Wednesday, 7 October 2020

Clerical Child Abuse News - Anglicans As Bad as Catholics

Church of England failures 'allowed child sexual abusers to hide' - BBC News

A report published yesterday by the Independent Inquiry into Child Sexual Abuse, paints a sorry picture of an Anglican Church more interested in protecting its own reputation and that of its clergy, than in the welfare of its victims. In an carbon-copy of the Catholic Church's approach to reports of its priests sexually abusing minors and other vulnerable people, the Anglican Church sought to keep the problem under wraps rather than deal with the problem, while its victims were left to fend for themselves and seek justice against an uncaring and indifferent Church establishment.

From the Executive Summary to the report:

Executive Summary

This investigation concerns the extent to which the Church of England and the Church in Wales protected children from sexual abuse in the past. It also examines the effectiveness of current safeguarding arrangements. A public hearing on these specific areas was held in 2019. This report also draws on the previous two case studies on the Anglican Church, which related to the Diocese of Chichester and Peter Ball.

In addition to recommendations made in the case studies, we make eight recommendations in this report, covering areas such as clergy discipline, information-sharing and support for victims and survivors. We will return to other matters raised in this investigation, such as mandatory reporting, in the Inquiry’s final report.

The Church of England

The Church of England is the largest Christian denomination in the country, with over a million regular worshippers. Convictions of sexual abuse of children by people who were clergy or in positions of trust associated with the Church date back to the 1940s. The total number of convicted offenders associated with the Church from the 1940s until 2018 is 390. In 2018, 449 concerns were reported to the Church about recent child sexual abuse, of which more than half related to church officers. Latterly, a significant amount of offending involved the downloading or possession of indecent images of children. The Inquiry examined a number of cases relating to both convicted perpetrators and alleged perpetrators, many of which demonstrated the Church’s failure to take seriously disclosures by or about children or to refer allegations to the statutory authorities. These included:
  • Timothy Storey, who was a youth leader in the Diocese of London from 2002 to 2007. He used his role to groom teenage girls. Storey is currently serving 15 years in prison for several offences against children, including rape. He had admitted sexual activity with a teenager to diocesan staff years before his conviction, but denied coercion.
  • Victor Whitsey, who was Bishop of Chester between 1974 and 1982. Thirteen people complained to Cheshire Constabulary about sexual abuse by Whitsey and the Church of England is aware of six more complainants. The allegations included sexual assault of teenage boys and girls while providing them with pastoral support. He died in 1987.
  • Reverend Trevor Devamanikkam, who was a priest until 1996. In 1984 and 1985 he allegedly raped and indecently assaulted a teenage boy, Matthew Ineson, on several occasions when the boy was living in his house. From 2012 onwards, Reverend Matthew Ineson made a number of disclosures to the Church and has complained about the Church’s response. Devamanikkam was charged in 2017 and took his life the day before his court appearance.

Between 2003 and 2018, the main insurer of the Church of England (the Ecclesiastical Insurance Office) managed 217 claims relating to child sexual abuse in the Church.

The culture of the Church of England facilitated it becoming a place where abusers could hide. Deference to the authority of the Church and to individual priests, taboos surrounding discussion of sexuality and an environment where alleged perpetrators were treated more supportively than victims presented barriers to disclosure that many victims could not overcome. Another aspect of the Church’s culture was clericalism, which meant that the moral authority of clergy was widely perceived as beyond reproach. As we have said in other reports, faith organisations such as the Anglican Church are marked out by their explicit moral purpose, in teaching right from wrong. In the context of child sexual abuse, the Church’s neglect of the physical, emotional and spiritual well-being of children and young people in favour of protecting its reputation was in conflict with its mission of love and care for the innocent and the vulnerable.

Culture change is assisted by senior Church leaders now saying the right things, but lasting change will require more than platitudes. It will need continuous reinforcement of the abhorrent nature of child sexual abuse and the importance of safeguarding in all of the Church’s settings.

We examined how well current safeguarding practice within the Church was responding to the issue of child sexual abuse. Until recently, at least 2015, the Church of England did not properly resource safeguarding. Funding has increased considerably, in particular for safeguarding staff. A further recent change means that the advice of safeguarding staff should not be ignored by senior clergy if they do not like the advice they are given. Nevertheless, examples of this continuing to occur were found in the file sampling undertaken on behalf of the Inquiry. Diocesan bishops hold ultimate responsibility for safeguarding within a diocese, and diocesan safeguarding advisers (DSAs) still do not provide a “sufficient counterweight to episcopal authority” according to Mr Colin Perkins (DSA for the Diocese of Chichester).1

We concluded that diocesan safeguarding officers – not clergy – are best placed to decide which cases to refer to the statutory authorities, and what action should be taken by the Church to keep children safe. Diocesan bishops have an important role to play, but they should not hold operational responsibility for safeguarding.

In respect of cathedrals, the Church has proposed a number of changes which should integrate safeguarding in cathedrals into the mainstream of the Church’s safeguarding structures, though there remains much to do to ensure better protection of children in cathedrals and their linked choir schools.

The Church has failed to respond consistently to victims and survivors of child sexual abuse with sympathy and compassion, accompanied by practical and appropriate support. This has often added to the trauma already suffered by those who were abused by individuals associated with the Church. This failure was described as “profoundly and deeply shocking” by Archbishop Justin Welby.2

Excessive attention was often paid to the circumstances of the alleged perpetrator in comparison to the attention given to those who disclosed they had been sexually abused or to the issue of the risk that alleged perpetrators posed to others. For example, Robert Waddington (the Dean of Manchester Cathedral from 1984 to 1993) was the subject of a number of allegations of child sexual abuse over many years. Nevertheless, his permission to officiate was allowed to continue on the grounds of his age and frailty, without seemingly any consideration of the risks to children with whom he came into contact. He died in 2007.

Sometimes sexual offending was minimised. Reverend Ian Hughes was convicted in 2014 of downloading 8,000 indecent images of children. Bishop Peter Forster suggested to us that Hughes had been “misled into viewing child pornography” on the basis that “pornography is so ubiquitously available and viewed”.3 More than 800 of the images downloaded by Hughes were graded at the most serious level of abuse.

On some occasions public support was given to offending clergy. Perhaps the most stark example was that of the former bishop, Peter Ball. In that instance, Lord George Carey, the former Archbishop of Canterbury, simply could not believe the allegations against Ball or acknowledge the seriousness of them regardless of evidence, and was outspoken in his support of his bishop. He seemingly wanted the whole business to go away. Although there have been a number of important improvements in child protection practice within the Church, it has some way to go to rebuild the trust of victims. When the Church did try to uncover past failures, such as the Past Cases Review, which was completed in 2009, the exercise was flawed and incomplete. There were difficulties locating files and an inaccurate impression was given of the scale of the problem, which was likely to have been compounded by the inconsistencies of diocesan returns. The exercise must be repeated to obtain a more accurate picture.

The Clergy Discipline Measure (CDM) sets out the procedure for managing most disciplinary complaints made about the clergy. It is not confined to safeguarding issues. A member of the clergy may face disciplinary action on a broad range of allegations, but it is not designed to deal with risk management and the general capability of clergy. Since 2015, the clergy have a duty to pay due regard to safeguarding policies, and failure to do so is a disciplinary offence.

A number of penalties are available in the CDM, including the imposition of a penalty by consent without a hearing taking place. It is unclear whether this is a suitable disposal that is used sparingly and only in appropriate cases. Under the CDM, members of the clergy cannot be deposed from holy orders – that is to have their status as clergy revoked – in relation to safeguarding matters even if an individual has been convicted. Although such an option would make little practical difference if someone was otherwise removed from office, there is a symbolic difference from the perspective of a victim or survivor.

Archbishop Welby criticised the CDM, stating that it needed “significant revision”.4 It was suggested by others that a more focussed, victim-centred process was required. Bishop Peter Hancock (then Lead Bishop on Safeguarding) agreed, saying that “the church needs to get on with this … let’s look at what we are trying to achieve, find a process that does that.5

The Church in Wales

The Church in Wales is a Province of the Anglican Communion. Since 1920, it has been ‘disestablished’ and is not the ‘state’ religion of the country. It has six dioceses, with 1,295 churches organised into 594 parishes, and is served by some 600 clergy. In 2018, the electoral roll showed more than 42,000 worshippers in the Church in Wales.6

In recent years, a number of clergy have been deposed from holy orders following convictions for sexual assaults on children, or for offences concerning indecent images of children, although no precise data are available. Clergy convicted of child sexual offending include:
  • Canon Lawrence Davies, who was sentenced to 10 years’ imprisonment following his conviction for sexual assault against two boys from within his parish over many years. He was deposed from holy orders in 2003.7
  • Reverend Darryl Gibbs, who was convicted of two offences of making indecent photographs of children and conditionally discharged for 12 months in respect of each offence (to run concurrently). In 2004, he was prevented from exercising his ministry as a priest for eight years.8
  • Reverend Richard Hart, who was sentenced to three and a half years’ imprisonment following his conviction for making, taking and possessing indecent images of children between 1991 and 2008. Police found 56,000 indecent images on his computer.9 He was deposed from holy orders in 2009.10

Each parish should have a safeguarding officer. A Historic Cases Review, published in 2012, concluded that there was a need to improve compliance with existing safeguarding policies, and to adopt additional policies to better protect children. In 2016, a further review was undertaken focussing on files of deceased clergy and a new safeguarding policy was adopted.

Further improvements are still required, particularly in the area of record-keeping, which the Inquiry’s sampling found to be almost non-existent and of little use in trying to understand past safeguarding issues. Provincial safeguarding officers lack the capacity to fulfil the wide range of tasks assigned to them and need additional support. The obligation to comply with advice from the Provincial Safeguarding Panel must be reinforced, and monitored for noncompliance. Since the third public hearing, the Church in Wales has proposed to introduce a new disciplinary heading of “failure to comply with advice from the Provincial Safeguarding Panel without reasonable excuse”.11

The report then goes on to paint a number of 'Pen Portraits' of offending clerics, what they did to children and how the church handled complaints against them. It reads more like somewhere between a horror story and a pornographic novel:

Pen Portraits

Bishop Victor Whitsey

Victor Whitsey was ordained in the Diocese of Blackburn in 1949. Between 1955 and 1968 he was a priest in the Diocese of Manchester and the Diocese of Blackburn. He was appointed the suffragan Bishop of Hertford in the Diocese of St Albans in 1971 and then the Bishop of Chester in 1974, a position which he held until his retirement in early 1982. He continued to officiate in the Diocese of Blackburn until his death in 1987.12

In January 2016, an adult male disclosed to a vicar that he had been indecently assaulted by Whitsey as a child in the early 1980s. The diocesan safeguarding adviser (DSA) was immediately informed. In addition to offering pastoral support to the complainant, she alerted the Bishop of Chester, Peter Forster (who told us that he “had little more to do with the matter”) and referred the case to the National Safeguarding Team.13

The complainant also stated that he had disclosed his abuse to Bishop Forster in 2002. He was offered counselling but said that no further action was taken. Bishop Forster had a “vague memory of somebody … saying that Victor Whitsey had put his arm around him”.14 He said that this “didn’t register at the time” because Whitsey “did have a reputation for odd behaviour in general”.15 Bishop Forster did not make any written record or undertake any additional enquiries. This was contrary to the Church of England’s Policy on Child Protection (1999), which stated that the recipient of an allegation of abuse “must keep detailed records of their responses”, including “the content of all conversations … all decisions taken and the reasons for them”.16

In July 2016, the DSA received disclosures from two further males who alleged that Whitsey had sexually abused them as children, between 1974 and 1981.17 She informed Cheshire Constabulary, which subsequently commenced an investigation – Operation Coverage. It focussed on incidents between 1974 and 1982, during Whitsey’s time as the Bishop of Chester. It identified a further 10 potential victims, including teenagers and young adults of both sexes. Police enquiries showed that it was “clear that those who reported abuse had previously disclosed details of their allegations to the Church”.18 In October 2017, Cheshire Constabulary concluded that, had he been alive, there was sufficient evidence to interview Whitsey in relation to 10 allegations.19

By the time of our third hearing in July 2019, a total of 19 individuals had disclosed that they were sexually abused by Whitsey.

One of those 19 complainants was AN-A88. She was invited to meet Whitsey with her brother in 1979, when she was 13 years old. Her family hoped Whitsey would “solve all problems” after their father (who was a vicar) had left the family home.20 She was left alone in a room with Whitsey for approximately half an hour. He enveloped AN-A88 in a “whole body hug” and told her that “men have urges”.21 He told her to sit on his knee and AN-A88 could feel that he had an erection. She recalled that he quoted from the Bible – “Suffer the little children to come unto me” – before stroking her through her clothes and “rubbing up against me”.22 AN-A88 was then ordered to leave the room and her brother was sent in. She described feeling “shame and guilt” after this incident.23 AN-A88 did not tell anybody about the abuse at the time as she “wouldn’t have known who to tell … we were, as a family … ostracised by the Church at that point because the family was splitting up”.24

In April 2015, AN-A88 and her brother attended the interment of their mother’s ashes at an Anglican church in Cheshire. They noticed that the Book of Remembrance had been signed by Whitsey. Her brother said “That bastard abused me”; AN-A88 “looked at him … and I just went ‘Me too’”.25

Reverend Canon Elaine Chegwin Hall, who conducted the interment, overheard the exchange between AN-A88 and her brother. Her recollection of this conversation was that the siblings had both received “an extra long hug” from Whitsey. In June 2017, “a mention was made of Bishop Whitsey” during a meeting of the Diocesan Safeguarding Advisory Panel at which Reverend Hall was present. This led her to inform the DSA of the “extra long hug” that she had overheard 26 months earlier.26 The DSA passed the information to police and ANA88 provided a statement to Operation Coverage.27


AN-F15 was a priest and a prominent member of the Church of England. He knew the family of AN-A4 well and was attentive and kind towards AN-A4 during his teenage years. AN-F15 asked AN-A4 to visit him at his house. When he did so, AN-A4 was given alcohol by AN-F15, despite this not being permitted by his family.28 In the 1970s, when AN-A4 was 16 years old, he went to visit AN-F15 at his home. AN-F15 asked him about his sexuality, which ANA4 described as a “grilling”. He also asked AN-A4 whether he became sexually aroused by fighting and then began to act in a verbally aggressive manner. He ordered AN-A4 to remove his clothes and tried to “fight” with him when both were naked, pinning AN-A4 down on the bed. AN-F15 tried to rape AN-A4.29

When he was 18 years old, AN-A4 disclosed the abuse to a priest, AN-F14, during confession. AN-F14 asked for details of the assault, and after the confession started to kiss AN-A4 passionately. AN-F14 engaged AN-A4 in a romantic and physical relationship for around a year, before AN-F14 became a bishop.30

From the 1980s onwards, AN-A4 disclosed his abuse by AN-F15 to a number of senior Church of England priests and bishops. AN-A4 said that none of them offered any advice as to what he should do. Some treated his disclosure as part of the sacrament of confession and so viewed it as confidential. One bishop, to whom he disclosed in 1987, promised to make discreet inquiries but nothing happened.31

In 2003, AN-A4 said that he disclosed his abuse to Bishop Tim Thornton (now the Bishop at Lambeth, a senior adviser to the Archbishop of Canterbury), who told him to report it to the Church. No record exists of that meeting. Bishop Thornton does not remember it. AN-A4 also said that he asked for help from Bishop Paul Butler, who was the Lead Bishop on Safeguarding at the time.32

AN-A4 wrote 17 letters to Lambeth Palace with his concerns about the response of senior clergy. The only response he received was a letter from the correspondence secretary, which stated that the Archbishop would “be sure to hold him in his prayers when he hears that you have written again”.33 The Church of England recognises that using a correspondence secretary to reply to letters from victims and survivors of abuse can be insensitive and states that all correspondence relating to safeguarding which is sent to the Archbishop of Canterbury or the team around him at Lambeth Palace is now dealt with by the provincial safeguarding adviser, rather than the correspondence secretary.34

Timothy Storey

Between 2002 and 2007, Timothy Storey was employed as a youth and children’s worker in the Diocese of London. He also acted as a youth leader for a missionary organisation. In September 2007, with the sponsorship of the Diocese, he commenced ordinand training at a theological college in Oxford..35 A senior leader of the missionary organisation received four disclosures of sexual abuse against Storey between 2007 and 2009. They were made by girls and young women between 13 and 19 years old, known to Storey through his youth work and leadership roles in the Church.36

In February 2009, the senior leader of the missionary organisation informed the Diocese of London of the allegations of abuse. Reverend Jeremy Crossley, the Director of Ordinands in the Two Cities Area,37 met with Storey in March 2009 “to ask for his response”.38

This meeting was inconsistent with the Church’s own policy at the time (Protecting All God’s Children, 2004), which stated that a member of the Church should “never speak directly to the person against whom allegations have been made”.39 During the meeting, Storey admitted to Reverend Crossley that he had sexual intercourse with a 16-year-old girl, who he met through a residential Christian event that he attended in a position of leadership.40 According to Church policy, these disclosures should have been reported immediately to the police and social services.41

Following his meeting with Storey, Reverend Crossley told Reverend Hugh Valentine, the Bishop’s Adviser for Child Protection, that Storey “was basically a good man who could be an effective priest”.42 The matter was referred to the local authority designated officer (LADO) who said it was not a live matter for them.43 Reverend Valentine then concluded that he did not believe the circumstances to be “a child protection matter”. A subsequent review concluded that this was “hugely short-sighted … it takes no account of the risk that Storey may have posed to others, who may have been within his sphere of influence and under the age of 18”.44

Later in March 2009, Reverend Valentine discussed the matter with the police, but on an informal basis by telephone. No further action was taken by the police because the girl was aged 16 at the time. However, “if there had been any suggestion of coercion mentioned, then it is possible that the advice would have been very different”.45 The police were not informed about the full history of allegations against Storey or that emails received by the Diocese of London, including Reverend Valentine, showed that the complainants considered there to have been coercion. A subsequent review concluded that this conversation was a “missed opportunity” by the Diocese, as the police “did not have all the available information that they should have had to make a proper assessment”.46 The police considered that Storey had not abused a position of trust because he was a volunteer and therefore did not fit the “strict legal criteria” required to prove this offence.47

In 2014, after Storey’s conviction for unrelated grooming offences, further contact by a number of victims prompted a review of the diocesan case files. As a result, the London DSA contacted the police.48 In February 2016, Storey was convicted of three offences of rape and one offence of assault by penetration. These offences took place during 2008 and 2009, and related to two of the female victims (aged 16 and 17 years) who had been in contact with the Diocese. Storey was sentenced to 15 years’ imprisonment.49

During his sentencing remarks, the judge severely criticised the Diocese of London for its “utterly incompetent” handling of the case and the “wholesale failure by those responsible at that time for safeguarding, to understand whose interests they should have been safeguarding”.50

Storey received ongoing care and supervision from the Church, while some of Storey’s victims “did not feel they were believed and felt on their own with no support”.51

The Diocese commissioned two independent reviews of the Storey case, in relation to its handling of the victims’ original disclosures.52a,52b Both reports identified a number of inadequacies in the Diocese’s response between 2009 and 2014, including its failure to implement the policies and procedures that were in place at that time.

A further review in 2019 by the independent chair of the Diocese of London Diocesan Safeguarding Steering Group reiterated the diocesan failings. It also stated that the senior leadership within the Diocese of London should have taken responsibility for the failings in this case rather than allowing Reverends Crossley and Valentine to be the focus of public “censure”.53a,53b

Reverend Trevor Devamanikkam

Trevor Devamanikkam was ordained in 1977 as a priest in the Diocese of Ripon and Leeds. In March 1984, he moved to a parish in the Bradford diocese, where he remained until 1985. Devamanikkam retired in 1996 but between 2002 and 2009 had permission to officiate in the Diocese of Lincoln.54

Reverend Matthew Ineson is an ordained priest in the Church of England. During his teenage years, he had difficulties with his parents and went to live with his grandparents.55 His family were religious and attended church regularly. Matthew Ineson was a member of the church choir and an altar server. As his grandparents were struggling, a local priest organised a respite placement living with Reverend Devamanikkam.56

In 1984, aged 16, Matthew Ineson went to live with Devamanikkam and his housekeeper. On his second night, Devamanikkam came into Matthew Ineson’s bedroom, put his hand underneath the covers and played with his penis. When asked if he liked it, Matthew Ineson said no. This continued for two or three nights, and then progressed to Devamanikkam telling Matthew Ineson to share his bed with him. Devamanikkam made it plain that, if he did not do so, he would be thrown out of the vicarage and would have nowhere to go.57 While sharing a bed over a number of weeks, Devamanikkam raped Matthew Ineson at least 12 times and also sexually assaulted him.58

After approximately two months, Matthew Ineson’s grandmother came to the vicarage and spoke to Devamanikkam. Matthew Ineson was not part of that conversation and his grandmother left without talking to him. The next day, Matthew Ineson said that the Bishop of Bradford visited the vicarage and told him that he had to leave, saying that “It’s not my problem where you go but you have to leave here”. No reason was given.59

Bishop Roy Williamson (who was then Bishop of Bradford) told us that there was “disquiet about the arrangement” between Matthew Ineson and Devamanikkam but he did not remember visiting the vicarage. A licensed deacon at Devamanikkam’s church (who made a detailed report at the time about Devamanikkam’s mental health) said that it was the then Archdeacon of Bradford (David Shreeve) who had visited the vicarage. There was no written record of this visit.60

Reverend Ineson went to the police first in 2013 and then again in 2015. In 2017, the police investigated and charged Devamanikkam. Devamanikkam took his own life in June 2017, the day before his court appearance for three counts of buggery and three counts of indecent assault between March 1984 and April 1985, all relating to Reverend Ineson.61

Given the seriousness of these cases and the failure of the Church of England to recognise that it had a problem. the report draws conclusions and makes recommendations that are hardly suprising. The first two of which are:

Conclusions and recommendations

D.1: Conclusions in respect of the Church of England

  1. The Church of England failed to protect some children and young people from sexual predators within their midst. In the past, the system of child protection was under-resourced. Safeguarding personnel were at times ignored and their advice overlooked, in favour of protecting the reputation of clergy and the Church. During the Inquiry’s hearings, senior leaders in the Church apologised for its actions, recognising that failings identified by this investigation and other reviews were “profoundly and deeply shocking”.852
  2. Since the publication of the Archbishop’s Visitation to the Diocese of Chichester in 2013 much has improved, in terms of governance, training, audit, personnel, policies and procedures. However, there is still more to be done. Senior leaders have demonstrated a determination to make necessary changes to keep children safe but, to be effective, this determination needs to be translated into action throughout the Church of England. There is a lack of challenge in decision-making; there remain areas of insufficient oversight. Engagement with and support for victims and survivors requires improvement.
The report then goes on to make 57 detailed and specific recommendations that the Anglican Church needs to adopt to ensure the safety of children and vulnerable people who fall under the influence of its priests.

What a sorry state to get into when a church can have so little confidence in the morals and personal integrity of its priests that they need to adopt these extensive measures to ensure the safety of people over whom they might have power and influence, and of the hierarchy to deal promptly and compassionately, with due regard to their victims when its priests can't resist abusing the power their position of trust gives them.

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