'Harassment, vilification, intimidation': Bishop Ball sex abuse victim speaks out

Secularism.org.ukPeter Ball was found to have abused his position as the Bishop of Lewes in southern England.

A sex abuse survivor has accused senior clergy in the Church of England of repeated attempts to prevent him from sharing his story.

Graham Sawyer was the victim of sustained abuse by Bishop Peter Ball, former Bishop of Lewes and Bishop of Gloucester, during the 1970s and early 1980s. In a fringe meeting of General Synod on Tuesday night, Sawyer said he experienced "enduring harassment, vilification and intimidation" from senior clergy when he tried to speak about his experiences.

Sawyer, one of Ball's 17 victims, said that anyone who "lifts their head above the parapet and dares to give testimony of their experiences" suffers consequences.

Bishop Ball, 83, was jailed in December 2015, for misconduct in public office and indecent assault. He was cautioned in 1993 for one act of gross indecency against a 16-year-old but was allowed to work in churches until 2010.

Tuesday's gathering, held in Methodist Central Hall, was organised by the Church Reform Group and the National Council of Hindu Temples. Sawyer, who is chair of the Church Reform Group, said Ball and some of his friends were behind a "web of hate and bullying" seeking to cover up abuse crimes.

Graham Sawyer.

"I suffered much harassment, from... senior people within the Church of England when I lifted the lid on Ball's behaviour, such that I had no prospect of ordination in the UK at the time," he said.

"I had to move to New Zealand in order to pursue my calling as a deacon and then priest."

After a number of years, Sawyer said he was offered a position in the Church of Wales by Rowan Williams, who he described as the "one hero in this whole story".

However he offered no such praise to others within the Church who he described as "vain and difficult to believe".

He was dissatisfied with how his case had been dealt with "despite countless pleas by me including to the current Archbishop of Canterbury for truth and reconciliation."

He added: "My experience... is that the Church of England is robust in its treatment of people like me."

Although he insisted he "holds no ill will against Bishop Ball and forgive him from my heart", he described him as a "monster".

"It was right that he was sent to prison although I experienced no sense of vengeance or satisfaction in seeing a frail 83-year-old man being led from the dock."

Arun Arora, director of communications for the Church of England, told Christian Today he was not at the meeting and so was not able to respond to the accusations in full.

The Archbishop of Canterbury has promised an independent inquiry into child abuse, which is expected to be launched in the coming weeks.

 

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