Sex abuse cover-ups in the Chichester Diocese: BBC South East Today

Sex abuse cover-ups in the Chichester Diocese: BBC South East Today


a retired Sussex priest has been jailed
for six and a half years today for sexually abusing a string of young men
including a boy of 14 Vickery house from hand cross near Crawley carried out the
abuse in the 1970’s and 80’s three of his victims were also assaulted by the
disgraced former bishop of Lewes Peter ball plus afternoon Sussex Police
released a letter of apology that Bishop Peter ball sent to one of Vickery houses
alleged victims in 1984 showing he knew about his friends behavior decades
before they were both brought to justice John young reports from the Old Bailey
he arrived at court luggage in tow knowing he faced prison for offences in
the 70s and 80s against three young men and a 14 year old boy do you have a
message for your victims Reverend an apology in the apology in court houses
defense barrister said he was profoundly sorry ashamed distressed he may have
hurt other people I think the reputation the churches is
under severe question at the minute I think that Church ester that while they
are saying that they are reviewing and reflecting on their practice they still
have a lot of questions to ask themselves House now becomes the second
Sussex cleric to be sentenced in Burleigh three weeks he helped Peter
ball the former bishop of Lewes to run special events for young people filmed
for a documentary here earlier this month Baal was given a two-year eight
month sentence after admitting molesting some of them but did the two men work in
league with each other a letter released today shows that the bishop was aware of
allegations against house in the mid-80s a young man had written to him saying
he’d been abused and he replied I’m sad beyond words and wished I’d known sooner
he went on to apologise as sincerely and deeply as I know how he also told the
young man he had taken those steps to ensure nothing like it happens again but
the following year it did there is no evidence that action was taken by Peter
ball after receiving that letter so there is no evidence that Peter will
pass that on to other members of the church so that surely is an offense of
some sort I can’t answer and I’m not we’d have to look at that in further
detail Sussex has been a hot spot of clerical abuse
for decades and we’ve had former bishops that have interfered with inquiries and
also been abuses themselves the judge today said she took into account the
good work house had done helping vulnerable people at this church in
Brighton for example but said that her sentence must reflect that he was an
abuser who had hidden behind a cloak of religion well John young is live the Old
Bailey John the police were in court what if they had to say tonight Polly I
think the police suspect that many viewers may be losing track frankly of
these cases of clerical abuse in Sussex but the message they want to get across
is if this if these cases are triggering memories they want people to get in
touch with them they will they say look into other cases that may emerge the
police have not come entirely well out of this Devon police for example in 2001
were told by one of the victims that house had molested him they did nothing
about it the judge made clear she was not impressed with that Sussex Police
tonita making clear they don’t want that to happen again they will listen thanks
John old Vickery house has become the 11th man connected with the Church of
England in Sussex who’s proven to have committed sexual abuse they include two
bishops Peter bull who was jailed for 32 months earlier this year and George Bell
who died before facing justice also Canon Gordon Ridout he was jailed for 36
offences against 16 children most of them at a children’s home in Crawley in
the 1960s and 70s and priests Troy cotton who was allowed to continue
working in the Diocese of Chester in the 1970s and 80s despite being convicted of
sexually abusing a boy in 1954 while the bishop of Horseshoe Mark Sowerby is the
man in charge of safeguarding safeguarding forward the Church of
England in Sussex today this afternoon I asked him if they had in fact been a
cover-up no I don’t think the church didn’t know what was going on I don’t
leave there has been a cover-up nor collusion but nonetheless there were
eleven people at least yes who did carry out abuse yes in the diocese of church
Esther now at the very least that shows that there is a culture that allowed
that to happen yes I think we have to concede that that that it happened that
culture I believe has changed very considerably since at least since the
earliest days of this so we’re not we’re not in the same place we were but we
concede that things were wrong that responses when people came forward were
inadequate and we believe that that is now significantly better because I think
the point that I’m trying to get at is that George Bell who was a revered
figure within the church mmm-hmm it’s now acknowledged carried out abuse Peter
bull who was a revered figure within the church carried out abuse they were
senior figures within that clergy in Sussex did their positions allow them to
have an atmosphere whereby other abuses were able to come to the church and
whether it was a deliberate policy or whether it was simply by turning a blind
eye those other abuses were allowed to carry on I’ve got no evidence that any
of the bishops has knowingly allowed other people to abuse clearly we have to
acknowledge that Bishop Peter Ball committed criminal offences and that’s a
source of prefer out profound regret it’s a it’s a source of shame to us and
those who do abuse other people cause not only enormous distress to their
victims but also to those who are betrayed by them to the trust that is
not in other people Bishop thank you very much you’re welcome well earlier
this month the Archbishop of Canterbury announced that there will be an
independent review into Bishop Peter Bowles crimes the church says that the
findings will be made public but no dates have yet been set and you can see
more of my interview with Bishop Sowerby on our Facebook page

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