Groomed and abused 18 vulnerable boys and young men.
It's ironic really! Just when I go on holiday to Italy, the centre of the organised global Catholic paedophile ring that we discovered existed some ten to fifteen years ago, a similar, though smaller, scandal breaks in England and it's not even involving the Catholic Church!
This one involves a form Anglican bishop, Peter Ball, and a former Archbishop of Canterbury, Lord George Carey. Peter Ball had been Bishop of Lewes and then Bishop of Gloucester during which time he groomed, exploited and sexually abused eighteen young men and boys who went to him seeking spiritual guidance. He was jailed for thirty-two months in October 2015 for these offences but was released last February after just sixteen months.
Now a report into the church's handling of the affair, ordered by the current Archbishop of Canterbury, Justin Welby, and chaired by the former chief executive of Camden Council, Dame Moira Gibb, makes harrowing reading, according to Welby. Carey as Archbishop of Canterbury, a cabinet minister and a high court judge all conspired to protect Ball and wrote letters to the police and the Crown Prosecution Service in his defence.
Carey's involvement in the case came shortly after Ball was arrested and cautioned by the police for gross indecency in 1992. He stood down as Bishop of Gloucester but was allowed to continue to work as a priest and to officiate at seventeen private schools, despite promising, as a condition of his police caution, that he would leave the country immediately. Leaving the country appears to have meant, retire to a cottage owned by his close friend, the Prince of Wales' Duchy of Cornwall estate. Carey, received eight letters from Ball's victims and their parents containing damning information that, if proved true, would have meant automatic imprisonment for Ball but, for no other reason than to protect Ball and the church, decided not to pass on seven of them to the police. The needs of Ball's victims for justice was not considered important. Ball was allowed to continue with his church duties until 2007.
The case was re-opened by the police following the suicide of Neil Todd, one of Ball's victims whom Ball had maligned when he began making the allegations against him. As reported by the Guardian at the time of Ball's imprisonment:
Bobbie Cheema QC, prosecuting, said: “The police report that accompanied the papers sent to the CPS in 1993 after the police had done their work stated they had received telephone calls supportive of Peter Ball ‘from many dozens of people – including MPs, former public school headmasters, JPs and even a lord chief justice’”.
She said there were many more letters of support, including from cabinet ministers and a member of the royal family.
The decision not to prosecute Ball was finalised by the then DPP, Barbara Mills, Cheema said.
At the time of the allegations, Ball told other young men in his charge that Todd’s story was “total fantasy” and tried to deter them from coming forward.
Todd’s sister, Mary Mills Knowles, said in a victim impact statement: “Neil had already made three attempts on his life in 1993 before he summoned the courage to speak out … The church wanted to sweep this under the carpet. They had no concern for Neil’s wellbeing. He was very distressed, vulnerable and distraught. He felt nobody believed him.”
He killed himself in 2012 – unable, she said, to bear the weight of what had happened to him when a new police inquiry began.
Ball was arrested and charged after the 2012 investigation. After months in which Ball attempted to avoid justice by pleading unfit to stand trial and arguing his role as a bishop was not a public office he finally admitted his years of offending last month.
He pleaded guity [sic] to misconduct in public office relating to the exploitation of 16 young men and two counts of indecent assault on two young men.
The court heard he ran a scheme to encourage young people to give a year of their life to the church, through which he met his victims, many of whom lived in his home.
Cheema said: “He was highly regarded as a godly man who had a special affinity with young people. The truth was that he used those 15 years in the position of bishop to identify, groom and exploit sensitive and vulnerable young men who came within his orbit.
“For him, religion was a cloak behind which he hid in order to satisfy his sexual interest in those who trusted him.”
A spokesman for the Prince of Wales denied that the Prince had had any involvement in the judicial process or had intervened in any way.
|George Carey. |
Colluded in the cover-up and withheld evidence from the police.
Lord Carey, who since retiring as Archbishop of Canterbury has worked as an assistant bishop for the diocese of Oxford, has been asked to step down by Justin Welby. He is still entitled to sit in the House of Lords. He has accepted the report and apologised for his behaviour.
Since retiring as Archbishop of Canterbury Lord Carey has been most notable for his frequent complaints that Christians are not sufficiently privileged, seeing rulings by the European Court of Human Rights that Christians are not entitled to discriminate and deny human rights to people they disagree with on the grounds of their religious prejudices. He sees moved to secularise UK public life as as victimising Christians by taking away their entitlement to privileges. It seems his response to the letters from Ball's victims reflected his beliefs that Christians are entitled to be exempt from the law of the land, at least in so far as the laws designed to protect vulnerable people are concerned. No point in telling the police; just cover it up and let him carry on.
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