said abusers had been "safe in the knowledge that no one would believe the victims".
More than a dozen victims and survivors, who were abused by clergy in Sussex over decades, gave evidence.
The diocese said safeguarding had improved.
The Independent Inquiry into Child Sexual Abuse has described the "appalling sexual abuse against children" in the diocese, with 18 members of the clergy convicted of offences during a 50-year period.
Bishop Peter Ball was jailed in 2015 for 32 months for offences against 18 teenagers and men between the 1970s and the 1990s.
The latest report found victims felt priests were seen by parishioners as "above reproach".
Victims also spoke of a "culture of unheeded or ignored warnings", the report said.
Phil Johnson of MACSAS, a survivor of abuse in the diocese, said the "very powerful report" allowed the voices of victims to "shine through" in a way that previous investigations had failed to achieve.
The report's recommendations would "go a long way" to preventing abuse and ensuring reports of offending are quickly shared with police, he added.
The report said the diocese should review its screening methods and urgently restrict unsupervised access to children.
It also proposed research be conducted into what motivates offenders to show the diocese "wishes to do something radical about the pernicious problem of sexual abuse".
The report was written by Prof David Shemmings and his wife Yvonne, who are both child protection experts at the University of Kent.
'Insistence of god'
They said they had aimed to expose the "patterns within the organisation itself" and the "devious methods of grooming".
Prof Shemmings said abusers had "recruited a deity, a god, into the abuse," which had a "particularly pernicious and very powerful effect".
"They were told that it wasn't the priest abusing them, it was at the insistence of God because they had sinned," he said.
He praised the diocese for commissioning the research, and said it now had "well-devised" child protection policies.
The diocese said the report provided "insight into some aspects" of its past, and was not to be seen as a "survey of the current state of the diocese".
It vowed to work "relentlessly" to end abuse.
Read The Shemmings Report
Archbishop of Canterbury calls for mandatory reporting of sexual abuse
The archbishop of Canterbury has thrown his weight behind calls for the government to make the reporting of sexual abuse of children and vulnerable adults mandatory.
Justin Welby told the independent inquiry into child sexual abuse (IICSA): “I am convinced that we need to move to mandatory reporting for regulated activities.”
Regulated activities cover areas where professionals come into routine contact with children and vulnerable adults, such as teaching, healthcare and sporting activities. In a church context, this would cover clergy and youth leaders.
Survivors of clerical sexual abuse have argued that mandatory reporting of allegations or suspicions of abuse to statutory authorities is a vital component of effective child protection. They argue that a failure to comply should lead to criminal sanctions.
Welby told the inquiry that John Sentamu, the archbishop of York, shared his view. “We now both believe in mandatory reporting.”
Giving evidence at the inquiry’s third session of hearings into the Church of England’s handling of cases of sexual abuse, Welby said he felt “shame and horror that we have done this to people”. He added: “I hope God will forgive us.”
Questioned about his response to an allegation of sexual misconduct when he was dean of Liverpool cathedral in 2011, he admitted to making a “serious mistake”.
Fiona Scolding, counsel to the inquiry, read an email from a vulnerable adult complainant, accusing Welby of “casual indifference” regarding written allegations that a member of the cathedral staff – given the cipher F-18 by the inquiry – had made sexual advances towards him.
The archbishop told the inquiry the complainant had acted in a threatening manner and had used abusive language. “People were very frightened by him,” he said.
Welby told the complainant in an email that his and F-18’s accounts were “totally different” and that in the absence of any independent witness he had been unable to come to a conclusion about which account to believe.
But, he added: “With the benefit of hindsight and with the things I’ve learned over the last six years, if I was dean now, I would not have permitted F-18 to be on my staff.”
He went on: “There were a number of things I got wrong on this … F-18 should not have been involved in the life of the cathedral, I think F-18 should have been suspended at that point.”
At the time, he said: “I would have seen safeguarding as being around minors and would have been less conscious of [the risk to] vulnerable adults, which was a serious mistake – and not one I would commit now.”
But he denied the complainant’s charge of casual indifference. “I would never have been casual about something like that,” he said.
He agreed the C of E was too “tribal”, and said there had been “grievous failures” in terms of diversity. The C of E’s leadership needed better ethnic minority representation, more people with disabilities and greater social range, he said. “Diversity is a huge blessing … people just see things in different ways and will ask the awkward questions.”
There was still too much deference shown to bishops, he added. Asked what he could do about that, he said: “I have not got a great answer.” Later, he said he found it strange to be shown deference, but added he was “quite baffled as to how we reverse [it]”.
Scolding read a letter dated 5 July 2017 by Welby to Matthew Ineson, a survivor of sexual abuse who insists he has never received an apology from the church over its handling of his disclosures. Welby wrote: “I am deeply sorry for the abuse you suffered and, from your description, how this has been dealt with by the church.”
Ineson later said he had never received Welby’s letter.
In his concluding remarks, the archbishop told the inquiry: “Mr Ineson feels I didn’t apologise, he may well be right. I thought I had, but clearly I didn’t communicate it well … We’ve got to learn to put actions behind the words because ‘sorry’ is pretty cheap.”
General Synod: Bishop Hancock issues challenge on safeguarding
“VAGUE and evasive talk of culture change” over safeguarding was “not enough”, the Bishop of Bath & Wells, the Rt Revd Peter Hancock, told the General Synod on Sunday.
In a presentation, the Bishop said that the Church’s approach to survivors had been “inadequate”, and that all had a part to play in improving safeguarding practice.
“Vague and evasive talk of culture change is not enough,” he said. “It is driven by structures, appointments, and decisions. . .
“My challenge to Synod is that, if you are concerned about safeguarding in the Church, now is the time up to stand up, be counted, and get involved.”
A survivor who formed part of the presentation group, Phil Johnson, was one of the first to come forward, in 1996, with allegations of sexual abuse by a former Bishop of Gloucester and Lewes, Peter Ball and other clergy in the Diocese of Chichester. Mr Johnson is a member of the National Safeguarding Panel.
Mr Johnson told the Synod that safeguarding should be simple. “It is about vigilance, protection, and compassion,” he said. “It is not about endless bureaucracy.”
He said that the Church should not think that its safeguarding was necessarily better simply because it was spending more money on it.
Mr Johnson went on to say that the work to create a survivors’ reference group was very difficult, largely because so many victims had an “immense lack of trust” in the Church and the National Safeguarding Team (NST).
He was glad that the Safe Spaces project was close to completion, although he noted that he had first proposed it nearly six years ago, and, although money had been allocated for it, not a single penny had yet been spent on survivors. “This typifies how the Church does things,” he said. “We all need to come together to make things simpler, more efficient, quicker, and more cost-effective.”
The session began with a period of silence, and the Bishop said a prayer that had been written by MACSAS member Gilo, a survivor of abuse:
“Teach us to thirst for justice and righteousness in our Church . . . We lament the safeguarding failures of our Church. . . Helps us to repair broken lives so that those our Church has harmed may no longer survive but thrive.”
Safeguarding questions had been split from the rest of the questions. Bishop Hancock thanked the Business Committee for this approach. A presentation on safeguarding was given by the bishop, Mr Johnson, and Meg Munn, the chair of the National Safeguarding Panel.
In response to a question from Carolyn Graham (Guildford) about safeguarding cases’ being “passed around from diocese to diocese”, Bishop Hancock said that work was under way on an information-sharing system. A national case-management system would mean wider access to information lodged centrally. This would bring rigour. Asked by Canon Gavin Kirk (Lincoln) about survivors whose experience had led them to distrust the diocese where they lived, Bishop Hancock said that the voices of survivors must be heard in the process of redrafting safeguarding guidance.
He told Canon Rosie Harper (Oxford), who asked about the “moral imperative to restore and heal”, going further than “bare minimum legal redress”, that one part of the answer was to have a “standards-based approach to safeguarding”, and another was a charter “to provide survivors with confidence there is going to be consistency across dioceses”.
Some responses to safeguarding issues had been “woefully inadequate”, he said. He also reported that there had been attempts to establish mediation between survivors and the NST and some work had recently been commissioned on “restorative justice”.
In his presentation, Bishop Hancock said that the Independent Inquiry into Child Sexual Abuse (IICSA) hearings had not been an easy experience for the Church. Some “justifiably difficult questions are being asked of us”, he said. But the inquiry had shone a “helpful light” on the C of E’s safeguarding procedures and failings.
He strongly urged every member of the Synod to read the two interim reports already released by IICSA: one on the case study of Chichester diocese and Peter Ball, and one on child sexual abuse in the context of religious institutions. The key findings in both reports, which were “harrowing and difficult to read”, were that clericalism and deference were causing “significant harm”
A new case-management system for both national and diocesan safeguarding teams, which had been “sorely lacking”, was finally almost ready and would be rolled out next year, he reported.
He also said there would be three new lessons-learned reviews of the cases of John Smyth, the Revd Trevor Devamanikkam, and a former Bishop of Chester, Victor Whitsey (News, 10 February 2017, 16 June 2017, 24 May).
A working group had been convened to examine whether the Clergy Discipline Measure (CDM) was fit for purpose in relation to safeguarding, he said. The group would have its first meeting in October (News, 31 May). Jo Kind of MACSAS is a member of this group.
Ms Munn paid tribute to the three survivor representatives on the panel, who, despite being so damaged by their experiences of abuse, were still able and willing to help the Church become a safer place.
“The Church is late to this work: it needs to catch up; it has a lot to do,” she said.
Mr Johnson praised the leadership of Ms Munn and said that he was hopeful that this increased level of scrutiny would bear fruit. In particular, he was convinced that the CDM procedure was inadequate and needed reform.
The proposed redress scheme was very important for survivors and would need to be well funded, Mr Johnson said. It must include all cases of abuse, including those that had already come to financial settlements.
He also supported the introduction of mandatory reporting of abuse allegations, along the lines developed by the pressure group Mandate Now. Two-thirds of current safeguarding cases were still dealt with exclusively in-house, he noted. Without actual sanctions for people who failed to pass on disclosures, the culture would never change.
In the questions following the presentations, the Archbishop of York, Dr Sentamu, on a point of order, asked the view of the Synod on mandatory reporting, to which a majority raised their hands in favour. It was one of the recommendations of the IICSA report on Chichester diocese.
The Bishop of London, the Rt Revd Sarah Mullally, asked whether the Church still had a problem with clericalism, and whether it hindered good safeguarding practice.
Mr Johnson said that there had been a lot of deference, but that this was not a problem only for the Church. He gave the example of football clubs, where coaches had a great deal of authority.
The natural tendency to keep things in-house was a problem, Mr Johnson said. “Watching IICSA this last week, there’s clearly evidence that this remains,” he said. It was everyone’s responsibility to address this, and to make these subjects non-taboo. “Things should be recorded in a routine manner,” he argued.
He received a standing ovation for his words during the Synod debate.
There was criticism that the Synod had not had a full debate on safeguarding. Last week, Martin Sewell, a representative from Rochester diocese, called it “lazy and incurious” (News, 5 July).
Matthew Ineson, of MACSAS, a survivor, who was handing out leaflets outside York Minster on Sunday morning, said: “The Archbishops blocked the debate [on safeguarding]: they are manipulating the Synod.
“There is a cover-up going on from the very highest parts of the Church; Archbishop Welby has persistently taken no further action. The way victims are treated is just diabolical.”
At the end of the service, before the blessing was given, Dr Sentamu led the congregation in prayer for those involved with IICSA, and for survivors.
Following the presentation, Mr. Johnson had a private meeting with Archbishop Welby where they discussed the issue of Mandatory Reporting in more depth.
Church of England finds 50% rise in abuse claims and concerns
The number of situations where the Church of England dealt with “concerns and allegations” about abuse rose by 50% between 2015 and 2017, figures show.
Incidents relating to the abuse of children and vulnerable adults, including some allegations of serious criminal offences, increased to 3,287 in 2017, compared with 2,195 in 2015. They related to both current and past events, and about one-third of them required reporting to statutory agencies.
The figures were published less than two weeks before the C of E faces scrutiny in a further round of hearings at the independent inquiry into child sexual abuse (IICSA). Last month, the C of E was heavily criticised for putting its reputation above the needs of abuse victims in a report published by the inquiry into the case of a former bishop, Peter Ball.
According to the latest data, 12% of concerns and allegations related to clergy. Others against whom concerns and allegations were made included church wardens, employees, volunteers, congregation members and people with church connections.
The church pointed out that just over 300 clergy out of 20,000 active clergy were embroiled in abuse issues reported in 2017. Disciplinary measures under clergy and lay procedures were taken in 72 cases.
The biggest category was sexual abuse, but physical, emotional, psychological, domestic and financial abuse claims were also reported. Some contained allegations of serious criminal offences, while in other cases clergy or church members were seeking advice on whether a concern was warranted.
The increase over three years was largely due to a 78% rise in concerns about or allegations of abuse of vulnerable adults. Those relating to children or young people had a 45% increase between 2015 and 2016, then fell slightly in 2017.
In a briefing note, the C of E said the rise reflected “the increasing professionalism and resources within dioceses, stronger working relationships with statutory partners, in particular those responsible for public protection, and a greater understanding of the importance of risk management”.
The data is the first analysis of trends the church has carried out over a three-year period.
Last year, Justin Welby, the archbishop of Canterbury, told the independent inquiry he was ashamed of the church and abusers should go to prison.
The IICSA is expected to publish a report on Thursday into abuse in the Catholic archdiocese of Birmingham.
Church of England put reputation above abuse victims' needs,
The Church of England put its own reputation above the needs of victims of sexual abuse, with a serious failure of leadership by the former archbishop of Canterbury George Carey, in its handling of the case of a bishop who eventually went to prison, an official inquiry has concluded.
It also found that Prince Charles and other members of the establishment were misguided in their expressions of support of Peter Ball as he battled the accusations.
Ball, a former bishop of Lewes and Gloucester, was jailed in 2015, more than 20 years after allegations were made against him that were largely ignored or downplayed by the church. Ball accepted a police caution in 1993 and resigned as bishop but was allowed to continue officiating in the C of E.
Ball “seemed to relish contact with prominent and influential people”, a 250-page report published on Thursday by the independent inquiry into child sexual abuse (IICSA) said. He “sought to use his relationship with His Royal Highness the Prince of Wales to further his campaign to return to unrestricted ministry”.
The prince and his private secretary spoke about Ball with the archbishop of Canterbury and arranged for the Duchy of Cornwall to buy a property to be rented by Ball after he resigned as a bishop.
The prince had been “misguided”, and his actions “could have been interpreted as expressions of support for Peter Ball and, given the Prince of Wales’s future role within the Church of England, had the potential to influence the actions of the church”, the report said.
It said Carey showed compassion to Ball that was not extended to the bishop’s victims, and displayed overt support for Ball’s innocence despite having no justification. Carey was archbishop of Canterbury from 1991 to 2002.
The church’s response to allegations of abuse by Ball and others in the diocese of Chichester was marked by secrecy, prevarication and avoidance of reporting alleged crimes, the report said.
Disclosures of abuse were handled inadequately by the church, and responses failed to display an appropriate level of urgency or appreciation of the seriousness of allegations made.
The report said “clericalism and tribalism” in the diocese of Chichester contributed to an abuse of power. During the inquiry’s public hearings last year, senior clergy squabbled about responsibility for failing to deal with past sexual abuse.
“The damaging consequence of this overriding allegiance to one’s own ‘tribe’ was that child protection was compromised,” the report said.
Perpetrators, about whom there were allegations or even convictions, were provided with unrestricted access to children and young people, the report found.
Apologies given by Justin Welby, the present archbishop of Canterbury, and other senior church figures over the C of E’s failures were “unconvincing”, it said.
Ball’s “charm, charisma and reputation” enabled him to avoid a criminal conviction until 2015, the report said. He was sentenced to 32 months in prison for sexual offences against 18 young men, and was released on licence after serving four months.
Alexis Jay, the inquiry’s chair, said: “For years, the diocese of Chichester failed victims of child sexual abuse by prioritising its own reputation above their welfare. Not only were disclosures of abuse handled inadequately by the church when they came to light, its response was marked by secrecy and a disregard for the seriousness of the abuse allegations.
“Peter Ball is one example of how a senior member of the clergy was able to sexually abuse vulnerable teenagers and young men for decades. The public support he received is reflective of the church’s culture at the time; a support that was rarely extended to his victims.”
The report recommended amending the 2003 Sexual Offences Act to include clergy among those defined as being in a position of trust. Such a move would criminalise sexual activity between clergy and a person aged between 16 and 18 over whom they exercise pastoral authority.
The inquiry held a hearing into the church’s handling of Ball’s case last July, taking evidence in person from two former archbishops of Canterbury – Carey and Rowan Williams – and Welby, the current incumbent. It also received a six-page written submission from the prince.
Carey told the inquiry that with 25 years of hindsight, he should not have been so generous in his views of Ball. He was “under great pressure” from Ball’s supporters to believe his protestations of innocence, he said.
William Chapman, representing survivors, told the inquiry: “The story of Peter Ball is the story of the establishment at work in modern times.”
Ball had been able to call upon the “willing assistance of members of the establishment. It included the heir to the throne, the archbishop and a senior member of the judiciary, to name only the most prominent,” Chapman said.
In his statement, the prince said he had been deceived about the true nature of Ball’s activities, but denied he had sought to influence the outcome of police investigations.
He wrote to Ball in February 1995, saying: “I wish I could do more. I feel so desperately strongly about the monstrous wrongs that have been done to you and the way you have been treated.”
Neil Todd, who made the first complaint against Ball to the police in 1992, killed himself in 2012 after several previous attempts.
A separate independent review of the Ball case, commissioned by the C of E and published last year, found evidence of collusion and a cover-up at the highest levels over a 20-year period.
Responding to the IICSA report, Peter Hancock, the bishop of Bath and Wells and the church’s lead bishop on safeguarding, said: “The report states that the Church of England should have been a place which protected all children and supported victims and survivors and the inquiry’s summary recognises that it failed to do this. It is absolutely right that the church at all levels should learn lessons from the issues raised in this report.”
He added that the church was committed to introducing changes to better protect children and vulnerable adults from abuse, and said it would consider the report’s conclusions and recommendations.
Richard Scorer, a specialist abuse lawyer at Slater and Gordon, who acts for a number of victims, said: “We may never know the true harm caused by Prince Charles’s intervention and support for Ball, but welcome the fact that the inquiry did not shy away from highlighting his role in this scandal.
“This report is a damning indictment of years of church cover-up, facilitation of child abuse and denigration and dismissal of victims. It rightly criticises senior church figures for serious failings, but it also exposes alarming cultural and structural problems in the Church of England.
“Yet again this shows the urgent need for an independent oversight of safeguarding and a mandatory reporting law to protect innocent and vulnerable people.”
Longest serving Church of England bishop faces calls to resign after court hears he knew about paedophile priest
The longest-serving bishop in the Church of England is facing calls to resign after it emerged he knew about a paedophile priest in his diocese and did nothing.
The Bishop of Chester, Rt Rev Peter Forster, found out Rev Gordon Dickenson had become embroiled in a child abuse scandal decades earlier when the retired vicar wrote a letter about the affair in 2009.
Dickenson was convicted earlier this month of eight counts of sexual assault after pleading guilty to abusing a boy during the 1970s inside a church hall and even his vicarage.
But ten years ago, Dickenson had written to the Diocese of Chester which was conducting a review of past abuse cases admitting he been accused of the abuse during the 1970s and had promised the then Bishop of Chester he would “never do it again”.
Despite this admission, Bishop Forster failed to pass on the letter to the police or order an internal church inquiry.
Instead, Dickenson was given permission to continue acting as a retired priest for another five years, which allowed him to continue holding services in churches with the diocese’s blessing.
Andrew Graystone, a leading advocate for survivors of clerical abuse and a personal friend of Bishop Forster, has now demanded the bishop stand down.
In a letter to the bishop, he wrote: “It seems clear that Dickenson’s confession of guilt to the Diocese has been either wilfully or neglectfully ignored for at least ten years during which you have been bishop.
“I call upon you to resign with immediate effect.”
Chester Crown Court had earlier heard how Dickenson’s crimes had left his victim filled with shame and ultimately drove him into alcoholism. His ordeal only came to light when police stumbled across the case in 2017 while investigating a previous Bishop of Chester, Victor Whitsey, who had also been accused of abuse.
In a statement, the Diocese of Chester said it would conduct a review into its handling of the case and offered an “unreserved apology to the survivor”.
“Information brought to light to the Diocese in 2009, if acted upon then, may have led to the police bringing a prosecution against Gordon Dickenson much sooner. The Diocese apologises for not acting on this information in 2009.”
Bishop Forster said: "I welcome the opportunity to contribute to a review into the handling of the case by the Diocese in 2009, and will do so to the appropriate authority in due course."
Church of England
gags abuse victim with NDA
A woman who claims she was abused by a vicar has told Channel 4 News she was forced to sign a non-disclosure agreement (NDA) – before she was allowed to read an official review accusing the Church of England of mismanaging her complaints.
Channel 4 News has seen a copy of the report, which makes a series of damning criticisms of the way a serving bishop handled her allegations.
In an exclusive interview, Jo Kind claimed the Reverend Tom Walker used to insist on stripping off his clothes and wandering round the vicarage in “various states of arousal” when she worked as his PA at St John’s Church, Harborne, in the late 1980s and early ’90s.
Jo Kind of MACSAS said: “He told me about the job and what my duties would be, then said he had problem with his libido and in order to rectify that he had medical advice that he should be without his clothes as much as possible. And that he would see that as God giving him a gift. I nodded my acceptance, because I didn’t know what I was nodding my acceptance to.”
She added: “I became really concerned when he told me not tell his wife. And as the weeks went on he would be walking around in various states of arousal and it was deeply, deeply uncomfortable. My response to that was to shut it down, and to shut down my emotions and just concentrate hugely on my work.”
It wasn’t until nearly 20 years later – after a conversation with a friend in 2008 – that she officially complained. However, when she made a formal complaint to the Church a decade ago, the Bishop of Birmingham failed to properly investigate.
The official review into the failings, drawn up earlier this year, found that the church “fell short on a number of basic standards of complaint handling.” It singles out the Bishop of Birmingham for criticism, saying that when he investigated Mrs Kind’s complaints in 2011, it was “problematic” because “he lacked adequate knowledge of safeguarding and the capacity to manage the process”.
A 2012 inquiry ordered by the then Archbishop Rowan Williams into multiple failures in safeguarding in the Diocese of Chichester concluded: “A confidentiality clause should never be included in any agreement reached with a survivor. It is essential that there is complete transparency about any abuse that has occurred.”
However, despite promises made by the Church of England to abuse survivors not to sweep their claims under the carpet, Mrs Kind had to sign legal undertakings not to make any of the findings public. Channel 4 News is publishing the details and naming the vicar for the first time.
The Reverend Tom Walker was “rebuked” in 2015 and died a year later. The Church has paid Mrs Kind £40,000 after she launched a civil claim against them – but they admitted no liability. In September though, the bishop of Birmingham wrote to her offering his “sincere apologies”.
In an interview with presenter Cathy Newman, Mrs Kind said she suspected the report was shrouded in secrecy to protect the Church and the Reverend Walker’s memory.
This is the first time Jo Kind has spoken out about exactly what happened to her and claims she was warned by a bishop not to talk to the media as it wouldn’t be “very godly”.
She says she has decided to speak out now because: “I have no fear of being ungodly in that way and because I have asked for 10-year for the church to speak up about this and they haven’t, and I thought that they would with this review. And I thought that was the right and proper way to do it. I went through all the church procedures and I think I’ve reached the end of the procedures and so am speaking to you now.”
Today the Church of England, Birmingham told Channel 4 News: “We are deeply sorry for the pain and distress these failings have caused. We have published the lessons learned from this Review on our website. The decision not to publish the full report … related to concerns regarding the safeguarding of the many contributors. Anyone wishing to see a redacted copy of the report can do so by request.”
The family of Reverend Tom Walker also told us: “We acknowledge and regret any pain and distress that Mrs Kind has suffered. Rev Walker was a much loved and respected parish priest, but he accepted that some aspects of his behaviour whilst he had been in poor mental and physical health, had been inappropriate. However, the allegations of sexually motivated behavior were always denied and indeed unproven. The formal Clergy Discipline complaint was resolved in 2015 with the agreement of all parties when Rev Walker consented to a rebuke by the Bishop of Birmingham for his errors of judgement.”
Sex abuse inquiry examines England’s Birmingham archdiocese
An independent government inquiry is investigating how the Archdiocese of Birmingham handled allegations of child sexual abuse made against four priests.
Fr John Tolkien, who died in 2003, allegedly abused a boy during Saturday morning “reading lessons” at the priest’s home in 1970, and afterwards told the boy to keep the abuse a secret. Fr Tolkien is the son of author and philologist J.R.R. Tolkien.
In addition, investigators reported Nov. 12 that they had found evidence that Fr. Tolkien had privately admitted to forcing a group of boy scouts to strip naked while on a camp-out in the 1950s, and may even have been sent for treatment. Allegations were eventually brought to the police in 1994 but no charges were filed.
An anonymous complainant who spoke during a hearing accused Cardinal Vincent Nichols of Westminster, who was Archbishop of Birmingham from 2000 to 2009, of seeking to cover up abuse perpetrated in the 1970s.
“I think they [the church] just see them [victim] as a scourge, third class citizens who dare to come forward and challenge them,” the victim of Fr. Tolkien’s alleged sexual abuse told the BBC.
While Archbishop of Birmingham, Nichols reportedly paid out several settlements to Tolkien’s alleged victims.
Nichols apologized to victims of sexual abuse in an August letter. He also issued a joint apology with the current Birmingham archbishop, Bernard Longley, following the witness statements at this week’s hearing.
The Independent Inquiry into Child Sexual Abuse is investigating a number of prominent institutions in the UK including the Catholic Church, the Church of England, and several councils that handle foster care agencies and children’s homes.
The inquiry released a report in August detailing “appalling sexual abuse,” dating back decades, at two of the most prominent Catholic schools in the country, Ampleforth and Downside.